“Be not one of those who give pledges, who put up security for debts.
If you have nothing with which to pay,
why should your bed be taken from under you.”
A Man Named Stephen Recently, while out on a run in my neighborhood, I met a 25-year-old man named Stephen, who is heading up a new housing development. He is not the owner, but the head foreman for the project. We discussed why some of the newly constructed homes had sold and what held up the unsold homes. He ended up directing the conversation to personal debt, and mentioned his wife wanting a new Tahoe since they were expecting their first child. Not wanting to get “preachy,” I just listened as I knew purchasing a new Tahoe was foolish. Expecting him to tell me something different, I was impressed with how he convinced his wife to go with a smaller $30,000 SUV that he paid cash for. Yes, you read that right. This 25-year-old man paid cash for $30,000 SUV. Getting to Know Stephen This led to me asking him several “life” questions. He started working at 14 and made $40,000 a year by 18. He never went to college, took out student loans, and worked a blue-collar job. He said he knew he needed to invest more towards retirement and had already started a Roth. I encouraged him to continue to fund his Roth so that it could continue to multiply over time and explained the tax advantages. Simple Wisdom After continuing my run, I reflected on how much simple wisdom I had heard from this man. In a short conversation in which he was not bragging, he mentioned several things we have discussed in MD5 regarding biblical financial wisdom.
Avoid car debt and debt in general. He mentioned about wanting to be debt free yet find a balance of buying “toys” like ATV’s that he could pay cash for to have fun still.
Do not buy more house than you can afford. He bought a $62,000 house that he had remodeled, now worth over $200,000.
Say no to yourself regarding material things. His spouse wanted to purchase one of the new houses he was building for more space for their growing family. He had convinced her to wait due to the higher interest rates and still having enough space in their current 1,200 square foot home. When they purchase another home, their down payment percentage will be impressive!
A Harsh Reality I left the conversation blown away by this man’s simplicity at only 25! It took me till my late 30’s to be in a position to pay cash for a family vehicle. On one of the nights I had asked Roger Smithson to speak to our MD5 cohort regarding finances, he mentioned to the group about how he has seen men driving brand new trucks. Yet, they had to wait till pay day to give him $10.00 for a book for MD5. Practical Tips Don’t get caught up in what the world tells us we “need.” Debt makes you feel like you are drowning. If you currently have car debt, work diligently towards paying it off. Then make a car payment to your monthly savings account until you can afford to buy it outright or close to for another vehicle. Find yourself a good mechanic and be willing to fix your vehicle when things break down. Most will spend less on vehicle repairs than car payments in a year. You can even use your car fund for repairs as you save for another vehicle. Outrageous Generosity I recently heard a story of a fellow believer from my church. He was getting an oil change but overheard an elderly woman needing to purchase a new tire but lived on a fixed income. My friend, who owned the tire and oil change business, found her a tire that barely fit into her budget. This believer told the owner (privately) to put four brand new and nice tires on her vehicle and change her oil. He paid for it out of pocket and told the owner to tell her it was from a local church. The Selfless Reason Why Not only did he anonymously impact this lady’s life, he made a tremendous impression on my friend, the business owner. We can’t give generously to help those in need if our personal debts weigh us down. May we have the financial margin so God can use us to bless others.
John Gore MD5 Facilitator