Debt. Budgeting Special Topic.

Before we moved here (and I quit my full-time job), we lived on a full-time tax accountant salary and a part-time children’s pastor salary so we felt we were a little more comfortable. We had 2 credit cards and used them liberally. We thought nothing of financing everything from clothing to groceries to fast food on our credit cards and paying the subsequent 24.99% interest rates. Honestly, that only caused me and my hubby stress and caused a great lack of sleep. So, after almost five years of married life lived under that financial burden, we resolved prayerfully that we wanted to be debt free. God did some definite miracles when he moved us from Florida to Tennessee and paid off all of our debt. We literally left Florida with $0 in debt. By God’s grace, we owned both of our 2008 vehicles debt free and had $0 in credit card debt. We quickly gained debt on the 2nd day of being Tennessee residents as we closed on our home. We also signed for a no-interest 12 months same as cash consumer loan within two months of moving to Tennessee. Then, Christmas came and we fell into the trap of feeling like we “needed” things. We financed Christmas decorations on our credit card. Ugh. Old habits die-hard. After this, we had a little discussion and decided to stop spending and financing debt before we found ourselves in the same situation that we were in while living in Florida. We decided to undertake Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps. We have currently put away Ramsey’s recommended $1,000 in emergency savings, paid off our credit card debt and are in the final stages of paying off our consumer no-interest loan. It has been a difficult, belt-tightening process but we are excited with each $5 by which we reduce our debts. God is good and He is faithful.

Because urge to use debt keeps creeping back into our lives, it has made me reflect a lot. For me, I feel like use to compensate in two ways:

1. Insecurity. When I feel like we don’t have what we need and there’s not enough to buy the “needed” item, I will resort to the credit card. So, my insecurity isn’t that I’m feeling insecure about me but about God providing. I need to remember that God is enough. If I’m studying His word everyday, praying, and striving to live in His will, He will provide for our needs.

2. Pride. When I see others driving a Suburban or having hardwood floors installed in their home, I find myself desiring the same. I need to admit that our family isn’t meant to have the same things that others have and that God has sufficiently met our needs. There’s no need for me to “save face” and keep up with the Joneses.

Ultimately, I struggle with debt when I take my eyes off of God and turn towards me and my wants. So, we are back to struggling with idolatry. Nice. Well, at least I’m consistent. haha.

So, if you find yourself struggling with the same pattern of debt and desiring to end the cycle, do what I did/do and re-evaluate why you actually pull out that plastic and charge things. Or, continue to buy new cars every two years. Is it pride? Is it idolatry? Are you financing fast food because of gluttony? Be tough with yourself and get on your knees to repent. God’s faithful to forgive and will supply your (and my!!!) needs!

I’ve been blogging about how I stretch our monthly budget and you can read more in the following posts:

Budgeting Basics

Budget Criteria

Cutting the Fat

Tough Love. Budgeting Special Topic

Cutting the Fat. Round 2.

Priorities. Budgeting Special Topic.

Increasing Inflow without another “Paycheck”

BTW. Please note: I’m not a debt counselor or any type of professional who is qualified to give out actual financial advice. I’m simply telling you some of the ways that I am helping stretch our monthly budget. If you want to read actual advice from a qualified debt guru, I recommend Dave Ramsey.

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