Before we start our ministry meetings, my pastor encourages us to spend some time allowing people to testify.
For those unaccustomed to this tradition, it’s a time when people talk about the good things that have happened to them. So when a reader suggested “Testimony Thursday” as a moniker for the practice during my weekly online chat, I decided that I would periodically gather some of the discussion-day financial “testimonies” and share them in my column.
We hear so much bad news that it’s uplifting to hear how some people have overcome their economic challenges or have acted on financial advice that’s improved their lives.
DEBT RIDDANCE: Are you pessimistic about getting rid of your debt? Here’s a testimony from someone who found liberation.
“Somebody wrote in worried about getting their credit/financial life back after making some mistakes while they were young,” the reader wrote. “That could have been me. I was neck-deep in debt, had a car repossessed and had to settle many accounts. After that, I went totally credit-free. When I went to buy a car, I didn’t exist in the credit world. That was three years ago, and just this week I got my credit score (honestly I was afraid to look at it) and it was a 773. You can bounce back!”
Yes, you can. Just make a plan and commit.
CASH IS KING: I tell folks all the time that cash is still king. You can just feel the joy from the following person who decided not to get an auto loan.
“I just paid cash for a car,” the reader wrote. “And it felt great! I own the car. It’s mine. Not the bank’s. It’s mine! Not only did I pay cash, but I also purchased it in Canada. I live in Seattle. Even after accounting for the extra importation costs, I saved approximately 30 percent off the price of the same car were I to buy it in the U.S.”
GOING PRIVATE: And there was this testimony: “I sent a question about what to do about finding housing since I’d lost my home due to unemployment, and you suggested I look for a private rental. Well, I will be renting a two-bedroom renovated townhome with a finished basement and beautiful backyard. It’s the same amount of a regular apartment. Since I have no debt and am rebuilding my emergency fund, this will give me an opportunity to begin life again.”
GUILT-FREE SPENDING: This final story is for savers who are guilt-ridden about spending. Take to heart this testimony: “My mom has a terminal illness. This rocked our family to the core. So I went out and purchased a cruise vacation for my entire family and my parents. (Four cabins, since my kids are grown with spouses.) I have the money, but I feel horribly guilty about spending so much money on a vacation. My mind keeps saying what happens if you need this money for something else, while my heart is saying that we need one last batch of fun before things turn bad.”
I told the person not to waste another second playing the what-if game. Let it go. As long as you can afford it, that’s why you save – to have the freedom to spend money on things or experiences that matter.
Fast-forward and then this testimony came in from the same reader.
“I sent a message several months ago about splurging on a family cruise with my terminally ill mother,” she wrote. “My whole family went. … Prior to the trip, I felt guilty about spending so much money because you never know when something will come up. Well, we returned and we had the best time. It was beyond special to spend quality time with those you love.”
Wait. There was another lesson to be learned in this beautiful story.
NO REGRETS: “Driving home, my husband and I discussed the financial impact of the trip and decided that we need a third savings account titled ‘No Regrets,' and that money is designed to be spent on anything that is meaningful to our family,” the reader wrote. “And guess what happened? I received a message from a dear friend that her daughter is getting married. So I’ve already decided to spend this month’s contribution on an airline ticket to go to the wedding. Prior to the cruise, I would have stuffed the money away for a rainy day, but I have the rainy-day fund, so why not buy the airline ticket? Thanks for taking away the guilt!”
Nothing more to say than “Amen.”