In So You're Not Wonder Woman, I describe my financial free fall while I was in graduate school. I was living on $600 a month, so putting $400 in car repairs on my credit card was trouble. I didn't live extravagantly, but I did have cable and insisted on having my own apartment–something I now see led to my accumulating debt. Sharing an apartment with one of my single girlfriends could have shaved at least 40% off my expenses. In addition to the usual expenses, I also had a car payment–not a huge one, but it was a hardship at that income.
I eventually had two credit cards that were maxed out and a medical bill that I was being harassed about paying (I wish now I hadn't had physical therapy for a bad ankle sprain). Foolishly, I used my tax return to take a trip to San Diego. I began working more hours and my income increased to $900 a month. That should have helped, but I moved to a more expensive apartment and bought new furniture to boot. I was at the point of using one credit card to pay off another. I regularly received overdraft notices. I took out bigger student loans. It was just too depressing to admit the truth of my situation: I was in debt. Another poor money manager friend told me at the time that I shouldn't go for credit counseling because they would put me on a budget. Perish the thought.
By today's standards, my debt was a pittance. But the cycle of indebtedness had begun and would have continued once I secured my first job. My student loan debt was over $30,000 in 1991. Again, small by today's standards, but huge to a young woman who didn't know a thing about managing money.
I have a friend who writes a secular blog on managing money and has been a guest blogger on Get Rich Slowly. I have mentioned to her that I could never tell my story of getting out of debt, because it isn't like hers. I didn't wise up, get educated, and get frugal. I didn't pay off my debt; someone else did. I have joked to her that I couldn't very well post about how I got out of debt: I got married.
I remember my fiance's big sigh when I revealed the whole of my debt. It was embarrassing to admit to a man who owned a home, bought two vehicles with cash, and had a sizable savings account. He immediately paid off all my debt. He never lectured me about money. He didn't enroll me in a finance course or give me a book to read. He just managed money well and I watched and learned.
I read this post requesting get-out-of-debt stories and I finally felt moved to share mine. I realized that while my story won't get raves from finance fans, it should from faithful followers of Christ. Though I had much to be ashamed of, my Redeemer paid off my debt. I didn't. Now I spend my life learning from Him.
Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.