Are You Drowning in Debt?

We are. Like many couples, we started out our marriage with debt – matching 5 figures of debt - and it grew from there. Within a few years, it seemed like we were drowning and we didn’t know what to do. All I knew was there was no way I was going to file bankruptcy – I made a commitment and I was going to fulfill it. I just didn’t know how.

Thankfully, through the wise advice of friends, a financial education from Crown Financial Minstries, God’s amazing provision, and a lot of work on our part, we were able to pay off nearly half our debt within a few short years.

We were making good progress toward being debt free, but then we relapsed.  

Life happened.  

We moved, we had two houses (cuz we couldn’t sell the other one), and a variety of other emergencies occurred. And unfortunately, our only emergency fund was our credit cards. So more debt again.

And we’re working hard to get through it again. But this time I KNOW we can get out of debt without bankruptcy, by being smart, by being frugal, and by really being good stewards. God is amazing in his provision and I’ve seen him do amazing things in our lives and in others.

But still it’s a journey. This week, the following story from Jill Cooper at LivingonaDime.com arrived in my email box and I just had to share it with you. If you are at all in the battle of overcoming debt, I pray you gain more hope, conviction, and strength from Jill’s words. They were timely for me, and I hope they are for you as well.

Enjoy.

….Shannon

Is There A Way Out of Debt?

by Jill Cooper, LivingOnaDime.com

Live Better, Save Money, and Get out of Debt with Living on A Dime Ebooks www.livingonadime.com

I was at some people’s home the other day and as often happens with Tawra and me, we started talking about debt. Our hostess and her husband were like many people. They got married, got some credit cards, and started spending. They were up to their eyeballs in debt.

After years struggling and living with the stress of it, they decided to change and have now been debt free for a couple of years. When I spoke to the woman, she said something that I found interesting and it got me thinking. (Now we’re in big trouble– I’m thinking!) She said, “When you are in so much debt, you can really believe there is just no way out.”

Based on the e-mails and comments we get from readers, I know what she says is true. There is a way out in most cases, but the sad thing is that people often just can’t think rationally in that situation.

Have you ever seen a movie where a scatter-brained person falls into the water and starts flailing his arms and screaming “Help, I can’t swim! Help, I’m drowning”? The people on the shore look at each other and shake their heads, yelling, “Put your feet down.”

The person in the water is screaming “Help me, help me, I need help!” so loudly that he can’t hear them. He is splashing so hard he is causing water to go up his nose and into his mouth, almost drowning himself.

Finally he hears them, but he still doesn’t do what they say because he is too busy trying to figure out how to keep himself from drowning. All of a sudden, his feet go down and he realizes that he could have touched the bottom at any time.

Even standing, the water is up to his neck and a wave will hit him in the head once in a while but he can still walk to the shore one step at a time and save himself.

Many of you feel like you are drowning in debt and can see no way out. You may think there’s not a way to save yourself. We sometimes have ourselves convinced the only way for us to be saved from our debt is for someone to come and rescue us (like the government, family and friends and even God).

If someone does try to save us we are so afraid and we often fight so hard that we are liable to pull that person down and cause him or her to go under, too. (This can happen when parents help kids, when one spouse pulls the other down or even when friends try to help).

You might say, “But this is money– It isn’t water and I can’t just put my feet down and expect that all will be well. Maybe not, but you can do what we and other financial advisers have been yelling from the shore for years. It is almost as simple but you can’t hear it above your screams for help.

What is it? Stop Spending. Really stop spending. Stop spending on everything. Just stop spending.

People constantly ask me, “How did you get out of debt?” What it all boils down to is I stopped spending. I bought only the bare necessities in food, shelter and clothes and sometimes I even did without those. My grandson has a T shirt that just makes me crack up. It shows these bears on their way to a camping trip. One has a TV strapped to his back, another a boom box, another a computer and so on. The caption says “The Bear Necessities”. We all laugh at that, but the truth is that’s the way most of us think and live.

Here’s an example of the thinking that helped me get out of debt. I went to the grocery store the other day where they had coffee for fifty cents. I thought, “Boy would I love to buy a coffee and sit at one of those tables with a book and read,” but I didn’t do it. I bought the bargain loaf of bread that I came for and left.

Once, when I did a similar thing, I had a woman sarcastically say to me, “It’s only fifty cents”. That same woman was the one I mentioned at the beginning of this story, who was “swimming” in debt at the time. Each fifty cents makes a difference, each $50 makes a difference and, if you are buying a car or a house, don’t tell yourself that $500 here and there doesn’t make a difference. If you spend because you say, “Life is short. You need to enjoy it while you can,” you cause your own stress and will always have financial trouble.

If this is your attitude, life is going to be very short for you and your family. Because of that extra $.50, $50 and $500, you are almost under water. Stop being afraid. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Stop screaming and flailing, put your feet down and save yourself. Stop listening to that little voice that says there is no way out and you can’t save yourself. That voice is only you deceiving yourself. Don’t choose to believe you are drowning when you really aren’t.

Put your foot down and stop spending.

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One Response to Are You Drowning in Debt?

  1. Frazzled Mom says:

    We use the cash envelope system. All of our spending money goes in cash envelopes labeled with each category. Once it is gone, we stop spending. Handing over actual cash and not swiping a card makes you aware of how much you actually spend. We use coupons and shop for bargains. I think it is rubbing off on my boys. My son used a coupon for new items and reused some items when building a new gate for our fence. My husband gave him an allowance of money to build the gate. He told him whatever was left over, he could keep for himself. It was so fun to see how much money he actually saved.

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