Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Number of Man

Every year or so, I evaluate my financial goals. I've learned not to do it more often because either 1) I get depressed, or 2) I seem to trigger a universal "you're not allowed to get ahead" reaction that causes my plumbing to go south within a month. When it happens enough, I can be taught.

If my math is correct, and we all know my hate-hate relationship with math, there is a reasonable chance I could pay off my mortgage in the next six years. As in, own my own home free and clear.

This terrifies me. Seriously. Weight in the pit of the stomach, trouble breathing, hard to concentrate on anything else fear.

I should be thrilled. From the day I signed those papers, I've paid ahead on principal deliberately to shorten the life of the mortgage. I got rid of PMI early by refinancing so I could pay that amount on principal instead. I know that if you only make the "scheduled" payments, you end up spending way more for your house in interest than most people ever think about. Like up to a third or half of the loan over 30 years.

TT: I wasn't listening to Dave Ramsey when I bought this house, but I followed the advice of his mentor, Larry Burkett of Crown Ministries, to buy a 30-year, fixed rate mortgage with a payment I could easily afford (not the loan the mortgage company is willing to give but far lower) because houses create their own expenses. Had I known Dave at the time, I would have lived in a low-rent apartment without animals and saved every penny until I could either buy a house with cash or pay half in cash, finance the rest for 15 years and pay it off in 7. Sounds impossible, but people do it every day. Just not the people on those home shows we all love to watch.

Six years is a third the life of a cat. It's a first grader. It's the shelf life of a Twinkie. It's just not that long. But a lot can happen in six years. I could lose my job. I could suffer a serious disability. The house could get hit by a meteorite.

Worse, I could actually pay it off, and have what I've wanted since I started listening to Dave Ramsey - that mortgage payment available for other things, like retirement, charitable contributions and new sneakers every year.

Going back to the first paragraph, I can be taught, and what life has taught me so far is anytime I come into money, I run headlong into an expense that takes that money away. I should be grateful that God provides a way to meet my needs without debt, but I worry. I worry about what I will need that mortgage payment for in six years.

Randy Alcorn says we don't get to know security in this life because it would prevent us from relying on God. If that's true, I should expect my life to be one continuous struggle after another.

Maybe the jaw isn't nausea after all.

Push button. Receive bacon.

PS. Randy Alcorn was quoting C.S. Lewis from A Problem of Pain. Gonna have to reread that.

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