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“Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.” ~Proverbs 21:5 NLT.
Bills are a part of everyday life. I actually don’t know a single person who has zero bills. Even people who are well-off still have bills. They do not go away, but can become something that feels good doing, if you know how to manage your money well.
That has not always been the case for me, and I am sure I am not the only one who has made poor financial decisions. Young adults often see their paychecks as a means to an end, meaning I worked hard all week and deserve to spend this on whatever I want. At least until the bills start piling up. They are not prepared for the reality that there is no bailout net (mom and dad) standing by to pay the bills for them when they are on their own.
The struggle is real.
It can be a rude awakening to come home to an apartment you have been evicted from or seeing your car repossessed. Or lighting candles at night, not for ambiance, but because the electricity was shut off. Or what about mooching off of family members and friends at meal times because you do not have any groceries?
I have been in similar scenarios. On one of his regular visits to see me, my daddy purchased groceries to fill my fridge and pantry. Having gone a couple of days without eating so that my daughters could eat made that moment so precious to me and my belly. He actually took me to the store and told me to get whatever I needed, without a limit defined. Fast forward a couple of decades, a full circle moment happened. I was able to pay that forward to my own adult daughter and her family.
God wants us to have prosperity, but we just get in our own way. We think unwisely in our life’s decisions, including financial responsibilities. Our selfishness often makes choices we do not have the means to afford. It reminds me of a quote from Top Gun, “Son, your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash.” Pride comes before the fall.
Our wants often take provision from our needs.
For many years, I lived paycheck to paycheck. My parents were the first example of that, doing the best with what they had. They were the average blue collar couple, making just enough money to scrimp by. Because of lack of funds, they were very creative on how to accentuate the positive.
I have shared before how they loved to dance in our living room to our record player. That was our entertainment, nearly every night. What you may not know is that my daddy found that record player in a city dump site. All it needed was a better connection in the wiring, which he fixed. And of course a good cleaning!
The entertainment center that record player sat on was used oak doors. Daddy was working as a janitor at a public school when they decided to discard all of the oak doors for metal doors. He asked if he could have them and brought home his haul, for transformation. We gained an entertainment center, a corner tiered shelf, and bunk beds that year. They were all hand-carved, painted, and finished, by his hand. I still have the original corner shelf, in my bedroom. He did make several like it, years later, but I have the original.
Be smart with what you have.
When I finally settled down, my husband reminded me through his example how to be responsible with money. I didn’t always like the idea of not being able to go out whenever I wanted. We did not have access to cable TV (we still don’t but that is now a choice not a requirement). Eating out was a luxury that occurred on special occasions. Our family vacations, in the early part of our marriage, were visiting family members in other states.
We made the tough choices back then so that we could enjoy the now. I put myself through college and then graduate school for the same reason. Bills will always be present for us but, when our finances are under control, we will never lose ours.
About five years ago, I thought how nice it would be to eventually be debt-free. In order for that to happen, I needed to make some really changes in the choices I made with money. Although we both had a job and didn’t have to live paycheck to paycheck, my priorities were still out of order with financial decisions.
You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you. –Dave Ramsey
A friend of mine was actively using the Dave Ramsey method of financial freedom called Financial Peace. He also wrote The Total Money Makeover, which is also excellent. These books teach about financial priorities, money tracking system that will not fail, and living a debt-free life. I wasn’t quite ready to take on this endeavor because I knew that meant giving up some things.
Surrendering to God can appear scary because we have to give up what we think is great. However, when we finally do, He shows us the best that He has to offer that was waiting for us all along.
When my business started taking off, I decided I couldn’t wait any longer because I asked God to care for the business. He reminded me that I needed to care about my finances. God’s Word says to test Him with our finances. Although He is mainly talking about tithing, which I have been doing for a couple of decades now, all our money belongs to Him. So I tested Him with financial freedom, believing He would help me become debt-free by the end of 2022.
All His promises are Yes and Amen!
Aside from our mortgage and my student loan, we have been financially freed more than two months from the deadline. All of my past debt has been paid, and I really can’t out-give God. Tithing comes out first, then bills are paid, then we donate to several different charities, and still we are in abundance. All of those things I was so quick to hold tight to are nothing in comparison to being debt-free.
Everyone can obtain the same. If I can do it, then anyone can. When we make wiser choices with our finances, we gain greater rewards.
If this is something that has been a weakness in your life, find an accountability partner who can help you budget to use your money wisely. Dave Ramsey uses an envelope system, that I thought at first was stupid, but I am a proud member of that system now! It feels so good to divide the money and pay the bills.
How are you choosing to be wise with your finances? Share your tips in the comments!