Sun | Sep 23, 2018

Dwight Fletcher | Living in debt is slavery - Managing your financial life

Published:Saturday | March 17, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Jamaicans are natural entrepreneurs. We're always finding ways to 'hustle' and 'eat a food.' The average Jamaican is preoccupied with how to make money, or more money, so they can live a certain lifestyle. The truth is, God is not against us making money or living well from our earnings. In fact, God wants us to do more than hustle and 'eat a food'. He wants us to live in abundance, and we should look at what God really says about money.

In comparison to other Caribbean islands, Jamaicans drive much nicer cars and live in much grander homes, but we have far less saved for retirement and emergencies. God wants us to have abundant life in all areas - spiritually, socially, and financially. But we are often not able to receive these blessings because of financial stress, which affects most of our lives - 54 per cent of marriages end in divorce because of money.

God is ultimately the source of your ability to make money. "... remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth ..." Deuteronomy 8:18 (NIV). God wants us to learn how to manage and use it well. But for many of us, it is going to require a radical shift in how we approach money.

If you bring your financial life to God and live it by His standard, He will give you peace. In fact, the Bible says, "The blessing of the Lord makes a person rich, and he adds no sorrow with it." Proverbs 10:22 (NLT). So whether it takes you a few weeks, a few months, or even a few years, you will never again be in a place where you have to be stressed out about your finances.

Let's look at some practical steps to managing our financial life:


Get the facts


Figure out where you are financially. God says in Proverbs 27:23-24 (NLT), that you " ... should know the state of your flocks for riches don't last forever." Today, it would be " ... know the state of your money ... " by answering the following questions:

How much do I own? What are your hard assets? What do you have available to you in cash?

How much do I owe? How much do I owe on my mortgage? How much do I owe on my credit cards? What are my debts?

How much do I make? Managing your money well is not about making more. It's about managing well what you already have.

How much do I spend? It's one thing to make mental notes of things you've bought over the month, but it's another thing altogether to see them add up on paper. Itemise the purchases made including your purchases of services.

These are just four very big categories of your money to create a personal cash flow statement. Ignoring the facts will not make financial woes go away, so face it constructively.


Get out of debt


This next step probably applies to most of us, but my focus is primarily on unsecured and unessential debt, not debt for things like your house mortgage or higher education. Things like credit card debt for dining out or 'car cosmetics' can suck the life out of your budget. The Bible speaks very plainly about debt. "Borrow money and you are the lender's slave." Proverbs 22:7 (GNT).

And overwhelming debt can lead us to sin. Psalm 37:21 (NIV) says: "The wicked borrow and never repay." The habit also teaches us to be a now people, but God tells us that "wise people live in wealth and luxury, but stupid people spend their money as fast as they get it". Proverbs 21:20 (GNT).

Living in debt is not living. It is slavery and it is wickedness. What is the antidote? "Don't be obsessed with getting more material things. Be satisfied with what you have." Hebrews 13:5 (MSG). When we learn not to be obsessed with material things and to be satisfied with what we have, we will be on our way to freedom. So get the facts and get out of debt.

These are just the first two steps to take toward financial abundance. Next week, we will look at how to get prioritised, get automated and get started with taking full control of your financial life in a successful God-honouring way.