I have a secret. I have tried to stay away from using too many personal details on this blog. Why? Mostly because I want my situation to ideal before I share it. But, guess what? It’s not. We’re still working on it. We still have debt. Not only that, but it is (gasp!) credit card debt. Ugh. I despise it! I want it to go away. And guess what? It is! Because…we have a plan! And we are working that plan. And we know what to do. And we are doing it.
We have $4,000 in credit card left to go. In January we had $8,500 plus an orthodontist debt we were making monthly payments on, totaling $1,300. We’ve come so far already! After we finish off the credit card debt we will tackle our auto loan and then our balances will be paid in full! I am sharing this because I want to say a word on commitment.
I have been reading about personal finance for years. I have been creating and balancing budgets (mine, and other people’s) for years. I have been preaching about the harm debt can do, especially credit card debt, for years. And yet, I was still using my credit card. And not being able to pay off the full balance each month. Mostly the reason was because we hadn’t developed a good system to save for periodic expenses. (More on how to do that in an upcoming post! Stay tuned.) So, when the car needed repairs who came to the rescue? Good old Discover card. When it was time to make the bi-annual insurance payment, who bailed us out? Yep, our frenemy the Discover card.
In August, I began training for my new position as a financial coach (now we are called finance personal trainers), and began coaching in October. The more I counseled with my clients, the more I felt the credit card balance weigh me down. How could I tell my clients to stop accruing debt, when I was? So, in January I (finally!) said enough is enough! I was scared to stop having access to the credit cards, because of the ‘
what ifs.’ What if there was an emergency and we needed funds? What if my husband runs out of gas on the way home from work and we didn’t have money in the bank account for gas? What if registration for the kids’ swimming lessons comes before our next paycheck? (Ha-as if these things were truly emergencies!) But, I had been asking my clients to commit to the plan, and to stop accruing debt. So…..I needed to, also!! On January 28, I knelt down and prayed. I told Heavenly Father I was sorry for living beyond my means, and for not having enough faith to use my resources more wisely, and to place my needs and desires in his hands. I told Him I was sorry for not being grateful enough (because that’s what using debt is, isn’t it? Not being grateful for what we have, wanting more than we’ve been given?). I told him that I would not be using debt anymore. I asked for His help to be able to be more wise with our plan, and to be able to meet our needs as a family.
Then, I got on the computer and put a freeze on my Discover card. Meaning, I could not use it anymore! Then, I opened my budget and worked and re-worked the numbers to be sure that we were setting aside money for periodic expenses (insurance payments, Christmas, car repairs, medical bills).
And since January 28, we have not accrued more credit card debt! And it has been amazing to see the abundance that we have been blessed with because of it. By abundance I don’t necessarily mean money. Somehow, we have been able to meet all of our needs, and even our wants (like swimming lessons and going out to eat occasionally). We have been blessed with extra sources of income, and the ability to work hard to take advantage of these opportunities. We have been blessed with good health. We have not been to the doctor for illness all year! With four kids that is a BIG deal! I truly believe it is because of our new commitment to be wise, grateful, and stop using debt. Our cars have been working as they should. And, I can even feel the Spirit better in our home. The kids have become more involved as we have explained to them our commitment. We have our coloring charts (thanks to http://www.debtfreecharts.blogspot.com) that we get to color in during family council. They have been more acceptable when I have to tell them ‘no’ (which I do a lot more these days). They are learning about opportunity cost – if we buy that toy today, we won’t get to go the waterpark next week, or be able to buy our friend a gift for their birthday party tomorrow.
It sounds silly, but making the commitment to put away the card was harder than it should have been. But, the blessings have come because of the commitment. Our goal is to finish off the credit card by the end of this year (depending on a work bonus on top of our monthly payments, and fluctuating side income (donating plasma, doing transcription, and participating in a research study on multi vitamins, and how many hours he can get at his side job at Smith’s.))!
So, what is the secret to commitment? There is no secret. It’s more than a wish, a hope; it’s more than trying, or even wanting. It’s diving in with both feet.
We have been blessed because of our commitment. Everyday, in my prayers, I ask for help to be wise, and to be able to continue the uphill climb. But, our commitment is full. And the blessings are coming, because of that.
What commitment will you make today that you have been putting off, or afraid to make? What makes you afraid of the commitment? Take it to your Heavenly Father, ask Him for help to make the commitment. And then do it. We made the commitment before we had the plan. I wasn’t sure how it was going to work, but the plan developed after the commitment was made. Don’t wait until you think you are certain of how it will work or what the outcome may be. Ask for the faith to make the commitment. It reminds me of the scripture in Ether chapter 12, verse 6: “…wherefore dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” (https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/ether/12.6?lang=eng)
First the trial of faith, and then the witness. Not the other way around.
You can do it! And it will surprise you all the blessings that come because you did.