My husband and I are on a journey… a journey that ends in peace, financially.
We do ok, we are blessed. Abundantly so. Most of our choices are questioned by many, and followed by none.
The road is narrow, and lonely where we walk. At the end, there is a prize much greater than any found under a Christmas tree, for young and old alike; peace.
We both work, we are paid well, and we save much. We spend what we need. We save what we must. We use what is in between, to pay off debt, and establish healthy boundaries for our family. It is hard. If you choose to become free of debt, prepare yourself for the many people who think you are out of your mind, for those who say it can’t be done, and for the many Venti White Mocha Lattes you will be forced to give up, the quick run to Little Caesar’s to get their awesome deep dish pizza for only $8.00, and all the fountain drinks you could want. Consider entertainment, movies, extravagant gifts a thing of the past.
There will be serious discussions, difficult situations and uncomfortable silences, there will also be shared looks of great joy, as one card is paid off and another is on it’s way. There will be celebration, on the day we pay off our house 18 years early. There will be tears as college educations are covered as they go, vs. a lifetime of debt in their wake. It will be hard, you will cry, you will laugh and you will conquer. No weapon formed against you will be able to conquer. No Latte is good enough to sacrifice the ability to walk up to a stranger, someone in need and hand them an envelope that covers not only their needs but their wants. No fast food in and gone in a 24 hour cycle will be worth blessing others with incredible anonymous generosity. Nothing will be able to stop the Kingdoms work when things at home are in balance.
We aren’t unrealistic- you have to have a plan, and your plan must be accomplishable.
Before you do anything else- begin to tithe, if you aren’t already doing so. I promise- I promise- I promise- if you give back to the Lord the 10% of what is already His, that He asks for, He will more than bless the 90% He allowed you to keep. He will provide in ways you couldn’t have imagined.
If you are thinking of getting a new car, don’t get a brand new car, you will still be paying that $500 payment on month 59 and 60 when the vehicle you are driving isn’t worth $50.00 a month. Be wise. Who cares what you drive when you are working your way out of debt, because once you are out of debt, you can save quickly to buy whatever car you want with very little effort on your part and pay in cash. Who needs a credit score when the money is already in your bank account. Most of these principles I have learned through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace and Total Money Makeover. I get nothing for telling you this, except hope that you will begin to study a way to release yourself from financial bondage. Do you really want to live the rest of your days worried over how bills are going to be paid every month?
Most people go in debt at Christmas, and it makes me sad, because no one wants you to buy them a gift that costs you stress and worry for the rest of that year and the five years at minimum it typically takes to pay the rest of that card off! Those who love you do not want you to endure that on their behalf.
Begin planning for next year now. Start a small savings plan and make a goal for yourself to not go above whatever is in that account for the next years holiday. Tell people early in the year, we want your company more than the gifts and begin planning out to dinner, or potluck Holiday celebrations early on, that relieve some of the obligatory gift giving tension. Have a goal of a $5.00 gift hunt, or exchange, sit together and design ornaments, or go to events that your loved ones like, take pictures of them in action doing what they love, and present a picture as a gift in a frame from the dollar store.
People want to be thought of lovingly, but not at a personal cost to you. Is there something you are really good at, and you have thought about trying to use that gift to make money? Use it for those you love, they will cherish it. If you sing, make a cd of christmas tunes for people you love, at very little cost to you. A good acoustic room and most computers will make you sound like a professional. If you play an instrument make a cd of instrumental songs that bring peace and rest to those around you. Do you wood work, make a shelf, cut a pretty piece of wood and paint some chalkboard paint on it. Do you write, write something beautiful about the person, when you met, what you like about them, the funny stories you share.
Set goals, not resolutions- goals can be worked toward and they benefit everyone around you.
As Mr. Ramsey’s Tag Line says, “If you will live like no one else, later, you can live like no one else”.
As a helpful hint- the norm- shouldn’t be that everyone has debt. The norm should be that few have debt, and they are almost out of it, never to return.
Goal- to be debt free in a home that is paid off
Steps towards that goal- pay an extra payment a year for the first year, while other debt is paid off.
In the following years double the monthly payment each month.
In 10 years, the house will be paid off, if not sooner. That makes this a realistic goal for us and so many others…
What will you change to become more free to give, and bless others as God has blessed you?