Paying off debt is possible. Trust me, I know. I was thousands of dollars in debt. I tried to pay off my debt. I had the desire, but none of my strategies worked. For over ten years, I tried, while living a comfortable life in North Carolina - car paid off, low rent, and high income. But then God placed me in the environment I needed to get out of debt: San Diego.
In moving to San Diego, I had to buy a car, my rent doubled, the cost of living was substantially higher, and my income was significantly lower. Doesn’t exactly sound like a formula for getting out of debt, does it? I thought the same thing.
I signed up for the RFL (Rock Financial Life) class, hoping to learn a few tips in money management. What I didn’t expect, was that a mere 16 months after starting the class, I would be debt-free!
Naturally a private person, I liked the idea of taking the class and learning new methods on how to attack my debt. What didn’t come naturally was signing up to meet with an RFL Counselor and exposing my finances. I was scared. What were they going to say? Were they going to judge me? Would they really help me? All of my fears went away the day I met my RFL counselor, Chris Jarrell. I showed Chris my expenses, my income, and revealed my debt. To my surprise, Chris did not flinch; he wasn’t scared. He gave me hope that getting out of debt would somehow be possible, even living in California.
What were they going to say? Were they going to judge me? Would they really help me?
I wish I could tell you that Chris waved a magic wand, and poof I was out of debt. But that is not the way it happened. The first few months were spent tracking my expenses, budgeting, and addressing my overspending. My finances continued to be an open book that I permitted Chris to read.
Month after month, Chris continued to cheer me on and provide me with hope. I appreciated his encouragement and his time. Every hour Chris spent with me was an hour he was not spending with his family. Chris and his family sacrificed their time to support me through this journey. I was determined to show my appreciation by eliminating my debt.
I thought the purpose of having an RFL counselor was to teach me how to set a budget, stay within that budget, and eliminate my debt. That is only part of their purpose. Chris also encouraged me to dig deep within myself, to discover the root of my spending and the actual cause of my debt.
I was surprised when I discovered my lifetime of gift-giving habits was the problem. Never before had it occurred to me that my impulsive spending, and multiple micro-purchases, were heaping up to a pile of debt. Limiting and then eliminating many of my gift-giving habits, was the biggest game-changer. Making a major alteration to the thing I loved most made it easier to reduce and eliminate expenses in other areas. I was able to release my gym memberships, curtail my eating out, and limit my spending on shoes.
A few months before I wiped out my debt, I realized that getting out of debt was not the end goal; it was part of the journey. Staying out of debt would be the next part. Before my debt was paid off, I set new financial goals. Why? Because I needed to stay on track. I needed to continue a lifestyle that encouraged me to apply all of the financial management principles I learned along my journey to being debt-free.
Today I still set a budget. I maintain aggression by building up my savings. I am aiming towards homeownership. And I maintain a reduction on my gift-giving habits. The journey of getting out of debt was a gift more precious than actually eliminating my debt.
Debt is bondage. Freedom is what RFL is all about. And what’s more in line with our faith than that?
If you are interested in the resources and upcoming classes that Rock Financial Life offers, click here.