I have zero skill for maths or planning.
I’m also a slightly compulsive buyer.
And I never feel like saving money.
By the time I was 27, I had more than 40 thousand dollars of debt, I was foreclosing my only property and had a credit score that was deep in the pits of hell.
However, today my wife and I are completely debt free. We make decent money, eat good food, give more than 20% of our earnings away, lead an amazing non-profit organization called TheHappyGivers.com and… we never lose sleep because of debt.
No wonder Jesus spoke about money so much. It was not so preachers would twist his words so they could get richer, it was actually because he cares about our lives and our health and our families (and money has the potential to destroy or bless them all).
The average American is nearly $7,000 in debt. So maybe this will help my average american reader take that number down to zero. And because I have been on both sides of the spectrum, I want to share my 5 Godly Steps to Destroy Debt:
1. Even if it’s small… start!
One of the hardest thing about debt is the suffocation that leads us to inaction. Sometimes the numbers are so huge that we can’t help but feel small. But the easiest way to manage your debt and your money is to take it one step at a time—don’t worry about being perfect.
Admit the failure, embrace the lesson and start moving in the right direction. Make that phone call to your bank and ask for help. Do a search online for a debt consolidation program. Talk to friends and family members who are more seasoned and ask them the hard questions.
I’m so grateful to my parents and in-laws for their generosity and wisdom.
Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little. –Edmund Burke
2. Be Brutally Honest:
Debt turns good people into liars. The shame forces you to minimize how bad it really is. And although you don’t want to linger on the mistakes, you have to zoom in and focus on the cracks that need fixing. Assess the damage (so you know what you’re up against).
I use a website to help me track all my expenses. It’s an online tool that keeps me accountable to our budget and allows me see how I’m doing with earning, planning and spending.
It’s free and simple and you should try it today: mint.com
Lying to yourself got you here, the truth will set you free.
3. Spend Less Than You Make:
Period. It’s an automatic pay rise. The guy who help me start this blog, Dale Partridge wrote, “Act your wage because if you have to buy it on credit, you probably don’t need it.”
So go ahead, literally destroy your credit cards and trust God with your cash flow. Be bold and downsize (your home, your car, your meals). Find a side job or start selling your unused possessions online. Then, learn how to spend only on the things that matter… but more on that below.
We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.
4. Keep Spending:
On the things you really love. Dealing with debt is like going on a diet. And God knows that the best diets are the ones that include foods that you love and enjoy (usually people stick longer to those).
The best thing we did with our budget was prioritizing for the things we liked as a family. For us, it’s food and travel and adoption. That’s where most of our money goes.
And I know it sounds slightly irresponsible to some, but to us, it’s the investments we want to be making. So it really helps us not to get a mortgage, or a fancy car, or new clothes every month. That might be what you prioritize, and that’s great, but it’s just not us. And that has been the most freeing part about being debt free. Now we can invest even more in the things we care and enjoy.
5. Take A Class, Read the Books:
Lots of churches offer Finance classes, go to them. There are online courses to assist you along the way, sign up. There are multiple books that deal with debt and spending and managing finances, invest wisely.
Be proactive in taking and reading and learning. Educate yourself because that will shape you and encourage you to live this:
“Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:7-8
I’ll finish with the book that started the journey for me: I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi.
I know. Dumb title. I told myself, “No I don’t want to be rich… I want to be holy, I want to transform the world, give to the poor etc” But I was amazed how ungodly I was with my personal finances, and how little world-changing I was going to achieve if I was in debt. This very non-Christian book was a God-send from heaven.
Since reading it I’ve been saving for retirement, growing my streams of income and becoming more of a giver (and less of a taker).
If I can do it, there is no doubt in my mind you can do it also (and probably better). Lead yourself, and your heart, and your wallet into a Happy Sonship, and trust God the Father to provide all that you need to be debt free.
I know He wants it even more than you do.
I’m rooting for you. Start today. Destroy Debt
* The best rated personal finance book ever: The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey.
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19