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

How to Control the Urge to Spend

1 Corinthians 9:24 [ The Need for Self-Discipline ] Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

BOGO’s, Coupons, and Sales, Oh My! Retail marketing sure has a way of enticing us to spend money that we don’t really have on things that we don’t really need. You know how it is. You’ve gone to the mall or some store thinking that you were just going window shopping, keeping a friend company, or picking up only a few items but came home with more than you intended. Have you ever bought something, gotten it home and said, “Now I know I didn’t really need this,” but ended up keeping it anyway? This is an example of the on-going battle between temporary pleasure and long-term gains. At some point, the long-term gains have to speak louder than temporary pleasures and impulses. It can happen if you modify your shopping habits.

You have got to be so committed and dedicated to getting out of debt that something as little as a sale sign won’t completely derail your plan. If it’s on sale and you weren’t planning on buying it, it’s simply not a good deal! It’s only a good deal for the store that now has your money instead of you being a payment closer to debt freedom. I know, I know, it would be a sin to let that 40% off coupon go to waste. After all it’s like throwing away free money right? Wrong! The retailer wins and you lose. Now, I will say this…if you already had money allocated in your monthly budget to purchase a particular item and you just happen to get a coupon for it, then by all means take the deal. However, impulse buys are not good buys and can quickly diminish your progress towards debt freedom. It’s just not worth it.

How can you control the urge to spend?

  1. Learn to say no. You will be OK if you don’t buy that thing right this second or participate in every social outing.
  2. Keep your financial goals in mind. Before you spend the money, ask yourself if it’s worth it. How will the purchase impact your progress?
  3. Allocate “play” money in your budget. You can still treat yourself while you’re getting out of debt, just do it in moderation. Once the money is gone, it’s gone.
  4. Use cash. It’s very easy to overspend by swiping a debit card. Using cash will give you the reality check that you need when making buying decisions.
  5. Ignore marketing tactics. If you don’t need it, no coupon or sale can change that. Your favorite store wants your money, but when’s the last time they sent you a check?

Remember, the goal each month is to have as much money as possible left over to apply towards debts. Even if it’s only $5 or $10, the impact on interest could be significant. Be intentional and smart about your purchases. Talk it over with yourself first. I may have eliminated my consumer debt, but I have a long way to go in the wealth building area. Every dollar matters as much today as it did when I was paying off my last student loan, and it will continue to matter until I have no need for money. As marketers chase after consumers’ dollars every day, you be the one that gets away. Debt freedom awaits!

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

What Can Separate Us?

Romans 12:2 tells us “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Unfortunately, we Christians have conformed to the world’s addiction to debt. We’ve believed the lie that we need debt to get the things that we want. God says to owe no man anything except the debt of love. He also tells us that the borrower is slave to the lender. There is nothing Godly about being in financial bondage; but somehow we have allowed companies like Visa, MasterCard, and Sallie Mae to come between us and our God.

Christianity should be synonymous with debt freedom. When the economy fails, every Christian should be able to thrive because we’re connected to a God with an unlimited supply of resources. God knows when we desire higher education, housing, transportation, basic income, entrepreneurship, etc. Seemingly enough, God doesn’t move quite as quickly as we’d like him to, we aren’t willing to do the work required to get our blessings, or we really don’t believe that he will provide. As a result, we’ve chosen to turn to debt in order to get our needs met. In actuality, it would appear as if we have a faith issue more than a money issue. Matthew 21:12 tells us that we will receive whatever we ask for in prayer IF we believe. So we’re either not asking, not believing, or a combination of the two.

The bottom line is this, we have to separate ourselves from the world and return to God as our source. Even if you’re currently in debt, pray that God would accelerate the repayment process so that you can return to him. As the blessings start rolling in, apply it towards your loans. Show him that you’re serious about this. Get out of debt, and commit to never borrow again. It won’t be easy, and you’ll have to be patient, but God will provide. I can surely attest to that given all of the financial “emergencies” that I’ve encountered over the last couple of months from having my entire AC system replaced to numerous car repairs. The devil’s temptations were no match for the faithfulness of my God! I pray that everyone who reads this would surrender their finances to God, and really give him the opportunity to bless your lives. You’ll be glad that you did.

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

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

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

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