Carolyn and I have made some financial mistakes for sure. Some of our investments have been disastrous. Just last week we got an unexpected bill for $5,000.00 and another for almost $2,000.00. Yikes!
But one thing it seems we have done well in our 35 years of marriage is that we have been debt-free since day 1. That has enabled us to have some reserves available to meet unexpected expenses.
We hear about and talk to many who struggle terribly with debt and our hearts go out to them. For us being burdened with consumer debt hasn’t been a problem since we have never borrowed for any depreciating items.
Scripture does not condemn borrowing. However, it does warn that, “the borrower is the slave of the lender.” (Proverbs 22:7 ESV) We have never known that kind of bondage.
How do we do it? Here are 8 keys to living debt-free:
Make a commitment. From the beginning we agreed to live debt-free. Maybe you never made that commitment. Why not make it today?
Enjoy things when you can afford to buy with cash. We believe that if we can’t pay cash, we can’t afford it: furniture, travel, clothing, vehicles, you name it.
Consider making your biggest expenditures your investments. We spend the greatest amount of our disposable income on investments: in real estate, in education, in retirement accounts.
Don’t think you have to own things to enjoy them. Rather than owning a vacation home, we have rented them. Rather than owning a jet ski, we have rented them.
Allow purchases to last a long time. In our 35 years, we have only owned 7 cars, and one of those was a classic car “investment.” Obviously, we drive cars a long time: one had 306,000 miles when we sold it. Currently I am driving a Jeep with 298,000 miles. We have also lived in the same home for 28 years.
Give generously to God’s work. This is the most important key. God blesses those who give generously from the heart. We started giving 10% of our income from day one and over the years have increased that percentage. Last year (2014) we contributed about 2x the amount of my total income from my job in 1982 as a full-time church planter—and it was a fair full-time wage. God has blessed us abundantly as we have given generously!
Pay off credit cards every month. Interest charges on credit cards are exorbitant. We have never had to pay any. We use cards without letting them use us.
Live frugally. For example, when we bought motorcycles to ride in the desert, we didn’t buy new ones, we chose older ones that cost very little.
Does it sound like we don’t have any fun—any play money? Quite the contrary, we have enjoyed many blessings while living debt-free:
We have taken our family on absolutely wonderful vacations.
When our boys were younger, we were meticulous about taking a day together as a family—a Sabbath rest. On those days we always had fun together.
We have had yearlong memberships to the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld and 3 different amusement parks in our area.We are now about to move into our dream home.
One of the very best financial moves we have made has been living debt-free from day 1. If you want to fresh start, your day 1 can be today.
If you’re already in over your head, why not take one or two of these keys and buildfrom there. Change your spending habits from this point on, work to reduce your debt and if you are a Christian, give at least a tithe (10%) regardless of your circumstances.
Many people have started living debt-free at every stage of life. You can do it also!
Here are some other articles that might help in this arena: