I recently was convicted by some things in my financial life.
All my adult life, I’ve been told that there is such a thing as “good debt”. This is the kind of debt that boosts your credit score. For example, I remember being about 20 years old and going in to my bank to see if we qualified for a credit card; something I was told would boost my credit score. What I was told was that because I had no debts, I had what is called, “Insufficient credit history.” Credit is dependent on having (and hopefully paying off) debt. Credit is built over time by having and paying off debt. It shows creditors you’re trustworthy in paying on time the amounts you owe. At least that’s what I was told, and believed for years, and my husband as well.
But is it not more prudent to avoid taking on payments for things you can’t afford outright?
I know, I know… I used to say, well if I have the money in my account to pay for it, and just use the credit card to build credit and immediately pay off it’s balance, that’s fine, right?
Except the thing is that never actually works out. We always end up with some emergency or unexpected purchase, or unplanned repair. One thing leads to another and before ya know it, we’ve got those unexpected purchases on credit without the immediate funds to back it up. Instead of just building an emergency fund for those unexpected expenses, I’ve spent frivolously on wants and relied on credit for emergencies.
That my friends is slavery.
Basically, until I feel like we have things under control again, we’re going to have a pretty unvaried diet. Unvaried doesn’t mean unbalanced- we’ll still be doing paleo style meals with plenty of protein and veggies. But, instead of steak and salmon, we’ll be having a lot more rice and beans, or chicken. I’ve discovered the ways to eat healthily for less money, and part of that is knowing how to grow and prepare your own vegetables. The other part is being creative in your meal combinations. For example, we had Oats and Custard for breakfast this morning. It’s becoming a family favorite, and no one ever complains about it, so I’m going to add it to the list of “No whining” meals I can prepare.
As for earning more, we already gross plenty! My husband can only work so many hours. With me staying home with the kids, we’re saving thousands a year on childcare costs which would ultimately offset any out-of-the-home work I could do… I worked at a daycare and after 50 hours a week and discounted childcare, I was only bringing in $100 each month… not worth the heartache of missing my son’s firsts. So we’re regrouping (and repenting) and looking for other streams of income, but mostly just looking to wisely steward what we’re already earning.
What I realized was that I was a slave to two masters- on the one hand striving to follow God and live biblically. On the other, I was still basing a big area of my life on the opinions and wisdom of people instead of what I was reading in Scripture. Instead of changing my mindset, I just looked for ways to make more money, ways to cut costs… When in reality, it was a heart problem- I was choosing to have debt and coming up short each month with nothing to show for it. God finally got through my thick skull and showed me I was choosing to live in slavery to finances.
Overall, I have to say that it was sort of a painful realization to be hit with the Truth in such a real way. I had dabbled with conviction of financial disobedience to Scripture in the past, but it was never anything that I thought really affected me or manifested itself in my life. Fast forward 5 years and 3 kids, and God has finally softened and changed my heart. I realized I can’t continue to claim that I live according to Biblical Truth and continue to live my financial life according to the world’s standards. That’s not obedience. That’s not Truth. Anything that isn’t the truth is a lie, and I had found myself living a lie- Praying for God to provide for me and claiming to walk in obedience to Him, but simultaneously ignoring Scripture’s call for me to live according to God’s standard in favor of the worldly one. Over and over again, the Bible teaches that debt is bad, because it forces our focus on money rather than on trusting God’s provision. I’m not going to live that way anymore. It’s going to take a little bit of time, but praise God, I’m finally on the right track without any huge losses suffered.
What walls has God had to break down in order to lead you to greater obedience and greater freedom?