Some of you might remember our friend Linda from the Larry Burkett class Susan and I led here a couple of years ago. Linda came to that even though she regularly attends a different church. She's been a good friend for years and even lived in our basement for awhile. We've gone on lots of adventures with her. In 1998, we hiked over the Chilkoot Pass. Several people were supposed to go, including a guy who walked the mall with me months in advance to get in shape for the hike. Well, at the last minute he backed out. It ended up being me and five women. I could have choked him!
Several years ago, a friend invited Susan and me to attend a class he was teaching on Christian financial principles. We knew the friend had taken the class himself a few years before and had gotten out of debt as a result of what he learned. I thought that was quite an accomplishment considering he supported his wife and three kids on a teacher's salary. Susan really wanted me to go. She had been urging me to get out of debt, and thought that if I realized that God agreed with her, I might be motivated.
As a result of that class, I finally made the commitment to do what it took. I was surprised that it didn't take as long to pay off my debts as I thought it would. The rewards have been well worth the trouble, and I have to admit, on this Susan was right.
In 2000, we gave the same class to others. Linda decided back then it was time for her to get out of debt. She's moving to Hawaii in a couple of weeks, so I've asked her to come and share what's happened in her life the past couple of years.
Albert Einstein once said that the greatest force in the world is that of compound interest.
I am living a new life of freedom in Christ as a debt free person. It has been a long, painful process but after three years, I'm there. God has been in the center of this process and I've had solid support from some friends.
I began thinking about getting out of debt months before the class, but the process really began when I attended the Larry Burkett class on money management. It was like a slap in the face, shock reality. It was painful. I became depressed to the point of tears. I hurt. I moved through that knowing I wanted to get out of debt. I was a slave to my credit cards. Not just one or two but four. So I sat down and began the painful experience of totalling up all my debt. I was $40,000 in debt.
The next step was to sit down with a friend and make a plan. We created a budget. For the past three years, I've accounted for every dollar I've spent. That is one of the things that helped me the most. It helped me focus on getting out of debt. It made me realize that I didn't really know where my money was going; it just disappeared every month. Writing down what I spent my money on checked my spending. I didn't impulse buy anymore.
I played the lowest-rate credit card swap game. I jockeyed them around several times. I focused on paying off the ones with the highest interest rates. When one credit card was paid off, I'd take that amount and snowball it into the next highest interest rate until the second card was paid off. When I got the first two cards paid off, I'd roll both of those payments into the amount I was paying on the third card and so on. It's called snowballing and it was very effective.
Once I began seeing the credit cards paid off, my heart was encouraged. The numbers on the amounts I owed continued to decrease. The light at the end of the tunnel continued to get brighter and larger. And now I'm there. Part of my blessing has been friends who have loaned me money at a low interest rate, 8%, instead of the 17% I was paying the credit card company. My friends made more money than they would have had the money been in the bank, so it was a win-win for everyone.
I am just learning what it feels like to be debt free. I know I won't be a slave to debt again. It will take this next year to set myself up to have a slush fund and some fun funds. Now I know it's doable. I would encourage you to take a class if it's offered here at the church, or talk with Sue and Dennis and they'll help you begin the process. And don't give up. It all begins with a thought and a prayer.
I want to leave you with this verse, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he shall direct your paths."
Proverbs 22:7 says, "The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender." I want to congratulate Linda on her emancipation from slavery. One of the things she did early on to control her spending was to store her credit cards in our safe so she wouldn't be tempted to use them unless there was an emergency. Not that she has her finances under control, I'm giving them back. I also brought a little gift to celebrate the occasion. I tried to find an old-fashioned piggy bank but instead ended up with this Cinderella bank. This might help you start saving money to come to Alaska from Hawaii to see us. Congratulations, Linda!
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Source: www.SusanCAnthony.com, ©Susan C. Anthony