Living Within Your Means

money

Phillipians 4:12 “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”

When I was first divorced I had over $20,000 in unsecured credit card debt.  I didn’t qualify to file for bankruptcy.  I didn’t know how I was going to do it.  I had never lived within my means.  It was so easy  to use credit cards because I got instant gratification for things I wanted.

I had to learn.  Learn to live within my means.  I had to dig myself out of this debt hole that I had made for myself.

First things first.  I knew I had $XX amount of money that I made each month.  Rent should always be paid first.  You have no place to live?  The other bills don’t matter.  Power bill came next.  Water, sewer and garbage next.  The basic necessities.  Phone? Cell phone?  Cable?  All luxuries.  I got the very basic cell phone and basic phone plan.  With cable I was able to find the absolute cheapest plan at $12 per month.  Sure it didn’t have much, but it was better than nothing.  Next was food and supplies.  Everything beyond that was a non-necessity.

I quit going out to eat.  I quit getting my hair cut and colored.  No more manicures or pedicures.  These were all things that I began doing myself.  If you have no money, these are things that you should not be doing.  If you don’t have money to pay rent, you DO NOT get your nails done, hair done, go out to eat, etc.  You don’t have money to pay for food — then you don’t go to the movies, get your nails done, eat out, etc.  These are not necessities.

My clothes were “hand-me-downs” from friends.  At one point I was in need of work clothes.  I did not tell anyone that I needed clothes.  I just prayed and asked God for His provision.  I left it in His hands.  Within about two days I had a friend contact me and tell me that she had cleaned out her closet.  She wanted to know if I needed any work clothes!  Again, I did not tell anyone I had prayed this.  This was ALL God!

When I would go grocery shopping I would take a calculator and only purchase what I could afford.  I always left a little extra in my checking account so that I didn’t go all the way down to zero.  I used coupons.  I bought only things on sale.  I made a point of NOT telling others when I “needed” or “wanted” things because I didn’t want them to feel compelled to buy it for me.

Once I had a friend tell me she was praying that God would give her an espresso machine.  She said this to enough people, and voila, “God” got her an espresso machine.  No, God did not buy her that machine — she manipulated enough people with her “prayer” that they felt compelled (manipulated) to buy it for her.  She did this with a computer she wanted.  She “prayed” that “God” would give her a computer, and she told enough people about her “prayer” and someone bought it for her.  That disgusted me.   Sure, I could have done exactly what she did, but did I really want to get “things” that way?  No way!

I had noticed that other people who were struggling would often tell me and others that they didn’t have money for medicine, food, rent, etc., but yet their hair was perfectly in place, had their nails done, were getting tattoos, and were wearing the nicest clothes.  These people were always “fishing”.  I didn’t want to be that kind of person.  I was nobody else’s responsibility but my own.  My daughter was nobody else’s responsibility but my own.

It wasn’t easy.  I began to keep track of every little dime that I spent, and found where I could make changes.  Every bit of extra money that I got did not go to splurges or treats, it went to pay off my bills.  If I got a bonus, it got put onto my bills.  No it wasn’t “fun”, but once I got those bills paid off it was a HUGE relief!   Sure it was frustrating to tell people that I couldn’t go out to eat, or to the movies, or (fill in the blank), but I had to live within my means — not live in the means that I wanted to in order to impress or please others.  Heb. 13:5 “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU.”

Once I got out of debt, I made a vow that I would never get into that kind of debt again.  There have been times that I have had to borrow money through a credit card to start a business or buy a car, but I did the same thing as I have done in the past — work towards paying off that debt so that I am not a slave to it.   Prov. 22:7 “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.”

I am thankful to the Lord that He gave me the ability to dig myself out of the hole I was in, and for where He has put me today.   I always hope that I can share the knowledge that the Lord has given me, so that others do not have to go through what I went through.

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