Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Don't Believe the Lie

Many of us believe the lie that debt is normal. School loans. Car payments. 
But it's not. 

Proverbs 22:7 says "the borrow is slave to the lender." If I clear 1, 686 dollars a paycheck but have to pay 800 or more to either Bank of America or Discover, I'm not in control over that money, the credit card companies are.

So, that's 800 a check (1,600 a month) that I have no say over. It's money I can't give to organizations like A21, a non-profit fighting human trafficking. It's money I can't use to go on a mission trip or give to a missionary spreading the gospel to unreached people groups. It's money I can't use to buy books to give to kids who don't have books at home. 

And that sobering thought is why I'm up at 2:30 in the morning writing this blog.

Debt is unacceptable because it keeps me at the mercy of credit card companies--how much interest will they charge and what will my minimum payment due be? Debt keeps me tied to earthly things when my heart wants to invest in spiritual things. 

And so I'm left with sorrow, great sorrow at what my sin has cost me--the chance to give lavishly to the kingdom of God. But the beautiful thing about Christ's grace is that it is always there, whether it's the first time I've sinned or the hundredth. 

So it's not too late for me. Or you. When I look at my debt numbers (read about it here and here), it makes me sad to think of what I could be using that money for. It also makes me mad I was selfish and greedy. It breaks my heart that I let sin guide my choices.

"For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death." -2 Corinthians 7:10

So I lie here broken but thankful. Because godly grief over my sin changes me, it produces a repentance that refuses to live in sin any more. And that is incredibly freeing.

But to be financially free, we have to take action. First, we can take a long, honest look at our debt and what our selfish choices have cost us--not just financially but emotionally and spiritually as well. And then we can let that grief and anger change us for the better. Because I don't know about you, but once I climb out of this hole, I'm never going back again. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Debt Update

Two weeks ago, I opened up about my debt journey. It was hard. 

However, today feels harder because I should be debt free by now. I can list a hundred things I should have done differently over the years. 

This summer was the first time in six years where my debt went up each month instead of down. I went on a second vacation when I should've stayed home. I had some car repairs that drained my emergency fund. Then, a I battled a bad case of bronchitis that was not only painful but also very costly. (Just got another bill from that this weekend.)

I can't change those things. Seeing my total debt go up the last couple months was a huge wake-up call. I had to pray and ask the Lord to forgive me for using His money for my own desires instead of advancing His kingdom. He's so faithful to forgive, and I'm eager to see how He uses even my own failures for my good and His glory. 

So, here's where I am. Only two debts left. The light is there at the end of the tunnel.

Now, you may notice that my Discover balance is HUGE, a lot higher than when I started. 
I'm sure a lot of it I can't explain. I did put some of my graduate school on it. I went on this vacation this summer. I was in a wedding and spent more than I expected. There's no excuse. Just transparency with complete strangers. 

The biggest mistake I made was having my Discover card connected to my Amazon account. I had great intentions--I would just transfer money to Discover after charging something...like I didn't listen to Dave Ramsey rant and rave about how stupid it is to think credit card points help you in any way. (Sidenote--if you have the will power to pay off a credit card every month and take advantage of those points in some way, that's awesome. I lack such self-control and know that.)

So, tonight I changed the card connected to my Amazon account to my debit card. It's a start.

And, y'all, it's kinda exciting to look at that Bank of America change. :) 

What can you do today to tackle your debt? It may be something small, but those little things make huge differences over time. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016


I've started this post about fifteen times, sure that I want to talk honestly about debt but unsure of how to start. So I started thinking--why do I want to share about my long, arduous journey to get debt free.

And here it is. 
When you start getting serious about clawing your way out of the slime pit of debt, you hear all these stories of people who did "this" or "that" and paid off 100, 000 dollars in eight months. You tune into Dave Ramsey, the debt-free guru, and you get so excited to hear people's success stories and hope that's your testimony too. (I HIGHLY recommend Dave Ramsey. I attended his 13-week class, which was one of the best decisions of my life.) 

And then reality sinks in. You already work three jobs (teacher, coach, babysitter) just to make ends meet, so where are you going to find hundreds of extra dollars each check to tackle this debt mountain? It takes you months just to get the 1,000 emergency fund in savings. You cut everything you can, but you still have exactly 75 dollars a month to add to your debt snowball. 

And so years pass, and you're slowly plugging away, but some months you fail. You use a credit card for a vacation you're desperate to take. You blow your emergency fund on "extras" instead of emergencies. And you think you're never going to be debt free, so you might as well enjoy life.

So that's why I'm sharing. Because surely I'm not alone in that struggle. 

I have so much to say, and I plan to post regularly about different aspects of getting out of debt. But I wanted to start by encouraging people who feel there is no end, the ones who hear those amazing stories of people who got out of debt quickly and then get discouraged. Your story is different. Mine is different. But, there's beauty in the journey. And I want to find it and share it. 

I have this notebook where I've kept track each month of how much debt I have and how much I've paid off. This is my first entry from April 2010 when I started this journey.

I can't believe I'm sharing this. I've only shared this number with a couple people--like literally two people. Feel special. 

I have no clue why I thought I needed a new outfit from Gap every week. I can't tell you what the heck I bought using that Bank of America card. And Target? Who knows. 

Proverbs 22:7 "The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender." 

But, it's good to see those numbers because they make me mad. Mad enough to want to change. Because I definitely don't want to be Discover's slave. 

What's your debt story? If you've never had the nerve to add up your debt, I encourage you to do it. It will be hard and probably discouraging, but it's the first step.