I’m fond of saying that Hubby and I should have received a financial stupidity award in our early marriage. Armed with credit cards and few brains, we shopped foolishly and extravagantly. Even buying a dog on credit!
If prizes existed for financial stupidity we deserved first place! Yes that’s right, we bought a dog. On credit! A living being, which could get die, run away, or get hit by a car. Or even as happened get stolen, leaving us to pay for something we no longer had. An Old English Sheepdog, Sheba was beautiful but not worth that!
That should have served as a wake up call but really didn’t. We did start trying to cut back, but to no avail. We had a credit addiction and were over our heads in debt.
It soon became obvious that we couldn’t keep up, and the bank must have thought so too.
For they repossessed our car and home. Life became a nightmare, letters and phone calls things to dread. No extra cash for special celebrations, nothing for rainy days. Paychecks gone before they even hit the bank! We even had to borrow my parent’s car to get to the hospital for our son’s birth. And that was when we started to realize that we had a problem. (Better late than never!)
So in 1981 we took scissors to the credit cards, dog debt included, with a pact to not buy on credit.
Then we worked at getting out of debt little by little, feeling lighter and freer as each was paid! And that marked the beginning of a new era for us.
One that I like to call our journey to a simple life.
We had learned the wisdom of living within our means and buying with cash only. Of learning to get by, make do, or even do without it. And that taught us that real needs are relatively few and increased our appreciation of what we already have.
We celebrated our 15th anniversary by making the last debt payment, with nothing left for dinner out or gifts. But we’d gone from Financial Stupidity Champions to no debts, and that was far better than all the gifts or flowers in the world!
Only years later did we learn our method had a name: the Debt-Snowball method.
And we thought ourselves the proud genius inventors, darn! But it’s an apt name, because debt uncontrolled is like a snowball quickly growing out of control. And what’s important is it worked! It wasn’t easy and took determination and discipline. But we knew it was best for us and our family. And that helped us keep our eyes OFF spending for things we didn’t really need, and ON the benefits of being debt-free.
Fast forward 37 years and we are now also entering mortgage-free living!
As of today, we make our last house payment!! And the Lord even blessed us with being able to pay it off 3 months early! Which means we don’t owe money to anyone for anything. The only payments we are have are standard bills like utilities and car insurance.
Living without debts has been a huge blessing to us. Partially because as missionaries our income is unstable. But mostly because it gives us so much more freedom and peace of mind!
Debt-free living comes with many benefits, but these are my favorites!
Fewer worries over loss of income. No payments except monthly expenses to cover!
Saving for rainy days. And for future purchases like replacing our ancient car with one slightly newer. Or enjoying a few more special meals out.
We are freer to reach out to others with a helping had even more. Like the Apostle Paul said, “Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. .” — Romans 13:8
But perhaps getting out of debt seems like Mission Impossible to you. Take heart from our story.
Trust me, if two financial idiots like us could do it, so can you!
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