Life After Credit Cards – Suprises

I had such a light-bulb moment this morning as I sat down to work on our finances, and I am so excited to share it with you! It really was one of those moments when all of the pieces came together, and I finally saw the genius of what the Lord had put in our hearts to do.

First of all let me say that I had deposited our salary check on Friday so I knew that we had funds to cover whatever might be automatically debited over the weekend. Therefore I was able to relax over the weekend and only sat down to reconcile our bills this morning. Almost every bill of ours is automatically debited from our account on a certain date. On a side note let me say that automating your bills is such a fantastic way to make sure that you are never late on a payment. It takes a huge amount of stress off of you as well, because instead of worrying about 25 bills all due at different times, you are only concerned that you deposit your paycheck into your account on time. Many employers even offer direct deposit which can save you from even this hassle. Anyway, all of this to say that I wasn’t being negligent waiting until Monday (just in case you were worried about me :).

So here is the fantastic part: balancing my books and making sure my bills were all entered into my financial software took me 15 minutes!!!! I could hardly believe it. I suddenly realized that what has been consuming my time in my finances has been reconciling my credit card and figuring out how to pay for everything that I have charged in the last two weeks! I would have to take cash out of my envelopes to re-deposit and try to untangle what money was coming from where. It really is not very fun, although very neccesary if you are going to use credit cards.

And this morning, my credit card balance was zero… I can’t even begin to tell you what a weight has been lifted off of me. I didn’t even know that I was carrying a weight, but not having to figure out the credit card is like this enormous gift. Now, I have never carried a balance on a credit card. I pay it off every single month, and yet it has still been a weight to me. I can’t imagine the weight that it must be if you are unable to pay it off at the end of the month!

However, it is not just having credit card debt, it is the burden of knowing that you are continually making more debt that can be so overwhelming. Even if you have debt, stopping using your credit cards can halt that downward spiral and help you to take control back in your finances.

For Matt and I, we have really only relaxed and started using our credit cards more in this past year. Before that we have always used the cash/envelope system and used our credit cards for large purchases (to get the cash back dividends) which we would have already saved for and then immediately paid off the balance. I honestly have been puzzled in the past year and couldn’t understand why doing our bills seemed so much harder, when it had always been a breeze. What used to take me 15 minutes had turned into whole evenings of figuring out our finances. Until this morning, when I finally realized why and it was totally because we had been using our credit cards.

The truth is if you only spend what is in your budget and use the cash/envelope system for discretionary money, reconciling your finances will be a breeze. Your bills are all listed in your budget, along with your discretionary spending (categories like groceries, entertainment, gifts, gas, clothing, etc). If you stay within your budget by only using what you have instead of “borrowing” from the credit card company and spending what you don’t have, then you never have to figure out how to pay for it later 🙂 It sounds so simple, but it is actually genius.
And I only realized how genius it is today. I know that the Lord led Matt and I to stop using our credit cards, yet I had no idea how much He was freeing us from. Isn’t that so often true? He asks us to do something and we only see such a small part of the “why”. Then later we turn around to look back and we stand in amazement because of all of the good that the Lord has brought out of our simple act of obedience. We stopped using out credit cards in obedience to what God was putting in our hearts, and I now see that He was also freeing me from a weight I didn’t know was there. And even more than that, He gave me back at least two evenings a month which I was wasting on bills. And I know that there will be even more than that that I will see in the future.

I feel so released and so grateful. I really do love budgeting, but not the way that I have been doing it the past few months. I had gotten lazy and thought I was making my life easier by getting to use cards instead of cash, or just depositing the cash when I used my card, but instead I was adding burden and weight to my life. It feels so good to simplify again, and get back to the simplicity of budgeting… 30 minutes a month, people!!! And with my “Life After Credit Cards” challenge, this too can be yours 🙂

God is just so good. Sorry this blog is a bit rambley, but I hope that there is hope in it for you as well. Even the things that might seem so difficult to you, if God is stirring your heart to do it then plant that thing as a seed and you will be amazed at the garden that will grow. For me, I planted a seed of obedience, and so far I’ve reaped less stress, 2 or more evenings in my month free from figuring out my finances, and a debt free life. That’s a pretty good return on my seed already. I can’t wait to see what else God has in store for me on this adventure.

God bless,