Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Debt Free Living

44 I will always obey your law, for ever and ever. 45 I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts. 46 I will speak of your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame, - Psalm 119:44-46

It is amazing how much wisdom is in God's Word. We however, often want to separate what we think is spiritual from natural. I would like to interject, however that God's Word is wisdom for both our spiritual life and our natural life. In fact, if we do not seek God for wisdom in our natural life we will find our spiritual life made more difficult because of the situations we find ourselves in due to our lack of good choices in our daily lives.

This scripture speaks to someone having freedom because of being obedient to God's standards. Those standards are the tools we use to help us live a godly life. The precepts (teaching, instructions, guidelines) help us to know how to live God's way.

Can I also state that God's precepts (teaching, instruction and guidelines) help us to live a debt free existance in our daily lives? I admit I'm slow so this concept took some time to ring true for me. Yet, now that I have it, I HAVE IT! I have determined that I am going to be debt free. And I would like to share with you some of the steps God has shown me to getting there.

1. Tithing - We often do not see tithing as a means to being debt free. Well I do and I'll tell you why. God requires us to be obedient to him. Therefore if I want God's freedom, I have to do things God's way. I must learn to pay my tithes first. In the natural it also helps me to understand discipling myself. If I can discipline myself to give a 10th to God, I can learn to give a 10th to savings and learn to live on the 80 % left.

2.  Learn to face my situation - Many of us get in more trouble when we refuse to look at our current situations realistically. If you only have $1,000 for your household, don't go out and spend money that would require you to need $1,200 a month. We must be willing to learn how to live within the amount of money we have, not what we hope to have.

3. Develop and carry out a plan to pay off debt - I am reminded of the scripture in James that tells us not to be hearers but doers of the word. That's what we must do to get out of debt. If we develop a plan on how to pay off our bills it does us no good until we "DO IT".  That means I cannot get out of debt if I find myself buying things I really don't need just because it was a good sale. We have fooled ourselves. We think, well I only spent $20 on something that should have cost me more. But did you really have that $20? I have had to pass by some really good "deals" because I did not have the $20 or whatever it was. Instead I took that $20 and paid on a bill until I paid it off. Develop a plan and work it.

4. Don't use borrowed money for unecessary things - I know I was guilty of this. I would use my credit card for something but when I looked at it later I realized that for that one moment of shopping I would have to pay 3 years to pay for it. I don't know about you but I don't want to pay 3 years for a dress! If I don't have the money, I won't get it. Now there are times when you may have to use a credit card, but the goal is to pay it off as quickly as you can. And if you can't pay it off in one or two months, I recommend that you do not use that credit card again until you pay it off. Discipline yourself, with God's help and watch it happen.

5. Commit to faithfully repaying your creditors - I know sometimes the best I can do is pay the minimums. Yet, I have committed that every penny I get extra, I am paying on and off my credit cards and bills. We often get "extra" money and we think, oh I get to do something special for myself. Well, the best thing you can do for yourself is pay off what you have already spent.

6. Save along the way - Many times we do not save because we think we don't have enough to save. I started saving in M & M candy containers. I take my quarters and put them in the containers. When I fill 4 up, I'm taking them to the bank. I have decided to alternate. One time I'll put the money in my savings and another time I'll use the money towards bills. The containers I have can hold at least $20, so that's $80 total when I go to the bank. I am also reminded each time I open the container how "sweet" my disciplines must smell to God. See, the container still smells like the chocolate candy that was in it. So when I smell the scent, I say to myself, your determination to be your best in your finances is a sweet smell in God's nostril! (hint: it also keeps me from taking quarters out).

7. Prayer and godly wisdom goes a long way - Even though this is listed last, it is the first and the last thing we should do. We need to ask God to teach us His ways so that we can apply godly principles to our lives as we seek to not only live financially debt free but spiritually as well.

Prayer: Lord we are not looking to the president or the government to help us live free, but you. God we need your wisdom so that we can learn how to live frugal lives that are pleasing to you. Help us learn it and teach it to others. Help us so that we can say like the psalmist we walk in freedom all the days of our lives. This is our prayer, amen.