Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

Strange Christian Debt Reduction Strategy

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christian debt reductionIt’s not a secret.  Back before I started my internet business I was in serious debt.  It was like under the barrel, with the barrel on top of me, drowning in debt.

Once I got behind on paying all the credit card payments, the collections companies started calling.

I grew to hate the phone.  They made threats.  They broke laws.  They even found my father’s number one time and called him telling him if I didn’t pay them within days they’d have me thrown in jails.

It was a painful experience I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

Yet, people experience every day…including good, honest Christians who simply get behind for whatever reason.

For me, a lot of those debts came from failed business opportunities.  Others came from living expenses when I was out of work.  And a portion came from the big mistake we made of buying a brand new vehicle (interesting enough, the vehicle loan company was the most understanding in the whole process and never sent us to a collection agency).

It was during this period that I started praying for wisdom instead of money.  Our income increased as I discovered the internet.

And I also followed a rather unusual method for paying back the debts.

If you go to any financial counselor they’re likely to lay out a very logical plan.  You pay extra on the highest interest debt.  It’s costing you the most to hold that debt so you pay it first.

But that’s not the plan that worked for me.

Instead we collected and analyzed all the debts we had.  And we paid extra on the smallest debt without considering the interest rate.  This was one credit card we had used very little and only had a couple of hundred on it. It was paid off first.

Then we celebrated.  A no expense celebration, but it was still a celebration to eliminate one of the bills.  Then we took care of the next smallest debt.

We went down the line paying off each of the debts in order of their size.

Why?

This isn’t logical.  It’s logical to pay off the most expensive, highest interest debt first.  It would save you money.

But the problem is we are not “just logical” creatures.  We have emotions.  Once you eliminate one of the debts, one of the responsibilities, you can feel it lift from you.  It’s like your first step into freedom.

You can feel that freedom…even if it’s only one piece in a much bigger puzzle.

Then you eliminate the second smallest debt, and you can feel it again.  It’s like you can take a breath after being underwater for years.

If you only focused on the biggest debt or the highest interest rate, it could take you much longer to reach those first experiences.  And you’d wear out.  It would be tough to keep going.

This way success builds on itself.  You get more excited as each debt disappears.

That’s why I’d suggest you to do the same.  Remember you’re not just a logical creature that makes all your decisions based on clear mathematical numbers.  You’re a person with emotions.  And that feeling of freedom you build can continue to grow.

These early experiences produced a hatred for debt in me.  We paid off all those debts over a couple of years.  It took some sacrifice and the elimination of a lot of expenses during the time, but it was worth it.

A few year later when we purchased our first house, I felt that “pressure” of being in debt again.  So even though we had more money we actually went into debt elimination mode again where we didn’t make almost any additional purchases (although not as strict as the original credit card escape plan).  And we paid off that house in close to a year.

I do have credit cards today as it’s tough to do business online without one, but they’re paid off almost every week.  I still have that hatred of debt.    Too many people feel “OK” about debt in my opinion.  When we look in the Bible, we see God often has quite a bit to say about debts as well.   It definitely doesn’t sound like something we should feel comfortable about continually using…

The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender.”
Prov 22:7, NKJV

Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.  Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.”
Rom 13:7-8, NKJV

For the LORD your God will bless you just as He promised you; you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow; you shall reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over you.”
Deut 15:6, NKJV

I’ll likely do another post coming up soon about debt and what these scriptures say about debt.    What we can see from these is debt is not something you should take likely.  God wants to bless us so we can lend to others…and He wants us to pay what we owe.

About Terry Dean
I've been in full-time business online since 1996. I've been an ordained minister since 1993. Yes, business and ministry are my passions. I also love God, my wife Julie, my two dogs, the outdoors, and video games.

Comments

10 Responses to “Strange Christian Debt Reduction Strategy”
  1. Scott Vogel says:

    Terry,
    As always, your Christian-based posts are on target.

    The idea to make small victories by paying off smaller more attainable debt and celebrating those debt elimination victories is quite wise.

    I guess when you did ask for wisdom, you were blessed with it.

    It reminds me of the Gospels where Jesus was being tested and attempted to be tricked by being asked whether Jews should pay taxes…His reply…Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.

    We must as responsible Christians be in a position of financial stewardship and give to those who need and by becoming debt-free we can become financially secure and help others.

    You are appreciated,

    Scott Vogel

    • Terry Dean says:

      @Scott Vogel – Thanks for your comment. Well part of it is spotting when wisdom shows up. Notice I didn’t spend a long time talking about how I got into that much debt. Let’s just say wisdom wasn’t always in action there. :)

  2. Bret says:

    Terry,

    I used a similar strategy years ago and will use it again when I have the funds to pay my bills.

    I did have one difference from you. I focused on the credit card that had the lowest balance and the highest minimum monthly payment. Paying off the first credit card gave me a large increase in cash flow. I then focused all of my extra money on the credit card with the next highest minimum monthly payment and the lowest balance.

    Once that was paid off, I focused on the next one. When I got to the card that had the highest balance and the highest interest rate I was paying more than a $1,000 per month on one card. Talk about seeing progress. It was amazing to watch the balance drop month after month.

    At the end of about a year I was able to pay off more than $20,000 in credit card debt with no additional income.

    I created a spreadsheet that helps people figure out which cards to pay off first using this method if you’re interested in seeing it.

    Thanks for your articles.

    Bret

    • Terry Dean says:

      @Bret – Interesting. I didn’t actually look at what the minimum payments were for each on mine, so I don’t know how well it matches to what you did. I think many of the minimum payments were actually lower on the ones I paid off first because they were the lowest balances.

      Either way, it’s still the same focus…getting small victories on the way to overcoming all the debt.

  3. Cherelle says:

    Thank you so much. I need this advice at the moment. It is a very stressful situation, especially when your bills are high, and your income is low. I appreciate the advice of asking God for wisdom versus money, because I’ve been asking for more money (lol)…just being honest. I don’t treat God like an ATM, I simply asked Him for an avenue that will create a higher income. I do not mind hard work at all. Thanks again…

    • Terry Dean says:

      @Cherelle – It’s actually not “hard” work that generates the most money though. It’s all eventually based on the value you can provide. So a good question to ask God is how you can make the work you do more valuable to others? How can you make your skills more valuable overall?

  4. Orestes says:

    Hi! Terry,

    Thanks for bringing a very important subject like it´s debt. I was into that for a year but thanks
    God I´m finally out. It is very refreshing to my soul now as I felt miserable and in bondage.I do
    believe it´s a weapon the enemy use against us to keep us down..It is our God´s will that we
    prosper to be a blessing to others cuz at the end of the day that´s what we are here for to bless
    and show God´s love to all specially to the lost ones. So it´s very important not to get into it and
    always seek the guidance of the Lord.

    Blessings!

    • Terry Dean says:

      @Orestes – Isn’t it funny how the terminology is so similar. You felt miserable and in bondage. I did too. It’s refreshing to be out of debt. I think a lot of people don’t realize how much it really feels like you are servant to the lender. It’s load you feel like you’re carrying.

  5. Lynn Rios says:

    Thanks for publishing such sound advice. It was fresh and honest, and just made a lot of sense. I recently wrote a post about the importance of celebrating small victories, but would never have thought to apply it to paying off debt. BRAVO!

    • Terry Dean says:

      @Lynn Rios – Thank you for your compliment. I appreciate it. I think the princeple of celebrating small victories can pretty much be applied to everything. Positive reinforcement helps in so many ways. And it’s easy to get discouraged in any situation that just seems too large. By looking at debt this way, you kind of break it down into smaller easy to deal with chunks.

  6. Patti says:

    I love what you said about praying for wisdom in stead of money! I HATE DEBT! I hate that it has in many ways defined who we are. I feel I haven’t made a real honest decision in years. (Our decisions are based on what we can’t do, instead of what God wants for us to do). Our debt is from my husband going back to school to become a pastor, living “on faith”, and business debt, from me trying to be “creative” and help along the way. Some health issues work in there as well, so it can become quite overwhelming and certainly not the life I feel Christ intends for us!

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