If the debt monster has you locked up in his dungeon, you need to take some decisive steps toward liberty. The odd thing about this dungeon is that you actually have the keys to unlock every door between you and financial freedom. You just have to use them.
Look around you. Can you see the other prisoners in this debt dungeon? All of them have the keys, just like you do. The debt monster knows any of you can escape, but he is sure that the hopelessness you feel will keep you from taking a single step toward freedom.
First Key: Recognize why you are in financial bondage.
Don’t blame the economy. You must recognize that the real reason for your financial problems is your own unsound decisions. Times may be difficult, but many people survive difficult financial times because they follow the right principles and make wise resolutions.
You are probably locked up with your spouse, and perhaps only one of you made the decisions that led to this financial prison. If so, take responsibility for your actions. Once you have, work together to reach financial freedom. Marriages have died in this prison simply because the couple will not work together to achieve liberty.
Second Key: Do not borrow any more money from any person or any company.
This is a real step of faith shown by action. “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?” (James 2:14) Right actions must accompany faith, not just any actions. If you steadfastly decide not to borrow or buy anything on credit, God will honor your faith and provide honorable ways to meet your needs.
Credit card abuse got you into this mess, so you can only get out by not using any of your cards for any purpose, at least until you are debt free. That credit card could be as dangerous to your financial health as whiskey is to an alcoholic. Do not carry it with you.
It may be necessary to have a card for emergencies. If so, make it hard to get to it.
One couple placed their credit cards in a dish of water, then put the dish in the freezer! In essence theyfroze their own credit. They couldn’t use the cards until they thawed them out. That gave them time to think before they made a purchase. It’s a cold, hard solution, but it might just work.
Couples who have developed good financial discipline can safely use credit cards, if they pay the outstanding balance in full each month. A credit card is like a chainsaw: a useful tool in a skilled hand, but a dangerous weapon in the hand of an undisciplined person.
Third Key: Arrange to pay something to every creditor.
Contact any companies or banks whom you owe and ask them to be patient with you and to accept lesser payments. “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison.” (Matthew 5:25) You can also start using what someone called the snowball principle. For an explanation of the Snowball Principle, click here: The Snowball Principle
Contact any friends or family members you have borrowed from. If you have taken advantage of their generosity, you should ask their forgiveness and make restitution. If you cannot repay them right now ask for understanding, and make plans to repay them as soon as possible. If necessary, ask your pastor or theirs to mediate a settlement. By doing that you also establish some financial accountability.
Fourth Key: Find someone to oversee your journey to financial freedom.
It will help you. We sometimes need an outside party to keep us on track, especially if we have a history of undisciplined spending.
One other thought about accountability: you can fool anyone but God. Sure, you could ask someone to help you stay on track, but without a personal sense of accountability to God, you might still practice the same personal dishonesty that led to your present crisis.
Fifth Key: Avoid the temptation of looking for a quick fix.
Usually, God delivers us from financial bondage gradually. Of course God could provide all the money you need to get out of debt in a moment, but he usually doesn’t. Why? Because monetary miracles do not develop character, but faithful, patient progress does. The real gold comes from the development of our inner character, for when we are rich there, we are rich indeed!
In the United States we have lotteries, like the four-digit lotteries in some Asian countries. I recently heard that most people who hit the jackpot eventually lose it all. They strike it rich, but they don’t have the character and self-control to use it wisely. God wants to do more than release you from debt. He wants to form your character and teach you financial self-control so you do not repeat the mistake. “Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.” (Proverbs 13:11)
Remember this: God wants you free from financial bondage, but he cannot deliver you unless you follow His path. If you do, you will see His blessing in all you do. If you don’t, the pit gets deeper. Seize the chance! Break the destructive pattern you have fallen into. Resist every voice that tells you it’s too late. Believe God, and prove it by the financial decisions you make. You will love the results.