Hi guys. My name is Pat from Mom’s Morning Coffee and today I’m going to be sharing with you several things I’ve learned over the years about debt and my number one takeaway: generosity is the bedrock of financial freedom.
Generosity is the Bedrock of Financial Freedom
Many years ago my husband and I and our two young children prepared to go overseas as volunteers with Habitat for Humanity. Besides having to raise our own support, we were encouraged to get rid of as much personal debt as possible.
We drastically reduced the “stuff” in our life, via yard sales and giving away, packed up our essentials, and moved on.
Up until that time, we had never tithed, but there we were, living like kings in a 3rd world country on $400/month, so we figured now was as good as time as any to start.
A little over 2 years later, we returned to the States and found ourselves at a cross-road. Feeling that returning to our home in the northeast was not a viable option, we sold our house, resulting in enough money to pay off our mortgage and purchase a house for cash.
We were debt-free!
We set up a budget, using the old-fashioned-but-effective envelope system, continued tithing, and used the few credit cards we had, very minimally, paying them off each month. Our credit score grew and we slept soundly at night.
But that’s not the end of the story…
Years later, we find ourselves in a very different position. What happened? Well, a few events combined to create somewhat of a perfect storm:
- A series of bad business decisions, where we borrowed money that was easily loaned to us on the basis of our stellar credit rating…
- A series of bad purchase decisions. I’m talking big ones: like property, a timeshare, a business, and a new car. Although made with perhaps the best of intentions, they were definitely undertaken ill-advisedly.
- Falling on-and-off the budget bandwagon. Yes, I could rationalize it and say that was easy to do because my husband was self-employed. But the lesson I learned is that if you are self-employed, it is possible and essential to create and stick with a budget!
- How I Survive on Inconsistent Paychecks
- How to Create a Budget That Works for You
- How to Stop Emotional Spending
- What does your spending say about you?
- 8 Tips for Affording to Live on One Income
The picture is somewhat different today: although we don’t have over-bearing consumer credit, we do have a mortgage and some debt and are once again working to get back on a budget.
What’s the takeaway?
Considering our current situation, these are the valuable lessons I’ve learned…
1. Generosity is the bedrock of financial freedom. Whether or not you’re “religious,” this is a fiscal principle, but it relates to your time and talents as well. People do not give because or when they are rich, they give because generosity is a character trait they have nurtured.
2. Think about your purchases. And for more than a fleeting second! Use the “walk-away-and-think-about-it” technique; find someone who is fiscally responsible and will give you honest advice. And remember: a series of small purchases may be as financially damaging as one larger purchase!
3. If you’re married, make sure the two of you are on the same page. Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you have two incomes! So it is especially important to be wise stewards of the funds you have available to you.
4. Shoot for consistency. Make ~ and stick to ~ your budget. You may have to revisit it periodically; as a matter of fact, you should, because it will need to be tweaked as salaries and commitments change, needs arise, and emergencies pop-up. But as far as humanly possible, don’t let it go by the wayside.
At the end of the day, remember this: yes, you can be debt-free, but it will require consistency and diligence. And when you achieve financial freedom, maintain those character traits, because overnight or over time it IS possible for your situation to take a wrong turn!
But keeping the bigger picture in mind…
- Sleeping well at night
- Being generous with others in need
- Modeling and passing on diligence and consistency to your children
- Perhaps even mentoring others to help them get the monkey of debt off their backs
- …now that’s priceless!
It’s not easy to look in the mirror and realize that you’re the problem. Especially when you’re experiencing financial stress. Many stay-at-home moms feel like there would be less money “issues” at home if they got a job. Once and for all, Sarah’s book, “How to Become Financially Free” debunks the myth that women have to or should be employed in order to keep the home economy balanced.
She shows us that the first change to make is our own attitude: our own approach to money and spending and debt. After that, she suggests steps, based on her own experience, that will help you to attain the financial freedom she has – as a single parent! I was encouraged to see that I already apply some of those steps…and inspired to take it to the next level! You will be, too!
Pat Fenner is a wife to one, mother to five, sister, cousin, friend, and neighbor. A teacher, writer, and ex-barista; homeschooling has been at the heart of her ministry for almost twenty years. Using everything from boxed curriculum to scrounged library books and used materials, she has learned that all of them are worthless unless we have captured the hearts of our children. With a growing heart for moms “in the trenches,” she now owns and writes on homeschooling, parenting, and faith for the website Mom’s Morning Coffee.