Written by: Char Groen
Debt, the place I never intended to go to but somehow I ended up there. There were many reasons that contributed to it but in the end, it’s still debt. Underemployment, unexpected expenses, lending money on my credit to others (Take my advice: NEVER do that!!), and poor money management were some of the reasons. It never started out as a huge amount but it slowly inched its way into a pit that eventually felt impossible to crawl out of.
Apathy and hopelessness crept in because there was no foreseeable way that I could ever pay it off. I felt like a prisoner with a ball and chain that I perpetually dragged around.
I have also been blessed several times through the years with financial gifts that eliminated my debt but I eventually crept back into the same pit. I hadn’t changed enough things nor did I have the character to prevent the same pattern from recurring.
The burden of debt affected me physically and I was continually stressed. I had a poverty mentality, and felt hopeless for anything to change.
Figuratively, I hit a wall out of desperation. Something had to change. My personal belief was to be in debt to no one; it’s also a biblical principle and it makes so much sense because there is a huge burden in carrying debt.
I had to make some major changes in my life. A season of lean living was in order. I stopped using credit cards and started aggressively paying down debt. Miraculously, I received 0% interest promotions on a credit card every 4-6 months for 3-4 yrs. Yes, I paid no interest. What??? Seriously, that never happens; only God could do that. I’ve never received a 0% interest promotion since that time.
I purposed to not buy anything whether it was a want or need, if it meant putting it on credit card. If I couldn’t pay cash, I simply didn’t buy it. Trust me that was tough to do, especially, when a piece of clothing was screaming at me to buy it. During this whole season of debt, I also purposed to remain faithful in my giving at church.
I could list so many examples, large and small, of how God provided for my needs during my life. For example, I bought a house in 2012 and I needed a lawn mower but was not going to go into debt to get one. I prayed about it and the next day, I had a meeting at my house and one of the women walked into my kitchen and ‘randomly’ asked me if I need a lawnmower. My jaw dropped; wow, are you kidding!! God even cared about my smaller needs.
During this journey varying amounts of debt were forgiven. I was handed a cheque that completely covered a sizeable credit card debt that was not mine but was carrying on my credit card for someone else. I was also given random amounts of money to cover various needed expenses. In addition, I owned a car that was 18 yrs. old that required minimal repair, and being able to buy items for affordable prices. Oh, I could go on!!
I love sharing about this journey because it is a story of God’s provision in my life. I have remained consistent in living lean and not running after every ‘want’. It was difficult to say no many times to outings, or purchasing items but it was totally worth it.
Choosing to live lean for several years taught me how to manage money, how to question ‘need’ vs. ‘want’ before purchasing an item, and just learning the discipline to live within my means, financially.
In the fall of 2013, I became debt free; the weight that instantly lifted was indescribable. What an amazing feeling to finally be able to cut the ball and chain of debt off of my life. FREEDOM!!!!!!!!!!!
I am thankful for the many miracles of God’s provision over the years. Yes, I still need to make wise choices given my income and still always question ‘needs’ vs. ‘wants’. And yes, I do buy some ‘wants’ but ONLY if I can pay cash for it. One thing I love about being debt free is that I now have the ability to give to others.
We live in a culture where ‘debt’ or ‘managing debt’ is just the way it is but how about making a choice to do whatever it takes to get out of debt and STAY OUT of debt. NOW is a good time to start. If you want a different outcome, you have to make some choices to change. It’s a CHOICE and it may take some hard work, sacrifice, and time, but the freedom is totally worth it. Trust me!!