When Shannon and I met and married I was in debt and we were both using credit. For the first three years of our life together we continued to spend more every month than we were bringing in. While driving across the California desert coming back from a trip to visit my family and looking at another American Express bill in the thousands we had a serious “Come to Jesus” moment about our financial lives. When we got home we enrolled in Financial Peace University and over the next 18 months we paid off over $40,000 in consumer debt, and we vowed to stay debt free. We even saved up $12,000 to put a new roof on our house. I was so proud!
One of the things that happens when you don’t have any consumer debt is that your credit scores actually start to fall (crazy, right?) This doesn’t really matter if you are going to pay cash for everything for the rest of your life, but we anticipated a couple more big purchases before we were done, so last year we got a credit card from our bank and just put the automatic payments for our phone and internet on it. We kept them in a drawer. I paid it off faithfully. We were golden.
Then I heard a financial guy on the radio talking about the risks of identity theft and debit cards, and how it is so much smarter to leave your money in the bank and use “controlled credit”. Can you hear the serpent circling the apple tree? So we decided to start putting gas and groceries on the credit card. Pretty soon everything was going on the card, but I continued to pay the balance twice monthly. We were still good.
Then in April, we found the carpet for the living room. It wasn’t in the budget, but we were close to the end of the month and I figured I could just roll it over. Well, long sad story short, for the first time in over six years, last week we paid interest on credit card debt.
It gets worse. I’ve had foot surgery and cannot work for a month and Shannon is on break from the college so no money coming in from there. Don’t know why I didn’t see that one coming! Then Shannon goes to the dentist and needs a crown. We have insurance, but that’s still $600 out of pocket. We have an emergency fund, but it makes me really nervous to tap into that, even for emergencies.
So, last week we were down at Shannon’s folks house taking care of what we like to call the “Shannon dos”. I’m still just supervising since I can’t really get my hands dirty yet, and I eat what is I swear my last ever Werther’s caramel. CRUNCH CRUNCH! And we have another $600 dentist bill for Mariel!
Wednesday morning sitting in the dentist chair with a wad of goop in my mouth, I have a little time to think about our situation. In a very big way, this is a thumbnail of our Christian faith. We are human. We continue to screw up. God keeps on forgiving us. Redemption. So, it’s time to quit kicking ourselves and climb back on the wagon. Refill the emergency fund, pay off the credit card, and put it back in the drawer.