Thursday, March 30, 2006

Adventures in Budgeting

Budget. There is a lot of transference on that word. Some of you may hate the word and want to destroy it, and others may find comfort and security in the word. Then there is the attachment we give to the word as a married couple. Budget can mean loss of freedom, control, and fun as we know it; or it may be a welcomed change from the financial stress surrounding your marriage. Whatever the meaning, we got to do it!

Today, I completed an elaborate budget spreadsheet—sorry Ramsey the Great, I hate your FPU sheets—and made a decent budget. I sent the budget to Monica so she could correct my attempts to disallow us any money for anything fun, and we came to a workable solution. It wasn't so bad! Sticking to it will be another matter, but I am pleased with the beast we created.

We need to update you on our get out of debt progress for the sake of our egos. We have not wavered from our $XXX/month pledge to our credit card. In fact, we are really excited for the day when we can save that chunk of money for something we might actually need.

The hardest part of this whole thing for Ben and Monica, though, is keeping money from being our security and our god. I think God does a pretty big battle with money and our hearts. Satan is like the ultimate loan shark because he can give you all the money you want with no strings attached, because he knows you will attach your own strings to money and Satan merely picks up the strings and ties you up. Fortunately, God can forgive our spiritual debts and remind us where our true treasure lies, which I am pretty sure is not in a bank vault.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Timeless Comments

We, at Barefoot in Memphis, want to apologize for the ridiculously long wait it takes to view the Comments section on our blog. We have no idea what is going on, and we don't know who to ask for help. We feel like we are letting ourselves down and you down, because it is almost not worth commenting if it takes too long. Thank you to those who bear with the long time lapse—you are brave.

I am off jury duty for the month. I went today but I did not make the cut. I did get interviewed by the judge, but one of the attorneys must have thought my hair was too spiky or something. I actually found myself wanting to be picked for two reasons—1) I had this real desire to be one of the 8 selected to be involved in all the courtroom drama, and 2) I would get paid more being there than I would with my dinky part-time maintenance job.

I would have been guaranteed two days of work, maybe three, but they sent me home. I heard a few details of the case and basically here is what you need to know in order to stay out of a similar situation—have car insurance or you will be sued by the person you hit who then enlisted one the major "TV Lawyer Firms"? in Memphis. I am making no claims towards the innocence or non-innocence of the defendant. Just stay up to date on car insurance with a reputable company.

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Lie Factor

I think part of being a good friend is the ability to lie. For instance, anytime you ask a friend something about your appearance, they will almost always tell you that you look good, even if you look like a cross between Carrot Top and Benji. You don't want a friend to be too honest, so you welcome the lie and go on with your ugly self.

The other evening as I was shaving my face in the shower, I asked Monica if I got it all, and she said yes. I believed her, put my clothes on, and we left for home group. We got home that night and I looked at myself in the mirror and it looked like I had been shaved by a blind man with butter knife. I catch my wife in her lie, and all she says is, "I thought you were kidding!"? Thanks honey.

Anyway, good friends lie, and that is the way it needs to be. A quick lesson in girl language (Monica informed me of this)—When you are a girl and you change your appearance and then find yourself in the company of other girls, and they say nothing, it is because they hate your new look. It is a pretty funny phenomenon, because instead of lying, girls just act like they don't notice. If you are a guy and another guy looks odd, you are lucky because there is now a guy that looks worse than you and you have just moved up the food chain. In any of these situations you should lie—a good friend would do no less.

So, the key is to lie. Here are some good lie statements to try:

"Oh, your hair is so short."? (as if short could actually mean good)
"Where did you get that sweater, did 1987 come back?“"?

"That's a pretty color to paint a room that no one sees."?
"No, you don't look fat, everything else just looks small."?
"Nice shirt, who knew Ocean Pacific was still around."?
"Awesome jeans, I like how those pockets are high and spread out—makes your butt look small."?

Friday, March 10, 2006

The Office

Besides The Office quite possibly being the funniest show on TV right now (sorry Joey—ha), it is also a place where Monica goes to work everyday. Just in case you don’t know, Monica is no longer a travel agent. That job is long in the past as of December, and she is in a new job that pays her for the work that she does.

RemitDATA is the new place that she works. They are a company that does cool things with EOBs, ERNs, Medicare, and other insurance stuff. If you work for a health care provider and you want the most effective way to remit data and save tons of time a day by eliminating a good deal of paperwork with Medicare clients and other insurance providers, then contact RemitDATA. Plus, they have really awesome customer support personnel. Monica happens to be one of those customer support workers. She and Angie work with customers and keep them running with the service.

Monica has nothing against her old workplace, but sometimes there are just better places to be. The power of a stable income is great and has really helped us along, but Monica comes home a lot less stressed, gets paid for her hours, has awesome co-workers, great bosses, and gets to wear jeans for casual Fridays (which is pretty high on the list of benefits for her). The office is also in a cool location about 30 seconds away from the Mighty Mississippi.

This is a picture of the RemitDATA team.

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Proud Parents!

When our baby was born in some factory somewhere up north in 1993, I’m sure she had no idea she would have come this far. She had two sets of parents before us, but Monica took full custody of her in college. I signed on to be a parent after we got married, mainly for insurance purposes, but we don’t talk about that around her. One of the days if she does the math, she’ll realize Monica had her before we joined in marriage. She’s been a good traveler, having gone to Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Kansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee—as far as we know.

She’s generally a good girl: Doesn’t complain too much (although she acts up at times), fairly low maintenance, and so forth. She’s been blessed with good self-esteem. Heaven knows it’s been hard for her to see new models every year. Needless to say, we are proud parents. Many people might have given up on her years ago, but we have always believed in investing in her. Whatever it takes to keep her moving on down the road is what we are willing to do. Sure she has her scratches and imperfections, but we don’t notice them.

Thank you, Bonneville.

Congrats on your 200K milestone!

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Close to Home

On the way home from Nashville, we were listening to the radio and heard that 27 people died last weekend in Iraq, including 2 American soldiers. Every time I hear about soldiers losing their lives, I worry about my 2nd cousin, Wesley, as he is in Iraq. I (Ben) talked to my dad on Sunday and he told me that Wesley was injured in Iraq by a roadside bomb that hit the jeep he was in. Unfortunately, the two other soldiers in the jeep with Wesley died, but fortunately he lived, but with some serious injuries. He is in Germany right now recovering. Please pray for Wesley and his family during this time.

I can't imagine what they are going through right now. Something like that really brings the war close to home. I feel like we dog the war and debate why we are in it more than we show concern for the lives that are being affected. I'll be the first to say that I don't think or pray enough about something that is touching so many lives. Whether or not we agree with the war, we have to agree that the soldiers like Wesley are true heroes.