I never really learned how to manage money or save, but I was doing okay after college. I didn’t have any in savings, but I didn’t have much debt either, with the exception of my student loan and car payment.

This all changed in 2004-2005 during a time in my my life when I was feeling very lonely and I got into a couple of unhealthy relationships, one after the other.  At the time, I didn’t mind paying for movies, dinner, etc. because it meant that I wasn’t alone.  Both of these guys were not in a position to support themselves financially, and I thought I was “helping” them, so whatever they needed, I put on my credit card.  Clothing, food, household supplies, deposit on an apartment, phone, computer, and an overdue ticket are among the things I paid for.  Along with those things, the second one introduced me to gambling, and we made multiple trips to the casino, which I paid for.  We (foolishly) got engaged, and I paid for my own engagement ring on my credit.  Even after ending the engagement, I bailed him out of jail and put my name on the bail bond for him when he got into trouble with the law.

I finally came to my senses in regards to relationships, and I turned back to God.  By this time, however, I was way over my head in debt and didn’t know what to do. I signed up for consumer credit counseling and consolidated my debt, but continued to accrue more.  I got into the payday loan trap…taking one out to pay the other, etc…wasting lots of money in the process.

When I got married, I still had all this debt, and Josh brought some into the marriage too, but the plan was to pay off all the payday loans first. As time went on, I still struggled with managing my money, and my husband thought I had it under control, so he didn’t help me with budgeting. He left all the finances to me. He never looked at the bank or the bills. He was clueless. Meanwhile, I got back into gambling, this time online. I won some but lost more than I won, and was in a mess, so once again I got into the payday loans. I had several out at one time and couldn’t handle it, so I sought the advice of the credit counseling company I was using, and they said the only way to stop payday loan companies from taking my check was to close my account. So I convinced my husband to switch to another credit union, without telling him why.

I realized how stupid I had been, and asked God for His forgiveness.  Months went on and as I spent time in God’s word, I was convicted, and knew I needed to tell Josh the secrets I had been hiding. I knew I couldn’t truly embrace God’s forgiveness and move on when I was hiding things from my husband. So in January of 2010, I came clean. It was hard, but I am so glad I did it. Josh was disappointed of course, but very forgiving. This is when he became involved in our finances. He checked the bank daily, got involved with knowing what bills we were paying, and we began making decisions together.

In September of 2010, we began Financial Peace University, and it has been a life saver! We have since gotten on a budget by using You Need A Budget software and we have built up a small emergency fund (Baby Step 1 in Financial Peace University).  We have paid over $16000 in debt.  We still have a ton of debt to face, but we are making progress.

I thank God and my husband for their incredible mercy through this!   I am no longer a slave to sin, because God has set me free.  Until the debt is paid, I am a slave to the lender, but in time, I will gain my freedom and never go back!

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