And other questions having Financial Freedom has caused me to ask.
For most of my life, I have been asked — and have been asking myself — common questions like these:
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
“What kind of car do you want to drive?”
“Where do you want to live?”
“How much money do you want to make?”
“Will you ever get rich? How will you know if you’re rich?”
Recently, however, I’ve found that my internal questions are not matching up with those of most of my family and friends. Well, I mean seriously, to how many people can you really ask that title question? And, maybe more importantly, do you really have anyone in your life you can trust to help you coordinate your Birkenstock/Speedo outfits? Really?
You may be asking yourself something like, “I wonder what changed in his life? Did he have a psychotic break or something? Should I call 9–1–1?”
Not to worry. As far as I know, I am of sound mind. I don’t need medical or psychiatric attention.
Depending on your perspective, you may call me crazy. It’s okay, I’ve been called that before. Not only have I heard the words, but I’ve also seen the looks of disbelief on people’s faces — and I’m not talking about my choice of clothing.
I’m talking about my choice of lifestyle.
You see, over a decade-and-a-half ago my wife and I made a decision to deviate from the lifestyle we were currently living — one that we had known our whole lives, truly the only lifestyle we knew existed. That is until we were introduced to something… well, alternative.
Our alternative lifestyle choice
Yes, we live what you might call an “alternative lifestyle”, and we started involving our kids at an early age. Don’t worry. This is totally G-rated. In fact, after you learn more, you may want to get your family involved, too.
You see, somewhere around 2003, my wife and I were relative newlyweds, we’d spent the first three years of our marriage like most people we knew — buying stuff we could only afford with credit cards, and driving cars and other toys we paid for by the month. Oh, and there was the house in the nice neighborhood. Let’s not even talk about the student loans.
In short, we were young, in love and up to our eyeballs in debt. We were working hard to move up in our careers and we were keeping our spending ahead of our promotions. It didn’t take us long before we were fed up with having nothing to show for our hard work but aging toys and growing bills.
Something had to change
Then came the day I was driving home from an out-of-town meeting and while flipping through the talk radio stations came across a guy talking about using “the Baby Steps” to get out of debt. At that time, the name Dave Ramsey didn’t mean anything to me. In fact, I’d all but forgotten it by the time I got home — I was using all my brain power on the remainder of the two-hour drive trying to remember all of the Baby Steps I could.
I walked into the house and word-vomitted as much as I could remember all over Nicole. She looked at me like I was crazy. However, as soon as I got all of the words out of my head, it made enough room for me to better organize my thoughts and I was able to communicate to her that it was very possible to get out of debt — to have no monthly bills at all other than utilities.
She was interested, and wanted to know how we could get started. By this time, I had forgotten Dave Ramsey’s name, so it was tough when we got to our local bookstore and looked around for some reference material to start this new lifestyle. There were only a handful of books from which to choose, and we settled on a short paperback called No More Debt by Creflo A. Dollar, Jr. We picked it because it was short and cheap — we thought we could read it quickly to get started quickly, and we could buy it without a credit card.
Free help to get out of debt
One of the things that the book recommended was that all plans to get out of debt should start with prayer. For a couple of broke Christians, this was a great plan because who better to ask for help than He who owns the cattle on a thousand hills. And even better it was FREE.
We began to pray together almost immediately that God would help us get out of debt. We prayed together daily, and I know I prayed by myself several times a day for days… weeks… months…
We put together a budget and worked on it frequently, at first. (It got easier after a while and didn’t require much work after a few months.) We were working at the same company at the time, so we both got paid on the same days of the month. We had amounts budgeted to pay cash for everything we could, and withdrew the money on pay day. Neither of us spent a dollar that the other didn’t know about. (This was mostly for me; I’m the spender.) We closed [most of] our credit cards. We made a plan to put money in our savings account for emergencies. We swore we would not take out any more debt.
We kept praying. We made slow, small progress at first.
Then I lost my job…
Stay tuned for Part 2 I Lost My Job & Found My Freedom
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