Faith,  Healthy Living

Our Financial Journey

My husband and I started our marriage as “normal” Americans. I say this because I don’t consider us normal anymore. In the last year or two, we have become increasingly “weird.” I’m okay with that – I don’t want to be normal when the price tag is so high.

When we got married, we were newly graduated from college with more than $200,000 in debt. This was mainly student loans, but we also had car loans and credit cards.

We graduated in 2011 – so the economy wasn’t great. Jobs were scarce and we weren’t sure where we wanted to live. We decided that whoever got a job within their degree would determine where we moved. I got a job at a middle school in a small town three hours from where we lived at the time. So, that’s where we went. Hubs’ degree is in Industrial Design (art, y’all) and there was no career for him in a small farming town. We went anyway, and he got a job building farming equipment.

We were buried in debt and barely making enough to survive. We literally lived off rice and beans. Our weekly grocery budget was $25 with just enough money to pay our bills, let alone money to do anything fun.

When we first started out, we just did what everyone else seemed to be doing. Go to college & take out loans. Can’t afford it what you want? Put it on a credit card. Get what you want, and don’t worry about the cost. You can figure it out later.

Boy, that was a mistake.

As the years went by, we slowly dug ourselves out of the hole we had created. We sold one of our vehicles to pay off our wedding rings. We used tax returns to pay off credit cards. We had garage sales, worked extra jobs, even went without couches for a while (we sold them).

So. What changed in the last two years that makes me say we are “weird”?

Well, lots of things. The main thing, though, is how close we have drawn to Jesus and how He has changed us as we get to know Him more. He gets all the credit and glory for our transformation. We have seen Him move in incredible ways, and He has always provided for us financially.

Last year, Hubs was able to get a re-enlistment bonus that allowed us to pay off a substantial amount of debt. We’ve gone from…

  • having $200k+ in 2011 to roughly $100k in 2019.
  • driving newer cars to driving cars that are nearly a decade old
  • owing money to 15+ lenders to just 5
  • two incomes to one income
  • one lump sum bank account to 5 bank accounts

We still have a huge chunk of money that we are working to pay off, but we’ve come to realize what the root of our debt is, so that we can address the problem and create new habits.

Here it is, are you ready for it?

The root of our debt is discontentment and impatience.

Simple. Somewhat obvious. But, man, we had no idea until recently. And knowing that makes such a huge difference in our financial walk.

It’s much easier for me to look at the item(s) I’m about to buy and ask myself whether I should really be making that purchase. I can identify whether I’m spending money because it’s a need or a want. I’m able to have a better view of the longterm consequences of my purchasing habits.

Now what? Now, I need to study contentment and patience. I need to practice being content with what I have and waiting patiently for the things I want to buy. I need to look around my house to see how I can solve the problem instead of hopping on Amazon or making another Target run.

Our (conservative) goal is to pay off a credit card and a car by next summer, and another credit card the year after that. At that point, we’ll only have student loans left. We are finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

If you’re in debt, don’t give up. Reach out to others and ask for help. You can be free of this weight you’re carrying.

2 Comments

  • Patty Mason

    That is a very mature way to look at finances. It is true that discontentment and impatience allow us to get in to debt. We need to be searching out Jesus and finding our contentment in Him. We need to look around our homes and recognize how much we truly have. So many in this world live in homes that are made of what we consider to be trash. We tend to feel entitled. I struggle with this and search to find justification for what I want. Thank you for being honest about how discontentment effects our lives.

  • Jim

    That is a remarkable insight: “The root of our debt is discontentment and impatience.” That really captures the primary cause of personal debt. So simple, yet so hard to recognize and deal with. There is so much pressure to be discontent — media, advertising, social media, etc. So many people make the mistake of having their self-esteem depend on the size of their house, the type of car they drive, the brand of clothes they wear, and so on. None of those have anything to do with a person’s value. Each of us are wonderfully made by the God of the universe and He wants us on His team, regardless of square footage, horsepower, etc. THAT should be the source of self-esteem — God loves you!

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