What Your Debt is Really Costing You (And How to Get Out)
It’s been said that paying off debt is like eating an elephant – it can only be done one bite at a time. Starting the process of becoming debt-free can be overwhelming, and not knowing how or where to start can prevent many people from starting altogether.
But paying off debt, and doing so as quickly as possible, is critically important to our journeys as faithful stewards. Proverbs tell us that when we are in debt, we live as slaves to our creditors. Not only does God intend for us to live in freedom, He also wants to use us more fully for His Kingdom. Debt holds us back by keeping us enslaved to a card, creditor, or company.
The Cost of Debt
Debt does not only hold us back from living as a faithful steward, but it also costs a lot of money. Because interest payments are so high, you end up paying much more on your debt than the item, experience, or education was worth in the first place.
Imagine you open a store credit card to earn free shipping and a discount with each purchase. But you haven’t been able to pay the balance in full at the end of each month, and over time, you end up accumulating $1,225 of charges on your card. It has an interest rate of 22% and a minimum payment of $28.
If you only make the minimum payment on that one card, you will end up paying $1,271.69 in interest ALONE – more than the charges were worth in the first place! Needless to say, that free shipping and small discount ended up costing you significantly more money than they were worth. Debt isn’t cheap! (And if you want to find out how much money you can save by paying off your debt fast, check out the Debt Snowball Calculator.)
But debt also costs us more than money – it causes anxiety, stifles creativity, and harms relationships.
Unfortunately, many people increase their standard of living by using debt, only to find that it’s a heavy burden that controls their life. Though on the outside they may appear to “have it all” – the house, the cars, the vacations, the clothes – on the inside, they may be consumed by anxiety and hopelessness about their current financial position.
For many, their debt consumes every thought. The worry about paying it off, stress about making ends meet, and shame from hiding it is enough to keep you up at night.
Sadly, but not surprisingly, researchers have found a correlation between debt and mental illness. The increase of stress contributes to mental, physical, and emotional fatigue. It can also have a negative impact on your job performance, prospects, and longevity.
Not only does it contribute to the harm of personal health and career, it can damage relationships as well. Simple money management can be a huge source of stress in marriage, and the addition of debt can strain a marriage for long periods of time. In fact, it may keep you from getting married at all!
Larry Burkett, Crown’s founder, said, “The effects of financial bondage on a marriage relationship are measurable in the statistics of failed marriages. A marriage is a partnership – much like the right and left hands of the same person. God’s Word says that two people become one.”
Finances are cited as one of the top causes for divorce, and it’s no wonder – carrying the burden of debt is a heavy one for any two people to try and shoulder. It’s another reason God warns against it so heavily in Scripture.
What the Bible Says About Debt
God never says that debt is a sin, but He certainly discourages it. Romans 13:8 says that you should, “Let no debt remain outstanding.”
Proverbs 22:7 is clear that the “borrower is slave to the lender,” and the deeper you are in debt, the more like a servant you become.
In Luke 12:15, Jesus cautioned his followers to “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 7:23 that, “You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.”
Easy access to credit makes it tempting to accumulate more and more — regardless of whether we have money to pay for it.
There are three basic principles the Bible tells us to follow regarding the use of credit:
- Credit should never be normal for God’s people
- Credit should never be long-term
- Never sign surety (take on an obligation to pay without an absolutely certain way to do so)
His word is also clear that when we borrow, we are responsible to repay every cent.
God cares about our money – a lot. There are more verses in the Bible about money than there are about heaven and hell combined. God wants us to live debt-free lives and He cares about how we pay off our debt. He has called us to be faithful stewards – managers, not owners – of all He has entrusted to us. Remember that you are a wise, faithful manager and the way you handle your debt is a reflection upon Christ.
“Financial Bondage is a state of being captivated or overwhelmed by money matters … it’s a natural consequence of misusing the resources God has entrusted to us.”
– Larry Burkett
Christ made the ultimate sacrifice by dying for us. And now He wants our lives to be free to serve Him, not lenders. Remember that God loves us and has given us principles to live by for our benefit.
The Debt Snowball Method
The good news is, you can absolutely be debt-free. You can experience the blessing of living a debt-free life and being used to fulfill God’s purpose for you.
You can also pay off your debt wisely, in a way that honors God and helps you become a better steward. The Debt Snowball Method takes away the stress of trying to create a strategy on your own, and instead creates a debt-payoff plan to save you time and money. It helps you steward your debt wisely by reducing the amount you pay in interest and increasing the speed at which you pay off your debt.
The Debt Snowball Method works by paying off your smallest debt first. You continue to make minimum payments on all your debts, but you put any and all extra money towards your smallest payment. Once it’s paid off, you “rollover” what you were paying on that first debt, and apply it towards your second debt until it is paid off, and so on, until you are debt-free!
It tackles your debt one step (or one bite) at a time. The method is simple and easy to use, but will require discipline and commitment.
Using this method is important for several reasons:
- It helps you stay on track with a plan
- It saves you time and money
- It reduces your stress
- It keeps track of your payment plan for you
- It helps you exhibit faithful stewardship of your resources
It works best to pay off your smallest debt first because it’s extremely rewarding and encouraging to be able to eliminate an entire debt. Seeing your payments disappear will motivate you as you start to pay off your next debt – remember that you are setting yourself up for success in all other areas. Soon, you’ll be able to save more, give more, and invest more.
You can start your journey to a debt-free life by joining the 5 Steps to Debt-Free Living Mini Course. This simple video series will walk you through the whys and how-tos of becoming debt free. And if you’re overwhelmed by credit card debt, get in touch with Christian Credit Counselors. They can lower your interest charges, monthly payments, and negotiate with your creditors. Start with a free debt analysis here.
Decide today to get out of debt. No matter what kind of debt you have, resolve to not charge anymore on your credit card and pay it all off as quickly as possible. Remind yourself why you’re making this change and stay encouraged throughout your journey.
The Lord will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand; and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. Deuteronomy 28:12
Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8