When I was younger, I would make decisions based on what I “wanted” without properly counting the cost. I would estimate what I thought it might be, but would not take the time or counsel to consider all the added expenses that may accumulate over time.
A fish tank.
A hot tub.
These are three reasons I created debt. I wanted what I wanted, and I did not want to wait long enough to save up for them.
When I was 23 I decided I’d like a fish tank. So, I went to a place that made custom tanks. I told the designer I’d like 100 gallon tank. He got to work. Then I realized I’d need a cabinet. The tank turned out to be 102 gallons, making it just slightly short of fitting in a standard one – so, I got that custom-made. Then there had to be a sump tank and all the parts for that. Then, I decided on salt water – so I had to buy live rock to help keep the water perfect for the fish. I discovered that salt-water tanks are very delicate and that the fish are hard to keep alive if the water changes more than a 4 degree variant in temperature. I also discovered that I had to drive across town to refill 5, 5 gallon jugs of salt water every few weeks to do a partial water change. This water change took well over an hour start to finish. Then there were the lights, the heater, the thermometer. The list goes on….
So, I had my fish tank. But, what started as a $400 custom tank turned in to over $2,500 to get what I needed upfront. Add to that all the time and cost to maintain it…. and the many fish who perished along the way. Most of them were between $40 and $100 each! I kept this tank functional for 5 years. I can’t imagine what I spent in that time.
I failed to count the cost before I jumped in. This was the beginning of my credit card debt. I repeated similar decisions several times. I did not find out enough information to know exactly what I was getting myself into, or I just chose to ignore the consequence of creating debt for myself. I was young. I thought I had plenty of time. I am still working through these consequences 17 years later, paying my accumulated debt slowly. This has been a tough lesson – and I am sure it is one that many can identify with.
Counting the cost does not just go for monetary things – it also goes for spiritual and emotional things, as well as time commitments.
There are people we should not associate with because they end up sucking us dry. We should carefully count the cost to decide how much to invest in these people. There are things we should say “NO” to because the cost will be too great and we do not have the time to sustain all our commitments.
Jesus even told us that we must count the cost before we can be his disciple. He wants every part of us, completely. This is what he said in Luke 14:28-33:
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.”
We should remember always to take the time to count the cost before we make major decisions, purchases, commitments and relationships.
I am still working on this! Who is with me?