Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How Do You Carry Your Debt?

I’ve been asked to speak next week to a community group about our family’s journey to being debt free and to share some ideas that will help others. As I was writing out my speaking plan I noticed my three year old stuffing rocks in her back pockets. She kept saying, “Please turn them sideways mommy.” Her pockets are not wide enough to turn the rocks sideways so they had to go in the best they could. It reminded me of a friend who had started Financial Peace University several years ago when we first started teaching it.

My friend’s family had been in debt for a long time. She was ready to be out of debt but her husband wasn’t ready to get on board. They have several children, in fact they could be the modern day Brady Bunch. She started the class, came the first week, called two days later to tell us she had taken a part-time job and would have to work on class nights. The next time we taught the class she came for a class or two and her second part-time job conflicted with class night. The third time we taught the class she didn’t even try to come because she was doing Financial Peace on her own. She had read the book, listened to the cds and worked out her budget and plan. She came up to me one Sunday night at church. “Here,” she said handing me her purse. I looked at her like she was crazy. Then I dropped her purse in the floor. I didn’t expect it to be heavy so I had just took it from her. Before I realized it had hit the floor she began to laugh.

I asked, “What in the world have you got in there?” “Rocks,” she said nonchalantly. Before I could ask anything else she continued. “Those are my burdens, my debts. Each one represents a credit card, medical bill, student loan, car loan and the mortgage.” She had chosen rocks by size depending on the amount of debt. She had used a Sharpie marker and labeled each rock. By the time I held her purse she had paid off three smaller debts and removed those rocks. Once paid off they were placed in the creek behind her house to be washed away.

I encouraged her as she spoke to hurry and get rid of a few more of those before she messed her back up. I haven’t seen her the last few months, she’s usually working on Sundays. But the last time I ran into her she was working fervently to get rid of a few more of those rocks.

As I watch my three year old trying to carry around her rocks. I watch her pants fall down and she pulls them back up. I think about the debts that people carry. The debts that pull you down like those rocks, sometimes their heavy, sometimes you slip on them. But please don’t let them weigh you down. Use those rocks to your advantage. Carry them not with worry but with confidence that this year you will start to send those rocks down the creek. Start with the smallest ones first.

If you’re a visual person like me fill your purse with rocks. Every time you go through the drive-thru or stop for coffee you will see those rocks. They will be a reminder that it’s the little things that get you out of debt.

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