We have learned so much from world’s financial experts on how to manage our finances. Yet the world is in financial crisis not only individuals but governments as well. What is shocking, not only poor countries are in financial trouble but rich countries included, like countries in Europe. United States of America is not an exception. It was once considered the richest country in the world, but now the number one debtor-country in the world with a total staggering debt of more than 16.5 trillion dollars and counting. According to an expert, to count the said amount of money at one dollar every second, it would take about a million years. The question is why is this happening in our world today? Is this because we do not follow God’s way of managing our finances?
To answer to the above question let us look at God’s way of managing our finances in five - part series:1st part, “Causes of Financial Trouble”; 2nd part, “Signs of Financial Trouble”; 3rd part, “How to Avoid Financial Crises”; 4th part, “Nine Steps Out of Financial Crisis”; and 5th part, “Difference Between Man’s Way and God’s Way of Managing Finances”. After you read them all, you can answer the above question yourself.
Nine Steps out of Financial Crisis:
First, commit to becoming debt free now! Psalm 37:21, “The wicked borrow and do not pay…”. Spending more than what you earn is an addictive habit. Unless you commit and determine to be free from debt, you will never be able to get out from financial trouble, where creditors and collection agents would continue to hound or harass you at home or even at your work place.
Second, start paying God and yourself first. Matthew 3:8-11; Proverbs 3:9-10; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; Proverbs 21:5, 20 – passages about Tithing and Saving. Deuteronomy 14:23, “The purpose of tithing is to teach you always to put God first in your lives.” If you believe God owns your life and everything you have is of God’s (Psalms 24:1) for you do not have any control over your health and life (when are you going to get sick and when are you going to die), you have to return to God the tithe, (Malachi 3:8-10) and pay yourself first by saving at least 10% of your income for “rainy days” so to speak, and for your retirement before spending your money on other things. No wonder most retirees are cash-poor for during their younger days, they plan short term, like a year or two, most often about pleasures and vacations not on retirement.
Third, list all you own and all you owe. Proverbs 24:3, “By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established.” You need to write down your assets and liabilities so you will know how much is your net worth. Unless you fully understand your true financial condition, you would not be able to get out from financial crisis.
Fourth, have a sale. Ezekiel 20:7, “Get rid of every idol...”. The word “idol” in the context of personal finance is anything you own that you do not need anymore but you still keep it for emotional reason, like: a second car, old furniture, used clothing, shoes and other items. To help pay off your debts sell them or have a garage sale so the proceeds could help pay off your debts.
Fifth, set up a repayment plan. Proverbs 21:5, “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity…”. Proverbs 20:18, “Get advice if you want your plans to work.” When your income is not enough to pay your regular monthly payments to your creditors, make a repayment proposal to your creditors base on your capacity to pay. Creditors love to consider your reasonable repayment proposal rather than you default on your payments. Furthermore, if you are not confident to do it yourself, seek advice from people who are experts on that field.
Sixth, decide to do it in half a time! Luke 18:27, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” To get rid of your debt quickly, try to payoff your debts half of the amortization period. For example if your mortgage amortization is for 25 years do not just make the minimum monthly payments. Avail of the annual Prepayment Privilege afforded by banks usually up to 20% of the amount of your mortgage. Whatever extra money you have, use it to payoff your mortgage or loans early instead of spending it for pleasures or vacations.
Seventh, add no new debt! Hebrew 13:5, “Be content with what you have…”. Once you have made payments on your debts do not purchase anything that are not essential, be content of what you have. You may use your credit card or your line of credit provided you can payoff the bill in full when it is due.
Eight, share your plan with your creditors. Proverbs 6:7, “When your ways please the Lord, He will make your enemies into friends.” On a situation where you do not have any means to make a reasonable repayment plan to your creditors, you share your plan how to payoff your debts. You may have a house you are planning to sell or to refinance, investments to liquidate or any other plan you may have. Again, creditors would love to know your plan than just default on your payments.
Ninth, stick to it! Galatian 6:9, “Let us not get tired of doing what is right, for after a while we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t get discouraged and give up.” This passage simply means, be persistent of doing what is right. It is right to pay off your debts and therefore stick to your plan of discharging your debts and you will harvest the blessing of being debt-free.