How I Found Financial Freedom

“God paid a high price for you, so don’t be enslaved by the world.” – 1 Corinthians 7:23

I’ll never forget the day my parents invited me home for a little chat. They had started to sense that all was not well, and they were right. I was in financial trouble—deep trouble. My credit card debt had gotten so out of control that I could no longer make the minimum payments while also paying my rent or buying groceries.

Just two years earlier, when I was in my mid 20s, I had inherited $60,000 from an uncle and used it to create my dream job. But now, all the money was gone, plus another $20,000.

I ended up moving home with my parents for six months as I started to get things turned around. At first, it was brutally depressing. I looked forward to the night and dreaded the day.

But it was also the catalyst for so much positive change. When a friend from college got in touch and talked to me about matters of faith, I was receptive. Later that year, I committed my life to Christ. I also became passionate about learning everything I could about wise money management. After becoming a Christian, I was amazed at how much the Bible teaches about money.

Here’s a condensed version of how I got out of debt.

I recognized my need to change. I was completely broken by my prodigal son experience, and I was teachable. My friend said, “Matt, the more you’ve leaned on your own understanding, the more things haven’t worked out so well.” (I later realized that was a paraphrase of Proverbs 3:5.) It was a bold thing for him to say, and he was absolutely right.

I took responsibility for my situation. We live in a culture that tends to blame others for our problems, but I knew I had no one to blame but myself. Of the many people I’ve met who had a lot of debt, the ones who’ve been most successful at getting and staying out of debt are the ones who accepted responsibility for their situation.

I received help. I will always be grateful for my parents. They gave me relief from many of my bills at a crucial time and were very supportive.

I worked really, really hard. After a couple months of struggling for motivation, I got going. I went back to the work I was doing before receiving the inheritance—freelance radio reporting. I took on any and all assignments I could get, working nights, weekends, whatever it took to make as much money as I could to pay off my debts as soon as possible.

I kept working the plan. Once I got the debt payoff machine going, I was intent on keeping it going. The plan was simple, but not easy. Work hard, shovel as much money as possible each month toward my debts, and repeat.

I took encouragement from God’s Word. Right after becoming a Christian, I got involved in a small group Bible study. One night, our leader asked us to turn to 2 Corinthians 12. After someone helped me find that, I read about Paul, the “thorn” in his flesh, how he pleaded for relief, and how God told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

When I read those words, it was as if a heavy weight was lifted from my shoulders. My debt had felt like the nastiest of thorns twisted into my side, and many times I had pleaded for relief. But now I saw more of God’s plan. He had already used my financial mess to draw me into a relationship with Him, and now He was using it to teach me patience, trust, and perseverance.

It took five years to pay off my credit card debts and another year to pay off my car. Seeing God’s plan in the journey gave me motivation to push on.

Since then, the keys to staying out of debt have been using a budget, maintaining an emergency fund, and most importantly, letting it sink deep within my soul that God paid an incomprehensible price for me, so it makes no sense to allow myself to become enslaved by the world.

If you need help getting out of debt, I recommend reading the following articles:

If you’re struggling with debt, I hope my story is an encouragement to you. It may take some time, but if you take positive action toward getting out of debt each day, one day you will experience the incredible freedom of being debt-free.

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4 Responses to How I Found Financial Freedom

  1. Wayne Riendeau April 14, 2021 at 4:43 PM #

    Hi Matt. Always inspired by your story of how you got out of debt. I truly am so proud of all you’ve done since you’ve become a Christian, and honored to have played a small part in your journey — after all, YOU (well, uh, that is, God working through you) did the work to get where you are today. 🙂

    Can’t wait to talk with you and see you more as Covid lifts and we all have some more free time to get around and see each other; please keep in touch, and I will do the same, my friend. God bless.

    • Matt Bell April 14, 2021 at 9:02 PM #

      Hey, Wayne, great to hear from you. “Small part”? No, you played a huge part, reaching out to me at a key time in my life, boldly sharing your faith, and so much more. I’ll be forever grateful.

      Let’s connect soon. And if I can find an excuse to get to Chicago anytime soon, you’ll be the first to know.

  2. John Kelley April 13, 2021 at 9:36 PM #

    Matt, I hope you and your family are doing well after this crazy year. Your story is always one that inspires me. Keep on the path less traveled.

    • Matt Bell April 13, 2021 at 9:49 PM #

      Hi, John, it’s great to hear from you. Thanks for the kind words, and right back at ya. Your family’s story will always be an inspiration to me. I hope to make it up to the Springs this year. I’ll have to plan it for a time when you’ll be there.

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