Getting out of Debt: Pursuing Financial Freedom
Financial debt is a burden that can add stress to your (life) marriage and health. Having accumulated over $100k in debt, I lived out the meaning of Provers 22:7 when that says, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is a servant to the lender.” When one struggles to make ends meet, it is easy to think that more money would solve your problems. The truth is, maybe you needed to ask God to help you learn how to manage money successfully. I pray that this article will help you begin the journey of being debt-free.
Believe it or not, getting out of debt is possible. God’s intent for us is to be prosperous in all areas of life and a blessing to others. Ask yourself, what would my life and that of my community look like if I were debt free? How could I be a blessing without second-guessing if I’ve made the right decision? Can I honestly say I’m operating at the maximum of my God-given financial potential? If you are looking to pursue financial freedom, here are five intentional and practical disciplines I’ve found to be effective.
No More. Getting out of debt may seem impossible, depending on how much you’ve accumulated. You have to be willing to take a stand and say, “NO MORE.” You know, the moment when you are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Everyone has to start somewhere, and when you decide that today is the day of no return, you have to commit not to dig a deeper well of debt. It’s not like every Monday when you start a diet and binge eat on the weekends. You can begin by taking additional credit cards out of your wallet. You won’t need them.
Create a Spending Plan. The “B” word alone gives people anxiety. Do you know what word I’m referring to? “Budget!”. Creating a budget reduces stress and anxiety from over-spending. When creating a budget, ensure you are prioritizing all the necessities first. Necessities would include food, clothing, transportation, and housing. Purposeful spending will reduce the stress of your expenditures and help you allocate your hard-earned money with purpose. Look for places in your budget where you can be saving money; I call it “cutting out the fluff.” This could be a cable bill, a gym membership, or even an expensive coffee habit. My motto is, “A sacrifice today is an investment for tomorrow.” What are you willing to give up to meet your goals? Sacrifice yields excellent results; give it a try. Make sure you give every dollar a job. Knowing where every cent of your money goes leave less room for senseless spending and provides an opportunity for growth.
Debt Snowball. The debt snowball method is the most common way to get out of debt. It’s proven to be more psychological compared to the debt avalanche method, which is more mathematical. This is important because we are trying to change the problematic behavior, starting with one’s mindset. List your debt from smallest to largest and start paying it off. This method shows you how paying off the minimum balance will help you gain momentum and build confidence. Once your first debt is eliminated, you add the payment amount you were paying on that debt to the next smallest balance. Repeat this process until your debt is paid off. Having a quick win will make you feel good about yourself and encourage you to keep going. Dave Ramsey, a popular nationally syndicated radio personality known for “Financial Peace University,” encourages selling unwanted or unused items to start the snowball process. If you own a home, no need to include that in the debt snowball unless you are completely debt-free. Remember, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11
Accountability. This journey becomes bearable with an accountability partner. Someone to celebrate victories and council when the lines between wants and needs get blurry. This person has to be willing to be the voice of reason and help you remain faithful to your goals. Remember, asking for help is not a weakness but a badge of honor. We aren’t meant to live this journey called life alone.
Pray. Ask the Lord to renew your mindset about money. Ask Him to give you persevering faith to deal with your finances, keeping you in His intended purpose for your life and His Kingdom. Once you have prayed, show yourself some grace. It’s not a sin to borrow money. Emergencies are a part of life, and a credit card might have been what you needed at the time. Just don’t add to the balance. It’s time to start following God’s purpose and not your own judgment.
About the Author,
Maggie Charles, Christ lover, mother of 2 boys, and wife. Financial Coach and Childcare Director.