Debt Free by 40: Escaping the Debt Monster

How Did I Get Here?

If you are in debt it is likely that you have wondered to yourself, how in the world did I get here? What happened? Where did I go wrong? Sometimes there is a sense of guilt and shame over your financials. You don’t want anyone to know. Everyone on social media seems to be living their best life, what about me? This was me.

One morning I woke up and was overwhelmed by the weight of my debt. It felt like I couldn’t breathe. In most people’s eyes I was a successful young eye doctor. In my eyes I was a fraud. Broker than a joke, with a lower net worth than a homeless person (zero was more hopeful than -$500K!).  I had every kind of debt: student loan, business, mortgage, car loan, and credit cards. The only debt it seemed like I didn’t have was a payday loan! Where did I go wrong? Had I missed God’s voice or direction? Was this the life I was destined to live?

Making the Decision to Change

There comes a time in your life when you come to a crossroad. You have the choice to continue along the path that you are on or go in a different direction. It takes courage to change course. It takes courage to believe that your current situation is not your ultimate destination. Sometimes you are just  so tired that you are forced to do something else.

The LORD your God will bless you as he has promised. You will lend money to many nations but will never need to borrow. You will rule many nations, but they will not rule over you. -Deuteronomy 15:6 (New Living Translation)

Well this is what happened to me. I was working so hard to try and keep all the balls in the air and all the bills paid. I knew something had to give. I had been reading the Bible and I knew I was supposed to be the lender and not the borrower. However, the debt was so heavy I didn’t see how that statement could ever apply to me. I can say I am a pro at mustard seed faith. I always seem to have way more doubt than faith. However, I realize that just a little pinch of real faith can somehow be enough to get me to take the 1st step. Fortunately for all of us, that’s all God needs!

Doing the Work

It takes a lot of work to get out of debt. It requires self-sacrifice, self-discipline, budgeting, endurance, and prayer. There will be temptations, critics, and “haters.” There will also be the battle in your mind. You will question if it’s worth it and is it attainable.

My husband and I prayed, and I read finance books continuously to try to stay on focus. I started a small Facebook group and even started teaching finance classes at my church to keep my eye on the prize.  I did anything I could do to keep focused and not give up, or even worse encounter more debt. The method we used was the debt snowball and added any extra we could help it out. The Lord blessed our business and it started to prosper we put all extra toward the debt.  Before we knew it, the credit cards and car loans were paid. Then the business debt was paid. Next the student loan was paid and finally our mortgage was gone!!!!!!  Wow what a little pinch of faith can do!

The Fruit is So Sweet

If being debt free is your desire I encourage to walk out on faith, trust the Lord, and watch him go to work on your behalf. When the debt is gone, the freedom you feel is indescribable. You really don’t realize how much debt weighed, until it is gone.  The fruit you receive is called peace. It is ripe, sweet, and oh so delicious.   

My goal was to be debt free by 40 but God chose 38. As I soon approach my 40th birthday I am still amazed at the grace I have been shown. There is no other explanation other than Faith plus Divine intervention to explain the miracle that happened in my life. It was mathematically impossible. Fortunately, God specializes in impossible situations.  I want you to understand that there is nothing special about me. The good news is that if He can do it for me with all my doubts, He can do it for you.

My mission is to teach you how to manage money using biblical principles so that you can build generational wealth.

Join me on future blogs as we walk through this finance journey together. Like many I didn’t have family that knew about finances to teach me. My mission is to teach you how to manage money using biblical principles so that you can build generational wealth.

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5 Steps to Create a Get out of Debt Plan

In the blog, Living in Captivity, we were able to analyze our current situation and recognize whether we had been taken captive by the debt monster. If you realized you were a taken now is the time to plan your escape.

  1. Admit you are in captivity and understand there is no “good debt” – The first step to achieve anything is to first admit that you have a problem. If you don’t see that you have a problem and are content with your financial situation, there is no need to do anything.  The definition of debt clear. If you have borrowed money and you owe someone you are in debt. However, in society it is a tricky topic. There are all these talks of “good debt.” I would argue that there is bad and “not so bad debt.” I have heard business debt, student loans, and mortgages are all good debt for various reasons. Some argue in support of them for the tax savings. I have been advised to keep my lower interest loans in order to invest in the stock market instead. Both of these reasons are risky as tax laws change all the time and we all know the stock market has no guaranteed return. Those who look at you strangely and question you for to be totally debt free mortgage. Warning you have to question the motives of who is talking. We have almost been brainwashed about debt that it is good. When we are the only generation in the history of humanization that carried significant debt and thought it was good

2. No new debt: This one seems pretty straight forward; however it is one I must touch on. I was teaching a financial class and I was about a third in when a student raised their had and asked the question. So when do I stop using my credit card? I had made an assumption they that not taking out any more debt was understood. I won’t make that same mistake here. To get out of debt even in the planning stages you need to stop accumulating debt. If you are using a credit card to pay your normal living expenses and not paying it off fully every month you are still accumulating debt. That means you are spending more than you are making. The solution is to increase income or decrease your expenses.  to stop accumulating debt immediate.

3. Commit to freedom: Make up in your mind that you want to be free and that you will be free.

4.Find some weapons: The Debt Monster is strong and doesn’t want to let you go. He loves how hard you work everyday to make him happy.  You  make him feel good when you pay him his  fees and interest every month. You will have to get your mind together start gathering your weapons. You weapons this time are educational resources, support groups, accountability partners.    The Word of God, Dave Ramsey, Suze Orman, Dfree, Millionaire Next door

5. Pull the trigger: Its time to pull trigger and let the Debt monster know he has fight on his hands. That you will now longer silently remain his slave.

How to Escape the Debt Monster

Part 1: Living in Captivity

The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.

Proverbs 22:7

The topic of debt is one that is very close to my heart, because I know the pain, shame, and fear it can cause. There was a time in my life where I had so much debt, I felt like I was drowning. No matter how I tried to float, I went down a little deeper. I had student loans, mortgages, credit cards, car notes, business loans, and even a timeshare! Yes, most of them have an (s) on the end because there were multiple.  I was smart and educated with a truckload of debt.  My family didn’t really teach me anything about money, so when the lenders offered me a free umbrella, I was easy prey. Prior to feeling the sting of debt, I was happy when I got approved. I was excited that the bankers believed in me. I believed they we on my side and would never give me a loan I couldn’t afford to pay.

One day I woke up and realized I had been taken captive by the debt monster.  I had been lured deeper and deeper into his cave to the point I couldn’t see any escape.  It had seemed nice at first, but soon I started to feel the chains and the weights he had put on me. I had become the debt monster’s slave.  I couldn’t miss a day of work, get sick, or take a long vacation because I had to pay the monster his money. At the height of my debt load I was paying $50 a day in interest. That’s $18,250 a year! Just flushing $18,250 a year down the toilet to keep him happy.

Total Consumer Debt: $13.51 trillion (2018)

If the stats are correct, then many of you reading this blog are also living in captivity. The debt monster has made debt seem so normal that many of us can’t even picture ourselves without it. The idea of owning a home without a mortgage or buying a car with no car note is hard to imagine.  In America debt is what we do, our National Debt reached $22 trillion in 2019.  Our total consumer debt including mortgages ($9.14 trillion), auto ($1.65 trillion), student loans ($1.44 trillion), and credit cards ($829 billion) now totals a staggering $13.51 trillion. [ According to the New York Federal Reserve in the third quarter of 2018]. The average American household carries $137,063 of consumer debt.

Part 1 of 5

If you are living in captivity and have the desire to be free this blog is for you. The blog, “How to Escape the Debt Monster” is divided into 5 parts:

  1. Living in Captivity
  2. Planning an Escape
  3. The Great Escape
  4. Debt Free Living! 
  5. Staying Debt Free

Tune in frequently, follow, share, and subscribe to our email list to make sure you and your loved ones don’t miss the next episode. Til next time don’t let the debt monster know that we will be “Planning an Escape!”

Dr. Sylvia Jones
Vision Provider

Dr. Sylvia Jones is a wife, mom, eye doctor, blogger and entrepreneur . She has a passion for training and mentoring others on how to build wealth and create their own strong economy. She is the CEO of Divine Family Eyecare, Inc and the Founder and CEO of Violet Eyewear, LLC. Come along on her journey as she builds her companies and shares her wisdom along the way.

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My Purpose Driven Life

Let your Light Shine,     

My purpose is to help with both physical and spiritual blindness.

Dr. Sylvia Jones

When I was a child at my 1st church, I was maybe 5 or 6. I would get up, tell my testimony, and sing this song called, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine!”   I loved that song and have sang it many times to my own children.  God has a funny way of giving you a purpose and a plan in the womb. The Purpose Driven Life.

I was born to be a child of the light, I’m sure that is why I loved that song so much. However, light, vision, and blindness have somehow turned into the theme of my life. Fast forward to junior year of college. I was in college as biology major with no plan of what I was going to do with the rest of my life. I loved math and science and soon discovered that I was also excellent at physics. I got an A in every high-level physics class I ever took, it just clicked (I know I’m weird, and that’s ok). I became fascinated with light one day during a lesson on quantum physics. The professor taught about the interesting things that happened the closer you get to the speed of light. Things like length contraction (distance gets shorter) and time dilation (time gets longer!). As a science geek this totally blew my mind, time could change?  I was so happy that I had found something that actually excited me. Nothing really excited me so I knew I had to do something with it.

Shortly after I went into a church service and oh my goodness, you know what the sermon was about “Light!”  At that point I was like God what are you trying to tell me about? The sermon talked about Jesus being the Light of the World! I remember looking at the beautiful chandelier in the room and wondering, was God really in the light was he all around me all the time in the actual light? That day I went to the Bible and did a thorough study on light and it led me to physical and spiritual blindness. That’s when God revealed that my purpose would be to help with both physical and spiritual blindness.

It was no accident that around the same time a mentor recommended I look into optometry. Optometry was founded out of optics. Optics is a branch of physics that includes the scientific study of sight, and the behavior of light! I couldn’t make this all up even if I tried. What in the world? How had I found my calling in such a unconventional way. I knew I was suppose to be an optometrist, it was my next step.

God is so good! He had actually already placed me in the right place, at the right time, with the right people. I was already at The Ohio State University, my dorm was just a short walk to the optometry college. It was so convenient that  I took for granted that it was the only optometry school in Ohio. I took for granted that it was the  #1 Optometry school in the nation! I had no idea how few African Americans had completed the program. At the time I had no clue, I just knew that it was what God had for me. The next morning I stumbled into the optometry admissions office and asked to learn more. The admissions officer still talks about the day I showed up.  I asked about working at the college so I could learn more about Optometry. She found me a work study position with a fun English guy who would eventually be my optics professor.  

Wow, what a destiny, what a marvelous plan, what an awesome Father! Oh how I love thee. That little job exposed me to some of the top optometric researchers in the world. Those people would be the same faces I saw on the admissions committee, my professors for the next 4 years, and now my beloved colleagues. As I tell the story it feels so orchestrated now, at the time I felt like it all happened in a daze. So young, yet so anointed and with so much favor I thought it was normal.

Knowledge of my purpose keeps me focused. I know that my time on earth is limited. God has called me to be a Vision Provider. I have been given the task to not only help others see 20/20 out of their glasses (Violet Eyewear), but to also help others gain a clear vision for their life. That is the purpose of Millionaire Faith, to help you gain a clear vision for your life. It is time to take off the blinders and put on God’s Glasses! Through His lenses, your life is full, free, purposeful, and abundant.

Below are some resources to help you identify and walk in your purpose:

The Path Made Clear: Discovering Your Life’s Direction and Purpose  by Oprah Winfrey

Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren

Identity: Discover Who You Are and Live a Life of Purpose  by TD Jakes

7 Steps to Multiple Income Streams

Now that you are aware of the 5 Reasons You Need Multiple Streams of Income, most of us can agree that is sounds like a great idea. So now we need to develop a plan, gather books, and other  resources to move into action. There will never be a perfect time so the time to start is now.

  1. Identify and list your talents: Make a list of all the things you are good at. What do others compliment you on or request that you do?  What do you have a passion for or are talented? Do you have potential to be an expert in a particular area? If you need some resources that can help you discover what your talents are, try Finding Your Element and Find Your Passion. These along with other resources will help you identify the talents and passions God has uniquely given you.  It’s probably not a good idea to try to implement them all at once, but it is wise for you to hold onto this list as every item on this list is a potential stream of income.
  • 2. Passive Income: Passive income is the holy grail of additional income streams, because it doesn’t require any additional work after the initial set up.  There is usually an initial set up investment of time or money. Passive income happens 24/7 even while you sleep. Passive income includes things like interest, dividends, royalties. You can also achieve passive income online from things like eBooks and e-courses. For more information and ideas on passive income I suggest the following resources: Passive Income Ideas and The Passive Income Playbook.

3.   Pray and pick 1 active and 1 passive: You may have a large list or a small list, the size really doesn’t matter. What matters is that you make a choice. If you are a believer in God, I suggest you pray that God would show you and help you pick what is right for you during this season in your life. What talent has he gifted you with that you are not using. If you are uncomfortable with prayer or have no idea how to pray. I suggest you may want to invest in the following books, Unleash the Power of Prayer in Your Life and PRAYER BOOK TO START A BUSINESS. We can have a lot of great ideas, but only God can breathe life into it and cause it to multiply.


  • 4. Research how to monetize: Talents only turn into an income stream when when you are able to make money from it. I was told early in my career that a business that doesn’t make money is just a hobby. Come up with a plan that you could start earning income. Start with a simple goal of earning $1. If you can earn $1 than you can earn more by repeating or improving the process. Our goal is get the stream to produce money. It is like a toddler learning to walk if they can take one step its very likely that they will be able to walk and soon run. Once your stream is producing, you are well on your way to turning your income steam into a business. The following book will help you in the process: Starting a Business Quick Start Guide.
What is your target market?

5. Develop a Plan to Grow: Identify your target market and come up with a plan to get your services or product in front of those most likely to purchase. Target Groups Untangled. If it is a passive stream figure out how much you will need to invest whether time or money to get your desired return. Implement growth strategies that will grow your company using the resource Secret Business Growth Strategies.

6. Execute the Plan: Finally it is time to execute your plan and let the revenues start flowing in.  The book Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27  is a great resource that helps you go from idea to income in as little as 27 days. The start of your new business or passive income stream is an exciting time but having a guide is key especially if you have never owned or operated your own business before. The following is a great guide: Turn Your Passion Into A Thriving Business – How To Start A Business That Will CRUSH IT!!: A Rookie Entrepreneur Start Up Guide

  • 7. Keep learning: “Formal Education will make you a living; but self -education will make you a fortune.” -Jim Rohn  This blog post is filled with links to books and resources,  because as you venture to grow your wealth you will have to read, ask questions, and figure things out.  Nothing worth having is easy and knowledge truly is power. As an entrepreneur I read all the time, usually about a book a week. There are books written about everything I can think of. You have no excuses, below are additional books on creating multiple streams of income.
  • Additional books and resources:
  • The Key To Multiple Income Streams
  • Get on the 7 Streams Team
  • Online Profit Secrets
Dr. Sylvia Jones
Vision Provider

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5 Reasons You Need Multiple Income Streams

  1. Life is unpredictable. Life is constantly changing. Technology, government, healthcare, internet, and bills in general. Things seem to cost more and more, yet salaries seem to be staying the same. Stores that we once frequented have gone out of business, ie Payless Shoes & Blockbuster.  Some have gone out just because technology changed so much they were no longer relevant, others just couldn’t stand against the competition. No job is safe and those we thought were secure like government jobs are furloughed or eliminated due to budget cuts. I have been an eye doctor for 12 years now and I have seen more changes in healthcare than older doctors probably saw in their whole career.  The implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the constant threat of it being removed. Multiple streams of income helps to protect you from some of the uncertainties of life.

2. Reduce the Risk-The word investment itself brings with it risk. Multiple streams of income helps to minimize the risk of any one investment or stream. In most instances when one industry is down, another industry thrives or at least weathers the storm. I was lucky enough to live through the Great Recession. I’ve seen the stocks soar and drop to almost nothing. I was always taught that real estate was a relatively solid investment, yet I have felt the devastation of having my home value drop by 50% and look foreclosure in the face and say not today!   Multiple streams of income helps you to weather the storms of life without total economic ruin, and if done right prosper in the storm.

3. You have multiple talents – God has given us all multiple talents, likes, and dislikes. There is no reason that you have to just pick one and only do that your whole life. Maybe you are a teacher, but you also love to bake, decorate, and exercise. There is no reason why you can’t use one or more of your other talents to earn additional income. I was watching a video by TD Jakes and he said “every talent is a stream.” God doesn’t give you talents for nothing, they are to be used. Some are meant to be given freely. God is generous enough to bless us with talents that generate income and allow us to enjoy our dreams. If you have a nice voice, you could read audio books, or do voice overs. If you have nice hands, you could be a ring model or be used in product demonstrations.  The possibilities are only limited by your creativity and your desire to succeed.  Income earned from work is great, but income you earn not working (passive income) is even better. So get creative as you produce additional streams.

4. It is Wise– The concept of multiple streams of income is in the Bible. Ecclesiastes 11:2 says to invest in seven ventures or even eight; you do not know what disaster may come upon the land. The beginning of wisdom is fear of the Lord and it is wise to follow his word. The Bible is full of sound financial advise. It is no surprise that multiple streams of income is one of them

5. Financial Freedom– Just like you can fill a bathtub faster if you had 7 or 8 faucets going at the same time. The path to wealth or financial freedom is greater if you have 7 or 8 income sources flowing into your bank account. Some of the possibility for additional stream include books (eBooks), online courses, stocks, bonds, rental income, online stores, direct sales, blogs, apps, and whatever other creative legal venture you can think of. If your goal is to be financially free, multiple streams of income can assist you in obtaining your goal faster.

Tune in to Millionaire Faith’s next blog, “A 7 Step Plan to Create Multiple Income Streams.”

Writing to God

When I was young, I never considered myself a great reader, writer, or speller. Math and science were my thing.  The English language always seemed so confusing. My reading speed was so slow, I usually couldn’t finish the reading comprehension sections on standardized tests. However, as a young girl I still found comfort in reading non-classroom related books. In a home full of chaos, books allowed me transport myself to another time and place.  I loved living out the adventures in my favorite series “The Babysitter’s Club.” The library was one of my favorite places. With my little library card I could go all over the world and it was all free! We didn’t have money to buy books, or space to store them so the library was perfect.

One day, I guess I was about 8 or 9 years old I ran across the book “The Color Purple”.  I can’t remember if I saw the movie or read the book first. Looking back I’m not sure if it was even age appropriate. However, in the book the main character wrote letters to God. That was the only time I had seen someone not in the bible, write letters to God. In the letters the main character just told God about her life, the good and the bad.  I had a diary I wrote in occasionally, but I had only written to Dear Diary. From that day on I wrote to God. Even as a child I was certain God had more power than Dear Diary. I decided to tell God about my life and write down my prayers. I always heard people say pray about it. The problem was, sometimes I couldn’t remember if I had prayed about it or not, and if I did, had I forgotten to include some important details?  In my 8 year oId mind,  I figured if I wrote my prayers, I would have written proof of what I had told God.  How He responded was on him.

I wrote to God through elementary school. I wrote to God through middle school and high school. I wrote to God through college, and optometry school. I wrote to God while getting married, having children, and owning a business. Now I sit here at almost 40 years old having written to God most of my life. What I loved about writing to God was that he didn’t care about my punctuation or complete sentences. There was no grade. I told Him about everything as I figured he already knew anyhow. I confessed, asked for forgiveness, and asked for help. I shared my life with the Father. Over time I could see how he answered prayer after prayer, how I had been so worked up and it turned out just fine. I could see how he had shown me so much grace and favor.

As I grew my relationship with the Father remained and the faith I had as a child only grew stronger.  Don’t get me wrong I have not lived without trials or pain, but I can say that I have never lived without hope.

Here is an except from one of my journals 10 years ago. August 25, 2009 the day when I signed the papers for my 1st business, Divine Family Eyecare, Inc.

Christianity is not about religion but about a genuine relationship with the Father. That is easy to say but how do you do that? Reading God’s word, praying and writing to God are awesome ways to spend time with and grow your relationship with the Father. Over time you may also be surprised by a new ability to clearly hear God’s voice. I encourage you to try it out and report back on this blog with testimonies of His response to your written letters/prayers.

I only have one warning. Once you start, get ready to see Him start moving in your life. If you are diligent years later you will look back and realize you have journals full of beautiful letters to the Father, an awesome relationship, and a lot of answered prayers!

A Good Marriage is Possible

The scripture reference for this Millionaire Faith is Proverbs 13:22 (NRSV) “The good leave an inheritance to their children’s children, but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous. “ The goal of Millionaire Faith is to bring you along on my entrepreneurial journey to do just that, leave an inheritance for my children’s children. I hope that you will join me on this wealth journey.  I pray that you are encouraged by my courage to tell my testimony, and that you will be empowered to share your own.

Dr. Sylvia Jones

So, since you know the purpose of the blog now, let me introduce myself. I’m Dr. Sylvia Jones, Christian, wife, mother, eye doctor, and business owner just to name few. I accepted Christ at a very young age, so I really don’t remember a time when I didn’t know Him. I have been blessed to experience a life long love story with the Father. God gave me the idea for this blog about 2-3 years ago and I was finally inspired to post my first blog today on my 15-year wedding anniversary!  If 15 years of a happy marriage is not a testimony of God’s Faithfulness, I don’t know what is.

March 20, 2004

I grew up in a dysfunctional home to say the least. Alcoholism, infidelity, and poverty were my examples and I questioned whether a good marriage was possible.  So today I find it fitting to tell you about the extraordinary favor God has placed on my life through marriage!

Although I feared marriage, I also deeply desired it. I didn’t know if anyone would want to marry me and I was afraid that the guy who wanted to marry me would be unattractive and boring. I had been in relationships that hadn’t worked out and I was frustrated. I remember being in the living room of my small college apartment having a somewhat heated conversation with God about his rules. I thought that not having sex before marriage was outdated, impossible, and an unfair request.

I protested, “I would never find anybody like that, that may have worked 2000 years ago but that’s not working now. I want to be a good Christian and follow all these rules but I don’t know if this is realistic.” His reply was simple “Just try and see, what you are doing isn’t working, is it?”   I pause. “Well no it isn’t, but I don’t know if this is going to work either, and if it does how long is this going to take?” At some point I humbled myself and remembered I was talking to the creator of the universe. I said “well you are God and what I’ve been doing hasn’t been working, so I surrender to your will.” That day I went into a covenant with God that I would not have sex again until I was married, and He promised to bless that marriage and give me more that I could ask or dream of. I accepted the covenant and hoped I had not just signed up for a lifetime of celibacy.

I began to pray for a husband. I also started to pray for this unknown person. I prayed for his health, his finances, his relationship with the Father. I prayed against any addictions or an abusive spirit. I prayed for him daily. I prayed that God would get me ready.  I also prayed that I would recognize him when he arrived. I wish I could say I was so full of faith, but I really didn’t know if God would send anyone at all. I guess I had mustard seed faith.

Fast forward a month or two. In walks Demetrius Jones. He is tall, handsome, smart, and funny. He really seems to like me! So now I must break the news to him about the covenant I entered with God, and I fully expect him to run for the hills. But he didn’t run, he proposed to me 6 months from the time we met, and we were married a year after that.   I kept my covenant with God and He has been faithful.  As I type this, tears steam down my face, as I think about the grace God has shown me for 15 years. The opportunity to spend my whole life loving this wonderful man. What I thought was impossible, He made possible. What I thought was just a fairy tale, He made reality.

This is just a little of what Millionaire Faith is all about. Every week I will blog about the goodness of the Lord, as my husband and I venture to raise 3 daughters, grow 4 companies, and try our best to follow God’s instructions. I pray that our love affair with Christ will inspire you to start or develop your own.

 Til we meet again, may God’s grace find you daily.

Dr. Sylvia Jones
Vision Provider