I’ll just start off by being completely and utterly frank about the situation…I stink at managing money. With that being said, my bills have always been paid, I’ve never filed bankruptcy, or went into default on anything. In fact, I even have good credit for whatever that’s worth. It’s just sometimes some bills get paid late, or maybe I had to use money out of my little bit of savings, with promises of being replaced (sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t). But ultimately, there’s never a lot of money leftover after the bills get paid, and sometimes daily expenses like gas, groceries, diapers, and eating out dip into the money that should be allotted for bills.
In a nutshell…my family lives paycheck to paycheck, as many Americans do. Problem is, just because everyone is doing it doesn’t make it right…and I know that.
I won’t lie and say that we always spend our money wisely. Sometimes we splurge because we feel like we work so hard and we should be able to reward that hard work from time to time. And usually that splurge is followed by guilt once I reassess our bank account situation.
How did we get here? Two college graduates, who went on to graduate school and received doctorates, own a successful chiropractic business, and make a decent income? How come we barely keep our heads above water?
The answer is simple…DEBT. And large amounts of it! We make good money, it’s just after all the bills are paid it doesn’t feel like we make much of anything. I’m being candid here people, I’m not ashamed of my past or who I am today, or anything I did to get here…I just know there has to be a change.
Pre-marriage I relied on credit cards and student loans to help make up the difference for the money I didn’t have…and I’m willing to admit I blew some of that money on non-essentials, like clothes, electronics, vacations, and having a good time. I was young and I was on my way to a successful future. There would be no need to worry about those payments once I graduated and had my career job making more than an enough money to pay those bills and more. Or so I thought.
Reality turned out to be quite different. After graduation, it was difficult finding a job, we were trying to buy a house and have a wedding (very low budget), and bills were coming due. There was a stretch of time where we were actually living off of credit cards in order to make ends meet.
As time has gone along, things have definitely improved by way of income and we no longer have to live off of credit cards, but most of the time it’s still difficult living from paycheck to paycheck.
I’m currently working outside of our business, simply to make sure that all of our household expenses are covered. I’m not doing something I love, and it doesn’t reflect much on my abilities or my education. But I’m doing what I have to do to make sure the bills are paid.
I can admit working this job wears on me, not physically, but mentally. And for no other reason than pride! I know I’m capable of so much more and in my opinion I’m worth so much more…and technically with the amount of money I have spent on my education, I should be earning so much more.
This pride is an ugly part of me that I know God is not happy with…nor am I, and I’m working on it one day at a time.
One good thing about this situation is I’m learning a lot about myself and about seeking God’s will for my life.
I’m learning that our flesh has a way of making us feel like God should reward us for good behavior, which is absolutely not true. God does not owe us anything. He blesses us because He is a good God, not because we are good people. I can’t score enough points with God to get Him to do what I want Him to do. Our good works are like filthy rags! So I have to give up the mindset that my good behavior should get me anything, and stop being disappointed when I see people being blessed when I don’t feel like they are as deserving as I am. It’s not about me!
I’m also learning that God is not inclined to give me more money until I learn how to take care of what I already have!!! I can sit and hope and pray for a better job that pays me more money until the cows come home, and I may even get it. But when I get that better job and I start making more money, if I don’t know how to take care of it I will still have all the same problems I had when I made less money. Why? Because more money doesn’t mean I have disciplined myself on how to take care of that money. If I do what I’ve always done I’ll just be back at square one.
So at 33, I’m making a proclamation…I will be a better steward! I know it won’t be easy, I know it will take some sacrifice, and I will make mistakes. But God’s got my back! I can’t keep doing what I’ve always done and expect different results. I’m ready for a change, and more importantly I want to teach my children how to handle money the right way, and not put so much value on worldly things. I want to show them that God wants to bless us, but not so we can have more stuff…but so we can live in peace and have the ability to give to others. Because that’s what being a good steward is really all about…being responsible enough to use what God has given us to take care of our needs, to glorify His Kingdom, and to return the blessings by giving generously to others.
For now, the new wardrobe, remodeled home, and family vacation will have to wait. I’m taking a stand to work towards freeing myself and my family from the bondage of the slavery that is debt by committing to take control of the money that God has given us and doing everything in our power to pay off that debt.
All in God’s strength, and not my own!