This is the third post in a series on faith and finances written by my husband. Here are links to part one and part two.
The second part of Fr. Paul's sentence was "all He wants you to do is reach up and let him help you." This may sound like a very simple statement, but it was strikingly profound for me. Surprisingly, even as a 33-year-old, cradle Catholic, I had never heard anything like this. I consider myself a unabashed individual with an anarcho-capitalist bend. "Letting" anyone help me was way outside the norm. Fr. Paul continued to speak about having a plan of life and how your work could sanctify you and glorify the Almighty. Wait a minute, I could use my work to glorify God? This was something I could latch on to. Working in the auto business has similar connotations to being a lawyer or politician, so I wasn't completely sold but he definitely had my attention. When I was growing up, my mother always said, "We can find an hour to give to God every week." Yet Fr. Paul was talking about giving your whole life, every minute of every day. For some reason, I felt compelled to try.
During the beginning of this new calling, my first prayers were of thanksgiving for the gifts I had already been given. Eventually, I prayed that I really wanted to get my family out of debt once and for all.
I guess once I started looking for a sign, one finally appeared.
I had seen the "Act your wage" billboards on the way to and from work every single day, but I didn't really see them until one night on my way home from work. Upon flipping through the talk radio channels, I heard a voice say, "We teach you how to handle money the way grandma did, only we keep our teeth in." I thought this was a decent bit of humor and felt compelled to listen more. Dave Ramsey started talking about how you should desire to be weird when it comes to finances. He continued saying that "normal" was having two car payments, 8-10K worth of credit card debt, and student loan debt that's been around so long that you've given it a name. We didn't have any student loan debt and only one car payment, but our credit card debt was three times that high. I had to admit we fit right into the "normal" scenario he described. Dave then finished up this segment with Proverbs 22:7 "The borrower is slave to the lender."
Could this be what I was praying for? Some people who know me understand that I tend to be very direct and do well with that type of communication. As Dave Ramsey took callers, he told them with no wavering about how their debt equates to a mess in their lives. Pretty clear. Additionally, he spoke of maturity and how one sign of it was the ability to delay gratification. In other words, become disciplined with your finances. Give every dollar a name and destination before you spend it.
So here I was, a few months into a new and very disciplined interior life, and I heard, after much prayer, about how to be disciplined with our money and put our family in a position to win financially. I had given myself fully to the Almighty, and he very quickly answered my prayers in a way that was consistent with the way I was conducting myself spiritually.
Kate and I talked it over quite a bit, went to an all cash system, and really started hammering out our debts. We wrote a monthly budget, based on my irregular income, and stuck to it (which is no small task), and as of November 20th, 2011, we were no longer slaves to credit cards or car payments. There were a few times where we fell off the money wagon, but we quickly helped/threw each other back on and saw it to the end.
A new discipline had become part of our lives. Paradoxically, as we gave up everything we were, we were given everything in return.