Monday, March 23, 2009

FREEDOM and Financial Peace Testamonial Part 2: Debt Grows




Part 2: Debt Grows



The next year began with some transitions. I lost my job twice in 2002. Since I had no savings, I mean why save when you have credit, I used my credit card to pay bills and get by. My future wife also had some financial issues and we used my credit card to cover several of her bills as well. Add to this the use of the card for impulse buys, and the debt started to mount. The balance was growing faster than my salary. I spent lots of time in spread sheets trying to figure out how and when this thing would be paid off. The timeline went on and on.
In October of 2002, one year after purchasing the car, I was born-again. My future wife and I were split up again and I had lost my job. I was at the bottom. I heard God’s voice clearly tell me to call my future wife. I thought I was crazy, but I went along with the conviction that was planted in my head. I picked up the phone and called her. She was just as surprised as she also thought she wouldn’t hear from me again. We had a good conversation, but I wasn’t there yet. A week later, while driving in my debt laden car, I came to Christ.
Since this testimonial is centered around debt, I will keep it focused there and won’t discuss all of the blessings that came not relating to debt, such as marriage and 5 kids. The next 10 months I worked as a temp, working 60 hours because the overtime was the only thing keeping me afloat. My future wife and I, not known for extravagant purchases, still managed to increase the debt load with little things, like eating out and planning for a very modest wedding. Working as a temp is a challenge because you never know when it could be your last day. This was a great time for me to trust in the Lord. As I increased my faith, more doors were made open. I was eventually hired as a permanent employee and have continued to work for this firm, doubling my starting pay in 6 years.
Also, during this time, we decided to have my wife quit her job one month before the wedding. We thought that with our combined income and decreased bills, this would be good timing for her to find a job that would be less demanding and allow her to spend more time with her daughter, my future step-daughter, who would become my future adopted daughter. Two months after we were married, my wife was pregnant and never went back to work (you can start to see the blessings really come in).
One income put a stress on our finances, but the rewards of my wife staying at home were great. In reality, we had a negative cash flow for the first year. With a negative cash flow, our credit card came in handy. It is amazing that once you reach your limit on a card, two things happen. First, your credit limit increases. Second, you apply for that second card, the one with the 0% for balance transfers, as if that will solve your problems. While our blessings were multiplying, our debt was too. At this point in 2003, we had two cards and two cars worth of debt. In 2004, our daughter was born and we bought a house. Like so many millions of other people, we financed 7k of debt into our house. Even with this transfer, we still had some debt left over on the card(s). We were too ignorant at the time to cut them up, so what did we do for the next 2.5 years? CHARGE IT. Little things here and there over that time, and our debt managed to go as high as 17k, with no savings. It was amazing, with 17k in debt, we really didn’t have anything to show for it.
During this time, the van started to fall apart. It began when the paint started chipping off, which is very odd for newer cars, but very symbolic of what that van represented. Our van has never had any major mechanical breakdowns, but has been plagued with so many other things, I think it was God’s way of reminding me not to repeat the bad choices I made in the past. In addition to the fact that the Van is now nicknamed ‘brown top’ because of its rusted roof, allow me to list all of the other defects: Service engine light on for 6 straight years, faulty tail lights and indicator, washer fluid indicator comes on whenever washers are used, radio doesn’t work, seatbelt needed to be replaced, faulty rear hatch lock, control panel dials flicker in heat, cup holder busted, windshield wiper skips across windshield, running boards falling off, faulty locks, slipping transmission. And so the debt grew.

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