I pulled into my driveway, opened up the bank app on my phone, checked the number in my account, and immediately started crying. It was the week of August 14th and I had $14 left in my account that was to last me the rest of the month. I felt so lost. Ashamed. Confused why I kept allowing myself to get this low in my checking account each month. I was living paycheck to paycheck with no idea where my money was actually going.
There would be times I’d hold my breath in the grocery store checkout line, waiting on pins and needles for the little debit card screen to read “transaction approved.” I’d say “yes” to every single opportunity to do anything at all with my friends. Restaurants, bars, trips. I hardly ever walked into a store without walking out with something newly purchased in hand. I never wanted to miss out on a single thing. I had FOMO before FOMO was an acronym.
I had absolutely no concept of the damage I was actually doing.
And honestly, I’d been doing damage for such a long time, I had no idea how to correct it. The further down the road I got with debt and overspending, the more overwhelming things got. So instead of truly trying to figure it out, I just avoided it and kept swiping my card, genuinely believing that I’d just figure out how to deal with money later down the road sometime.
Thankfully and providentially, the same week I sat crying in my driveway, I was scooped up by a new friend that could sense I was in some financial trouble (total God moment) and offered to pay for me to go through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. With these classes, coaching, and mentoring by this new friend turned forever friend (and a lot of really hard work and prayer), I slowly learned how to get in control of my finances. It’s been the most empowering skill I have ever learned.
I’m now 3.5 years into my financial freedom journey where I’ve learned how to live within the boundaries of a budget, save money, pay off debt, and still have a social life. Looking back over at where I was at the time I was scooped up into Financial Peace is not always an easy walk down memory lane. I look back and see a girl that was afraid she’d be left behind if she didn’t say “yes” to everything. At a girl that would be left out if she couldn’t attend that event or party. A girl who believed that she had to buy the love of her friends with gifts. The fear of missing out being attached to so much more than the actual missing out. I used money as a vice to fill the holes my insecurities about how I perceived others valued me. My self-worth constantly being questioned in my head.
I love looking back and seeing how learning how to mange my money has not only strengthened by discipline and knowledge, but it has also strengthened my faith. Thinking, talking, dealing with money is an extremely sensitive subject that can bring out a lot of insecurities and questions about who we are as people. Digging yourself out of debt is just as much as a faith journey as it is a financial freedom journey. You learn how to lean on God more in the truest sense of the phrase.
While never using money as a vice would have been ideal, I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned as I’ve dealt with the repercussions of it. These lessons have been so of the most impactful ones that God has taught me to allow me to become who He is calling me to be.