My three kids are in bed, I haven’t written with purpose for a decade, and I have coffee. My husband says I can’t write all my blogs in one night.
We’ll see about that.
So when I quit my job, we lost my income. But we still actually needed my income to survive. Funny how that works. This presented a challenge.
I think today, I’ll tell you how we rose to the challenge and eventually attacked the debt like a cougar. I’d love to share our secrets! How we did it, etc.
First Secret! As with all of life’s great challenges, we found it helps to first yell “FOR NARNIAAAAAAAA.”
Second secret: we harnessed the power of our math skills and combined them with our Ruthless Ability to Survive. Turns out we had all the math skills necessary to create awesome spread sheets and lists and thermometers detailing our Climb Out of the Debt Pit, and we also had an innate instinct to do WHATEVER THE HECK IT TAKES to survive and started encouraging that instinct in each other. It was a daily challenge to give up even more. And more. And constantly stretch ourselves to do without just a little bit more.
I was so excited about dumping the debt because to me, this was what Jesus wanted for our finances. He died on the cross to free us from sin; Breaking chains, loosing yokes of oppression, setting captives free, it goes on and on. He wants us walking in total flat out crazy freedom from EVERYTHING. Not just yucky sin stuff. It is for freedom He set us Free… in the Greek that means, He set us free so that we could (drumroll)…
It’s so SIMPLE but we so often DON’T GET IT.
I wanted that freedom! Because I had this burning passion inside of me about one day maybe FEEDING THE STARVING PEOPLE IN CHINA, because I just FELT LIKE IT! But presently, WE were ABOUT TO BE STARVING OURSELVES! (Forgive the hyperbole). Bigger point: HE HAD PLANS FOR THIS MONEY HE HAD GIVEN ME! And those plans went beyond paying the people I owed for crap I bought that I thought I needed because of my 80s90s #WonderYears dreams!
Maybe your dream is just to buy a luxury car with cash! That’s a great dream! My point is not that we had Providential Dreams for our money and we were awesome people who bludgeoned ourselves for a greater cause. My point is, if you have something you can seep PASSION out of, then figure out what it is and USE IT to DRIVE YOURSELF!
And that’s the passion I let drive me. I thought every day about the other 98% of the world who lived with far less than what I was struggling to live on.
Focusing on a little anthropology and a little sociology and a lot of humanities in college let me see that there’s lots of hurting people all over this big old globe. There’s just lots of pain. And I am crippled in this Struggle for Hope when my household makes more than 98% of the WORLD (so I feel I must be one of the “Chosen to Fix Some Problems” people– probably Divergent if I had to pick a faction) but instead of using that huge cash cushion to alleviate pain, instead of coming alongside beautiful, hurting people with food and clothes and vaccines, instead of wrapping blankets around cold people and holding dirty hands and washing feet plagued with the ulcers of poverty, we have to dole out our cash to EVERYONE else to pay off debt!
It’s jacked that we live in a world where we make more money on average than anyone else ever. (I don’t know if that’s true. But it feels probably true). And we still can’t afford to live our dreams.
Side Question I Struggle With Every Day: How can I consume SO. MUCH.? How are there so many beautiful precious people on this globe living on a dollar a day (if you haven’t yet, watch that Netflix documentary on those college boys who try to make it on a dollar a day.) and barely surviving while I can’t figure out how to *live* on one 5 figure income? How? My heart hurts! My brain hurts. It just. ughhh. it drains me and infuriates me and pushes me to action all at the same time.
And it makes me hate how I’ve interacted with money in my past. And It makes me rear up with crazy passion to start by CHANGING THE WAY I AM LIVING. Maybe for you, you work your butt off every day for decades and feel you have NOTHING TO SHOW FOR IT and you JUST WANT something SHINY and EXPENSIVE! Wonderful!! Use that Injustice Passion to fuel your Fight Against Debt.
So we lived on that passion and that’s the biggest secret. We had heart to hearts about every piece of furniture we owned and why we should keep it or if we could sell it. About every single box in the garage. I started this crazy practice of seeing starving people every time I looked at one of my material possessions (yep really. crazy.) I wanted to look at STUFF as if it was BLOCKING ME from HELPING OTHERS. We get to choose blessing and curses, life and death, STUFF or PEOPLE. Every purchase I make is a choice between a *thing-to-make-me-feel-good-for-a-sec* and a meal for someone else. And these days, now that I’m out of debt, I don’t always choose the meal for someone else. Sometimes I choose the Latte. Sometimes I choose a trip to the beach. Sometimes I choose Netflix. But when I want to choose a meal for someone else, I can, because I’ve prepped my finances so that I can do what I want.
So at that point in my life, I made a list of what I needed to survive. I came up with three things: Enough calories/hydration daily to work; Enough clothing items to keep us warm and dry and marginally culturally acceptable; and a place to live that would keep my family “safe” (but even this was up for serious negotiation in my mind. In the end, we opted to stay in our two bedroom condo with no backyard while we had three babies and eventually saved a huge down payment for a house and moved when our tiniest baby was a few months old — it was cheaper than renting an apartment in our area; which we totally would have done had it been financially beneficial) and not leech off “The System” because we were in fact capable of earning an income. I decided to figure out what “bare bones” was for us, and then take things like comfort and social acceptability into account later on.
Everything else that we owned or wanted to own was basically an option — I can have the *thing* or I can use the money instead to pay down the debt that much faster, knowing that one day, the debt would be gone and then we’d have EXTRA MONEY and that EXTRA MONEY could start buying food and clothing and shelter and vaccines and mosquito nets for people who needed them. And if I wanted an internet connection when it was all said and done, I could have one. And by golly, I could buy a latte every, single, day, if I wanted to. And sometimes, I do!
To the demographic of people to which we belong, these were big-deal changes that made us look super weird. To the rest of the world, these are petty sacrifices that are laughable and probably offensive. It’s just a matter of perspective and that’s probably the greatest secret we’ve learned from all of this: to think outside the box. Instead of looking at Facebook for comparable data, look at the Globe. Figure out how everyone else in the *world* is making it work, and then see if you can maybe cut more that you thought you could.
Worked for us! 🙂