In a way, I guess you could say that we gave and saved our way out of debt. That’s the only explanation I have for how we paid back that enormous amount of debt including all of the interest, penalties and fees. We didn’t win the lottery or receive an inheritance. We just kept going for 13 long years until we reached the goal.

I cannot say that my battles with greed are over. That enemy has a way of lifting its ugly head when I least expect it. I know that I could so easily go right back to where I was if it were not for a mind-set of generous giving, a habit that changed the equation of my life. Giving has freed me from the stranglehold of materialism.

I have lived in the darkness of greed and debt. And I’ve lived on the receiving end of God’s promise to reward trustworthiness. I highly recommend the latter.

Mary Hunt is the author of 7 Money Rules for Life (Revell, 2012) and is founder and publisher of Debt-Proof Living (formerly Cheapskate Monthly). Her daily personal finance column, Everyday Cheapskate, is read in over 80 newspapers. Hunt speaks widely on personal finance and has appeared on shows such as OprahGood Morning America and Dr. Phil. She and her husband live in California. For more information visit: