By Sarah Titus
Several years ago, I looked at this mountain of debt totaling a good $30k. I saw my bills, I looked at the massive amount I owed, and thought to myself…
Where did it all go?
When I looked around, I didn’t see anything worth a lot. I had a car, but it was on loan. I had owned a house on mortgage, but I’m talking about credit card debt. Where was all that? Where was the ‘stuff’ for these $30k bills?
As I pondered this, I realized it was gone. That, the problem wasn’t my income. I made enough. The problem wasn’t my bills being too high, they were in line with the average American. The problem was… ME. It takes a completely honest look in the mirror to say that. And I became very troubled by it. But, as my human nature would go, I’m not a person to just sit still. I want to know WHY.
So, I began this quest of finding out where the money went. I went through all my statements; I got previous statements sent to me. I had to know what I was spending this money on.
The answer made me even sadder. It was all stupid things! Fast food here, shopping sprees there, clothes purchases, things that didn’t matter. Things that I told myself I somehow deserved and would be happy if I got them.
I learned that I was spending money to try to fill this hole in my heart. To try to make myself feel good about myself, because I knew I was rotten. I knew I sinned. I knew I wasn’t right before God. But, I didn’t care. I wanted happiness, no matter the cost, but on my terms; in my way. Still not willing to give my life to the only One Who could fill that empty spot in my soul, I made a vow to myself that I have kept ever since.
I would no longer spend on credit.
OK, now I know someone just choked somewhere reading that. And when you make a promise like that, just expect the whole world to hear it and throw everything at you to stop you. And… it was very difficult. I was a hypocrite in a bankers suit. I knew all the rules. I knew what I should do, I taught others. I looked after other people’s accounts, and showed them how to save money, how to spend wisely, how to balance, but my own account was not practicing what I preached… and no one knew it. Because I could put on my business suit, work at a certain place, and just automatically get the respect of living out what I taught. It was easily hide-able. It’s not like we have a stamp on our foreheads how much we owe. So, I hid it, hoping it would go away.
But, I was tired of hiding it, and more than that, I was tired of the up and down emotional roller coaster. Spending would give me a high. When I got the bills, I was at a low. Up and down, up and down, all the time.
I had heard this awesome tip about freezing your credit when you don’t want to use it. It was a common bankers term, but I took it literally.
I put my credit card in a bowl of cold water and put it in the freezer!
You see… whenever you want to make a purchase that is a wise purchase, usually you have some time to gather the funds. The bad spending is impulsive buying and I was good at it. I figured that if I really needed something on credit, I could think about it a few days, let my ice melt, and if my ice was melted and I still really wanted it, then fine, I could get it. After a few times of that, out of sheer laziness, I kept the card frozen! lol.
So, thus started my journey of not using my credit card. It was a long journey. It was harder at first, like losing a loved one, but over time, each day that you press on, it gets easier. It gets easier to tell yourself “NO, I don’t need that!” Days turns into months, and months turn into years, and your focus can be on paying off debt, not acquiring something that is not worth unfreezing your credit card for. Eventually, I canceled the credit cards, one by one. I’d pay them off, one by one, and cancel.
It’s not an exciting road, it’s a hard path, but I stand here telling you today, that it is the most joyous path. No longer am I a slave to my flesh. No longer a slave to my loans. My car is paid for, everything I own is paid for. I have no debt. I’m free to buy whatever I want, whenever I want WITH CASH. If it’s a large amount, I save up for it until I have the money. And I can save easily because I’ve been practicing it for over 10 years.
My simple answer when someone asks me how to live a debt free life in a debt filled world is this…
If you don’t have the cash to pay for it, don’t buy it.