Money Woes

25 01 2009

Money Three years ago when I joined my first small group, my then group leader told us that we would not be doing the standard get-to-know-you group study that Buckhead Church usually prescribes for new groups. Instead, she told us, we would be doing  "Making Change," a study on finances.

I spent most of that study angry and bitter because deep down inside I knew that my finances were so jacked up, and I had gotten to a point where I would much rather ignore them than deal with them. A good part of my anger came from the church because I felt feeling as though I had already been somewhat misled by the church in the past, in some regards, on this issue. Led to believe, for example, that because I threw dollars on the altar that all my bills and mounds of debt would somehow miraculously be done away with.

Well, that was a myth that I quickly had to deal with once I realized that the consequences of my poor spending habits were finally coming to haunt me. After finishing the study with my group I found myself in such dire straits that I decided to ask for help. I contacted the MoneyWise ministry at Buckhead Church and they sent a counselor to my house who helped me and taught me some important principles about money management. She worked with me for a few months and really helped me face my debt (prior to that point anytime I would talk straight about the amount of my debt I would literally begin to cry). She even helped me get my rent paid for a couple of months, which was a huge help for me in trying to get on track. One of the biggest things I learned from my time with my counselor was how to budget, a principle I still use to this day.

So here I am, three years later. I slip sometimes on the budget, but I usually try to get back on the wagon as soon as possible. I've gotten a lot better at keeping track of my money with each paycheck. However, my debt is still kinda this demon that looms over me. It's still something that I don't want to face. Well, a few weeks ago, Andy started a series called "Balanced," which deals with how we manage our finances. Andy has done several series on finances since I've been going to the church, so I didn't think much of it. But when I walked into group a few weeks ago I found out that the church is requesting that all small groups do the accompanying study for–guess what?–"Balanced." So now all small groups are doing the study on finances that goes along with his weekly sermons.

I have to be honest, when I first heard about it, I was not happy. Even though I've done better on the money management front, I still feel very guilty about the amount of debt that I have accumulated through the years. The biggest bulk of it is student loans. And while I don't regret going to college, I do regret taking out so much money to go. I do have some credit cards, but those could be paid off in no time if I just set my mind to it. But my student loan debt is so huge it just makes me feel overwhelmed sometimes.

But my small group really encouraged me a lot and let me know that I'm not in this alone. I really appreciated their prayers and support. So…I say all that to say, I've decided to bite the bullet and face my debt in '09. My goal for this year is to pay off all my credit card debt. The funny thing is, when I actually sat down and put the numbers together, I think this is actually doable. I just gotta get focused. Being that this is my second small group study on finances, I think God is trying to tell me something and maybe it's time I listened. I'll keep you posted on my progress….

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