Christians should not be tying themselves down with unnecessary debt, but rather be working to free themselves of it so that they can have more time to spend with their children and work for the Lord. The idea of incurring debt for luxury items is the way of the world.
With the economic troubles that we are currently observing in the United States, Canada, and around the world, it would be wisdom for not only those who are just barely making ends meet to start cutting expenses, but for all of us to become better stewards of those things which God has given us. The economy in Canada is currently stalled, and things will probably get much worse before they get better. What would you do if you are laid off next week?
With this in mind, the following financial tips are offered to help you to live more within your means. These tips will help you to stay out of the debt trap, and for those who are caught in it, to start the progress of getting free.
We are not our own, but we have been bought with a price by Jesus, and all we have is his. We must learn to be proper stewards of the time and money the Lord has put in our hands. The New Testament standard is that 100% of all we have belongs to the Lord. In the final day, we will give an account, so let us move with fear; and in all we do, do it as unto the Lord.
It is unfortunate when a Christian family fails financially, and in some cases it is a failure of church leadership to help them in their finances. The Word of God is very strong on this matter and tells us “if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1Tim 5:8 NKJV). This scripture should be a warning and a wakeup call to all that are carrying a heavy debt load because they are living beyond their means.
I would like to say that in the area of debt reduction, I feel like I know what I am talking about. When my wife and I moved to Aylmer 5 years ago, I had a sizable short term debt load – which at its peak was over $30,000. This was being carried on a bank overdraft and high-interest credit cards. For our first 4 months after we purchased our home here in Aylmer, we did not own a fridge. We had decided not to incur new debt. I found work wherever I could and got by on a very small budget. We saved up enough to pay for half of a used fridge, and my parents helped us pay for the rest.
We had to take radical steps to pay off our debt. Not only did we have a huge debt-load, but I did not have a full-time job. I had been living a wasteful lifestyle and had to make major changes. With hard work and the help of the Lord, I paid off my short-term debt in 2 years. I worked repairing computers for local businesses, and at the same time built a successful home business. We paid off our home at the end of 2007 after my home business had a very successful year in 2006.
In the short period of 5 years I have been able go from a high short-term debt with no investments and very little equity in our home, to all short-term debt paid off, our home paid off, and a considerable sum of money which I have invested successfully in local business endeavors. It took a lot of hard work, major changes in the way I handled my money, and the help of the Lord and my dear wife Susan.
Even as I have been writing this article, I have knelt in prayer weeping and repenting for the foolishness and the wastefulness of the prior years of my life. Oh, what regret I feel in my soul! In the writing of this article, I have addressed a number of stewardship issues in my own life. I made a decision about a year ago not to build a 1700 sq ft luxury home, and have had to repent for some of the purchases I have made in the last year, as well as a foolish investment that went bad. I have made a commitment to God to live a simpler lifestyle.
Even though I have made a couple of bad business decisions in the past 5 years, the Lord has blessed overall. I am now working part-time and, with the help of the Lord, I am spending my free time as a servant to his people and in laboring to win souls to Christ. This past year has been the most glorious, fulfilling, spiritually fruitful year of my life. All glory be to Jesus!
Some of the following tips may seem more radical than others, and some are geared towards bigger families.
Repentance and Principle Commitments:
1. Repent that you have been living beyond your means and being a poor steward of that which God has put in your hands.
2. Make a commitment to God to pay off your short-term debt as quickly as possible.
3. Realize that to the degree that you have lived above your means, to the same degree you will have to live below your means to get your debt paid off.
4. Do not consolidate your debt and add it to your mortgage. People that move their short-term debt to long-term will typically just incur more short-term debt.
5. Make a commitment to use all the money you save to pay off your debt.
6. Make a commitment that as you pay off your debt, you will reduce your credit limit on credit cards, lines of credits, and bank overdrafts so that you will not use that credit again.
First Step Commitments:
7. Commit to stop all impulse buying.
8. Commit to stop window shopping and looking for something to buy.
9. Commit to not allow any door-to-door sales people in your home, and refuse to talk to sales people on the phone.
10. Commit to stop all eating at restaurants. Instead, pack lunches when you travel.
11. Commit to stop buying coffee, pop, chips, snacks, magazines, and books.
12. Commit to stop buying luxury food items.
13. Commit to stop going to garage sales.
14. Commit to purchase used major household items instead of new ones.
15. Consider downsizing your owned home, or home rental, or vehicle.
16. Do not purchase brand new vehicles, but purchase something used that is well within your means.
17. Consider going into shared living with another Christian friend or family.
Money Saving Tips:
18. Get rid of your cell phone. If you are tied to a 2 or 3-year contract, you can sell the contract.
19. Do not buy gifts at Christmas time.
20. Buy used clothing at second-hand stores.
21. Get your dental work done at the University.
22. Ride a bike to work if possible.
23. Skip vacations.
24. Get rid of your Internet account and get a Gmail account where you can receive email and access it from the library.
25. Sell your computer if it is not completely necessary.
26. Gather all the things you are not using and have a garage sale, or sell the items on london.kijiji.ca.
27. Make sure you and all your family brush and floss your teeth 3 times a day. This will cut down on dental bills.
28. Record your spending for 3 months and look for places that you can limit your spending.
29. Keep proper track of your checking account so you do not have NSF checks.
30. Make sure you pay all bills on time by posting all payment dates as they come in the mail on the front of your fridge.
31. Use your vehicle less. Plan your trips to town and try to go less often.
32. Sell your second vehicle.
33. Carpool with someone and change your insurance from commuter rate to personal rate.
34. Keep extra change in your vehicle and always put money in the parking meters.
35. Avoid fines by obeying traffic laws.
36. Save on gas by driving the speed limit.
37. Do not leave your car idling when you are not driving and turn your car off at red lights.
Energy Saving Tips:
38. Use mini spiral bulbs that consume less energy per light output. Use smaller watt bulbs. Turn your outside lights off at night.
39. Turn down your heat 5 degrees, and put on long-johns and wear sweaters.
40. Turn your heat down a further 5 degree at night and put more blankets on.
41. Move your freezer out into your garage or on your deck for the winter.
42. Turn off your AC unit.
43. Do not shop on a empty stomach.
44. Use coupons and shop on deal days.
45. Eat more beans, rice, and soups. Bake your own bread.
46. Grow your own garden and store up preserves for the winter.
47. Use cloth diapers with liners instead of disposable diapers.
48. Stop buying toys for your children and make toys for them instead.
49. Find a small business that you can have your children involved in.
50. If you are homeschooling, have your children put their answers in scribblers and re-use the workbooks.
*51. Have your wife cut your hair and cut your children’s hair yourself.
52. Get a wood stove.
53. Get laying hens. Get double the hens you need for yourself and sell their eggs to pay for the feed of all the hens.
54. Raise meat chickens. Double up on the number you need and sell them to pay for your feed.
55. Raise your own beef and put it in your freezer.
56. Hang your clothes on the clothesline instead of using a dryer.
57. If you pay for your water, put two bricks in the back of your toilet.
58. Have shorter showers or get a shower head that limits the water flow.
59. Consider downsizing your owned home, or home rental.
60. Build a tiny home on wheels and live in that.
Note: When “debt-free” is used above, it does not include the mortgage on your home. Homes do not usually decline in value, will contain equity, and in most cases are easily liquidated.