Going the Distance With Debt
I just wanted to brag a little. Here is a screenshot of our odometer on our 1997 Toyota Camry. 200,000 miles!!! Happy B-Day. Just to reward the faithful Camry i installed brand new Monroe quick struts. They were buy 3 get 1 free in the month of May! Now she rides smoother than butta! Can’t say that i’ll ever install quick struts again. I literally lost 6 lbs in one day just trying to take out old struts and install new quick struts!
Who cares about stupid stuff like this, right? Ha! Well, this blog is about stewardship right? I’d like to explain why this is important to me.
My family is probably comfortable enough right now to make car payments on a new vehicle, but we don’t want the debt. We have two bills that could be considered ‘debt’. One, is our mortgage, and two, is my school loan, which i purposely am not paying off due to the low interest rate. A few years ago, this was not the case. We had unsecured debt that had accumulated up to 5 figures!
I don’t consider myself debt-free simply because of our mortgage. But nonetheless, i think a mortgage is one of those investments that deserves an exemption to the ‘debt list’, considering it is an asset and holds equity. I could sell it today and have no debt or surplus tomorrow. Anyway, i have two reasons below that help explain the secret to paying off so much debt.
Love to Work
W.O.R.K. Yeah. i worked my @$$ off! Really, there was not extravagant things for my wife and i to cut back on. We have no cable TV. We don’t eat out often. Our vacations are around every year-and-a-half, and it’s not extravagant. Sure. we cut back some, and i’ll go over that below. But, all in all it was the gift and ability that God gave me to work.
Some of ya’ll lazy bums need to get out there and work and do it hard. Just imagine if we enforced 1 Thessalonians 3:10, “If a man will not work, he shall not eat”? We’d have a bunch of starving people, wouldn’t we? The ability to work is one of the greatest gifts and one of the first gifts that God has ever given to us. If you think heaven is going to be a work-free zone while you sit back and sip martini’s, you have something coming for ya. Genesis 2:15 says, “Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” I believe God put man to work immediately because God felt worshiped by it. Work was the very first form of worship that man ever did for God. Many people get confused because they think that work is part of the curse of sin. Work should be fun, but unfortunately, our sin gets in the way. So the next time you are sitting in your office at work, or on the construction zone; don’t forget that your penny loafers and steel-toe boots are standing on holy ground.
About 2 years ago i have had my own web design business, and it was in the early stages. So I got a 2nd job. I worked 4 days a week from 4:30am to 9:30am. Then, after my shift at my part time job, i traveled home and worked on my business til 5pm.It takes work people! Don’t be lazy and learn to love to work.
I’m sure you read the word, ‘budget’ and you think i’m going to endorse it, but can i admit another secret? I didn’t budget. Budget’s are too depressing for me. I tried a budget at one point and i hated it. But here’s what i did do. I took one opportunity to look at our expenses (Mint.com endorsement here), and then compare our income. I make sure that i can operate within my means with the basic necessities included in the initial plan. After calculating my costs and i know i can make it financially, i don’t look at it again. Truth be told, i rarely check my balance at my bank. I’m sure most think that’s kind of risky, but if i’m always operating within my means, why do i need to worry about the pennies and calculations? All it did for me was get me panicked, worried, and stressed.
If you think coming up with a budget is the magic bullet, or if you think the budget plan is what got so many families out of debt. I’m no expert but i’d have to disagree – it was the fact that they learned to say, NO! No to eating out. No to overpriced food. No, to extravagent lifestyles. No, to exhuming every single extra dime you get. No to the new toys, and cars, and sneakers, i-pods, i-phones, i-touches, and i-things. NO NO NOOOOO! Learn to say it.
My wife would get annoyed at my predictability when she’d inquire about buying something for the kids. She knew the first thing i’d say is, “do we need it?” If i knew we needed it, then i knew i planned for it, so we bought it. I didn’t get out my check book to see my balance. I didn’t carry budgeting envelopes with me. I don’t want to slam budgeting, but if you can’t learn to say NO, then what’s the point of budgeting if you have disciplined yourself to say the magic word – NO.
For me budgeting is much like dieting. My part time job was working at a gym, so i witnessed lots of types of diets and exercise routines. With dieting, there are those that get out measuring spoons and measuring cups and weight scales to calculate their meals. That’s sooo depressing and takes all the fun out of eating. I’d like to enjoy my food, not treat it like a chemistry project. If i wanted to diet and also enjoy my food at the same time, i might just learned to say, NO, instead of getting all scientific with eating! By the way, that’s another thing . . . i lost 20 pounds this past year through eating healthy and exercising. I contribute it to the fact that i learned to say, NO. When i was offered desert, i didn’t whip out my calorie calculator and calorie envelopes and figure out if i can afford desert that night. Sorry Dave, Sorry Crown, it’s the way i feel. It’s amazing how trimming the waist is similar to trimming your debt.
If you look at our Camry, the back left fender is rusting out, the front driver’s side door does not even match the rest of the car since it was replaced with a junk yard door. The paint is also fading and chipping away fast. It’s not a pretty sight. This reminds me of a reason why a majority of us get into so much debt; we’re most concerned about preserving our leather and our paint job. In a spiritual sense, we’re more concerned with how we look outwardly than we are concerned with how many miles were putting on the odometer for God.
When i pull up in the parking lot, i think my Camry is the best car in the lot. I wonder if God sees us the same way? I’m sure he looks past the dings and the dents from all the troubles and trials from the outside environment, but he takes a look at what we’re doing for him. How many miles have you put on God’s odometer this week? My challenge to you is to go the distance with God and leave the debt where it belongs.