Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Heroes, pt. 2 - Debt is dumb

Well, back to my heroes. Remember that my heroes are people who have impacted my worldview. They are not necessarily people who have done something remarkable.

Spiderman was first.

This week I will share with you why Dave Ramsey is my hero.

Let me take you back to college. I was out on my own for the first time, ever. I had an apartment with a classmate from college. I wasn't a party-animal. In fact, I was employed at a campus ministry. That was good work, just not great pay. I also had a student job on campus in the library. Government Documents was my office. Processing government documents into the library collection was my job. Not much fun, but interesting at times. Also, not great pay. But I was getting by.

It was during my time out on my own that I learned about my propensity for procrastination. It occurred to me when I realized that I would pay rent a little late. Not overly, evicted soon, late. Just a day or so. "Can I bring it on Friday?" late.

When I graduated from college, I got my first non-student job. I was the pastor of 3 churches. I had a parsonage. And life happens. One of my tasks was playing guitar. And the guitar broke. So I needed another guitar. I went out and found one I liked and used my little used credit card. That began a burden that took years to pay off.

I got married and Lisa and I set up our home. We were 1,000 miles from home. We were stressed out at times. And we found an outlet. Shopping therapy. We would buy stuff here and there. Usually on credit cards.

And we needed a car. We had Lisa's car from before we were married. And we needed something more reliable. So we leased a brand new pickup truck.

We moved back to Oklahoma and had a baby. Charging here and there to take care of the little extras we needed. And then my first student loan payment was due. Seminary is expensive. About $35,000 expensive. It is an expensive degree without the great salary on the back end of it that doctors and lawyers look forward to.

All of this was to say that Lisa and I really made some poor decisions with our money. Forbearance that added to our student loan. Consumer credit counseling that did nothing for educating us on good money practices. Getting out of a lease early and buying a used car for new prices.

And then I discovered Dave Ramsey. I used to drive long distances to go places. Talk radio was the only way to break up the long, empty drives across western Oklahoma. I found Dave Ramsey on one drive. He was talking about money and using it wisely and with common sense. I knew that I was not his audience. I don't have common sense. But I listened anyway. And I began to learn about myself and how I handled money.

See, I was normal. I handled money like everyone else. Poorly. The majority of Americans don't see money as a resource. They view it as a possession or the road to possessions. Dave Ramsey helped me to see different ways of viewing money.

Lisa and I are not successes with money. But we have changed a lot of our behavior's with money. NO credit cards. Debt is to be avoided at all costs. Pay as we go. We don't have as much stress about money - but it is still there in smaller measure.

We have also learned that it is our responsibility to teach our boys about money and handling it better. So when they get to be adults, and they are out on their own, they won't repeat mistakes and end up paying for them, decades afterwards.
Post a Comment