"Definitely. I'm so glad you made it in time. You're making great progress already! Are you all set for Christmas?"
"We decided to keep Christmas simple this year. We've been focused and we've made progress that we're really proud of. But I have to admit that it is really tempting to go find those cards and make the kids' Christmas dreams come true."
"Are they the kids' dreams, or are they your dreams?" Jane asked. And Jill knew her friend was right. She knew that her kids were young enough that they would be happy with whatever they received, but inside she still felt a little guilty knowing that their friends would be getting the latest and greatest. And she really wanted to do something special for Jack.
"Just keep pressing on, Jill - you are doing so well. By this time next year, you'll be a completely different place and you'll be so glad you didn't give in to this temptation! What do you say we take a break, get away from the commercialism for a while? Let's take the kids sliding and then come back to our place for cocoa? We can talk about how you're doing and set you on track for your next goal."
"Sounds good to me - how's two o'clock?"
After a few hours outdoor, everyone was tired but happy. The kids enjoyed some cocoa then retreated to the playroom while the adults stayed in the kitchen to talk. Jane invited them to stay for supper and started a big batch of spaghetti for everyone while chatting with Jill. The men took their coffee to the table.
"So, Jane tells me you've got reason to celebrate!" Richard sat back with his coffee and looked at Jack expectantly.
"Absolutely!" Jack nodded. "We got that appliance loan paid off just in the nick of time! Now we're ready to press forward... once Christmas is over, of course."
"What do you mean?" Richard leaned forward.
"Well, you know... Christmas is expensive and all... seems unrealistic to try to keep up like this through December... don't you think?" Jack hesitated.
"Absolutely - if you're still stuck in the old thought patterns. Sure, it would be easy to grab a card or two and take care of Christmas the way you want to, but what would the long-term effect of that be? Don't you think financial freedom is a better gift to yourselves and your kids?"
"Well.... yeah.... of course..." Jack knew his friend was right, but he was conflicted. After all, he wanted Jill to enjoy her Christmas morning, and the kids needed nice gifts too, didn't they? Just then, Jill came over.
"Is there an echo in here? Jane and I were having the same conversation just a few hours ago!" She laughed softly and shook her head. "It really is easy to lose track, isn't it? Just like falling off the wagon."
Jack looked up at her. "But... Jill, how will we pay for Christmas if we keep up like this? I know we agreed to keep it simple, but... " He pulled out his wallet. "I've only got $60 in here. That's not going to go very far."
Jill smiled. "It turns out that we planned for this. Even I didn't realize it at the time, but we did! Jane and I were just chatting and she showed me something - when she set up our budget and debt plan, Jane didn't assign my 'baby cheque' income to anything, and we've been so focused on keeping the budget that I haven't needed to spend it. That, combined with little savings here and there over the past months, gives us more than enough for Christmas. We've actually got cash available!"
Jack looked incredulous for a moment, then grinned. "No way. Really? That's unbelievable! We've never paid cash for Christmas before!"
Richard laughed. "Welcome to freedom, my friends! Now, are you ready to take the next step?" They both nodded eagerly. "Great - let's have a look at where we are now." Jack pulled out the sheet with their budget and handed it to Richard, who made a few changes. "Here's your plan of attack for January - you'll follow this until April when the MasterCard is paid off and then revise it again. And again. And again, until all your debts are paid off."
|Property Tax||$ 150.00|
|House Insurance||$ 100.00|
|Utilities (Heat, Electricity)||$ 100.00|
|Other Bills (Phone, Internet, Cable, Cellular)||$ 200.00|
|Automobile Costs (Gas, Repair, Licenses)||$ 100.00|
|Car Payment||$ 280.00|
|Health/Dental Care||$ 140.00|
|Household (including furniture, supplies, repairs, lawn care, etc)||$ 100.00|
|Payroll Deductions (Tax, EI, CPP)||$ 1,168.59|
|Line of Credit||$ 270.00|
|Student Loan||$ 155.00|
|Jill's Allowance||$ 20.00|
|Jack's Allowance||$ 40.00|
|Charitable Giving||$ 393.14|
"That will be so incredible," Jill said. "I can't wait!"
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