Few of us lie awake at nights worrying about a major world economic collapse any more than we lie awake worrying about our planet getting wiped out by an asteroid from outer space. But thinking about our own families and what may happen if mom or dad doesn’t get a good-paying job is another matter.
When your family is smothered with bills you cannot pay, the entire issue of debt and financial survival becomes intensely personal. Who cares about the conditions of world banking if your local bank tags your account “IF” — insufficient funds?
Bringing this whole issue into focus, is there anything that you can do personally to make your financial survival stronger in the future? There is! Seven straightforward guidelines can help you become a survivor rather than a victim in difficult times.
Guideline #1: Find out how much you owe and what you are paying in interest on your outstanding obligations.
Don’t be like the friend who didn’t bother to even open his bills as they came. Unopened he tossed them in the trash can. “Why bother to open them,” he sighed. “I don’t have any money to pay for them, and they make me feel bad.”
Guideline #2: Get help now.
For years I have encouraged churches to set up a stewardship department, that can give of their time in helping families and young couples get a handle on their finances. To me, this is the application of faith with works, as James described. If we who are of the household of faith can’t apply Biblical principles to needs today, who will?
Guideline #3: Budget your income.
Have a budget and refuse to spend what you don’t have. \Don’t be like the fellow who said, “I’ve got a budget and I’m going to live within that budget even if I have to borrow money to do so!”
Guideline #4: Get out of debt.
In simple terms, debt is your inability to pay what you owe when it is due. The primary exception to this is your home, which in all probability will increase in value over a period of time. Easy credit has been the nemesis of our day. Buy now, pay later. But few think about the cost involved in paying later. Even the purchase of a home may put you in the debtor column, so before you buy anything better find out what the conditions are. Remember, “the large print giveth and the fine print taketh away.” Read that document carefully before you purchase, and if you don’t understand what you are signing, better get someone whom you trust to explain it.
Guideline #5: Start paying cash for what you buy.
Larry Burkett offers a recipe for getting out of credit card debt. He said, “Preheat your oven to 425 degrees, grease a cookie pan, toss your credit cards on it, and bake ten minutes or until done.” Another friend suggests that if you must use credit cards, freeze them in blocks of ice, and when you want to use them, think about that purchase while the ice melts.
Guideline #6: Work together as a couple and family.
When you are married, you made a commitment to each other, and money is part of that commitment. Almost always when a marriage is in trouble, money has been a weapon used to hurt the other person.
Guideline #7: Acknowledge that what you have belongs to the Lord by including God in your budget and giving.
Failure here probably began your downhill slide to trouble. Go deeper into investigating what God says about money and our lives. You will discover there is wisdom in the “Book of the ages” which can get you out of debt once and for all.
Resource reading: Luke 21:1-4.