While doing the obvious things to get our finances smoothed out. We put the budget nerd and primary spender(me!) in charge of the budget. We made a plan for our money. One of the biggest things we did was to evaluate our expenditures and figure out what we could live without.
There were two areas that drained money that were easy to identify. Our Dish satellite payment and going out to eat. We were not under contract anymore with Dish and we cancelled it. It was like getting a raise! We also made (and stuck) to a budget with clear guidelines for dining out.
At the same time, God was prodding my heart about all the needs around us. Friends were adopting. I was becoming more aware of the poverty in different parts of the world. We had close-up experiences of seeing orphans and widows in need. I became more aware of the fact that real live humans are still being sold into slavery.
Two things were happening: 1)I was seeing how overspending tied up money that could otherwise be used for good, and 2)I was being energized behind a purpose for getting our debt paid off and living more simply.
Living without all those television stations doesn’t seem like a big sacrifice when you look at it from that perspective. It didn’t feel like drudgery. It felt awesome! I don’t remember what our Dish bill was. Maybe it was $80? I could watch hours and hours of TV (most of which portrays things against everything I believe) or that money could could pay for meals for over 300 children with the Feed My Starving Children program or help support a friend’s adoption or pay for clean water for life for a family in Africa.
I’m not saying that if you have satellite or cable that you’re choosing that over starving children. It doesn’t have to be either/or, but in our case, thinking like that made it easier to make that budget cut. God was telling us that a big reason He wanted us out of debt was to have freedom to give.
People have different convictions on what your financial priorities should be in regard to giving when getting out of debt. I totally get that. This is just our story. God surprised us during this chapter by prompting us to work on both areas at once. Sometimes I wish God was more specific in his instructions for us. I wish He would fill in the budget numbers for each line item. He wasn’t specific in that way, but He was clear in showing that His heart was with the needy and if we wanted to be there with Him, we needed to make our spending decisions in a way that made room for that.
Tomorrow: The Treasure Principle