How Debt Crept Up on Me

If you’ve ever had your utilities, cable, or TV shut off, you’ll likely never forget that experience. However, this is the place I arrived at many years ago – rock bottom.

The idea of financial responsibility was not something I had any interest in. I lacked skills when it came to personal finance. While I had an income that allowed me to live well above average, it was done so without any real financial skills. In my past, I didn’t just “keep up with the Joneses” … I exceeded them.

How did this happen? What did it take to get me to this anxious and debt-filled place?

The reality for me (and I suspect many of us) is that finance is a heart matter at its core. While there are always basic needs to be met, these are often not the root of the issue but rather the desire of “wants.”

The fulfillment of immediate gratification—the feeling of “success” as I could afford this—and my sense of worth tied to material things were the absolute root of the problem I alone had created.

This pursuit of getting whatever I wanted, when I wanted, resulted in a place of unmanageable debt. With my credit cards and line of credit maxed out, my daily anxiety if payment at the till would be declined, and creditors calling me with threats, it felt as if my world was closing in. I became so used to financial anxiety; I was emotionally paralyzed, and it caused issues all over my life.

Then, in an instant, I found myself with an unexpected windfall of money that appeared to “solve” all my problems. Interestingly enough, I remember feeling little relief when this happened. I was so numb to  my financial anxiety. With my debt relieved, I truly believed my problems were over. How could they not be?

Looking back, the interesting thing is that while I’d been given such an undeserved blessing, I learnt nothing about my behavioural approach to money. Realizing this now, I can so clearly see how my heart posture was the root of my problem and less about the ratio of my income and expenses.

Fast forward 3 years later and I find myself in more debt than I was before. But this time, I had no easy way out. With my lack of financial management, I found myself back into the exact same (but indefinitely deeper hole) and utterly no way out.

The Turning Point

Then I had a “Damascus Road” experience that shook my life and caused me to fully return to my faith. I told God that I wanted to follow in all His ways … but not finances right? Please not finances.

I signed up for Living [Within] Your Means through FAC, having no idea what it was. It’s continued to be one of the best courses I’ve ever taken. The biggest thing it did for me was change my behavioural approach to money.

The class taught me Biblical principles to finance and how to include God in this area of my life, something I’d always feared. I held fast to the learnings and further Biblical principles that Dave Ramsay, one of the program’s content sources, taught. It all ultimately led me to do my “debt-free scream” of accomplishment.Man celebrating becoming debt-free

After just a few short years, I am now in a place where my $150,000 debt has been paid off — not by a windfall, but by hard work and saving. I’ve been fully financially restored (with excess)! I continue to use the principles I learned and most importantly, I’ve allowed God into this area of my life. My perspective on finances has completely changed and I want to continue to live a life of responsible finances.

Do I have it 100% correct and am I perfect in this area?

Not at all.

Do I still have desires of wanting that “new shirt thing”?

I doubt that will ever go away, haha!

However, have I invited God into my finances and continue to pursue Him in this area?

That answer is yes.

The biggest and most critical aspect I can see now looking back is that my heart wasn’t in the right place, and that’s the biggest change in me. Looking back (and knowing God at a deeper level) I laugh thinking there could have been a “magic trick” to it all.

In reality (and core to God’s desire for us) it’s about shifting to a heart posture that is open and willing to let Him into all areas of our lives, even when it comes to money. To God be the honour and glory. I am thankful for His continued mercy and blessings.

– Submitted by a member of the FAC Deerfoot Campus 

If you’d like to take a step towards financial freedom and learning to invite God into your own finances, check out some of these links: