The Freedom Journey

Burdened? Joyless? Struggling?

Do you ever find yourself wondering why there’s too much month facing you at the end of your money? Do you ever find your job leaves very little room for you to enjoy the company of family and close friends? If a disastrous storm were to hit you — loss of employment, loss of property, loss of a loved one, etc — would you find it impossible to rely on your current savings to face a year’s worth of normal living expenses?

If you answered yes to one or all of the above questions, this blog is for you. Please know you are not alone. In fact, here’s a true story that is in many ways the all-too-common middle class American saga:

At 20 years old, I was walking on my college campus dreaming of the future when a voice interrupted my reverie. Turns out there was a career/business fair being held at school and several business booths lined the campus road on which I found myself. The voice I heard belonged to a spirited credit card company representative sporting the logo of the National Dean’s List. Having made the Dean’s list more times than I could count, I paused and listened to what he was saying.

Barely a moment passed and a credit card application under my name was already filled. I remember thinking at the time how great it would be to not have to use cash any more when going out with friends. Cash sounded so passé to me. “Get with the times!”, I’d say to myself.

Well, the glorious plastic soon came.

Silky black with shiny gold letters and the National Dean’s List fancy logo and a $500 limit.

Though it quickly found its new residence (my brown leather wallet), it was even more eager to be used. The sooner, the better.

Around the corner, a friend soon popped up and plans were hastily discussed. Hours later, after a scrumptious slice of pie, my bill came—$6.56.

Not too bad, I thought . . . except I stopped at Lucky’s (yes, that was a store in SoCal) for some peanuts. A week later, I charged a piano book and a novel and a notebook . . . and peanuts. Two weeks later, a belt, a pair of jeans, three shirts, and peanuts (always peanuts) joined the club.

At the end of the billing cycle when I opened my mailbox, an ominous envelope awaited me. I opened it and voilà!:

$ 297.68.

Whoa!!! How am I to repay such a big amount as a college student? Then, I saw the minimum required payment: $12.00.

What? Relief soon filled my heart. So, I can just pay $12 AND owe $285.68 AND have purchasing power left moving forward? What an incredible life!

The next billing cycle proved me oh so wrong. NO! Not just wrong but unbelievably ignorant in the credit department. When the bill came, the new total including an oil change amounted to $382.37.

OK, plastic. You got my attention. You’re not quite as slick and shiny as you were two months prior.

I went to see my grandparents who lived about 30 minutes away (in CA we talk about how long it takes us to get somewhere not how many miles). Grandpa was quick to show me the fine print including the astronomical interest rate on the remaining balance. And again to his credit (no pun intended), he didn’t bail me out (I didn’t ask him to) because he saw the benefit in my learning this most important lesson:

The credit industry is counting on you and me being ignorant and unaware. Sadly, you and I easily fall for it; we often fail to let them down. We charge E.VE.RY.THING (nothing wrong with that as long as replacement funds are in place) and find ourselves unable to pay the balance in full at the end of the month (uh, NO no no no). Doing that is a lethal injection sentence to your financial life.

The truth is, it’s not just financial lives that are so littered with burdens. There’s relational, professional, physical, and spiritual debt that seeks to squeeze life out of us on a daily basis.

Listen.

There is a better way to live. Say no to the burden of debt. Choose joy. Choose success. Choose freedom.

Join me on the road to freedom.

Some takeaways:

1) Whether young or mature, don’t let yourself be talked into financial (or other) ventures without really taking the time to think through their pros and cons. Filling a credit card application, or financing a large purchase, or embarking upon a new journey takes a lot of thought.

2) Great financial hosts like Dave Ramsey will tell you never to get a credit card because they wisely know how dangerous credit cards are. Since the purpose of this blog is to bring you to a place of freedom, my advice would be to increase your understanding of what credit cards can and cannot do so you can make informed decisions concerning them and not be enslaved to/by them.

3) Though I cannot offer you my grandpa, keep your eyes and ears open for a good mentor/coach who can help steer you in the right direction. My hope is this blog can coach you through some thorny matters if you need help.

Till next time . . .

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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Author: Louima Lilite

I am a husband, dad, musician, teacher, friend, and confidant who loves to learn about and implement principles of freedom in all areas of life—be it money, spirituality, relationships, or health, etc.

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