Friday, November 04, 2005

Painful lessons...

I've been reading "Northern Farmer's" posts the last few days. Particularly, I've been most inspired by his ranting on debt. Unfortunately, many of us have been sucked into the black hole of credit debt, either from lack of discipline, or in some cases, out of necessity. Now, don't think I condone debt when I say out of necessity. Usually, out of necessity is because we weren't prepared in the first place or we were not taught as young men and women how to avoid debt.

Avoiding all the painful details, let's just say that Julie and I have incurred enough debt over our 18 and half year marriage to classify us as average Americans. This is the result of both, lack of discipline, and a few times, out of necessity. Despite both of us being raised in good Christian homes, proper handling of finances was not a well taught subject in either of our families. Needless to say, we had to figure it out for ourselves. Thank God, we now know what to do, and how to do it, but it is far more difficult to recover from debt than to have avoided it in the beginning. In our pursuit of Christian-Agrarian self sufficiency the top two items on our list were; (1) eliminate debt and incur no more, and (2) provide all the food in our house from our own farm or friends and neighbors' farms. Both can be accomplished at the same time, but the former was deemed our highest priority. Credit debt was in direct opposition to self sufficiency, so we decided it had to go now.

To accomplish this goal, we took on some off farm business to make an immediate impact. In addition to my engineering job, we teamed up with a friend and purchased a couple of fixer upper homes to remodel and sell. We have completed one of the homes and it's currently on the market, and have begun work on the second. It's not ideally what we would like to be doing right now, but we saw no other way to attack the debt without some fairly large amounts of money. God has blessed us with loyal, trustworthy partners that have made this possible, and we are thankful for them. Much of our time has been consumed; time that we would prefer to invest in our farm, but we realize that this extra work will make our dreams possible.

Living this way is painful, but it is the reward for our actions. All that spending must be paid for at some point, and we are at that point. Years of justifying purchases for various (often impatient) reasons are now causing us to wait on a Godly and wise move in our life. We are developing much virtue, finally. Oh, how much better it would have been, had that virtue been instilled by our parents. Which brings me to the point. As parents, one of the most important areas of teaching in our homes should be financial planning and understanding. We see an area where our parents erred and must not allow that error in our house. I intend to prepare my children with excellent knowledge of economics, purchasing, and financial planning. But, most importantly, imparting Godly Wisdom, on how to apply that knowledge.

Many view debt as a curse, I don't know if I agree with that or not, but it does feel like a curse when it is passed from generation to generation. I choose to take a stand and break that curse in my house, and free my children to live free of dependency on man's systems and be in deeper relationship with God.

Mike

5 comments:

Herrick Kimball said...

*
Well said Mike!

God bless you and your family as you endeavor to become debt free.

Scott Holtzman said...

Mike,
If you feel a gentle 'nudge' at your elbow, don't be alarmed....that's just me and my wife there standing next to ya'!

It at time appears to be a long and trying road, but well worth the journey. We are applying the "Eat an Elephant" approach.....one bite at a time.

regards.

The Jersey Homesteader said...

I really enjoyed reading your blog. It gave me much inspiration to keep going in the life God has gave me.

TnFullQuiver said...

Thanks for the comments and the support.

Anonymous said...

Mike,

I just found your site and must say your family plans sound like you took them off our "idea board" here at our house.

I just wanted to encourage you, we spent 3.5 years paying off our debt, but it is possible and it feels great to do.

Like you, we did not have any training in this area. After we got our consumer debt paid for we went immediately into house debt, which was a big mistake! We are no more free than we were.

We are in the process of fixing that now three years later. We are also now have an 18 month plan that should move us out of the city limits and onto what we hope will be the farm our children will one day raise their children on!

This plan involves fixing up some houses as well... small world.

We are in Middle TN and my wife and I have blogs we try to keep up with. Beth has more info on the family than I do. Her's is: http://www.birthdynamics.com
and mine is:
http://www.visiontennessee.com

I'd love to chat some time more about the farming.

Best Regards,

Paul TN