Debt Stinks

We only have 1 Bible reference on display in our home.

It isn’t an elegant plaque or a really cool engraved stone.   It hangs on our refrigerator, but it isn’t a cute and colorful magnet we use to hang people’s photos.

It is a white 8.5 x 11 piece of copy paper that is folded in half because that looked better than having half a blank paper on display.  And that was easier than trying to cut it in half.

The font is large enough so that you can read it if you are standing by the sink.

In black ink, Times New Roman it reads:

Proverbs 30:8-9

“Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.  Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.”

It isn’t that we don’t love the typical inspirational Scriptures you usually find hanging in people’s homes.  It is that this one is just way harder to take out of context.

And I need to read it every morning as I open up my fridge full of crap I’ll throw away later in the month as a reminder that no matter how much I currently have, I still depend on God just as much as I ever have.

My deceitful heart needs to see “Keep falsehood and lies far from me…” every single day of the year.  And I don’t need to glamorize it.  It just needs to be in black and white.  Also, in Times New Roman.

Prov 30:8-9

The writer of this Proverb knew that lying was an awesome way to destroy a relationship.  He also knew that the number 1 enemy of our hearts toward God is $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

A shade over 3 years ago, Brittany and I decided to wage an all out war on the debt that we had accumulated.  We knew it wasn’t going to be fun or simple, but we wanted to remove this “thief” in our life that we had created.

So our first major decision was that we would go to 1 car instead of 2.  We weren’t sure exactly how this was going to work, but we both felt like this would start the ball rolling.  Getting rid of a payment of $200+ every month could start going towards the massive mountain of money we owed everyone else.

The day after we finalized our decision on the car, we were shocked to find out that my mom (who had died of cancer) had a policy in place to have her car paid off entirely in the case of her death and ownership of the car given to Brittany and myself.

I was stunned.  Overwhelmed at the kindness of my mom.  Floored by the timing of God as we had just a few hours before placed complete trust of our finances into what we felt He was leading us to do.

And that was how this long journey of paying our debt off began.  Some things we did to speed up the process:

– Switched phone companies.  I LOVED Verizon.  But we switched to Virgin Mobile and our phone bill become $110 less every month.  And it worked just as good.

– Got rid of cable.  Ouch.  I began to hunt down websites that I could watch all sporting events for free on.  Once I found out that I could watch any game of any kind for free with just internet, I was able to breathe again.

– Said “no” to ourselves A LOT more.  Instead of golfing every two weeks, I would golf every 2-3 months.  And many more painful things like that.

– Said “no” to others A LOT more.  It sucked feeling like we were always telling people we would rather “eat in” than dine out.  But we still hung out.  Still ate food.

– Learned to communicate better with each other.  Even though I enjoy helping Brittany out by doing the finances in our home, there were times where this process of being incredibly disciplined caused friction.  She would occasionally get frustrated b/c it seemed like we never had any extra money.  Instead of getting mad at her, I understood that I hadn’t done a great job in communicating with her about it.  So, I told her for 2 months she was going to be totally responsible for ALL the bills/expenses/flow of our money.  I wouldn’t ask her about it at all.  After 2 months she was able to get a better idea of where our money went and why we never had any extra money.  B/c debt was a thief.  And we actually didn’t have any extra money.  And she was ready for me to take back the $$$ responsibility.

Along the way we still took long weekends every few months to enjoy life/people.  I can’t think of one thing that we missed doing now looking back on it….even though there were several times throughout the process where we had to say “no” even though we wanted to say “yes”.

Last week we made our final payment on the last student loan.

No more credit card debt.

No more car payments.

No more student loans.

I am incredibly proud of Brittany for being so determined to get rid of this weight on our backs while we were still in our 20s.  Just barely, I know.

So, what is next?

That is what people ask.  And honestly, I don’t know.

I do know that the purpose of paying our debt off was never meant to be so we could spend the rest of our lives saving up enough $$$ to be “well off” when we retire. I recognized a long time ago that being wealthy, by American standards, was not my life’s dream.  I also understood that because I am an American, I am far more financially wealthy than most humans in the world.

The main thing that is next is freedom.  Freedom from the lender.  We no longer owe any financial institution anything.  And that is pretty incredible.

My prayer is that God would keep lies and deceit (little bit of truth mixed with lies) far away from Brittany and me.  Lying isn’t acceptable in our home.  It is easy to see.  Deceit is a bit harder b/c it is mixed with truth.  Keep it far away.

Deceit and money can go hand in hand.

My other prayer is that just because we no longer have this cloud looming over us in the form of car payments, loan repayments, etc…

We somehow deceive ourselves into thinking that we worked our way out of debt on our own.  Because of our own smartness.  And now that we have extra money, we need to hoard as much of it as possible for the “future”.

The more money Americans make, the less money they give away (percentage wise).  We are definitely susceptible to that.  We know how to waste all of our money on ourselves.  It’s funny, nobody taught us that discipline.

But if the Avera’s ever get to the place that greed and deceit manage our budget…even if it is for the sake of “good” things…then we will have no need for Jesus…

no need for the Gospel…

and we unconsciously be screaming, “Who is the Lord?!?!?!?!”

And we would have been better off staying tens of thousands of dollars in debt.