My debt free journey, again

I received an awesome comment on my post here that I wanted to share.  I think it raises valid questions and wanted to address them, but rather than just do it in the comments (and write a novel because he raises a lot of good points), I thought I would just make it another post.  If you haven’t read that post, go read it and then come back and read this one.

Here is the comment from Robert Cullen that this post is going to address:

I find it interesting and slightly ironic that you’re chosen method of clearing debt involves purchasing a membership… Not yours personally but that Dave Ramsey person.

Also not to be over critical but… God’s opinion on debt is?

Proverbs 22:7–”The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” If you borrow money from anybody, you become a “slave” to them. If you owe somebody money, then you are not free to do as you choose with your money until you pay back your debt.

I’m trying my hardest not to insult your religion as I’m agnostic but If Gods opinion is as above – then the end of the world is nigh… Most of the countries of the world are in debt and if a country is in debt, then does that mean that the whole country is slaves to the countries lender?

To be honest if that is the case, then I’m even further from the belief of God than I am when I first started….

As I said – Not looking to start a religious debate, but I can’t see how telling someone they’re a slave to someone else because they’re in debt… would ever help someone get out of debt… also how signing up to something that costs money, could ever get you out of debt either!?



I honestly thought that he raised some awesome points (and wrote a really long novel of a comment reply before I decided to just make a post out of it).  First, Financial Peace University.  To clarify, taking this class was not my method of getting out of debt.  It was a thirteen week course that my husband and I took to learn how to use money.  One of the things addressed in the class is getting out of debt, but there are also entire classes on budgeting, investing, insurance, dealing with creditors, getting a good deal, and many other subjects.  Five years ago when we took the class, it cost about $100, and we thought it was worth it at the time (I still think it was worth it).  Not everybody will want to or need to take a class to learn how to handle money.  There is nothing in the class that you can’t learn on your own if you really want to do so.  We chose to take the class, others wouldn’t, but taking the class was not how we got out of debt.  It gave us some tools that we didn’t have before we took the class that we then used to get out of debt.

We also, now, have a lifetime membership (included with our onetime $100 class registration fee) so that we can take the class again any time we choose at no cost.  If we want a refresher on some aspect or want to take the whole class again with our children (something we will no doubt do at some point), then we can do so (because the lifetime membership includes our entire household).  Dave Ramsey can rub a lot of people the wrong way, so the class isn’t for everybody, but we enjoyed it and recommend it to all of our friends (and complete strangers).  One thing that we got out of it that we didn’t expect was that we now communicate a lot better than we did before we took the class, and that in itself was worth the $100.

Now on to the landmine topic that was set up for me next: The borrower is slave to the lender.  Ouch.  It does seem overly harsh, doesn’t it.  I can see how somebody would be turned off by this.  I probably would have been turned off by it before I came a Christian (almost ten years ago now), but disagreeing with it doesn’t make it untrue.  I have seen this statement played out in my own life, so I accept it because I have lived it.  Somebody who has not had the same experiences with money that I had might feel differently.  Let me explain how it played out in my life.

When I was growing up we didn’t have money, so I never learned to handle money.  So, when I went to college and took out loans, that was fine with me.  When I got credit cards so I could do what I wanted to do, that was great.  When I wanted a new car and had car payments that I (realistically) couldn’t afford, it was okay because we had a great car.  The thing that I started to regret, though, was that all of my money had somebody else’s name on it.  When my husband and I got paid, our money went to Sallie Mae, or Countrywide, or Chase, or Visa, or whoever else we owed.  We didn’t have enough left over to give to ourselves (that is, save), nor did we have funds to help people we knew who were in need, or to give to charities that we admired, or for anything else that we wanted to do.

Once we were out of debt, though, we were FREE to give to the needy, support charities that we liked, go on vacation without paying interest on it (our families are both 1500 miles away, so this was a big one).  We have paid for a car, a furnace, a water heater, a deck, a roof, two births, two ER visits, and so much more without having to worry about how much it was going to cost.  We have a twelve-month emergency fund, so all of these things were covered.  We then just pay ourselves back, interest-free, so we never owe anybody anything.  Our money isn’t OBLIGATED to anything else.  Admittedly, we are not entirely debt free, since we still have a mortgage, but it is less than 25% of our income so we can still give, save, and spend pretty freely.  Someday we’ll pay off our mortgage, too, and then we’ll be even more free to do what we want to do with our money.  (I fully acknowledge that there are other bills that are not debt-related that we are still obligated to pay once we are debt-free, but they are far fewer and smaller than a mortgage or car payment or student loan payment and are but a small portion of our income.)

So, that is the sense in which I believe the statement from Proverbs (the borrower is slave to the lender) is true.  When I borrow money I am obligated to do something with the money that I get after that, that is, pay back the loan.  If I don’t borrow money, I am free to do with my money as I please.

As far as nations, and how they should spend their money, I usually don’t get political here, but I’ll give you a little taste.  There are a lot of people who would say that governments should spend their money the same way that individuals and households do.  There was probably a time when I would have said the same.  I tend to have a different opinion now, though, and please bear with me as I outline it.  I believe that part of the job of nations (and I would argue individuals) is to take care of those in need.  If we can’t take care of those around us (or, in the case of countries, our citizens) who are impoverished, who are sick and needy, who fall on hard times, then we are in sad shape.  As such, the worst time to cut spending on programs that help the (truly) needy is when we are in an economic recession.  We also cannot, as a nation, expect those same people who go hungry or are struggling to pay their bills to pay higher taxes.  It is unrealistic and uncaring.  There may be times when nations should handle their money the way that households do, but that time for the US is not now.  That is about as political as I get here, so let’s leave it at that.

I’m sorry that my personal views cause anybody not to believe in God.  As a former-atheist-turned-agnostic-turned-Christian, I get it.  There are a lot of things that people who don’t believe in Christianity don’t agree with about Christianity.  There are also a lot of wrong interpretations out there that drive people away from Christ.  I find it unfortunate, but that won’t keep me from telling the truth.  I do appreciate correction when it is necessary (and have received some lately, thanks Lisha), so feel free to give me feedback.  The truth about God and money is that the Bible is full of references to money (over 800 by some counts) and one of the common themes is don’t lend or borrow money at interest.

I know that my beliefs aren’t popular.  I’ve never been normal and I don’t intend to start now.  I also know that the way that I got out of debt is not the way that everybody does it, nor do I for a second believe that everybody will choose to follow in my footsteps (or follow their own path to financial freedom).  I do hope that people will experience the liberating feeling that is being debt-free, but I hope that nobody will fault me for wanting others to experience freedom the way that I have.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: How does this budget thing work if I don’t get paid until the middle or end of the month? « Field of
  2. keepyourgreen
    Sep 25, 2011 @ 17:47:29

    excellently written.


  3. donationcan
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 20:41:10

    Attending Financial Peace University helped my husband talk about money. For him, money is a taboo subject. Almost like sex. FPU helped him open up and talk to strangers about money. Well worth it.


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