Laura and I married in 2007. Those who have gone through Breaking Free with us know that our marriage began with approximately $100,000 of debt (including the cars) incurred through two ugly divorces.
Last week we shared how Dave Ramsey, author of “The Total Money Makeover”, is famous for saying “live like no one else so you can live – and give – like no one else.”
Like we shared, Laura and I began “snowballing” our debt by creating a monthly financial plan and seeing our debt dwindle month by month has been the single most important thing we have done within the past five years.
We became debt-free in February 2013 and bought our current home last May. We are accelerating our payments to pay off our mortgage early so we can build wealth and give.
Though I shared last week how we began to live in financial freedom, my initial approach to money wasn’t what it is today.
My initial approach which was forthrightness but not generosity, is probably a result of my upbringing. I did not have much as a kid. My father, a plumber and pipe fitter by trade, and an antique dealer by avocation, had his shop beneath our living quarters on Route 16 in a small town in New York called Ischua. My brother, sister, and I are the only kids I know who slept on rope beds.
Just before graduating from Archbishop Walsh High School, I was told that my mother had not paid the current and past due tuition. I immediately went to my bank and paid the school nearly $900—forthright.
Once, a friend slyly added to a tip I had given to a waiter because my giving was stingy. Later when he gave a ginormous tip to a waiter, I asked him why and he said that he just wanted to bless the server.
In my 30’s and 40’s God began to work on my heart. He began to give me a desire to be generous, but I had little money or resources. Looking back, this was an excuse not to do what I was called to do. I began to “tithe” but it was not really a tithe as it was only a very small percentage of my income.
I learned over the years that the essence of God’s character is generosity. He is a giver; the most generous person in the universe. He gives us life. He gives us grace and mercy. He gave His son, Jesus, for us! When we delight in Him, He will give us the desires of our heart.
Laura’s generosity was instrumental in further changing my heart.
When we met, she was a self-employed educator making very little money, yet she faithfully tithed on her income. She had many stories of the ways she was blessed by the generosity of the Body of Christ. I began to truly tithe around the time we got married. As we became more financially sound, Laura led the way in giving generously beyond the tithe, eager to “pay it forward.” Now, I get excited about giving!
When extra money has come in (like the small inheritance after my mother’s death) we follow the give, save, spend motto and it brings such joy to allow God to bless others through us!