The Cookie Jar

Can I just tell you how good it feels to have all of your credit card balances be at zero? If you have no idea what that feels like, may I suggest you join me on my credit card “diet”. Having credit cards at your convenient disposal is a lot like living with jars of cookies and chocolate all over your home. It is one thing to want to eat healthy or lose weight, but if your weakness is cookies and you are constantly surrounded by them, then you will have a very hard time reaching your goal. You will snack, and just have one or two, and all of a sudden you have eaten an entire jar of cookies! In the same way, credit cards seem innoculous in just charging dinner, or some clothes, or an ebay purchase, and pretty soon you have eaten the all of the cookies and are in a deep hole of credit card debt.

Matt and I aren’t in debt (thank you Lord!), but we also feel like it is foolishness to keep doing the same thing expecting different results. So today I threw out the cookie jars. I took all of the credit cards out of my wallet. I paid off all of the balances. We actually only have one main credit card that we use, but I also have a few store credit cards that give me special deals for using them. They have saved me a lot of money over Christmas and I knew that I would immediately pay them off, but for at least this next month, they are all being packed away.

I also got my finance binder completely in order and bought my new binder today. It was a good day in finance land for me and my house. However, it was a little complicated to figure out just how to deal with some of the returns I still need to make to stores. If I pay off all of my main credit card now and then make the returns I will have a credit on my card and since I am not going to be using it, that does me no good. So what I have done is guestimate my return amounts and then made a payment of almost all of the total. After I have returned the toy Luke got two of, and the shoes that aren’t comfortable (although very pretty), and a few other things, I will then make a final payment on my main credit card.

So that is my plan. What is yours? You might need to put yourself on a payment plan for what you have spent on Christmas. And let me just say, a payment plan is not your minimum payment! The only way to effectively work a payment plan on your credit card is to stop using them. First make a payment for as much you can. Then take the remaining amount that you owe and this is your goal for this year (and hopefully sooner).

And this goal is entirely possible with the help of your budget. If you need further help in digging out from credit card debt please read the following two blogs: Managing Your Credit Card Debt and Kill Your Giant. I have several other blogs on credit cards that will help you, but start with these two and go from there.

We all have such a good year ahead of us. God has gone before us and I truly believe that His heart for each of His kids is that we not walk bound with debt. I don’t think that necessarily means that God is going to instantly pay off your debt. Just like He doesn’t instantly make you skinny when you repent from over-eating. There is a process to going into debt and there is a growing process in getting free from it. But God does give you incredible grace for the journey and His wisdom to manage your money better. As God said to Samuel in 1 Samuel 16:7, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” It is not debt that is really at issue, but what is in your heart. I guarantee you that as your heart changes from dependence on credit cards to a dependence on God, you will see God’s hand working in your finances in wonderful ways.

I am so excited to see God’s faithfulness this year and what He is going to do in my heart, and it hasn’t even begun yet 🙂 But for me, today was a good beginning… at least I got rid of the cookie jars.