Administrator’s Note: April is Financial Literacy Month, and we’ve asked a member of Beautiful Savior’s financial ministry team to blog a few times this month about her own journey with managing money in a Godly way. Thanks to our guest blogger, Janet Schmidt!
Little did I know that taking a “financial class” would reshape our entire future. So there I sat in Financial Peace University at church, because my husband wanted to go; I was 9 months pregnant and enormous with a bad attitude. Let’s face it, handling money is common sense, right? Everyone knows we are supposed to spend less then we make and put money into savings, retirement, and our kids’ college funds. We thought we were doing okay with money; we had no major amounts of credit card debt but we needed help figuring out how much to put in our kids’ college fund while still paying off our college…oh and put money into retirement, too.
I grew up as a banker’s daughter and learned the horror stories of massive credit card debt, so we just had a little to keep our score up. David went to 9 years of college and I went to 5. We took out $132,000 in student loans but we were told that is “good debt.” After the end of the first Financial Peace University class, we realized we had more non-mortgage debt than the rest of the class combined! We also learned that in Scripture there is NO PLACE where it says debt is a good thing including student loans. We were devastated once our whole financial picture was in front of us. We didn’t need to take out all those student loans. Most were living allowances so we could “study more.”
I cried in frustration during our first three “budget committee meetings” between David and I trying this new budgeting method the class taught. We had a mess…but we started to have a glimmer of hope. Then after a while it felt like we got a raise because we actually knew where every dollar was going before the month began. But we still had so many fixed payments and a very large pile of debt, so we decided we needed a bigger shovel. We took on five jobs total between us, which gave us that bigger shovel!
Things started to move. We dove into scripture and really embraced what God’s word said about finances. Proverbs 6:4-5 states when you have debt, “Give no sleep to your eyes, no slumber to your eyelids. Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunger.” So that’s what we did: we sacrificed our lifestyle and our time. It was really hard to not spend that extra money coming in. We leaned on Hebrews 12:11: “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” We trusted that however big a hole we dig ourselves, it’s NEVER too deep for God to pull you out. You are not stuck there forever, unless you just keep doing what you have always done.
It took 4.5 years, but as of this Christmas we are now debt free except for our house. That’s $146,000 of debt paid off. We had NO credit cards during this time. I know what some of you are thinking, “Well, if I had a higher income, I could do it too.” Another couple of our Beautiful Savior Financial Peace University teaching team paid off $70,000 in debt on teachers’ salaries. We all think our situation is unique, but it really isn’t. There are millions of people taking this class around the country and in your own congregation in your same exact situation that are winning! There is no mess you can make with your finances that one of the teaching teams hasn’t done themselves. Ask us how we managed to pay $8,000 for a freezer. It is a judge free environment. This system works if you ALLOW yourself to become TRANSFORMED and handle your money the way God intended.
If you need immediate financial assistance, please contact the church office and we can get you in touch with one of our financial counselors or enroll in our next Financial Peace University course next fall (http://www.bslcomaha.org/#/get-help/financial-help). You can also find a class starting sooner in Omaha at another church at www.daveramsey.com/fpu/classfinder.
No longer kicking and screaming but in peace,
– Janet Schmidt