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Enter new year with plan to get finances in shape, eliminate debtcomment (0)

January 1, 2009

By By Judy Woodward Bates

Every Christmas, thousands of Christians tell themselves that they aren’t going to go into debt to buy presents.

But a huge percentage of these people end up staggering into the new year dragging along a ball and chain of credit card debt. If you’re one of those prisoners of owe or even if you’re not, then here are some suggestions to help you make 2009 the best possible year financially for yourself and your family:

Learn about money and money management. A person who decides to become a doctor doesn’t simply hang out a sign and start practicing medicine. He puts in eight years for college and medical school and another three to eight years for internships and residencies. In other words, he sets a goal and does what it takes to make it happen.  Likewise you have to learn good money management before you can put it into practice. Take financial training courses, read related books and articles and seek advice from Christian people who put money to work rather than work for money.  

Stop buying on credit.
And if you aren’t committing this financial faux pas, then don’t start. It’s far too easy to rationalize that since you already owe a particular credit card or company, it’s OK to tack on a little bit more. Instead of trying to figure out how much debt you can add without increasing your payment, focus on how great it will be to get rid of that bill altogether.

Pick out the card or account with the lowest balance, and concentrate on paying that debt first. Make as big a payment as you can manage each month until you can say those lovely words: “paid in full.” The thrill of seeing one payment completely eliminated will spur you on to the next and the next and the next.

Don’t even think about a second mortgage as a way of eliminating debt.
While a second mortgage can reduce your monthly payment load, it also will help you create more debt. When the car, sofa and other items you “paid off” with second mortgage funds wear out, you’ll still be making payments on money borrowed to pay for them.

Recognize the true Owner of all you consider yours.
The Bible plainly states that “You are not your own, for you were bought at a price” (1 Cor. 6:19b–20a).
Consequently all you claim as your own belongs to the Lord and you are to honor Him with how you manage these blessings.

Put God first in the new year. Jesus said you are to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you” (Matt. 6:33). If He is your Lord, then He is also your all-sufficient Provider and you have no need for the artificial wealth of credit cards. Make Bible study, prayer and church attendance your top priorities.

Meet the needs of others in 2009. Putting God first isn’t passive — it’s active.
Whether it’s through financial giving, e-mails, cards, phone calls or personal visits, commit to be the touch of Jesus Christ to those in need. Ask the Lord to guide you to the right personal and/or corporate ministry opportunities.

Give like never before.
Proverbs 11:25a teaches, “A generous person will be enriched.” If you’re already obeying the command to tithe, then step out in faith and set a higher percentage as your personal commitment. If you aren’t tithing, then test the waters.

God Himself actually makes the offer to do so in Malachi 3:10b: “Test Me in this … . See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing for you without measure.” Make 2009 your “test-the-tithe” year, and see the awesome faithfulness of the Savior.

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