Archive for October 27th, 2008

Your Money and Your Generosity 1

After quite a few conversations with people over the past day regarding some of the things I brought up in my message yesterday I thought I would begin a new blog series to answer some of the questions raised.  Feel free to tune in throughout the week as I will be posting each day on this topic.

“I know that I should not have debt but I can’t see a way out.  How do I get there?”

This is one question that was asked yesterday by someone who truly wants to be a generous person and yet feels trapped beneath the pile of debt they have accumulated over the years.  My quick response – it took you a while to build up this debt, it’s going to take some time to get out of it as well.  There really is no quick fix to debt reduction.  It will take time to get rid of debt.  The point is not to become so overwhelmed that you just give up on the process.  Begin today.  Make a plan and stick with it for the long haul.  You will begin to see your debt go down and over time go away.

Make a budget.  If you are married sit down with your spouse and work through your inflow and outflow of finances.  If you are single sit down by yourself and do the same thing.  Start by figuring out how much you make.  Look at all avenues of income.  Write them all down.  Next write down all of your financial obligations.  Everything that you know you owe out to someone.  Rent, mortgage payments, utility payments, cable, phone, internet, auto loans, student loans, credit card debt, insurance payments, etc.  Figure out which payments are due monthly, quarterly and annually and set them in different columns.  

Once you know your inflow and outflow you should have a realistic idea of how much you have to work with each month.  A few things to decide upon are:

  • how much will you budget for groceries each week?
  • will you eat out?
  • Entertainment costs?
  • fuel for your vehicles?


All of these are expenses that need to be fit into your budget.  My thoughts regarding extra expenses such as entertainment and eating out are that they should be at a minimum if you have debt.  These are extras not essentials.  Pay down your debt and learn to live within your means and then add in some of the fun stuff.  If you cal yourself a Christian (I’m not being judgmental here, I’m just making a statement based on Scripture) you should be tithing.  As a matter of fact, it’s the first check you should write out with each paycheck – whether weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.

As I stated yesterday.  A basic principle to live by is this:

Give, Save, Live off the Rest.

With every bit of income that you receive you should give 10% to God, Save 10% for yourself, and Live off the Rest.  By following this simple principle you will live within your means.  If you have debt that you owe a creditor the amount that you live off of will go below the 80% because you should be using that money to pay back your debts.  If you have debts your first priority should be in paying those back after you have tithed.  The money that you are spending on interest payments to a creditor is wasteful and therefore needs to be ended as quick as possible.  If you have high interest levels you should contact your creditor and ask about having your interest percentage reduced.  Most creditors will make a small reduction in the percentage rate if you ask.  Every little bit counts.

It should go without saying but if you have debt and you are working to remove that debt by paying it back to your creditor you should also stop adding to that debt load.  Stop buying the items that you feel you need.  Most of us end up purchasing things we don’t even need simply because we allow wants to become needs.  In the words of Bob Newhart, “Stop It!”  Just don’t do it.  Put down the credit card and step away from the register.

By sticking with the budget that you establish and paying down the debt that you have without adding to it further you will see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Live within your means and the light will keep getting brighter.

More tomorrow…