“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” Philippians 4:11-12
Are Paul’s words to the Philippians anti-American? Yes! In our pursuit of “living the American dream,” many times we serve the god of more. American culture has become bigger, better, more.
More comfort. More luxury. More splendor. I need a bigger house. I need a nicer car. I need a fancy entertainment center. I am not directly challenging this god today, but I am asking how do we pay for these items? How do we get the bigger, better, more lifestyle? Are we scrimping and saving and then purchasing the desired item with our earnings, as our grandparents did? Or are we buying into creditors’ lies and getting those items today? As I titled this article, are we spending tomorrow’s money today?
Unfortunately, spending is a cycle. We will earn money. We will spend money. We will need to earn more money. We will need to spend more money. If you are living on credit, you will always be spending tomorrow’s money today and will not be able to get out of the cycle of debt. With this in mind, I offer the following five tips for breaking free of the debt cycle.
1) Cut up ALL credit cards. If you no longer have the credit cards, living on credit will no longer be an option.
2) Gather up all your debts and bills into one location. Once you have everything in front of you, you will be able to evaluate what you absolutely have to spend on monthly expenses as well as what you can afford to spend on debt removal. Are there expenses you could cut? Satellite or cable tv? Maybe a smaller plan if you don’t want to cut them completely?
3) Find extra cash opportunities. Do you have three vehicles and only two drivers? You could sell one for some fast cash. Look at your local consignment stores and online auction sites. What can you get rid of that would bring in a little extra revenue? What about an old fashioned yard sale? For most of us, the weather’s still nice and people in our areas are out and about trying to enjoy the beautiful fall days. Give them a reason to drive down your street with your yard sale. Once you have explored your money making options, put them into practice. Take the money and apply it to your debts.
4) Understand that this is a process. Unfortunately you didn’t create the mess you are in over night, so the solution will not be over night. Just as your spending took years, it may take years to dig out of the hole you buried yourself in. Painful to hear and painful to live. But no one said this was going to be easy.
5) Remember Paul’s words and stop spending. Learn to be content with what you have and if you really do need something, find a way to buy it without using credit. Be diligent about this even if it means buying something secondhand for now. You can always buy a new one later (after you have saved the money for it).
As you move forward, I pray that God grant you the wisdom to make good choices and strength to carry out your plan. Remember that God didn’t create you to live in debt. In Proverbs 22:7, He warned us:
“The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.”
He wants you to live free. Not as a servant, or slave, to your debt and creditors.
What additional tips could you give to someone who is trying to break free from debt?