The Debt Monster.
Terrifying and sharp-toothed, it doesn’t make exceptions or play favorites. We are all equally vulnerable, our lives never the same after he chews us up and spits us out. Six years ago, I learned the hard way how this Monster can try to destroy everything in your life- all the lies he tells, tricks he plays, and families he ruins. It’s the story of how I lost my home.
At first, the Debt Monster baby appears harmless, left alone on your doorstep one day, a “Special Offer!” You gather him into your arms, bringing him into the warmth of your home. You promise yourself the Monster won’t stay long, but you know that is a lie. He pulls on your heart strings and awakens possibility in your future, all the “what ifs” coming to life: vacations, a new car, a nice pair of jeans. Oh, the things you can have! You decide to take him shopping- a new pair of shoes on a great sale, a night out to celebrate a new job – he is just so darn lovable! Then your car breaks down. The little monster starts purring from his cozy car-seat in the back. He reminds you that he is hungry- the fruit snacks you gave him before you left the house aren’t cutting it. Thank goodness you had this car repair to feed him!
And as all babies do, the Debt Monster grows. He is no longer sweet and unassuming…
He is now an acne-faced teenager. He plays his music too loud and slams his door when he isn’t satisfied. He is affecting your marriage. You fight with your spouse concerning how to handle him. His control over your life has changed everything. You can’t go on vacations anymore. Heck- you can’t even go shopping anymore. Life is not what you envisioned it to be. You wish you could just start over.
I feel your pain.
I, too, invited the Debt Monster into my home.
I took him in the year we bought our first house. He and I took trips to Target, popcorn and slushie in hand, browsing the isles for incredible deals on treasures I needed to feel like an established adult.
A cute new sweater.
The Debt Monster grew, and grew fast. He invaded my heart and my home. At first, I honestly didn’t mind. He allowed me to possess all the things I longed for, without the long wait. Joey and I were both working full-time, and I waited tables on the weekends. The bills were easy to handle and I enjoyed my work schedule. When I gave birth to my son a year later, I quit my day job to stay home with him, planning to return to my weekend job after six weeks. Unfortunately, I was replaced in my position before I returned to work. We now had to survive on one income.
The Monster began to eat our home, little by little.
We started using a credit card to pay all the medical bills pouring in, courtesy of our little bundle of joy and an unexpected cesarean delivery. Bill after bill, deeper and deeper. There was no light on the horizon, no miraculous check in the mail. We began to fight over money- how to spend it and how to make more of it. One by one, we relinquished our hold on all the “extras” in our life: internet, cable, going out to eat, shopping… Our newly purchased car, easily afforded by our previous incomes, was repossessed.
The last to go was the house.
MY house. The one I loved, perfect in all its possessions, was no longer to be mine. We were able to do a short-sell, not facing foreclosure. Sign on the dotted line and there go your dreams.
It’s amazing how our tools for survival can be the very things that kill us.
We were forever changed by the Debt Monster.
We moved to into a rental home, down-sizing tremendously. Every single penny we made went to paying off our debt. Some months we would pay every single bill and have $5 in our account.
But you know what?
We conquered our Debt Monster. With the passing of time, the generosity of friends, and our dedication to give to God even when we couldn’t afford groceries, we were completely debt-free. God saw our faithfulness to him, even in the hardest of times, and he blessed us in ways we couldn’t have imagined.
And the amazing thing is, he didn’t have to rescue us from our mess.
He chose to.
We were the ones who bought too much. We were the ones who kept living beyond our means. Maybe today, you are living my story. Maybe you have spent too much and are drowning in debt. Don’t lose hope! If you think you are in too far for God to save you, you are wrong! No matter your finances, your marriage, your life’s choices- you are worth saving.
My lesson learned? Making my finances a priority and being satisfied with less was absolutely worth every penny. No purchase is worth losing your freedom. We are now in a new home and our finances are under control. Your life can change if you are willing to do the hard work!
What are your financial struggles and victories? Your story may change someone’s life.