Have you ever wondered how to live debt free or if it was even possible? Jill shares some thoughts about the freedom that comes with debt free living.
Debt Free Living
Hello everyone! I was recently interviewed about debt free living and how living without debt relates to my faith. I thought you’d find some of the answers helpful.
Interviewer: You advocate a debt-free and a primarily cash lifestyle. How is that possible in today’s day and age?
I don’t normally advocate anything. To advocate something means to get caught up in a cause and I never saw Christ get caught up in any cause. I was put on this earth to have a relationship with God. We have to be careful because sometimes it is easier for us to be involved in a cause for Him then in a relationship with Him. So I shy away from causes.
I do however advocate faith in God. Every time I pull out my credit card to borrow money, I think it is a sign that my is faith faltering because I am showing once more that I am not trusting God. The Bible says we aren’t supposed to commit murder — of course we wouldn’t dream of doing that. We aren’t supposed to have other gods — wouldn’t dream of it. We are supposed to trust Him to provide for all our needs … ahhhh well??? Did you respond as quickly on this one as the other two and say, “Of course I trust Him to provide all of my needs and not a credit card”?
Often, by using a credit card, I am giving myself things that God may not be giving me at the moment because I am not mature enough to handle it, it won’t be the best thing for me or because He wants me to learn something or grow stronger by doing without it. Maybe He allowed gas prices to rise to shake some of us up so we would become wiser stewards of our money, knowing that some day when the real hard times come, we will be prepared.
Now that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in using a credit card or having a house payment. It’s just that, like so many other things, we have let them get out of control or we go to extremes in what we use them for. We have got to start using some common sense.
I’ll be honest with you. If you’re in debt and decide now to get out of it, it won’t be easy and, like any other time we have failed to trust God, we may have to live with some consequences. If you are sincere you will be willing to say, “I will pay back what I owe no matter what discomfort I have go through, even if I have to give up everything.”
I learned many years ago that God’s best plan for me is not to go into debt with a credit card because I’m overspending.
How is it possible to avoid debt in this day and age? Even to hear those words makes me think of Satan standing and whispering in someone’s ear “You need to use that credit card. In this day and age, it is the only thing you can do. Don’t worry, God (and the people you aren’t going to pay back) will understand.”
We are so careful about what our children watch on TV or what they learn in school but we ourselves are so often deceived, letting ourselves fall into negative and faithless thinking. Even asking “how is that possible” implies that God can’t take care of us. Have we let our fear and faithlessness make us forget that, with God, all things are possible, even in this day and age?
Nothing is really any different in this day and age than in any other. Citing “this day and age” is just another excuse we use to justify all the silly, irresponsible and wrong things we do with our money. There has always been unemployment and, at times, even worse than what we have now. The stock market has always gone up and down. That’s why we have always been told to be careful when we invest in it.
As far as housing goes, I remember the real estate market crashing and burning so bad in the 80’s. No one could sell a home. I put my house on the market anyway because I never listened to what the news or “they” said. Within one week, I had 3 contracts and I even did it without an agent. Hmmm. Do you think, maybe, that my God was bigger then the real estate market?
Open your eyes and look for yourself. How packed is every restaurant parking lot each day? The next time you stand in line at the store, look at your own shopping cart and those of others around you. Are they buying just the essentials or are their baskets full of fluff? By looking in the carts you can see just how “not bad” things are right now. Beware of when you’re being deceived.
Interviewer: How has God blessed your website, blog and publishing since you started?
I know the pat answer to this would be to say, since we wrote our book and started our website, the blessings have been pouring in. To be honest I can’t really tell a difference. I think it is because God sees the things I do in my life much differently than others looking on see them. To Him, whether I was sitting up all night comforting a sick child, laying in my bed too sick to move or talk to anyone but Him or I have a “ministry” telling thousands of people how to get out of debt, it is all the same to Him. All He is interested in is whether or not I do it because I love Him and am trying to do what He has asked me to do at that moment. In other words, am I obeying Him?
We have lists of things we do that we consider spiritual like running a large ministry, helping at church or spending hours in Bible study and then there are other “everyday” things we don’t really think of as spiritual like cleaning the house, doing laundry, grocery shopping or going to work. I once heard a speaker say if you are truly spiritual, everything you do is spiritual.
The same thing is true with blessings, so when moving from one thing to the next in my life, if I do those things with faith and obedience, the blessings will come. He doesn’t give me more blessings because I deal with thousands of people instead of just one small child. Even if I am doing nothing more than laying ill and talking to Him alone, he is still blessing me.
We tend to associate what we see as great blessings, including money and success, as proof that a person is in God’s will, doing what is right. When we see what looks like a large “ministry” we expect to see great and mighty things. That, in and of itself, goes against the real definition of a blessing, which is to be spiritually prosperous, have a life of joy and satisfaction in God’s favor — regardless of the outward circumstances. With that as the definition, God has blessed me and my family so much so that I can hardly contain the blessings.
Some of the nicest outward blessings God has given us, though, have been so many of our sweet and encouraging readers who are always there with words of thanks or encouragement at just the right moment. Yes, there are some outward blessings!
Debt Free Living, Part 2 – God Provides
Hello everyone! I included a couple of my answers from a recent interview about debt free living and how living without debt relates to my faith. Here are two more of those interview questions and in a future newsletter, we’ll include the final part, my answer to the top lessons I would give a family or even a single person who is dealing with a tight budget.
Interviewer: I have read some incredible stories of God’s provision on your blog and website. Would you share some of your favorites? Include some of your own!
I know people get excited about all the big things God provides for us, but more times than not it is the little things that blow my mind. Once, during very hard times, my folks paid for us to drive back for a visit. The day we got back I ran to the grocery store while my husband unloaded the car and gave a piano lesson.
When I got to the store, I walked past the tomatoes and stood looking. What I wouldn’t have given just to taste a tomato. It had been so long but I only had enough money for bread and milk, so I shrugged and went on. When I arrived at the checkout counter, I saw the people in front of me picking out magazines and putting them in their carts and once again I thought, "Wouldn’t it be nice to have a magazine to read?" Still, I didn’t dwell on it and went ahead and checked out.
I arrived home and there on the table sat not one or two but a huge box of home grown tomatoes. I went running through the house so excited to find out where they had come from and there on the piano bench sat 3 stacks of decorating magazines with about 15 magazines in each stack. My husband walked in to find me in a state of shock. The piano student had brought the tomatoes and my grandmother had had my husband stick the magazines in the car before we left for home and I hadn’t seen them.
Coincidence? I don’t think so.
I had a 40 year old roof which leaked like crazy, but I was barely able to pay our basic living costs, much less pay for a new roof. I messed with it for years. It would leak so bad that, if it rained while we were at church, the 5 gallon bucket in the attic would fill up and still leak into the living room. We finally figured out how to set our large shop vac just so under the leak in the living room. Then we ran the hose from it into another 5 gallon bucket so it would over flow in the attic bucket into the shop vac down the hose and into the last bucket. Clever huh? But a real pain. Finally, we ended up putting a child’s swimming pool in the attic because the leak became so large.
One night we had a terrible storm and I was standing outside looking at the shingles from my roof laying in the driveway. I was chuckling to myself thinking, "At this rate they won’t need to tear off any of the 3 layers of old shingles by the time I can get it fixed."
A neighbor happened to walk by and asked "Have you thought about calling your insurance company?" He said, "To be honest, 90% of the time they won’t fix it, but you might try." I took his advice and out came the adjuster. He said, "We will fix it and even pay for painting the inside and the carpet where it leaked." I was beside myself with excitement… but then he said, "We’ll pay for it– you only need to come up with a $1500 deductible."
I crashed. I had no where to get $50, let alone $1500. I told him there was no way I could come up with the money and thanked him. He said he had to crunch the numbers and file a report anyway and would call me tomorrow. He was a rather harsh and intimidating man and as he walked away, instantly, the story of Nehemiah came to my mind. I prayed like crazy that God would soften the man’s heart the same way Nehemiah did the king’s heart.
The next day the adjuster called and couldn’t have been nicer. He said, "I stayed up late last night and re-figured your numbers. If we do this and this and this, I think we can make so you don’t have to pay a penny."
In two weeks I had a free new roof.
Interviewer: Have you seen an uptick in traffic in the last year? Book sales up? Do you have any statistics?
Our book sales have steadily increased but the increase has not been any greater than that of any of the other businesses I have had in the past. You would think with these "hard economic times" that our books would be flying off of the shelves, but I am not surprised that people aren’t falling all over themselves to learn to how to get out of debt.
We had a business for many years selling player piano and nickelodeon parts. I was always fascinated that these instruments had been so popular during the Depression when money was so tight. After doing some research, I found that statistics show, when times get hard financially, people spend their money, no matter how bad it gets, on two things to help relieve the stress– entertainment and beauty products.
That really makes sense because look what people are buying so much of now— big screen TV’s, vacations, trips to the spa, make up, having their hair done– and don’t forget comfort foods and large sizes of fast foods and restaurant food. It is human nature to want to buy something to make our "flesh" feel better rather than to buy a book teaching us how to get out of debt and stop spending, which is exactly what the flesh doesn’t want to do.
Interviewer: What are the top lessons you would give a family or even a single person who is living on a tight budget?
- Stop spending.
- Don’t think that using a credit card or getting a loan will make it better. Going into more debt will not help you get out of debt.
- Get rid of your pride. You may have to shop at garage sales for a while. You may not be able to have your kids in sports and you might have to say no to friends when they want you to go to an expensive restaurant. Pride is a sin. God didn’t kick the angels out of heaven because they murdered someone or were doing drugs, drinking or smoking but for pride.
- Stop worrying about what others think or whether or not you are making a good impression. We constantly tell our kids not to give in to peer pressure but we do it all the time. We Christians can be especially bad about worrying what other Christians are going to think of us. That is the same as when your kids worrying about their peers.
- Cut back on everything. You can save 50% on your grocery bill before you even go to the grocery store by simply exercising good portion control with your food. It is better for you, too. Go from a 30 minute shower to a 5 minute shower. Not only will you save on utilities, but your skin will thank you. I know people who have lost their jobs and are sponging off of relatives but yet they still get their kids cell phones. This is not cutting back on spending.
- This should be number one: tithe. When others are panicking about their 401k’s or about what their stocks are doing, I don’t have a worry in the world. I have invested my money in Someone who has promised that no matter what happens in the world, including with finances, I and my children will be fed and taken care of. He has demonstrated His faithfulness over and over. To me, my tithe is the best savings a person can have.
The real test of a person’s character occurs during hard times. Keep your integrity, be responsible, be trustworthy and honorable whether your situation is your fault or not, whether it is fair or unfair. Proverbs 22:1 says “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.”
I once received a notice of foreclosure on my house. I had 2 weeks to come up with $35,000 and I couldn’t sell my house. I didn’t have $35. I wasn’t sure what to do. If I lost my house, my kids and I would literally be out on the streets. After a few moments of panic, I prayed and God told me what to do. One of the first things I did was to call the banker and tell him I wanted to start up our old business, which I knew nothing about and had no money for supplies, no customers and a limited market.
What loan officer do you think would say, “That’s great– forget the foreclosure and you don’t even need to make a payment until your business is up and running well”? None that I know of, but that is exactly what he said. We had banked there for a while and, because of that, he knew I always paid my bills (the foreclosure was because of my husband’s debts he incurred when we were separated). The loan officer said “Jill, I know you and trust you to pay so I’m not worried.”
Everything God tells us to do is for a good reason and it is usually for our good. He wants us to have a good name because He knows at times when things hang in the balance, a person’s good name can tip the scale in the right direction.
- Don’t decide you are going to change your ways and then expect God to suddenly produce a miracle and make all of your debt go away. God loves you, but He is also a just God. He expects you to pull your weight and if you spent 5 years carelessly spending, you may have to work extra long and hard for 5 years to get yourself out of your mess.
It would be like telling my teenage son to clean his room. After a month goes by, he is out of clean clothes, can’t find anything and has been grounded by me for failing to do what I told him to do. He tells me how sorry he is, insists he’ll never do it again and repents all over the place, but he still has to clean his room, which is such a big mess it is going to take twice as much work.
I forgive, but he is perfectly capable of cleaning it himself, so he has to clean up his own mess.
Here’s something to think about:
In Matthew 6:24, the Bible says “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” We always think that this verse relates to having lots or money, that it only concerns the wealthy or those seeking wealth, but it can pertain to the poor and those in debt, too.
Be careful. What controls your waking thoughts? God or money? What do you seek after more? God or a way to pay your debts? What do you talk about more with your family? God or how the bills are piling up “in these hard economic times“? Do you spend all of your money eating out, playing a game of golf, buying your kids sports uniforms and dance lessons and having your nails done or do you first tithe?
I have found most people give their money to whoever or whatever has their heart and soul. I don’t say these things to condemn you but to get you thinking, “Do I have things mixed up? Can I do something differently? Do I need to change something, even if it is something small?”
We guard our families in so many areas. Don’t let Satan sneak in the back door with this and destroy you, your family and your testimony.
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