At the beginning of a new year when people begin making resolutions and goals, finances are often part of the equation. Some people want to save more and spend less. Others have a specific thing for which they want to save. Many people purpose to finally get out of debt.
While debt used to be considered a normal part of life, the economic crisis of the last few years has changed many of our minds on this point. We saw first hand what can happen when a government is overextended financially. Our economy is reaping the results of years of spending more than we make as a nation.
The specifics of Wall Street and accounting are out of my scope of reference. However, all of us have personal finances to control. Each home has some money to manage, and how we manage it directly affects our quality of life.
One of the biggest sources of stress is money, and money issues are among the top three reasons for divorce. Our children are courted by credit card companies in college, and many of them begin their careers and marriages with large student loan debt or car loans. Consequently, debt can affect our health, our marriages and our children.
It seems that a lot of us, including myself, have learned the hard way on this. Very few families can look back over years of 100% wise financial decisions. However, looking to the past does nothing for us unless it motivates us to a better future. Here are few reasons why we all should work to banish our personal debt in 2014:
1. Debt leaves us in bondage to another person.
God’s Word tells us that the borrower is servant to the lender. When we sign that loan application, we are signing over a portion of our freedom to the bank or person from which we are borrowing.
This is something we know intuitively. Have you ever paid off a car loan and felt a little bit better the next time you got behind the wheel? You were finally free, and that car was finally yours! However, as long as we owe money to someone else, they have some measure of control over our lives and money.
2. Debt sabotages our future by leaving us stuck in the past.
Anytime we charge something, we are using our future income to pay for something we want right now. Sadly, many of things people charge on a credit card will no longer be in use by the time they are paid off. A cycle of debt leaves us constantly paying for past purchases with today’s and tomorrow’s money. The stark truth is that sooner or later, tomorrow’s money will run out.
3. Debt trains our children in instant gratification.
If you are a parent, your choices in daily life are an example to your children. Kids naturally want what they want and they want it now! Of course, a good parent will train them to wait and not let them learn instant gratification as a way of life.
However, if we pull out plastic every time we see a cute pair of shoes or a new couch, our children are watching. They will come to realize that Mom and Dad did not have the money for that purchase, but they wanted it so badly they were willing to sacrifice future income and security for it.
4. Debt keeps us from giving freely to the Kingdom of God.
Perhaps the saddest part of bondage to debt for the Christian is the effect it has on his ministry for God. Many families are so overextended that they have no money left to tithe. This cripples the church and its ability to reach out to the community. If a family in debt does tithe, they have little leftover income for missions or ministries outside the church. This hurts our ability to “go into all the world and preach the gospel.”
John Wesley’s adage to “Earn all you can so you can save all you can so you can give all you can” is a wonderful way to live. Can I challenge you as I challenge myself? Let’s work hard and teach our children to work hard. Then, let’s take those earnings with which the Lord blesses us and provide well for our families without overindulging them. That way we can save as much as we possibly can and give as much as we possibly can.
In the temporal point of view, I can assure you that our children would rather have a secure future and a great start in life than the million trinkets we surround them with in our homes and their toy boxes.
As for the eternal view, we will stand before the Father someday. He will know how much He has blessed us, and He will know exactly what we did with those material blessings.
As we look around Heaven, we may see someone there because we decided for drive a beater for a while longer so we could give to missions. And our decision to deny instant gratification and teach our children to do the same may be part of the reason they denied instant gratification in their spiritual lives and stand beside us before His Throne.
If you are interested in getting out of debt this year, here are a few of my favorite resources:
Check out his podcast if you have a smartphone or can’t find his program on your radio station. I would also recommend any of his books, particularly The Total Money Makeover.
Free Good Budget Tracker (online or smartphone app)
Very easy to use and syncs automatically between your phone and your spouse’s phone so you know at a glance what you have in each budget category. You may also use their website if you don’t have a smartphone.
Crystal Paine is an excellent example of a frugal woman who puts her family first while growing a very successful business. Her saving ability and work-at-home business prowess helped her husband to get through law school debt-free and their family to purchase a home debt-free as well.
Another mom expert with particular expertise in couponing, saving money and military families. She has five children and has put them or is putting them through college with little to no debt.
Stacy will show you that you can indeed enjoy life and great food while living the debt-free life. She will also have you rolling with laughter much of the time. She is a coupon queen turned real foodie who has chosen with her husband to live without debt.