With anything you do, do you ever stop to ask yourself the question, “why?” For example, why did you choose your career? Or why do you want to marry someone? Maybe you don’t think about the “why” behind things. But you should. Knowing “why” helps you find direction. If you regularly read this blog, you’re more than likely interested in taking control of your personal finances. This can include getting out of debt. So, that begs the question: why get out of debt?
Some of you might think this is a waste of space. However, I would argue that knowing why you want to get out of debt is a key factor in actually doing it. Otherwise, you might find yourself losing focus. After all, where there is no vision, the people perish (Proverbs 29:18). And you’ll find that discovering your “why” is remarkably similar to creating a vision for your life.
How to Weed Out a Poor “Why”
Before we discover why you want to get out of debt, let’s first talk about what a poor “why” looks like. In general, a poor “why” won’t constitute a very powerful reason. It doesn’t stir up any emotions, nor does it have much in the way of substance. In other words, a poor why is as bland as unseasoned green beans. Let’s look at a few examples of poor “whys”.
1. Your “why” is about running away from something rather than running towards something.
Not too long ago, I spoke with someone who was desperate to get out of debt. When I asked about his goals and his vision, he didn’t have an answer. But then I asked, “Why do you want to get out of debt?” And he said that he just didn’t want to go broke. I pressed harder, and he kept saying, “I just don’t want to go broke. Isn’t that enough?”
The answer is no. That’s not enough of a reason. This guy thought the only reason to get out of debt was to make sure he didn’t end up homeless. While it’s important to look at your past, it’s even more important to think about your future. Instead, why not think about what your life would look like without debt?
For example, think of how you might be able to give more, travel more, or take better care of your family. Also, you can begin to think of the legacy you might leave for your children. Take some time to think and pray through what you want to run towards.
2. Your “why” doesn’t have enough details.
On The Dave Ramsey Show the other day, I heard Dave speak with a young lady who really wanted to kill her debt. She ranted and raved, said she hated her debt, and was ready to get rid of it. Dave paused for a moment and asked, “Why?” She lost her voice in that moment. What on earth? What do you mean why? “W-well…,” she stammered. “I would like to give more…” Dave interrupted, “Give to what?” She didn’t have an answer.
So, what do you want to do when you get out of debt? Do you want to give more? If so, to whom and how much? How will you decide? Can you envision yourself actually doing it? Ask yourself a lot of questions and keep asking yourself, “Why?” Eventually, you’ll get to the root! After that, formulate what your “why” looks like. In other words, you should be able to clearly articulate and describe your “why” in clear, vivid detail.
As an example, I wanted to destroy my debt so I could one day pay for my child’s education. Keep in mind, I don’t have any kids yet. But even after getting out of debt, I still have the vision of opening up a 529. Then one day, I’ll take my daughter out to Chick-fil-A for one last daddy-daughter date before she goes off to school. We’ll talk about her hopes, her dreams, and her future. The next day, we’ll drive together to the school, unpack her things at the dorm, and I’ll kiss her on the forehead and say goodbye. I might even cry on the way home. But I’ll know that my daughter’s future is monetarily secure and that she won’t have to start life in debt.
Does that keep me motivated? Heck yes, it does!
3. Your “why” is only about yourself.
I’ve known plenty of people obsessed with ridding themselves of debt. For a few of them, when you ask them why, here’s a few of the things they say: “I just want to be a millionaire! I want to retire early and constantly be on vacation! We want a super big house! I want financial security” I think you get the picture.
First, I want to let you know that none of those things are bad in and of themselves. However, if your “why” centers only on yourself, you’ll find yourself miserable. God, in his infinite wisdom, designed us to live in community. Furthermore, we reflect God’s image more fully when we are generous.
Therefore, I encourage you to think through how you can also be generous as you formulate your “why”.
How to Discover Your “Why”
This is the part that gets really fun! And believe it or not, it’s not really too difficult to get to the root. Truthfully, I could just tell you to constantly ask yourself “why” until you can’t go any further. But I think I’ll give you a little more guidance than that.
1. Know your passions.
Think about the things that really get you excited. Is it giving? Mission work? Vacations? Starting a business? Truthfully, it can be any number of things. Personally, I have passions for missions, giving, writing, family, traveling, and more! However you look at it, your “why” for getting out of debt needs to involve your passions in some way.
2. Start asking yourself “Why?”
This is where knowing your passions come in handy! It’s time to have a conversation with yourself. It might look something like this: I want to get out of debt. Why? So I can give more to my church. Why? Because I love my church. Why? Because of the amazing things they do in the community and the impact they’ve had on my life, so I should give to them. Why? God commands us to give. Why? Because God is a giver, and giving enables us to more fully reflect his image. So, why get out of debt? Because debt ties up my finances, restricts my giving, and I want to give more to the church so I can more fully honor God and reflect his image.
Asking “why” can really help you get down to the root, can’t it? Indeed, “why” is a magic word! Find your “why” for the different things you want to accomplish. This isn’t necessarily planning out your whole life, but it does start to give you direction.
3. Picture your “why” in clear, vivid detail
This is going to take some brainpower, but it will be worth it! Take your “why” and start to imagine yourself doing some of your passions with vivid details. If it’s missions, visualize yourself packing a suitcase, getting on the plane, and sharing the gospel with someone who looks totally different than you. If it’s caring for the homeless, imagine yourself spooning food onto the plates of hungry people. And so forth.
These details and visions serve as a motivator as you knock out your debt. I can guarantee that you will hit some rough patches as the months go by. However, constantly going back to your “why” will steer you back on course whenever you start to drift.
4. Start developing a plan with your “why” in mind
Finally, this is where the fun begins! Now you can really start to develop a plan, especially since you now have a reason to stay motivated! Begin with building a budget. This is something you can do even on an irregular income or in the midst of a crisis.
Once you have your budget in place, you can start to work the debt snowball so you can pay off your debt super quick! And when it starts to get tough, you can always remember your “why”.
5. Remember the ultimate “why”
So, why get out of debt, give, and build wealth? Because God created us in his image and made us to be like our Savior. Our Savior is a giver. He gave everything for us on the cross, showing us the meaning of true sacrifice. Our Savior is also a servant. “Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28 ESV). He is the ultimate example of servant leadership, taking the time to invest in people and show them love. Finally, our Savior is rich in everything. He is the owner of all things, and he gives abundantly to all who belong to him.
Our Creator designed us to reflect his image. And for the Christian, we reflect his image when we steward his gifts for his glory. Do you see how this isn’t just about money? This is about something much deeper. Therefore, I implore you to create a vision for your lives. Go and build a plan to reflect the image of God.
Know Why You Want to Get Out of Debt
In conclusion, eliminating your debt is about much more than just money. Rather, it’s about creating a vision for your life so you can become a good steward of the resources God gives to you. You can then take those resources and use them for his glory. Plus, you can even have a lot of fun with his blessings along the way!
Stay focused, keep the faith, and have some fun thinking of what your life would look like without debt!
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