My husband and I have led Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University in our community for 11 years. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I’ve taken FPU more than 20 times. We joke that we “drank Dave’s kool-aid” long ago and we thank Dave for teaching us much about personal finances.
Many in our hometown know we lead FPU and as a result, I’ve been asked on several occasions to sit down and visit with friends and acquaintances about finances. Many men and women who’ve shared their struggles come to mind.
The majority were deep in debt (and we were too when we began this journey in 2004). Some of those we’ve counseled were ready to change. Debt was no longer going to control them and they attacked the debt (and their behavior) with ferocity! Those are the ones who’ve scaled the wall and have, as a result, been able to declare, “I’m debt free”! It wasn’t easy, not for a single person who’s clawed his/her way out of debt, but for those who’ve done it, Dumping Debt Really Does Matter.
The others are the ones I think about most often. Their situations break my heart and I continue to pray for them. They heard the lessons and many received 1 on 1 support but they weren’t ready to battle.
Choosing to attack debt is a difficult decision.
If you choose to attack your debt, your friends (and possibly your family) will think you’re weird. You’ll choose to drive a vehicle that is 10 years old and sell the “toys”. You’ll choose to wear clothes from consignment shops and eat out very rarely. You’ll choose staycations and Netflix. You’ll choose hamburgers to steaks and fixer-uppers to granite. You’ll choose extra, part-time jobs to television marathons.
The beautiful thing about this difficult decision is that the tough choices I mention above will only last for a season. When you’re out of debt, which typically takes 18 months to 4 years with “gazelle intensity,” you can readjust your standard of living, based on your income, and enjoy a freedom you can’t experience when you’re deep in debt.
Without the $500-$1500+ a month you might be paying in “debt payments” you’ll have some freedom to change careers, open a business, institute “steak Sunday” or “whatever Wednesday”, work for a non-profit, participate in missions around the world, step back to part-time, quit working to home school, etc. Get rid of your debt and the list is as long as your passions and income can imagine.
The Bible has a lot to say about money. In fact, if you were to search for the words money, gold, silver, finances, borrow, debt, lend, buy, sell, tithe, wage, wealth, riches, greed, poor, and talent more than 1,300 verses would be found. The most significant to me when we began this journey was Proverbs 22:7. The NIV reads, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.”
We can apply this to our lives in a very concrete way by saying, “I owe money to … and until I no longer owe them a penny I am freely relinquishing my authority over my finances to them.” Are you willing to relinquish authority over your finances to CapitalOne, Discover, Bank Americard, JC Penny, Bealls, Sears, Lowes, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Citi, or Chase? Do they “care” about your family, your walk with God, your children’s college fund, your grandchildren, your health, or your retirement? I’m sure they would say they do… to each of their 5,000,000 customers.
Dare to do it, my friend! Dare to be weird! Make those tough decisions today so your tomorrows are filled with freedom! I might as well quote Dave one more time; “Live like no one else, so later you can live like no one else!”
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