Living Life Without Debt - Where Do You Stand?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Let's deviate for a moment from fitness and talk about something heavy, something that can STEAL your joy.

Have you ever stopped to think about your finances?  About debt?  Chances are, if you have, you are somewhere you wish you weren't financially.  And if you are stable, you probably pay your mortgage or car payment or credit card payment without thought.  You probably assume your income will always be there and will always be enough.  I challenge you, though, to stop and think about two

  1. Would you be able to make it if you lost your job?
  2. What could you do if you weren't in debt?
I grew up poor.  I mean it; my mother supported three people on less than $20,000 a year.  When I was just two years old, my father was a victim of the massive steel mill shut-downs in the Pittsburgh area.  He had no degree, no other skills.  What he did have, though, was a temper - one that precluded him from finding or keeping a job.  We lost our house; we lost our sole source of income.

So my mom went to work and was the sole breadwinner from then on.  In fact, she still is.  This dual-degreed wife and mother went to work for a fraction of what she was worth so that she could work near home and also so that she could work for a church. 

My family made a vow never to go into debt again - and they kept that vow.  We never had another mortgage; we never had credit card debt.  Incidentally, we also never accepted welfare or food stamps.  We simply cut corners anywhere and everywhere we could, and my mother budgeted her income down to the PENNY.  (I actually remember once when she printed out her budget spreadsheet on an old dot matrix printer.....and she panicked because she was off $0.04....She searched for that $0.04 for hours!)  I wasn't able to participate in any extracurricular activities that cost money (which was most).  I received $25 every year for new clothes and shoes up until high school.  Then, I received $50.  Think about that for just a second.  Go on, figure out how you would spend $50 for a full year of clothes as a growing teenager.  I'll wait.

I don't tell you all this to make you feel sorry for me.  On the contrary, the way I grew up has ultimately done me a huge service.  I learned the value of a dollar very early on.  I learned how to make each one stretch farther.  I learned how to work for everything I had (I got a job to help pay for my own activities).  I do not carry a balance on any credit card.  I worked through college so as not to take out loans.  And I chose my profession - not based on money - but based on helping people.  These things are all due to the way I was raised.

I will admit, my husband and I now carry a mortgage.  But that mortgage?  It's 6 years old - and will be paid off within the next 9 (sooner if I can help it!). 

So let's go back to those two questions, shall we?

What would happen if I lost my job?  Life would be tight, but we have a nest egg and a budget.  And I have been there before.  It would just take a little extra belt-tightening.

What would I do if I didn't have debt?  What I'm doing right now.  Saving money, supporting my church, supporting missions - both locally and globally.  Helping people.  Trying to make the world a more joyful place. 

So what about you?  Can you say the same?  How would you answer those questions?  Can you answer them with a degree of security, of comfort?  Is debt stealing your joy?  I urge you STRONGLY to take steps to take control of your debt.  It's amazing the freedom that you'll experience if you do.  Start today; you won't regret it!

Would you be interested in hearing some of my own personal tips on avoiding/defeating debt?  Let me know in the comments!

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