For the last two months, Rachel and I have put our debt snowball on hold while we work to sort out this tax emergency. That’s two months of watching our progress plateau, two months of looking at basically the same numbers on our accounts. And it doesn’t look like we’re going to get out of it this month, either. I’m going to be honest, it sucks. And I’ve come to have a renewed hatred for our debt in the last two months, along with a more sober understanding of its effect.
Debt is cancer. It’s not something that pops up quickly, or that disappears with a quick fix. It’s a serious illness that will multiply and spread until it kills if left unchecked. It chokes the life out every paycheck we have. And the treatment is painful, methodical, and slow. While we have it, we can’t react to life as it happens around us. Every decision we make has to be made with our debt in the back of our minds. We can’t focus on other people as much as we’d like to, because our debt forces us to focus on ourselves and “getting better.” Conversations that Rachel and I have about what gifts to give on various occasions always always start with “We can maybe afford…” and I hate that. I know giving gifts isn’t about the dollar amount, but when you have to weigh groceries against a token of affection for yet another holiday, it really makes you feel like you’re a failure as a husband/son/sibling/friend.
One out of every five dollars that we bring home goes right back out the door, and that just covers the minimum payments. That’s not insignificant. That’s not easy. It’s not something we can just brush off or absorb. But you know what? It could be so much worse. There are so many families across the world right now that don’t have a warm place to sleep at night, or food in their cabinets. This chapter of our life is about learning how to steward money better, but it’s also about experientially trusting God for His provision every day. As we’ve found out recently, we’re one tax bill, one catastrophic vehicle failure, one medical emergency away from backsliding at best, breaking completely down at worst. But He is always there for us, and I believe He will see us through.
As it stands right now, though, this debt is a cancer to our financial lives. One that, little by little and dollar by dollar, we’re attacking. Every month for the last 20 or so that we’ve been doing this, our financial health has improved, even if only slightly. Eventually, we’ll be lean and agile enough to take trips and give gifts when the opportunities arise instead of when we’re able to dig through the couch cushions to find extra change.
I hate our debt.