There cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead, and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the Lord: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen. II Kings 4:1
Debt brings bondage. Thank God the credit card creditors can no longer take our sons–yet the bondage is just as real. We are a ‘debtor’ society. Our government does it, our banks encourage it, and the department stores love it. One lady confessed, “I was spending money I hadn’t earned for things that I had already used”–most she really did not need.
The credit card companies are seducing our families with 35-75 offers of pre-approved credit cards each year. Even the government encourages us to pay our back Income Tax with our credit cards.
You have heard the ads:
“Have it your way with Visa.”
“Master the moment with MasterCard.”
“The American Express Card: Your key…opens doors for you all over the world.”
“It pays to Discover.”
“Don’t leave home without it (American Express).”
Easy credit in hard economic times is encouraging families to accumulate credit card debt. They are not credit cards–they are ‘debt cards’ and they bring bondage. The burden is highest among those with the lowest incomes. It is easier to charge it than to save for the items we want. All must confess that we use the card to buy impulse items that we would never buy with cash.
“Most do not realize that if they just pay the minimum every month, they get nowhere fast. If a young couple has a $1,000 dollar balance and is paying the minimum payment of 2% on a card charging 17%–that $1,000 will cost them $2,590 and will take 17 years 3 months to pay it off. If there is a balance of $2,500 it will cost $7,733 and will take 30 years 3 months to pay it off. But, if the couple has a $5,000 credit card debt and pays just the minimum each month it will cost them $16,305 and will take 40 years 2 months to pay it off”. [Source AARP Bulletin, March 2003]
You are not a debtor as long as you are making good on your promise to pay on time–you are fulfilling your agreement. But, what happens when you fall behind and cannot pay. You are now in bondage. In Bible times they could throw you into prison until you ‘paid up’. Today, people are taking the easy way out and filing for bankruptcy. To the Christian, however, this should not be an option as long as the debtors are willing to work with you and give you time to pay.
How do we get out of credit card debt once we are bound?
1. Admit you have a problem.
Confess that you are mixing up ‘wants’ and ‘needs’.
2. Cut up all of the cards that you now have.
Pay always with checks or cash. (Cash is that paper stuff with former President’s pictures on them.) If you do not have cash you sure should never have credit cards.
3. Itemize household and living expenses
Separate real needs from wants, eliminate wants. Never buy a new car – always one that is three or four years old and plan to keep it until it wears out.
4. Prioritize debts.
Protect your home first. Never refinance credit card debt with a home equity loan.
5. Contact your debtors
Assure them they will be paid, but within your ability. Ask for time. Work with an accredited nonprofit credit counseling agency to explore ways to pay off your credit cards. (Never use a firm that is doing this for profit.)
6. Learn your lesson
Never allow yourself to be bound again. After you are completely out of debt and you would like one card for emergencies–then beat the credit card ‘masters’ at their own game. Pay off the credit card debt every month. The month you cannot do this is the month you stop using it. It is nice to let them do your bookkeeping for free.
Let not the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke out our spirituality and our family freedom.
I have no credit card debt, my cars are paid off, and I paid off my mortgage this month. It feels so good to be free. It feels good to live a simpler lifestyle.
All of the best things in life are free!
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