In an article by Ron Blue in Single Parent Family magazine, the author provided 7 steps to killing the debt demon.
I think not only single parents can use this advice, I believe all of us battle the debt demon and he has paralyzed many of us to the point where most of our time and effort and stress come from fighting off the Demon of Debt. Mr. Blue is a financial adviser and he provided seven principles for breaking free from debt:
1. Determine where you are.
Take out the adding machine and add up what you owe, on everything! (Home, car, taxes, credit cards, bank loans, whatever.) You cannot deal with debt unless you know exactly what you owe. A lot of people deal with debt by ignoring the amount of their indebtedness.
2. Ask for forgiveness.
Once you have put together this great mountain of debt, bring it to the Lord and ask Him to forgive you for your part in having created it. You may not be responsible for all of it but some of your debt may be due to foolishness, carelessness, love of luxury or lack of self-control. Poor stewardship is a sin and like any other we cannot recover from its effects unless we ask God to forgive us first.
3. Give thanks.
Even when, especially when, you are under a mountain of debt, you need to be thankful to God for providing your needs, for bringing you to repentance, for loving you despite poor stewardship. Giving thanks at this point will show your faith in God and prepare you for His work on your behalf.
4. Put a freeze on borrowing.
Now the hard part: repentance means a change and in this case a change in how you handle money. People get in debt because they spend more than they earn; this trend needs to be repented of. This may mean destroying your credit cards (make sure you tell the Bank).
Of course, there may be emergencies (medical bills, etc.) but aside from these, we need to learn to say to ourselves and our kids, "We cannot afford that" and stick to our guns under the pressure that follows.
5. Make a repayment plan.
This is different for every person but it means that instead of acquiring new things with the money you have, you have to use whatever you have to repay what you owe.
Solomon says that "the borrower is the slave of the lender" (Proverbs 22:7)
6. Be accountable.
Whether it is to your partner in marriage or your parents or a brother or sister in the Lord, make yourself accountable in this change.
Your chance of success is greatly increased if someone else knows of your battle against the Debt Demon and not only encourages you but holds you accountable.
7. Reward yourself.
Defeating the Debt Demon is a long struggle that sometimes takes many years. For this reason you need to reward yourself along the way as each debt is paid off. A movie, ice cream, new coat, etc.
Just remember that the reward must not be so extravagant that it gets you back into debt!
There are many benefits that come from being debt-free:
- Peace of mind (less stress).
- Confidence (what is yours is free and clear).
- Choice (when you pay cash you are in a better bargaining position and have more to choose from).
- Opportunity (a debt-free person is free to profit from different opportunities because he/she can invest).
- Spiritual blessings (being debt-free enables us to give more and invest more into the Kingdom; one reason I believe that we are restrained in our giving is because we are too burdened with debt).
People would like to give more to God but they owe it all to the bank. Jesus paid our debt for sin on the cross at Calvary and those who wish to be unburdened of their debt of guilt need to come forward and wash it away in the waters of baptism. However, our financial debts Jesus leaves us to pay for ourselves. He will help us there too but we need to take the necessary steps of financial repentance to defeat the Debt Demon first.
If you need to baptism, come; if you need to battle the Debt Demon, begin tonight.
- Describe the first time you borrowed money from a bank or another person and what it was for. How long did it take you to pay it back?
- Have you ever lent money to someone and didn't get it back? What happened to that relationship?
- Are you an impulse buyer? If so, what type of circumstances push you to spend? If not, how / why do you resist?
- When and how should parents begin teaching their children about money management?
- If you had life to do over, what would you have done differently when it comes to money?