This is part two of a series. Missed part 1? You can check that out here.
Yesterday we talked about how not only does God want us to be debt free, he invites us to test his commitment to that. We said that the first two principles of being debt free are to get on the same page, and pray for God’s provision. While today’s post is more of the nuts and bolts of financial freedom, I want to reemphasize that these steps only work if you’ve done the first two. Okay, let’s get at it, with a super fun piece of advice everyone will love.
MAKE SACRIFICES[wobbles and nearly faints before sitting down] I just felt a great disturbance in the Blog Force, as though thousands of people cried out in anger, then slammed their computers shut (that won’t be the last Star Wars joke guys). Listen, I get it, this part sucks, but if you are committed to being debt free as quickly as possible it’s going involve some proverbial belt tightening.
Every marriage has a weak spot in their spending habits. I’ve known some couples addicted to new cars. Others bought a house way outside their means (and by others, I mean a lot of others). Maybe you’re a shopaholic, or have a tendency to take extravagant vacations. In my marriage the struggle has always and forever been food. We love eating out. Love it. And when we would go grocery shopping, we’d be so proud of ourselves for not eating out we’d spend whatever we wanted there. We’d say we’d try to do better, but you know what wise sages say about trying (I told you it was coming).
So where do you need to cut back? Maybe no $18 trenti mocha frappuccino’s? Do you and your spouse need to agree on a set monthly clothing budget? Only eating out once a month? And I haven’t really mentioned this part, but if you aren’t already using a budget, it’s time to start. If you aren’t setting spending goals and then monitoring the results, you’ll never make progress financially. And if you have no idea where to begin, here’s a great link from Christian financial guru Dave Ramsey on how to set up a budget.
SNOWBALL THAT DEBT
Speaking of Dave Ramsey … this idea is all his. Christina first got excited about being debt free after reading one of his books, and specifically his concept of the debt snowball. Here’s the basic premise: you start by paying off the highest interest debt, usually a credit card. Pay as much money a month to this debt as you can afford. Once you wipe out that debt, move on to the next one, adding the payment you were paying on the first debt to the second. Then go to the third debt source, etc. Say you commit to paying off your credit card bill at a $500 a month rate. When you then tackle your car payment, you take that $500 and add it to your monthly car payment of, let’s say, $350. Next you go after your student loan debt, only now you are paying an additional $850 a month to knocking that out. It’s like a snowball going down a hill, gaining momentum, and it’s pretty awesome to experience.
COMMIT TO LONG TERM CHANGE
You’ve probably heard that many experts are critical of dieting. The reason why is that a diet, by definition, is a temporary change you make from your normal pattern of eating. Once the diet is over, many people revert back to their previous eating habits, having never learned a sustainable lifestyle that keeps them healthy.
I say this because getting out of debt can be like dieting if we’re not careful. We have to remember we dug the financial pit we ended up in, and we have to make changes to ensure that doesn’t happen again. When you’ve finished snowballing your debt, come up with a plan for what you’ll do with all the extra money you now have! How much will you save? How much will you invest? How much extra can you generously give to God (this is something you and your spouse should pray about together)?
Also, while you can now potentially increase that clothing budget, you don’t want to go crazy and buy literally all of Nordstrom’s. You can’t go buy a Bugati (then why did I link to it?!?). What is your new, responsible, sustainable budget going to look like? Here’s what many of you will find though: you really, really like being debt free. You sleep better at night. You “sleep” better with each other [insert blushing wide eyes emoji]. It’s almost like God wanted this for you all along!
I hope this helps you and your spouse in your financial journey. I absolutely believe you can do this, not because you’re awesome (though you absolutely are), but because wants it for you and has promised to provide. So get at it, and be sure to share your stories on our Facebook page of what God is doing.