Breaking the Bondage of Debt, Part 2

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by HeDied4U, May 16, 2002.

  1. HeDied4U

    HeDied4U
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    Breaking the Bondage of Debt, Part 2
    (by Pastor James MacDonald)

    Last week we looked at changing the way we think about spending. This week we look at some symptoms of financial bondage and several practical ways to break free from it.

    The number one enemy of financial freedom is debt. Proverbs 22:7 says, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomesthe lender's slave.” You may be saying to yourself, “Do I have a problem with debt?” Just give yourself a little test. You might be enslaved to debt if . . .

    * . . . your required monthly payments to debt are more than 30% of your income. The average household in the U.S. spends 29.5%. If a third or more of your monthly income is spent before you even receive it, you may have a problem with debt.

    * . . . you are using your savings for daily expenses. If you are taking money out of your savings account to fill up the tank, to buy groceries, or to pay some regular bill, you probably have a problem with debt. Maybe you don’t even have a savings account. Not good.

    *. . . you are using cash advances on your credit card to pay other debts. This is simply “robbing Peter to pay Paul.” At the end of the month you have not reduced the amount you owe at all.

    *. . . you don’t know how much you owe. Can you write down on a piece of paper your mortgage, your car payment, any credit card payments and total them up? Does it hurt so much that you just leave the amount out there in Fuzzyville?

    *. . . you are getting calls and letters from creditors; you are being charged late fees for not paying on time; there is fighting in your home due to financial pressures. All of these are symptoms that your debt problem is out of control.


    You say, “Well how does this happen?” It may surprise you to learn that not everyone who has a debt problem has a spending problem. The number one reason why people have financial problems is due to a change in the borrower’s ability to pay. “I took on obligations when I was working and she was working, and everything seemed to be going good. But then I got sick, and she got laid off.” Or, “We obligated ourselves to debt based on two incomes, but now we want her to stay at home and raise the kids.” Amen; good decision. But being over-obligated and unable to live on one income can send some big financial problems spilling into your home.

    Howard Dayton, the head of Crown Ministries, gives three guidelines for permissible debt:

    1) The item purchased is an asset with potential to increase value or produce income.
    2)The value of the item is equal to or greater than the amount owed against it.
    3)The debt is small enough that there is no potential strain during hardship.

    The bottom line is this: debt is permissible when you are buying things that have value—a home, a car—things like that. If you buy a new outfit at the mall, you can’t go back there in two months and say, “Would you take this back from me?” They don’t want it. Shoes and clothes and dining out and other consumable things that have no real value are consumer debt. Consumer debt makes it difficult for people to live peaceful and joyful lives.

    It is beyond the scope of this devotional to solve deep financial problems, but if you practice these three things with self-discipline, it will greatly assist your recovery.

    1) Recognize that everything belong to God. The first day of the week belongs to God. The first hour of the day belongs to God. The first portion of your income belongs to God. When you get God first in your life, you get yourself to a good place. God can make your situation and your finances stronger.

    2) Save as much as possible—and don’t touch it except for an emergency. In our family we try to save ten percent. You say, “If I give ten percent of my income to the church and save another ten percent, I won’t be able to afford the house I’m living in.” Then move!

    3) Don’t use your credit card unless you can pay it off completely every month. This has been a neat thing that Kathy and I have worked on in our marriage. If your bill comes, and you say, “I can’t pay it off this month,” then round up your cards and put them in a drawer. You say, “But that’s not convenient.” True, but it’s not convenient to be in debt either. Then, if you find yourself sneaking them out of the drawer from time to time, cut them up! We have had the card in the drawer a few times over the years, and we even had to cut it up once.

    Do you need to hide your credit cards for awhile? Do you need to reach for the scissors? You don’t have to remain in slavery to debt, nor should you. If you make a commitment to spend less than you earn, and stick to it, you will be making steps toward financial freedom. Take action like this, even if it seems radical, will get you to the place you need to be in your finances. And God will honor a decision like that in your life.
     
  2. Pete Richert

    Pete Richert
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    I heard of a neat trick to do with credit cards. Put it in the freezer. That way, while it thaws out, you have a long time to decide if this purchase is a good idea or not.
     

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