As I was growing up, like most children, I had a piggy bank. I learned from an early age how to save my money, putting it away for the proverbial “rainy day”. At birthdays, when my grandparents would tuck some paper money into my birthday card, I fed the piggy. Spare change, allowances, change from a treat at the dime store, a coin found on the sidewalk… I fed the piggy. From time to time, my dad would lay newspaper out on the floor, open my bank and help me count the money, then carefully, we’d sort and put the coins into paper “rolls” to be deposited into my bank account. Over time, my account passbook tally grew… with interest… and I learned an important life lesson: how to manage money.
I landed my first “real” job at fourteen years old at the corner drug store. Sure, I had earned money babysitting, mowing lawns and managing my own Kool-aid stands, like most kids, but this was a “real” job paying $1.25 an hour. I used my meager paychecks to purchase my own clothes and still managed to squirrel some into my saving account.
At seventeen, I had saved enough pennies, and nickles, and dimes and quarters… and dollars… to pay cash for my first automobile: a 1972 Buick Skylark with a 350 cubic inch engine… and I did it without emptying my account.
My parents taught me the value of a dollar. How to set goals and achieve them. They gave me the life-long gift of learning how to handle money responsibly.
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.–Proverbs 22:6 (American King James Version)
As parents, we have a responsibility to teach our children how to exercise good stewardship of their money. By teaching them the principles of good money management from an early age, we can help prevent them from going astray by making poor money decisions as adults.
It’s important that we remember to set a good example for our children to follow, by managing our own finances responsibly. Sometimes, though, it can be hard to keep your head above water – especially, if you weren’t taught how to handle money, yourself.
Remember in the classic old movie, The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy closed her eyes and repeated “There’s no place like home” as she clicked the heels of her ruby slippers three times? She awoke, her problems were solved, the sun was shining, she was surrounded by her family, friends, and of course, her little dog Toto… and she was back in Kansas. You see, as Glenda told her, she had the ability to change her life all along. It’s something we all possess: free will.
We just have to stop compounding our problems and change our mindset… change our way of thinking about how we manage our money. Stop allowing yourself to be held hostage to your finances and take control. You can do it… and you don’t even need a pair of ruby slippers.
As long as you are a slave to debt, you cannot prosper.
What do I mean by that… what does it mean to be a slave to debt?
When a person is in debt, they are legally obligated to pay off that debt, plus interest. The debt owed becomes money the person no longer has any control over, so there’s a loss of freedom on the part of the debtor… plus the additional money to be paid in interest, are given to the creditor. In other words, the debtor’s productivity belongs his creditor. The debtor, in effect, will be working by the sweat of his brow for the creditor while he’s paying back the loan, but also while he’s earning the additional money to pay the interest on that loan.
The man of wealth has rule over the poor, and he who gets into debt is a servant to his creditor.–Proverbs 22:7 (Bible in Basic English)
As long as a person owes a debt, they do not actually own whatever the item may be on which they are making payments. This is what’s meant by saying a person’s wealth is on paper. Their name may be on the papers, but if they do not meet the terms of the obligation… the loan, they’ll find our very quickly exactly who owns it when the lender, who has the legal right to repossess or foreclose, does so. Basically, until the things a person is in debt for are completely paid in full, he doesn’t actually own them. This is why a person who is in debt cannot prosper… because debt stands in the way of prosperity.
Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favor my righteous cause: yes, let them say continually, Let the LORD be magnified, which has pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.–Psalm 35:27 (American King James Version)
Isn’t it great to know God takes pleasure in our prosperity?
In the secular world, prosperity is generally believed to mean having wealth, fame and prestige. We see people in the world who seemingly have insatiable appetites for riches and things. They seem to be driven by materialism, yet no mater how incredibly wealthy they become, they are never satisfied. The reality is money, riches and possessions do not make a person prosperous.
True prosperity is far more than just being successful or financially secure because it describes a state of the soul. The Biblical meaning also includes: to have joy, health, and to see progress in all we undertake… peace of mind. Ask yourself, what good is wealth, if the person is miserable? True prosperity is rooted in faith and obedience to God’s Word.
Do you remember the old Sunday school song, The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock? This is about prosperity. In the song, the foolish man built his house upon the sand and met calamity. But the obedient man built his house on the Lord Jesus Christ and he received blessings. Joy, good health, success and financial security are blessings and they are the evidence of Biblical… true prosperity.
Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.–3 John 1:2 (New American Standard Bible)
Think about how your family’s life could improve if your were living debt-free and were able to set aside a nest egg to purchase your next vehicle with cash, take a special family trip… and save for your retirement. Having peace of mind in knowing when life’s unexpected calamities come knocking at your door, you will have the resources available to deal with them. How fantastic to be out from under the crushing weight of the debt burden you carry on your shoulders and drag along day by day shackled to your ankles and wrists!
Freedom! That’s the feeling of financial freedom.
Most people are shackled by debt. The lion’s share of what they earn goes to making payments and they struggle to make ends meet. If anything upsets the apple cart, they’re in trouble. The downward spiral can quickly get out of control and spill over into other areas of a person’s life. Consequently, money problems are often a contributing factor to divorce.
I’ve seen this happen to a family member. Like most people, they had a mortgage and car payments, then the husband went into debt to start a business. It takes time to get a business off the ground… more time than he expected. In order to keep things going, he relied on credit cards… maxing out several. Big mistake. The interest alone was a crushing burden.
After the divorce, it took the wife years to dig out from under her share of the debt. At one point, she was so overwhelmed by bills, she would put them into a plastic ice cream bucket, then draw one out at a time as she was able to come up with the money. Eventually, with perseverance, she succeeded, but it was not easy and it took a lot of determination and self-discipline.
What’s easy is getting into financial trouble. It’s easy… far too easy to get approved for credit – often, even if you don’t have a job or the income to justify it. We live in an impatient world where everyone wants instant gratification. Why wait? Why deny yourself that luxury you deserve? There’s simply too much “keeping up with the Jones”… which is envy. Everyone wants everything… now… which is coveting.
The temptations to buy and unwisely spend money we don’t have for things we really don’t need bombards us on a daily basis. This can lead to impulse buying, which is exactly what advertisers count on – and is why advertising is such a booming business.
Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”–Luke 12:15 (New International Version)
A godly life brings huge profits to people who are content with what they have.–1 Timothy 6:6 (God’s Word Translation)
So where to start?… How does a person get out of debt?
Stay tuned. My next entry, A Roadmap to Financial Freedom, will show the way.