There is no doubt that others have come before me and others will come after me to share their lessons on personal finance. I initially struggled with blogging on such a hotly debated subject. But, with prayer and reflection, I took the plunge for these 3 reasons: my childhood experience, the gap in financial education that I observed, and my desire to help change legacies. Curious about my story? Then, let’s begin…
Debt is a villain
It all started in Philadelphia (far from my current home in Atlanta). My parents filed for bankruptcy around the time I was born, setting our family on a course of financial hardship for years to come. Many people are just a paycheck or emergency away from financial crisis today, but I personally experienced it as a child. I studied in the dark when our electricity was cut off, and took cold showers when we didn’t have heat or gas. Back when the landline was the lifeline, our phone was disconnected. I asked friends for rides because we could no longer afford our car. Sometimes I didn’t know what I was going to eat for the week. I moved residences over 18 times because we could no longer afford the rent or mortgage, and even squatted in hotels when we had nowhere else to go. It’s grim. I know. I can identify with many of you who have been, or currently are, in a similar situation. I wouldn’t wish these experiences on anyone. However, there was one recurring villain in my family story, and perhaps yours as well: debt. That villain motivated me to learn how to handle money properly as I grew older.
Debt is a national problem
Motivation and experience were the guardrails, but education was the key. As I learned more about personal finance, I realized my family wasn’t the only one affected by debt. Poor money management is a growing national problem. As of 2017, over 70 percent of people live paycheck to paycheck, credit card debt is over $1 trillion, and student loan debt is at an all-time high of approximately $1.3 trillion. I did not want to become another statistic, so I sought out financial wisdom. I discovered that there is a clear need for education on personal finance. I went on many a wild goose chase in my learning, and I believe God ultimately showed me the way. My wife and I made a decision to view money through the lens of the Bible. I’ve also found teachers in the likes of Dave Ramsey, Howard Dayton, Ron Blue, and Larry Burkett. I desire to share what I’ve learned with you through this blog. Please do not put your head in the sand like an ostrich when it comes to money. Seek financial education. Hope is a great expectation, but it is not a strategy. Becoming a part of the Jericho Force will help you take action.
Debt does not have to be your legacy
I aim to teach you how to live a debt-free life of stewardship. Stewardship simply means “to manage”. It’s very important for my family that we manage our money properly, but it’s a call to action for us all. The final reason I started this blog is my desire to help change legacies. I am fortunate to have mentors and coaches in my life who ask me powerful questions. One of the most thought-provoking questions someone ever asked me was “Jason, when it’s all said and done, how do you want to be remembered?” As I reflect on this question, I am reminded that life is short, and that I need to use mine to make a positive impact on those around me. But I have learned that I cannot do this while carrying debt along. Debt is a thief. It has the ability to steal your hopes and dreams if you let it. My desire for you and your family is summed up in 3 John 1:2 from the Bible: “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul”. I desire that you prosper in financial freedom. But the decision is up to you. You can continue doing the status quo and leave a legacy of debt, or you can change your family tree by making financially responsible choices on a daily basis. So I ask you the same question my mentor asked me: what legacy do you want to leave?