I like the story of Bryant and Emily Adler. In 2012 they took a serious look at their financial situation. What they found was that they were in debt to the tune of $92,645.
Something was definitely out of tune.
Their debt included $79,000 of student loans. That was the lion’s share of the debt. But they also had smaller car loans, credit card debt, and medical bills.
They had goals of traveling and not being defined by their debt so they talked to some friends they knew that had been in the same debt pit but climbed out of it. They found that the advice they received along with the accountability helped them move towards rewriting their story.
The friends had used Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover and especially what he calls the Snowball Method. The Snowball Method teaches you to take the smallest debt first, pay it off, and then work on the next smallest debt. You get an emotional boost from achieving a goal and then move on to the next. You continue this pattern until all the debt is paid off.
The Adlers followed the plan with one exception. They started with a car loan because the interest was higher. When they would pay off one debt they’d take that minimum payment and add it onto the next.
Read their story. They were very aggressive, even using holiday gifts towards paying off their debts. Their social life suffered. They didn’t buy any new clothes. But two and a half years later they paid off their last debt. The date was Christmas Eve 2014.
To celebrate they planned to go out to a nice dinner and plan a vacation to Hawaii. Although it was hard to stick to the plan they believe anyone can do what they did. “There’s always hope,” Emily says. They say, “”We know what it’s like to look at your finances and feel hopeless, and like there’s no chance for you. But you can change your circumstances.”
How are you doing with your debt? I don’t ask to make you feel guilty or bad. But how you handle your finances is important not just to the health of your bank account. Finances are important to your spiritual health. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
As long as you are heavy in debt you are serving money. Want to be free? Here are some steps that will help:
- Find a financial course that will help. There are plenty out there. Just Google them. Dave Ramsey’s has helped many.
- Make a budget. I have counseled many people over the years and most who are experiencing financial issues do not have a budget. It’s the place to start. Again, if you don’t know how to set up a budget, ask someone or just do an internet search. There are numerous tools out there for you.
- Make a plan. Do as the Adlers did. Know what your debt is. Face it. Decide on what you will pay off first. Make at least minimum payments on all of them but focus on the smallest. Once it’s paid for take that money and apply it to the next one. Use any extra money to apply to it instead of incurring any more debt.
- Practice delayed gratification. Learn to not buy anything unless you already have the money for it. You can do this.
- Pray. Money is a spiritual matter. Jesus talked about money more than he did heaven or hell. Probably because if you handle it well you will have a taste of heaven now. If not, well then life can be …
Take charge of your finances today. Then start planning a Hawaiian celebration tomorrow.
Question: Do you know how you stand in relationship to debt? Do you have a plan to get out of it?