There’s Hope, So Let’s Get to Work!

Somehow, some way, you’ve managed to get yourself buried underneath mounds and mounds of debt, and it may seem like there is no end in sight…I’m here to tell you that there is hope! There is hope; however, it will require some work on your part. First, you must understand that remaining in debt is a choice, your choice. Without that acknowledgement you deny yourself the power to change. Like any other sin, you have to admit to your wrongdoing, ask for forgiveness, repent, and start again. Getting out of debt is no different. Sure, you’re the on that made the bad decisions to put items on credit cards, take out loans, put spending as a priority over saving, etc. But guess what? That same person, you, can also make the decision to turn away from your consumer ways and walk in the things of God.

God doesn’t want you to suffer in debt any more than he wants you to suffer in your sin. That is why he gave us the gifts of forgiveness and grace. Is he disappointed that we aren’t better stewards of the resources that he’s given us? Sure, he is. However, the moment that we decide to turn back to Him, he is there, waiting with open arms to help redeem us. Your debt isn’t going to disappear just because you ignore it. In fact, the bible says that the wicked borrow and do not repay (Psalm 37:21). You chose to borrow the money, so now you must repay it. The sooner that you do, the sooner you can move on. It’s definitely going to take some time and sacrifice to get it done, but it will be worth it in the end.

Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Let God help you through this process. He loves you and wants you to be debt free so that he can use you. On the other hand, you have to put in the necessary work to get it done. Show him that you’re serious about changing your ways by doing a budget, giving on a regular basis, controlling urges to spend unnecessarily, etc. God will get you through it, but you have to put in the work. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. First you have to see it, then you have to move towards it. You are in control of your financial destiny. The question is, will you go after it? Redemption awaits!

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

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Temporary Sacrifices, Long-Term Gains

Anytime I hear the word “sacrifice” I immediately start to wonder if what I’m giving up is going to be worth it. After all, most people choose to make a sacrifice based on the fact that the outcome will somehow be in their favor. I can’t even imagine making the choice to sacrifice an only child. But God did it, because he knew that the outcome would be far greater than the son he was going to lose. Not only was he going to gain the entire world, but he was also going to get his son back. I’m so glad that God thought that we were worth it. Thank you Lord for the ULTIMATE sacrifice!

If you want to win with your finances, there are some sacrifices that you’re going to have to make along the way. Keep in mind, they may just be temporary. For instance, if you do your budget (and you should be doing your budget) and you see that 20% of your income is going towards eating out, you may need to sacrifice eating out for a while so that you can apply that 20% towards paying down your debts. I know, I know, but you really like hanging out with your friends, hate to cook etc, but you can get over it if your financial freedom is really worth it to you. You’re going to have to make some tough decisions to get out of debt, but it will all be worth it. Once you’re free, you can start adding those things back into your life that once impeded your progress of getting out of debt. What can you change now, that will put you in a better position later?

My challenge to you is to take your last month’s bank statement, and really go through and categorize your expenses by percentage. What percent of your income are you spending on entertainment, shopping, gas, housing, food, cable, etc, and see where you can make some adjustments. The child in you is going to start screaming things at you like, “I don’t want to do that,” “It doesn’t take all of that,” or “I can’t live without it.” Tell your selfish emotions to shut up! You’ve got some growing up to do financially, and you’re going to do whatever it takes. Trust me, you’ll be fine, and so will your emotions. Remember, the quicker you get out the debt, the quicker you can start living a debt free life with little worry, more peace, and more fun! So, go ahead and decide which sacrifice you’re going to make starting today. It won’t hurt for long, especially once you see your net worth increasing and your debt decreasing. Like Dave Ramsey says, “if you live like no one else, later you can live like no one else! YOU’RE WORTH IT!

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

Who’s Your Daddy? MasterCard or The Master?

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money”(Matthew 6:24)

This whole debt freedom thing is about more than just money. Debt freedom is about showing the world who we serve as Christians. It’s about showing them what we believe through our actions. How can we declare that God is Jehovah Jireh, our provider, but yet and still our lives are laced with debt? Whether it’s credit cards, car payments, student loans, etc., those are not blessings, they’re curses that we’ve bestowed upon ourselves. Not only do they keep us from enjoying God’s blessings, but they bind us from doing the work that God has called us to do. We’re too broke to tithe, feed the hungry, sponsor missionaries, build shelters, clothe the naked, care for orphans…Do we care that the work of the Kingdom has fallen short?

The word says that we either hate the one and love the other, we’re either devoted to one and despise the other. Our willingness to rely on a debt system, shows the world that we don’t really believe that God is our provider. We say that we love God, but our actions, according to His word, say that we despise Him. What are we going to do about it? Are we willing to turn the tables and despise debt instead of our God? Or will we continue to look for ways to provide for ourselves, no matter what the cost?

At the end of the day, God wants to be our source. In fact, I believe that He is our source. We just have to allow Him to work in our lives. God knows your heart and can see your needs. Will you be patient enough to allow Him to provide for you? Instead of reaching for the credit card when the next emergency comes, go to God. Tell Him that you don’t want to go into debt, and you need Him to provide. He will do it, if you let Him. God’s system is based on sowing and reaping. If you’re sowing into debt more than you’re sowing into God, you’re probably reaping more bills and payments than you are blessings. The banks may be great at selling their products, but God is greater at delivering His promises…EVERY time. So which will it be: MasterCard or The Master? Only one of them has your best interest at heart. Which will you choose?

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

What’s in it for me?

Sometimes we can be selfish, feeling that we’re the ones toiling day in and day out for our paychecks, and can’t understand why we have to just give money away. After all, we work hard to maintain the lifestyles that we’ve created! But I believe that God has designed giving in such a way that we both win. He’s not some holy tax collector that’s trying to take our money. Instead, he’s a loving father that just wants to bless his children.

The Bible says, in 2 Corinthians 9:6, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” So basically, the more I give away, the more I’ll get back in return, but if I’m OK with what I have as a result of giving sparingly, then why should I give more? If I have a home, food to eat, a job, a car, clothes…God has obviously provided the basic needs, so I’m good, right? WRONG!

I believe there are three reasons why God wants us to give:

1. Protection: Giving protects us. In Malachi 3:11, God promises to protect the fruits of our labor as a result of tithing. In other words, tithing is similar to paying an insurance premium. That’s one insurance policy that I’m willing to put my trust in over all of the man-made options that we have. I also believe that giving protects our hearts. Matthew 6:24 tells us that we cannot serve both God and money. By giving, our hearts remain attached to God (the source), instead of becoming attached to money (the product).

2. Purpose: Giving is a part of fulfilling our purpose. Flat out, it takes money to do ministry. God blesses us so that we can be a blessing to others. He designed us to function as pipelines for Kingdom wealth. As soon as we stop giving, our pipelines become clogged, and the work of the Kingdom is drastically diminished. Giving is instrumental in seeking and saving the lost. You never know, even the smallest act of kindness could be the one very thing that will lead someone to Christ.

3. Promise: Giving grants us access to the promise of provision. Proverbs 11:24 says, “One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.” If we sow sparingly we’ll reap sparingly, and if we sow generously we’ll reap generously. The key to increase doesn’t lie in continuously begging God for more, it lies in the stewardship of what we’ve already been given. Under God’s system, we’re able to give our way into abundance.

So if you currently aren’t giving because you’re wrestling with the whole “what’s in it for me” question, I hope that after reading this, you will see that there is so much in store for you! Maybe you want to give, but don’t feel as if you’re in the financial position to do so. Go to God in prayer, be specific about who it is that you want to bless, and ask him to provide (2 Corinthians 9:10-11). If you’re already a giver, perhaps you’ll been inspired to kick it up a notch. Wherever you fall along the giving spectrum, know that you’ll have more to gain in comparison to what you think you’ll have to lose.

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

The Financial Garden: Maintenance

I know that it’s a while since my last post, but I was really struggling with the fact that no sooner than I became debt free, I was knocked right back down to ground zero. It was like running across the finish line only to run right into a concrete wall…OUCH! Here I was, thinking that I was scot-free to finally start building my finances, only to have to come up with thousands of dollars to replace an entire A/C unit. I had cut up credit credits, had money tied up in a CD, what was I going to do? I had kept tithing through it all…but really God? Is that my reward for my obedience? It certainly can’t be. And so, for the last 4 weeks  I’ve just been praying and seeking God for answers. Finally, the revelation hit me.

In my last two posts I talked about how debt weeds choke our financial harvests, and that we have to continue to sow while we pay off debts simultaneously in order to protect and prepare for our harvests. I had been doing all of those things, so why did this happen? God showed me today, that it’s not that I’ve done anything wrong, and I’m not being punished, but rather I’m in the maintenance phase of growing my financial garden. Now that I’ve killed off all of the weeds, I have to commit to rebuilding a healthy harvest. I feel like God told me to keeping sowing, keep tithing, keep saving, and the harvest will come. I can’t expect my seeds to blossom overnight. They have to germinate first, and with time I will see the fruits of my labor. So now, instead of being in a state of confusion and discontent, I’m in a state of comfort and confidence.This maintenance phase will pay off in due time.  As long as I continue to do my part, God will work this out, somehow, someway.

The victory isn’t crystal clear as of right now, but I do know that since debt is no longer an option, that I have to make some sacrifices in the meantime. And trust me, it’s not pretty, but this box fan will just have to do for now. I keep telling people that I’m losing weight in my sleep from sweating at night! In any event, I truly believe that God is going to honor my commitment to Him of living a debt free life. People have suggested using credit cards, taking out a loan, etc., but those are no longer options for me. It might seem stubborn or foolish, but I simply trust God and his provision.

For anyone that may be in a similar situation, be it your A/C, medical bills, car repair, etc.,  I encourage you to keep working. Keep sowing, saving, and giving. If you’ve given up, put your gloves back on and get back to work. Know that God can and will provide, period.

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

Let Go, and Let God

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart” Psalm 37:4

I personally feel like debt is demonic, based on its attempt to keep us away from God (I say attempt, because it can only win if we let it). We have become so reliant on it that we limit God’s ability to work on our behalf. If our first response to any financial hardship, hurdle, or roadblock is a credit card or a loan, it makes it harder for God to step in. The bible says that if we delight ourselves in the Lord, HE will give us the desires of our heart, not Visa, Sallie Mae, Discover, etc. Case in point…

This past weekend I took my car in to get inspected praying the whole time that there wouldn’t be anything major that I would have to repair. The results came back and I needed new wiper blades, two new bulbs, and a new windshield! Those were not the results that I hoping for. All in all, the cost of the repairs would have been right around $600! I knew that I could get the wipers and bulbs changed someone else for cheaper, for $33 to be exact, but what was I going to do about the windshield? Luckily, the dealer didn’t have one on hand, and that bought me and God some time. I went ahead and settled for the rejection sticker, drove off, and just started talking to God. I wasn’t going to put it on a credit card, and I knew that I needed my emergency fund for another major repair, so I said God, what are you going to do?

That Monday I told a couple of my co-workers what happened, and one of them referred me to a place that ended up replacing my windshield for free! Because my insurance deductible wasn’t more than $100, they waived the entire thing. My dealer doesn’t charge for annual inspections, so I’ll be able to have it reinspected for free! Within one week, my car went from being rejected with $600 in repairs, to passing with just $33 invested in parts replacements. So forget Geico; look how much I saved by switching to God-co!

I say all of that to say, if you would trust God, and give Him the opportunity to act on your behalf, He will. Cut up your credit cards, pay off your loans, start tithing, commit to paying in cash, and let God be your financial source. I am a witness that He will provide in more ways than one. You simply have to believe. Are you willing to take the leap of faith?

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

Imagine Me…

“Imagine me, being free, trusting you totally; finally, I can…Imagine me.” Kirk Franklin

Close your eyes for a minute and imagine a debt free life. What do you see? What’s the weather like? What emotions are being displayed? Who is around you? I saw blue skies, the bright sun, perfect breeze, and nothing but smiles and laughter with my friends and family. The weight of debt was off my shoulders, and I was free. That’s the way that life should be. In fact, that’s the way that God intended for our lives to be. The thing this, if you can’t see it in your mind first, you won’t see it in your reality. You have to have an image of what your life will look like when you’re debt free and keep that image in your mind until it becomes your reality.

Some of us have been bound by debt for so long that we’ve accepted it as the norm and can’t see ourselves any other way. As long as you see yourself in debt, you will remain in debt. Your actions will continue to reflect what has been ingrained in your heart and mind. The war against debt starts in your mind first. You must retrain your thoughts so that your actions will follow. Vow to never use another credit card again. Make a promise to pay for your next car in cash. Commit to paying extra on loans each month even if it’s just $5. Pray that God would position you to rely fully on Him as it pertains to your finances.Take time out of each day, close your eyes, and envision your life debt free. If you continue to do that on a consistent basis, your circumstances will start to change.

Are you willing to see yourself debt free? A lifestyle that some will only hope for can be yours if you would just use your imagination and work your faith. I not only imagine myself debt free, but I also imagine my friends and family being debt free as well. Free to focus on God, and free to enjoy life. Dare to be different by living free. You’re only a thought away…

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne