Persevering through the storm: Managing debt in a tough economy

Since the end of 2008, Americans have become familiar with the term “bailout.” Banks and financial institutions dropped one after another, the automotive industry is in shambles, and all we can do is watch in total dismay as the financial stability of our country continues to spiral downward.

So why has this happened? Greed? Yes. Thirst for power? Certainly. Corruption? Obviously.

All have played their part in the problem, but the main issue is debt.

We have bought into the notion that debt is necessary in our society and that we need it or else we cannot build up our credit score and thereby receive more credit. What has happened to the virtue of delayed gratification? In generations past, consumers would save up for things and only make the purchase when they had the cash in hand. That notion is as antiquated as black and white television sets.

Getting into debt is not a good idea.

When you are in debt, you are in bondage to interest payments and your lender, just like the Bible warns about in Proverbs 22:7.

The verse says, “The rich rule the poor, and the borrower is the servant to the lender.”
Christ has come to release us from the bondage of sin, so putting the chains back on to finance that flat screen TV does not make sense.

Remember that money borrowed today must be repaid tomorrow. You are gambling on having the means to pay for items in the future. In most cases, by the time you pay them off, they have been given to a thrift shop or someone in need.

In Ron Blue’s book “Surviving Financial Meltdown,” Blue writes that living like this will lead to one of two things. You will either have reduced freedom in the future or you will face built-in constraints on your financial decisions. Here are a few ways to cut the use of debt out of your life:

Be honest
Just as being honest with yourself on what you spend in order to set up a household budget is important, you need to be honest with yourself on how much debt you have. The truth may be that you are buried in debt. Without an accurate measurement of the obstacle, you cannot plan how to overcome it.

Examine your heart

It is from the heart that we will make purchases. The desires of our heart will supersede our patience on God’s timing. As you are seeking the Lord’s council, spend a day fasting and praying that God will show you the reasons why you are in debt and to change your heart to desire what God desires.

Develop a plan
Once you know where you stand, it is time to work on a plan of attack to pay down debt. Make sure that you know the interest rates and the due dates of all the debts. There are many debt repayment calculators available which can assist with your plan. If you need assistance developing your plan, visit www.MarginandMeaning.com.

Learn to be content
As Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 6:8, “If we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content.”
These same words were again echoed in Philippians 4:12. Be guided in your financial affairs by God’s Word, not the advertiser’s word. Advertisers are doing all they can to get us to buy their products. The common idea they share is that we need something that we do not have, and their product can satisfy that need. God has promised to cover all of our needs and we must learn to live in his promise.

Pray, Pray, Pray!
We serve a big God who can do, and has done, big things. Be completely open to following God’s lead in your life.

Matt Weissman is a tax manager at Laudadio and Associates, PA.

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