I met Mary Hunt when I was single and in my early 20s. I was attracted to her wit, kindness and her straight-forward way. I sat quietly on the front row while she taught thousands of women in church after church how to be wise financial stewards. She was always good. Too good. You would leave her session holding onto your wallet with a staunch determination to spend less and save more.
Many of her lessons shaped my young, financial life.
Mary is an award winning author, syndicated columnist and motivational speaker. She’s the founder of Debt-Proof Living, which is an organization that has been providing hope, help and solutions for over 20 years to individuals who are committed to debt-free living. She’s shared her knowledge on Dr. Phil, Good Morning America, Dateline, The Oprah Winfrey Show. . .
. . .and now with us.
Today, enjoy Part 1 of her guest blog post. . .and then come on back next Friday for the rest!
Bless you today,
I was 11 years old the day I made myself a solemn promise. It wasn’t a passing fancy or silly notion. I recall everything about that day—from where I was right down to what I was wearing when I wrote my promise in my secret journal. My plan was to re-read it and re-promise it every day for the rest of my life so I wouldn’t forget.
“When I grow up, I am going to be rich.”
That was it. No logic, definition, timeframe or strategic plan. Just a nine-word promise that would go on to shape, drive and nearly ruin my life.
I survived adolescence by dreaming about how happy my life would be when I was rich. I hung onto the promise for dear life. I didn’t rebel; I didn’t run away from home or take up shoplifting. I waited patiently, until one fine day I did grow up and left home for college.
I didn’t find a pile of money waiting for me in my dorm room. But I wasn’t bummed out. Sure, I knew I was now fully “grown up.” But it would take a little more time to become fully rich.
In the interim I discovered that if I could spend money it felt as though I had money. I could do it because I had a checkbook. It worked reasonably well for a while and for the time until I find a rich husband.
I married a banker. There. That should do it, I thought to myself. And when it didn’t, I kept my husband but headed down a more reliable financial path. I began collecting credit cards. How carnal, you must be thinking. What kind of ignorance would it take for a person such as myself to add up all of the credit limits and think of that as additional income? What kind of person would trust consumer credit more than her husband? More than God?
It’s not that I wasn’t well immersed in spiritual things. I was a preacher’s kid. I knew tons of Scripture. I’d listened to so many sermons that I could rattle off all kinds of platitudes on matters of theology and stewardship. All of that paled by comparison to my desire for riches.
I got into a lot of trouble waiting for God to grant my wish to be rich. Yes, I said wish. I prayed as if to a fairy godmother. “Oh, puleeeese, pretty please! Make me rich. I waaaaaaant to be rich!”
Let me cut to the chase here and let you know this did not turn out well. While waiting for God to show up (oh, how I’ve come to loathe that cliché, suggesting that in some way He gets lost, or forgets to keep an eye on the clock, but now and then happens to “show up”), I did what I had to do. And in the fall of 1982 my world came crashing down. I fell on my face before God. I asked for forgiveness, which of course he always grants because he is a forgiving God and he knows our weakness.
That was a life changing, major turning point in my life. As God provided the opportunities, my husband and I began to come back from the pit of financial despair. Without filing for bankruptcy, slowly we began to repay a 6-figure pile of unsecured, credit-card debt. We started to give and to save, even though deeply in debt. It wasn’t easy but it became joyful. It took 13 years to repay the debt completely, but we did. Our marriage survived. And I still wanted to be rich.
My new determined path to riches was that I would make a deal with God. I would for sure, cross my heart, you can count on me–always give the Lord 10 percent. Always. I liked that formula. He gives me 100%, I give back 10%. And the more I do it, the better my chances that my 90% will grow. Bingo! That’s it! I knew the Christian-speak, too: You can’t out give God! You’ll do better on 90% than you could on 100% without God’s blessing you for tithing.
I had my eyes on a million bucks. Heck, yeah! Why not? That would be a hundred grand for him, nine-hundred grand for me. The more I gave back, the more I’d get. Not a problem.
But that was a problem. It was still all about me. . .
We will end right here for now but be sure to join us next Friday for the conclusion of Mary Hunt’s blog post!