How My Faith Helped Me Through Poor Budgeting

During a fun filled winter break, with time well spent with friends, food outings, spontaneous road trips, and too many coffee shop visits, I found out I was going to be let go from my job due to my conflicting class schedule. I found myself coming back to the daunting school semester with rent, bills, tuition, and groceries to be paid for. I was nervous but with some Christmas cash in my wallet and about $50 in my bank account, I figured it would hold me over until I found another job and earned enough money before everything was due. I was pretty sure i'd be able to get myself out of this potential mess. "I'll be fine, I can do this, I've done it before, I can do it again." My plan? Sign up for a babysitting app, and apply to every open job in Chicago. Yeah. that'll work. And after the first two days of classes, I realized "my plan" wouldn't cut it. I never hated textbooks so much. With each class needing a textbook and access code, like $100 each...What was I going to do?!

With expenses building up with school, personal needs, apartment expectations, and trying to keep up with friends, there was no way I was going to do this all and on my own.

There was no way I could keep up with everything I had to pay for, there was no way I was not going to be anxious about all this. All I could think was, "Ok, what's priority...well I have assignments due next week, so my textbooks. Frick. I hate textbooks." I had no option but to reach out to my family for help, something I told myself I wouldn't do out of wanting so badly to just be able to do things on my own. As I approached my family with these requests, I was humbled to receive generous help and assuredness that everything would be ok.

As my family helped me with my books, groceries were next. I headed to target with a $10 bill, a $10 target giftcard, and another target giftcard that I wasn't sure how much was on it. I figured I would at least be able to get the bare minimum to get me through the next two weeks. As I came to the register, and gave my cash, and two gift cards, I discovered the giftcard with the unknown amount had $3 on it. great. $15 and some change was still owed after I gave pretty much everything I wanted to spend on groceries. My heart sank as I remembered my account saying all I had was $15 and some change. What was I going to do?! Obviously, I could've just put something back (like the Alfredo sauce that my body definitely didn't need) and it would've been fine. But in the moment, I internally freaked. Not only did I freak, but so did the card machine as I swiped my card. The machine froze, twice. As the lady said to remove my card and try again, I witnessed the price on the screen go from $15 and some change, down to $5 and some change. WHAT?! I swiped my card and the cashier lady handed me my receipt and greeted the next guest, leaving me in awe and confusion. I just wanted to be like, "Lady, did you see what just happened?! BRUH." But I just walked away, confused and sweaty, nervous that I did something wrong or that my bank account would say 0. As I checked my account, I had a total of $9 and some change. I quickly checked the receipt and realized it stated that I gave two $10 bills. wait..HOW?! I was truly in awe because that does not happen.

With $9 and some change, I would be expected to pay rent and bills in two weeks. yay. I thought, "I have to babysit every night, that's just how its going to work." So I make my account and showed interest in every babysitting opportunity, but no parents got back to me (probably because I had no reviews and my profile was basically empty because I hadn't had time to make myself seem as experienced as I am (shameless plug, let me know if you need a sitter). I resorted to my second option--apply everywhere. As I applied to several places, I quickly received an interview for a Starbucks position. After a week of interviews, I began feeling so disappointed in myself. I didn't spend my time or money correctly and after tray after try, nothing was happening, no money was coming in. I began dreading the fact of having to ask my family for help again. I just wanted to do this on my own. Pick myself up out of this mess, since I got myself there in the first place. I just so badly wanted to show myself and my family that I could do this without them, like I had been for the past two years! I didn't need them. I could do this. But as I became so anxious about the thought of letting my roommates down and putting us all in a funk by not being able to pitch in for apartment dues, I received a call from a catering company that I applied to and forgot about. We scheduled and interview. 10 minutes later that same day, I received a call from Starbucks, offering me the job. What?! As hope finally filled my heart, I figured, "now it's ok to ask my family for more help because now it's temporary. I'll be able to pay them all back in no time with this new job and potential second new job." Skip a week later, and rent is due. As my family agreed to help me pay for it, I felt a peace and utmost gratefulness for their help and gracious advice during these anxious filled weeks. As the day approached for my rent to be paid as well as some bills, I wasn't sure how long it would take me to pay all my family back for what they would be paying for. I didn't know how I was going to buy groceries or hang out with friends. It was going to be a semester of having "just enough" to stay in my apartment and in school. And that was just going to have to be ok. Then out of no where, I received a deposit of twice the amount I needed for my rent. What?!

Turns out I received a loan refund that I hadn't been expecting. As I checked my email explaining it, I was in utmost awe. What were the odds that on the day my rent was due, I would receive an amount of money that pays off two months of rent? Well I quickly realized it was not odd at all! Because I serve God, who showed me through all of this, how powerful and caring and graceful and detail-oriented and supernatural and above-all-earth-and-heaven He is!

Through out all the small moments of anxiety and fear and knowing I could never own up to my expectations of being ideally independent, it pushed me to my knees, fully showing me what it means to rely on God and trust that in my weakness, he really is made strong! Through each moment of God providing a way, all I could do was stand in awe of him, confidently knowing it was his hand at work, allowing me to purchase groceries, get my textbooks on time, and pay my rent. Although this is minimal in comparison to much larger problems, God taught me so much in the process of it all--that he hears our cries, that our problems (no matter how small we think they are) are a BIG deal to him, because he loves his children and his heart breaks for what breaks ours. WOW. What a gracious and powerful Heavenly Father. Through this time of honestly not even knowing if I'd be able to stay in school or even in my living situation, he graciously revealed to me my pride and then continued to shower me with blessing after blessing, miracle after miracle.

All I can do now is proclaim that the LORD provides, just as Abraham declared in Genesis 22:14

"Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns.He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

God can and will provide for your need. Look to him, surrender your pride, and have peace that He will show up in a way that YOU CANNOT PREDICT. His goodness doesn't stop.

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