Depending on the statistic, the average amount of credit card debt in America is around $10,000. When you factor the interest you pay on that debt, the amount skyrockets in what you pay to get out of debt.
Jana and I had been debt free before we moved into our home. We thought we were in a good situation when we bought the house. Unfortunately, we didn’t really appreciate all the ancillary costs that came with home ownership.
One month into home ownership, Liam was born. All sorts of new expenses arose that we knew would happen. Coming on the heels of all our new home ownership costs, it made finances tight. We were back to using our credit card more often than we’d like.
Debt crept back in on us. It was not intentional, but it was our reality. It seemed like each time we had it under control, something would pop up from nowhere. We need new brakes. Jana fractures her leg. Or, it was a planned expense, like more kids. 🙂 However, the health costs have increased with each of our boys.
It was never ending.
Part of the reason it was difficult to climb out of debt was due to being a single income home. This was a conscious decision on our part, and never once during the past few years did we consider Jana going back to work. First and foremost, it was important to us to have her in the home raising our boys during the day. Secondly, any income she would have from a second job would primarily go to childcare for our boys. We didn’t see the gain in that. We wouldn’t be paying off our debt any faster we concluded, and now someone else would be raising our boys.
What was the answer?
In late summer of 2010, I was convicted by the debt we had. I remember being challenged by God on a few of my expenses. “Do I need cable tv? Would I really put Husker football over the well-being of my family?” The answer was obviously no, but addressing it started me on a journey toward minimalism.*
In pursuing minimalism, one of the things I started to do was attack our debt with fervor. I can’t recall exactly, but at the time I believe our debt was back near $10,000. Again, Jana and I were not extravagant with the purchases we made, but we still couldn’t come out from under the debt we had.
Throughout all this I was praying a lot for God’s provision to get out of debt. I was also asking for increased wisdom with all financial matters, and asking for forgiveness when things came to mind where I was not prudent with our finances.
Did God answer those prayers? Yes, but not in the manner I had hoped initially. I’m glad it didn’t happen quickly, like I initially hoped. The past eighteen months have been wonderful in refining me, and teaching me, when it came to financial decision-making and planning.
As we chipped away at our debt, we saw God provide for us in little ways. A meal provided here and there, someone giving us money without being asked, finding favor when cutting expenses with our various bills, getting a raise at work, doing The RID Project…these things and more showed us God’s provision. We still had expenses with the birth of Gideon, and with our home and car, but our debt didn’t skyrocket. The light at the end of the (debt) tunnel was getting bigger and bigger.
Recently, we received our federal tax refund, and I was able to use it to pay off what remained with our credit card debt. What a wonderful feeling. Let me say that again. WHAT A WONDERFUL FEELING!
The first thing I did was work on a new monthly budget. It was nice to draw one up without having to factor money for credit card debt.
It’s interesting, being out of debt has renewed my pursuit of minimalism. Also, I’m excited at helping in a greater way those in need.
It’s nice to be out of the red, and into the black.