Before I was married I had saved up quite a sum of money, traded in my first car, and put $10K down to buy a new one. I still owed nearly as much on it. I hated the thought of being in debt, and wanted to pay it off before getting married.
I lived at home for free with my parents and had a good job, so my plan wasn’t too difficult. The part that wasn’t easy was the discipline of keeping to my plan.
- To make a budget, and send in a payment on time each month
- To send extra with my payment whenever I could
- To ask myself three questions whenever I went shopping
My three questions
One day, I was browsing the shoe aisles of a store, and I was carrying a pair of shoes I had selected. I started getting uneasy about them because of the debt looming over my head. I began praying for wisdom, and the will power to apply whatever wisdom God gave me. He answered by showing me three very important questions:
- Do I really want it? I realized while shopping it’s easy to be swayed by the almighty sale. It’s in our self nature to want things. It’s fun to get a new toy, dress, or book. I looked down at the shoes in my hands. I’m not sure if I really want these shoes; they’re not that amazing. I settled with the thought that if I didn’t absolutely LOVE the item, I wasn’t even going to consider it.
- Do I need it? I thought about the shoes I was planning on replacing, which were the whole reason I was in the store in the first place. If I was honest with myself and swallowed my pride a little bit, I knew I could simply add a little shoe polish to them, and I’d have a lot more life out of them. At this point I started moving from the fun-to-make-a-new-purchase-vortex to only buying the item if I really needed it.
- Can I live without it? Right about the time I was about to make a firm decision to leave the shoe aisles and hightail it to my car, I saw another pair of shoes. They are my size! They are perfect! They are on sale! And they fit great! I tucked the box under my arm, and started walking quickly toward the cash registers as if the sound of my own steps would drown out His still small voice. It was as if He was saying, “You can make this purchase, but remember you asked for My help. Can you live without them?” I had stopped in the middle of the walkway, and was staring down at the box in my hands for so long that people were beginning to mistake me for a display. Finally, the box went back on the shelf; I realized I was going to have to make some sacrifices if I was going to get out of debt soon.
The process wasn’t easy. I caved from time to time. I learned to crucify my flesh a lot. But I was out of debt before the car company’s designated time for it to be paid off. To this day, I am a more frugal person from this experience.
What do you do to be wise with your money?Image via Creative Commons: 401K