The Financial Garden: Weed and Feed

I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty. Malachi 3:11

The above passage has never been as close to my heart as it is right now. Two weeks ago I paid off all of my debts except for my mortgage, and was finally ready to accelerate savings and investing. This week I’m wondering how in the world I’m going to be able to pay to replace an entire AC unit without going right back into debt, not to mention bear the 100 degree weather. I thought to myself, did I celebrate too soon? Is the devil out to get me? Am I being tested? Why is this happening to me? After realizing that all of this is out of my control at this point, I stopped being mad, dried my eyes, and turned to God.

I am a tither, and in the midst of my frustration, I remembered God’s word. Not only does God pour out a blessing on those that tithe, but He also protects our crops! Having to replace this AC unit will more than wipe out all of my savings…But God! I believe that His word is true. While I was weeding my financial garden by paying off debts, I was also feeding my garden with my tithe. Killing off that which was limiting my harvest, while protecting young sprouts of abundance.

That’s the difference between using weed and feed, and straight weed killer on your garden. Weed and feed will kill off bad vegetation while nourishing good vegetation. Weed killer will kill everything it touches whether good or bad. My point is, while you’re killing off the debt weeds in your garden, you need to also feed and protect that which you desire to grow. It’s not enough to simply pay off your debts and leave God out of the process. Your tithe is the weed and feed in your financial garden. God promises to pour out an overflow of blessings, as well as protect your crops from failing.

While I’m unable to see how this will all work out right now, I believe that my tithe has protected me from whatever pests are attempting to set me back. I’ve prayed about it, and I’m just waiting for God to move on my behalf. So as you remove the weeds from your financial garden, make sure that you have God’s protection as well. The pests will come. Will you be ready?

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

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The Financial Garden: Debt Weeds

I may be debt free (except for the house), but I’m not out of the woods just yet. Now that I’ve completed the debt snowball, I’m ready to cultivate my financial garden like never before. All of the debts that I had before were just like weeds choking the life out of my cash crop. The seeds that I had sown weren’t able to flourish because my time and attention was spent on untangling, maintaining, and killing debt weeds. Every now and then I would see a sprout or two in the form of increase, only soon to be overtaken by the weeds. I was sowing seeds with the belief that they would grow and multiply, not sprout up and quickly die.

Now, I definitely don’t have a green thumb, but the one thing I cannot stand are weeds in my yard and driveway. Once one appears, it always seems like they just multiply overnight. Before you know it, they can overtake everything around them. Trimming them down or simply breaking the stems only provide a temporary aesthetic improvement. But unless I kill them at the roots, they’ll keep sprouting up week after week, season after season, year after year. Debt is the same way. Unless you kill it at the roots, you’ll continue to put up with the same credit card charges, loan balances, and car payments, week after week, month after month, and year after year.

God wants to prosper you and make you ruler over a bountiful harvest. But, we’re unable to reap much because of all of the debt that is choking the life out of our finances. The more He provides, the more weeds we put into the garden, and that ought not be. I don’t know of any gardener that purposefully goes out and plants weeds. They usually aren’t anything nice to look at, can ruin the crop, and are a pain to get rid of. In the same manner, as God’s stewards, we should not knowingly plant debt weeds into our financial gardens. Student loans, credit cards, car payments, any type of financing…they are all weeds that WE plant!

It’s time to get rid of the debt that is limiting the growth of your financial garden once and for all! No matter how bad it may seem now, keep working at it and you’ll start to see results sooner than later. You will start to see more money at the end of your month, your net worth will continue to gradually increase, and your cash crop will begin to flourish! Declare with me today: “Debt Weeds Be Gone!”

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

I’M DEBT FREE!

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.” Proverbs 16:3

First, I just want to give God all of the glory and honor that he deserves, because none of this would have been possible without Him. Lord, I thank you for the overflow, and all of the strength, courage, and wisdom provided throughout this process. It’s been a long road, but together, we made it through! Lord, I thank you…

As of June 15, 2012, with the exception of my mortgage, I am now DEBT FREE! No student loans, no credit cards, no car payments, nothing, nada, zilch! My, how good it feels to be free! What’s my secret? Faith, determination, and discipline.

God knows that I have a heart to give. Even though I give regularly, I’ve always wanted to give more, but couldn’t because of debt. About 3 years ago I decided to do something about it. I prayed, continued to tithe, and asked God for wisdom. I started reading books on millionaires, studying their lifestyles, and began putting the principles into motion. That meant spending less, saving more, budgeting, and naming every dollar before it was spent. The change didn’t happen overnight, but as I saw the results, the more momentum I gained. Then someone recommended Dave Ramsey‘s book “The Total Money Makeover,” and everything hit home. Over the last year, I’ve paid off over $15,000 in student loans and credit card debt, which completed my debt snowball. I didn’t win the lottery, the process wasn’t easy, but I had my mind set on getting free.

I’m not sharing this story to brag, but to let you know that debt freedom is possible, and it’s a lot closer than it may look right now. Once you set your mind on something, little to nothing can stand in your way.Think about all of the other things that you’ve accomplished, how you made it through, every obstacle that you knocked down along the way, the strength and endurance that you built, and apply that same drive towards elminating debt. Not only does it work, but it’s more than worth it. Above all else, commit your debt freedom plans to the Lord, and He will see you through.

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

Test Me in This…

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.
Malachi 3:9-11

The closer that I get to debt freedom, I often times sit back and have a “remember when” session with God. I think about the hardships that I faced right out of college having to repay student loans and being harassed at my job by collection agencies over outstanding medical bills incurred while at school. I remember trying to figure out how much I could afford in car payments so that I could buy my own car. I remember not making enough money to be able to move out on my own. I think about how I tried to keep up with the proverbial “Joneses,” which at the time, were my fellow graduates. After all, we had college degrees, and were supposed to have something to show for it right? That just wasn’t a fun time for me. And then…

I think about when I first started tithing back in 2006 and how God has continued to bless me non-stop as I’ve remained faithful to Him. I wasn’t really familiar with tithing up to that point, but when I heard about the promise that was attached, I just had to try it out for myself. I figured it couldn’t be any worse than the situation I was already in, so I thought, why not? I started tithing the very next week after I had heard my first sermon on it, and haven’t looked back. Promotions, bonuses, and increases, I owe them all to Him. As surely as I tested God, He in turn, also tested me in my stewardship over all of the abundance that was sent my way.

The floodgates were thrown open, but what did I have to show for it? Debt. God propelled me forward, and I propelled myself backwards by mismanaging the blessings that I prayed for! I repeatedly questioned God: “I’ve been tithing and sowing, but what happened to these so-called floodgates?!” What was I doing wrong? How could I be a better steward? Why did I have to suffer while other people satisfied their desires? He convicted me right then and there, and opened my eyes to a lifestyle that I had brought on myself. He had upheld his end of the agreement, I was just a poor manager of His blessings. Ouch. That was a tough pill to swallow, but I asked for forgiveness, prayed for guidance, and I’m a better manager now than I’ve ever been.

God’s word and promises are true. He will continue to pass the tithing test every time it’s given. The question is, will we pass His stewardship test? I’ve taken on the challenge, will you?

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne