Before you get married it’s really good to know particular information. For example, your health. It is good to know where you stand with going to doctors or hospitals. It is good to know if you are in good health or bad health and if you are in bad health, it is good to know what medications you need to be taking, etc. Also, before you are married, it is good to know about how you handle certain situations. How do you fair when conflict arises? Are you argumentative? Passive-aggressive? An emotional bulldozer?
Those are definitely good things to know before you get married. However, those are not the reasons I am writing this blog. Oh no. This blog is about something else that is good for you to know about before getting married: FINANCES.
I take total blame for this one. I went to public school, where they teach you practically nothing about finances, except for how to add and subtract them. And as for learning these essential parts of life at home? Well, I was a latch key child. My mom worked hard to provide for us, which took tons of time and energy. That, and knowing almost nothing about finances or their importance, I wasn’t very interested in learning about them.
So when my high school education was coming to an end, my mom said I had to go to college, and I wanted to go. And although I made pretty good grades, the college God was calling me too was still way above my price range. So I was told to apply for a loan. Knowing nothing about finances, and being a naive high school teen, I did what I was told without researching a thing. I said, “okay, I’ll get a loan and get a job during college and pay it off that way.” I had no idea if I could juggle a job and a full time college student position, but I got the loan anyway. It turned out that I could not get a job throughout college.
Luckily, I didn’t have to start paying the loan back until after college. But still, I was over $20,000 in debt and I had no idea where any money was going to come from. The jobs I worked at after college, albeit they were wonderful faith building jobs, didn’t offer a 6 figure salary.
Then I got married. Chris knew I had a loan before we were married, as I am brutally honest about most things in my life. My loan became our loan. He said we would work on it and get it paid off as soon as possible. He told me he firmly believed that the Bible is clear about debt…and how you shouldn’t have it. (I didn’t know that either!) Little did I know, Chris’s knowledge of finances, although it far surpassed mine, was not on the expert level.
For a while, we just paid the monthly dues. And then we researched it. The little monthly dues we were paying were barely chipping away at the loan. Not only that, but because of the interest rates, I actually owed much more on particular parts of the loan than I had originally borrowed. When we learned about that, our hearts and stomach sank.
Then we got serious about this loan. We started doing weekly payments instead of monthly ones. Once we figured out that it was STILL barely making a difference, we started paying more weekly.
It was at this point that I began to feel like I was in a battle or a war. And then I realized that I actually was. DEBT IS WAR. It will continue to be an ongoing battle until it is paid off. While you keep giving it all you’ve got, it is constantly burdening your mind, your finances (what finances you have left), your heart, and your family. It tests your limits, your discipline, your strength, your faith. While you slowly chip the army of debt away, it often will make you wonder if you are making even the slightest difference and if you will ever be free again. Because you are quite literally fighting for your freedom, and for your peace of mind. Proverbs 22:7 says, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.” Yikes! But that is LITERALLY how it feels to be in debt! If you are debt free, you are free. Period. And you should thank God everyday for that!
Chris said the Bible was clear on this issue. Before I was married, I didn’t know anything about what the Bible said concerning debt.In Proverbs 27:12 the Bible says, “A prudent man sees evil and hides himself, the naive proceed and pay the penalty.” I understand that verse now more than ever! I guess that’s one reason it says to “study to show thyself approved”. I started studying. And here are a few of the verses that talk about debt:
In Romans 13:8 it says “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.”
Owe nothing to anyone. I clearly messed up there. I am definitely paying for my lack of understanding when I was younger.
Ecclesiastes 5:5 “It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay.”
Deuteronomy 15:6 “For the Lord your God will bless you as He has promised you, and you will lend to many nations, but you will not borrow; and you will rule over many nations, but they will not rule over you.”
Deuteronomy 28:12 “The Lord will open His good storehouse, the heavens to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand; and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.”
But you shall not borrow.
Let me pause here and tell you that I am not trying to be a “Debbie downer.” I am just sharing some of my life experiences in order to (hopefully) help others in some of the tough decisions life put in front of us.
Loans are a HUGE life decision. I didn’t know that back then, but I know it now. We live in a world of convenience and entitlement. Where we want to get whatever we want and we want it fast…like NOW. So we end up making decisions that will most certainly follow us the rest of our lives.
Advising others to not get loans and go into debt is NOT a popular opinion. It will never be as long as Satan runs this world. But just because something isn’t popular doesn’t mean it’s wrong. I guess what I am trying to say here is think before you do. Plan things out, budget, work hard, and please, please, PLEASE try to steer clear from debt.
A lot of people these days say that staying out of debt is impossible. I beg to differ. It can be done with hard work and determination and discipline. (I don’t speak about this part with experience as I am in debt, but I have seen plenty of good examples!)
Here are a few things the Bible says that may help you (and us in the future) make some good decisions about loans and debt:
Proverbs 21:5 “The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, but everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty.”
Proverbs 13:11 “Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles, but the one who gathers by labor increases it.”
Proverbs 27:23 “Know well the condition of your flocks, and pay attention to your herds;”
Luke 14:28 “For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?”
Sometimes we have to go against the flow of this world. Sometimes we have to make the unpopular decisions. But most of the time, we are better for it.
Chris and I are going to be battling this loan for some time, but we will not give up. In fact, with God all things are possible. With God, sooner rather than later, we will be debt free.
We will be free.
Until then, we will fight.