(this is about what I look like each time a medical bills arrives in the mail!)
Debt is an enslaver. We want to get out from under the snare and be free to use our money in a way which honors God. We want to be responsible with all that we are given and fight the temptation of greed and lust and wanting more and more. We want to be debt free so that I can be a stay at home mom while my kids are little. Thus, paying off our debt and living below our means are essential to making that happen.
We both love the principles of Dave Ramsey. If you haven't heard of Dave Ramsey or his principles before, I highly encourage you to check out his website (he also has a radio show and several books available). His provides a lot of wisdom, tools, and encouragement for getting out of debt and following good financial principles. There are a couple of "rules" of his that we don't follow (for example, mortgage as debt is OK to us as long as we can comfortably afford monthly payments on Dave's income alone; and we use credit cards that we pay off each month to get cash back rewards)
Now, though getting out of debt is a noble goal, I have seen far too often where being debt free becomes an idol to many people, especially Christians. Here's what I know:
- Getting out of debt is impossible without God. It is He who provides (not me or my paycheck)
- Getting out of debt is not my number one goal. It's one goal, but following Jesus, loving people, my health and the health of my family, etc are more important.
- Ideally we would like to be debt free before having kids. But you know what, I am not willing to put off having kids until we are debt free. Because what if being debt free takes 5 years? We are 30 and 36, and don't want to wait that long. And what if we need fertility treatments or something and adds to our debt? Having kids trumps being debt free, because at the end of my life I will regret not having kids way more than I would ever regret having debt, no matter the amount.
Currently we owe:
- $3,015 from my undergraduate loan
- $20,656 from Dave's recent loan (which paid for rent/groceries, etc while he was in school these past 2 years because I don't make enough to cover our bills)
- $5,400 of medical bills because our insurance is deplorable (we are switching soon--woohoo!)
That's a pretty hefty number. Our goal was to pay off all of that in a year. But, we recently learned that group health insurance through my husband's job is more than our rent each month (yikes!). It's good insurance, but we were not expecting to pay that much when we were putting together our budget/pay off plan. So, right now our goal is to have all of the above debt paid off by December 2014. Which, is still a lofty goal considering that our combined gross annual income is around $64,000. But, as I said before, with God all things are possible. We are committed, we have a plan, and we will do what we can, and leave the results up to God.
I hope that someone can get encouragement from our financial journey. I'll definitely update things as we go along! May you be encouraged to work hard, live within your means, and let go of the things you can't change or do anything about (easier said than done I know!)