The other day I passed on some Dave Ramsey stuff that had struck me.

In case you wondered if I was as smart as the people actually FOLLOWING the “car-payment-into-mutual-fund” plan, no.  Our budget doesn’t have room for a $500 mutual fund deposit any more than it does a $500 car payment. 🙂  And who knows what mutual funds are doing these days, or will do…  I’m a little fearful myself…!

We are no strangers to debt, yet my natural cheapskate frugal tendencies have always served us very well in that area.  Our Camry, Mary Jane, had a payment for exactly 2 years.  She was used, of course, but we did finance her for 4 1/2 years, obviously paying her off early.  The payment was NOT $500, more like $275, but it was still debt.  I want to say the original pricetag was just under 12K or 13K.  Before that we drove a $2700 1989 Buick Century (that we pretty much gave away to someone in need when we got Mary Jane), and before that a 1985 Toyota Celica my dad had bought for $1800.  I think we sold it for a slim $700 to a family member, and a few owners later bought/dragged it back for $100.  Hubby has the engine stashed as a “spare” for his truck *sigh*, and the carcass is part of our Redneck Playground out front. 😉  The $900 tires that my grandma put on it had been swiped by a tire shop from one of the interim owners that was a bit clueless.  *double sigh*

How might our lives have been different had we gone out as newlyweds and bought a NEW car?  I can’t even imagine.  We probably wouldn’t have been able to buy our first little $53,000 home when we were married 6 months.  We certainly wouldn’t have been able to step up into this MUCH bigger home and property.  Would we still be in that 500-square-foot apartment?  Would we have our four daughters??  Would we have been able to write a check for our (used!) van to seat them all?  Would I be able to stay at home and homeschool our children, if we had them???  Yikes, those are scary questions that no one but God really knows the answer to.  And I know it’s by His very grace that we are where we are.  It’s not by our own wisdom or skill!

I think about the rule of debt in people’s lives.  I have seen it so often!  By some miracle I escaped two years of private college with something like $5,000 in debt.  It still took YEARS to pay off, but you know what?  There were other girls there whose course of life was considerably altered by the debt they had incurred for their “good, Christian education.”  Most got married during or just after college, eventually had a baby… one in particular really, really wanted to stay home with that baby.  But you know what?  They couldn’t make it happen.  I don’t know the details of their budget, and whether I’d have made the same decision or not, but that student loan was a definite factor (he had one too, of course).  Ouch.  That baby would have had a different early childhood, had his Mama made different choices years before his birth.  That is so wild to me.  And so heavy.

I don’t want to sound like I’m on some high-horse because we mostly eschew debt.  On the contrary, money is only one element in life, and there are certainly other things, other ways to enslave ourselves.  What am I planting today, what am I promising or dedicating myself to that will limit my options in the future?  Am I cultivating habits that could become bondage?  Am I killing relationships God would open up to blessing eventually?  In what areas am I choosing a “quick fix” to an end, that will cost me more later?  Esau sold his birthright – his future, the provision of possible generations!! – to soothe one day’s hunger.  Where am I doing the same?

Lord, show us where we can make choices that open up our future instead of hindering what plans You may have for us.  Give us wisdom and strength to choose wisely, and always seek Your will* above our own.

*I don’t mean to imply that God’s will for us individually is ALWAYS no-debt.  My own dad claims to have followed God’s instructions buying a (new!) car (on debt!) several years back.  While it flies in the face of my own black/white understanding and preference, it seems to have borne fruit, and I can in no way claim anything otherwise.