How to become debt free?
As a woman of God you have an important part to play in the success of your families finance. Start by creating a budget. Manage your budget well by developing the art of thrift. You measure your standard of living not by your income but by how well you manage your money.
Steps to financial freedom I realised the importance to become debt free but the biggest question is how? After reading a few books and talking to a few people I started to make plans.
Step 1: Pray about you current financial situation and ask God what He would prefer for your lifestyle. Ask for his wisdom but that he also works in the hearts of your husband and children because they need to also realize the need to cap your family’s lifestyle. Pray that you may have the strength and courage to withstand the temptation of unnecessary luxury.
Step 2: Draw a circle. Before you can become debt fee, you need to decide on the non negotiable absolute “ must have” in your circle. Start your financial planning by listing things you would like to have. Then eliminate the “nice to haves”. Among other my “must haves” include Tights, shelter, food, clothing, transport, education, health care and relaxation (vacations). This is great excise for the whole family. Seeing what is non-negotiable or the very important needs can very interesting to see. It may mean getting rid of the “nice to haves” versus saving for the children’s college education. The objective of this exercise is not to allocate the family income to the last cent, but to eliminate everything unnecessary. While the idea is to free the family of debt as quickly as possible, bear in mind that every family is unique. Therefore, do not compare yourself with anybody else. Planning is a biblical principle according to Proverbs 16:9: “We should make plans – counting on God to direct us “ Always remember “ A wise man thinks ahead; a fool doesn’t and even brags about it” Proverbs 13:16. It should be clear to anyone that you don’t plan for the future, there will be no future. Part of the strategy should not only be to cut costs, but also to look at supplementing your income - but not at your family’s expense. Working overtime and weekends, or getting second or third job for extended periods of time will result in neglecting your family which is not the godly thing to do. Psalm 127: 1-3. If I love and follow Him, He will provide, event while I sleep.
Hobbies, vacations and eating out: There is nothing wrong with spending money for modest pleasures that renew and revive us especially considering that our battle will last a lifetime. Things like bicycles, vacations etc aren’t necessary yet they contribute to my physical and mental health. Moderate vacations also bring renewal and precious relationship-building opportunities. Going out with you husband for dinner helps enriching our relationship and renewing our vigor to return to life’s battles. Some recreational spending is necessary for healthy family time.
Saving for retirement: Where in the bible does it say that anyone retired? If you focus on retirement you stop living. Look to create business opportunities for the retired people and therefore creating job opportunities to keep them busy and teaching opportunities that they could carry over to the youth. Once you are out of debt you can make investments that will give us enough to retire on.
Insurance: One should maintain a balance between faith and common sense. One should insure your health, goods and business against catastrophic events such as death (to provide for your family and business) and fire (to replace items lost), to name but a few. I learnt that your company should insure only against catastrophic events. You should self- insure your equipment, computers and the lie. This saves the company from tens of thousands in premiums every year and at the same time encourages everybody not to be reckless because “we are insured” for example should a staff member leave his or her laptop inside the car instead of in the trunk or in checked airline luggage they are held liable if it is stolen, this creates a culture of responsibility within your organization.
Tax: God’s word underscores the principle of obedience: “Obey the government, for God is the one who has put it there. There is no government anywhere that God has not placed in power. So those who refuse to obey the laws of the land are refusing to obey God, and punishment will follow … Obey the laws, then, for two reasons: first to keep from being punished, and second, just because you know you should… Pay your taxes too, for these same two reason … Pay everyone whatever he ought to have: pay your taxes and import duties gladly, obey those over you, and give honor and respect to all those to whom It is due” Romans 13: 1-2, 5-8, 13b-14) Paul's instructions are clear: be a responsible citizen and a responsible Christian in all your dealings and do not end the rules to suit your own agenda. Re-evaluate your own attitude towards the government and taxes in light of Paul’s letter to the Romans.
Debt before tithing? Why am I in debt in the first place? Is God responsible for my unwise or greedy decisions that may have put me there? And even if I have come into debt legitimately, isn’t my first debt to God? Isn’t he tithe a debt to God since he says that it belongs to him and not to me? If we obey God and make good our financial debt to him, he’ll help us as we seek to pay off our debts to others, but I must not rob God to pay men. I think God want’s us to remember how did we gain our wealth in the first place? And the question is then how did you use your wealth? Once you are debt free, continue investing in heaven! Give freely to your church, your employees, the Lords work and the needy.
Step Three: Implement After you have prayerfully planned your finances and selected the indispensable items to put inside your circle, including any possible future necessities, start implementing your plan. Whatever you do cap your lifestyle and reduce your debt! Needles to say he whole family must work together as a team with regular updates on events and attitudes. The main focus of waning to become debt free should ultimately be to do more for others. Living debt free actually frees up money that would otherwise have gone to financial institutions for virtually a lifetime in order to cover our installments. Ephesians 4:28:”if anyone is staling he must stop it and begin using those hands of his for honest work so he can give to others in need.” The trick is not to fall back into the debt trap once you have accumulated surplus cash. Therefore when implementing the above take into account what you have to do to get out of debt, preferably within six year. Why six years? In biblical times, when a person could not repay his debt within this period of time he was released of his debt on the premise that he would not be able to pay his debt anyway. This might be a very ambitious goal for some but if you do not plan on becoming debt fee, you never will. Once debt fee, you will be amazed at the freedom you will experience. Adverse events like interest rate fluctuations, stock market slumps, tight liquidity cycles, broken washing machines, unexpected home repairs and so on will no longer be a concern, but they will certainly have a large impact if you are over extended in terms of your finances.
Step Four: Save Proverbs 21:20 states, “The wise man saves for the future, but the foolish man spends whatever he gets” Once you are debt free, saving and investing part of the surplus cash you now have should form an integral part of your strategy. As someone once said Our standard of giving should increase not our standard of living. Everyday you have to make a difference to those the Lord sends across your path.I can not turn a blind eye to the needs God brings to my attention and at the same time proclaim my love for Christ. Generosity is a biblical principal: “If God has give you money, be generous in helping others with it” Romans 12:8b) Certain things you can share as a family such as a holiday home allowing everyone to enjoy together and become debt free quicker without necessarily sacrificing luxuries such as a vacation home. We will then also have more free money to meet the requirements of the needy. Above all let us seek simplicity in all things. Why upgrade if we only need to renovate? By doing this you save tens of thousands in moving and upgrading paying property and government taxes as well as bank costs. Rather than buying new cars implement the practice of good stewardship by handing down cars to family or staff rather than buying new ones and selling older ones at a loss. In so doing we have kept new vehicles purchases to a minimum. Once you start living debt free, you will be amazed at how your thinking changes.
Step Five: Give The best way to fight greed is to give. You can give away money, clothes, blankets, cars, vacations and the like as the need arises. But my first priority is to tithe as we are reminded in God’s Word You must tithe all of you crops every year. Bring this tithe to eat before the Lord your God at the place he shall choose as his sanctuary; this applies to your tithes of grain, new wine, olive oil, and the firstborn of your flocks and herds. The purpose of tithing is to teach you always to put God first in your lives” (Deuteronomy 14:22-23). Isaiah 58:3-11. As a company owner the people the Lord entrusts to your company are very important. Ensuring that you have adequate reserves to carry the company and your employees during trying times is important and only possible when you and your family have realistic expectations and a capped lifestyle. Precautionary measures must be in place in order to protect the jobs of those who have been loyal and hardworking, especially during difficult times. The best way to fight greed in your life is to give money away. Yes it is possible to give away and become richer. It is also possible to hold on too tightly and lose everything. Yes the liberal man shall be rich by watering others, he waters himself (Proverbs 11:24-25) Proverbs 11:28 don’t put your trust in money but rather in God :Trust in your money and down you go! Trust in God and flourish as a tree”. Malachi 3:8-11 warns “Will a man rob God? Surely not! And yet you have robbed me … You have robbed me of the tithes and offerings due to me … Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so that there will be good enough in my Temple; if you do, I will open up the windows of heave for you and pour out a blessing so great you won’t have room enough to take it in! Let me prove it to you! Your crops will be large, for I will guard them from insects and plagues. Your grapes wont shrivel away before they ripen says the Lord Almighty. Helping the poor is a constant theme throughout the Bible. Proverbs 19:17 says “When you help the poor you are lending to the Lord – and he pays wonderful interest on your load!” This is retreated in Proverbs 21:13 “he who shuts his ears to the cries of the poor will be ignored in his own time of need” and again in Galatians 2:10 “The only thing they did suggest was that we must always remember to help the poor, and I (Paul) too, was eager for that”. As Christians we must be doers of the Word and not listeners only. James 2:17 puts the truth into perspective” so you see, it isn’t enough just to have faith. You must also do good to prove that you have it. Faith that doesn’t’ show itself by good works is no faith at all it is dead and useless”. It is far more profitable for me to become unselfish, and out of love for the Lord Jesus begin to care for the souls of those around me. Psalm 41:1-3 gives us a wonderful promise of blessing if we help the poor: “God blesses those who are kind to the poor. He helps them out of their troubles. He protects them and keeps them alive; he publicly honors them and destroys the power of their enemies. He nurses them when they are sick, and soothes their pains and worries”.
Debt-free Living Once you have experienced the freedom of debt-free living, you will inevitable become stress free and you will never want to turn back again. Yes you may live in a smaller house or apartment, drive a smaller car and eat out less, but you will have peace at heart, you will have money in the bank and on the day you must give to a worthy cause, you will be amazed at the size of the amount you’ll be able to give.