I recently heard of some people praying against the spirit of indebtedness. I thought to myself that all they need to do is resist the temptation to over-spend. It is not a spirit or Satan that causes anyone to go into debt. It is merely a desire for and purchase of things for which a person does not have the ability to pay. We have the choice to buy what we want or to walk away and make do with what we have. Those of us who either have or currently are struggling with indebtedness have made the choice to make purchases with money we borrowed rather than money or property we owned. It is not a spirit but a choice. Indebtedness may be addictive in that coveting and the desire for things that a person doesn’t have and can’t afford on their own may become somewhat of an obsession, but like any addiction the first step to making a change is owning responsibility for the wrong action. Blaming a spirit or Satan for our purchase decisions does not accomplish this. Anyone challenged with indebtedness should not be looking at others to blame but should take a hard look directly in the mirror to see who is responsible for over-spending.
I have to admit that in years past, when I was going through some rough patches in life, I consoled myself at the mall and bought more than my budget could afford, using my credit card. It felt good at the moment, but later on it was very painful. It took a lot of self discipline to get a handle on my “purchase therapy” shopping sessions, but I have done it. You can, too! A budget is a great way to set boundaries for ourselves and help us achieve well thought out goals. Boundaries are necessary in all aspects of our live to be healthy, and God put some excellent ones in place for our own good. When we don’t listen to Him, we get into all kinds of trouble.
The evil that exists in the world exists because people have allowed it to thrive. It doesn’t start out as a powerful, widespread evil. The pattern that I see repeated is one where evil usually gets a foothold when people do not follow God’s instructions, chaos ensues, and then there is an opening for the evil to step in with its lies and deception. We have to be discerning and wise and not fall for this deception that we “have to look like the Joneses’” or have to have what our parents had and more by the time we’re 30. If Christians had been responsible to follow God’s instructions and not made decisions selfishly regarding our finances, marriages, children, entertainment choices, and so forth, there would not be the foothold for the evil influences that we now face. Some of the responsibility belongs with each of us. We can make changes and can be responsible beginning today. It may not save our nation from financial crisis, but it will make a difference in our families, as we reduce debt and increase our real assets.
It may be that some just don’t know how to establish a budget to help make decisions. If this is your situation, I hope to provide you with a basic outline in this series of articles, but there are many detailed workbooks and resources available to walk you through also. Let’s talk about how to take responsibility for our finances and our purchase decisions so that they line up with God’s word.
The family income includes all monies that come into the household through work or sales, whether it is regular or irregular, that contribute to the family’s expenses/plans. This is the basis for our budget, because it is what we have to work with. Spending more than what comes in is what makes a person vulnerable and a debtor. It should be a goal to get out of debt, so the goal should be to spend less than the income amount. In order to do this, we must plan spending around the income amount.
Our family’s income is what will provide the basis for our family’s survival, for our needs, our wants, our future, and also for the needs of others we choose to help. It is necessary that everyone in the family do their part to contribute to the resources of the family in some way, whether it is in bringing in income or reduce expenses. Both count equally toward having money left over to reduce debt, buy things for the present and future, and save or invest. There have been times when a portion of my teenagers’ incomes were included in our family budget, too. Of course, this has to be a family decision, but when things are hard and the family is working together as a team toward goals, everyone pitches in. Teenagers get a roof over their head and meals and clothings and so forth from parents. There have been various ways we have handled their wants and needs. (We’ll talk more about this later in the “expenses” section.)
While some family members may not be able to bring in actual cash income, they may be able to save or provide substitutes for things that would otherwise have to be purchased and be expenses. For example, in our family, I cook things that are homemade rather than eating at restaurants or buying expensive prepared meals, and the children and grandchildren help with a garden, some animals, and orchard so that fewer groceries have to be purchased. This stretches our income. Other areas where family can help stretch the income by alleviating expenses is in: sewing, auto maintenance and repair, home maintenance and repair, hair cuts/services, house cleaning, animal care, animal husbandry/raising/butchering, cheese-making, candle-making, soap making, and much more. Furthermore, children should be encouraged to do their part as their age enables. It is still practical for children to do some “work”, like babysitting for family friends or cutting the grass of a known neighbor or taking care of animals for neighbors while they are on vacation. These are jobs that might pay something and can provide “fun” money for the children’s wants, where parents provide for their needs. It teaches children responsibility and that they had better choose their “wants” wisely, because there are limited resources. Then, our children are more likely to take care of the thing(s) that they purchased from their jobs, too, because they truly value them more.
While the government is readily handing out welfare to millions of Americans, we are told as Christians that we should look after our family members in need, so our incomes should not only look out for us but for our widowed mothers, grandmothers, and aunts. We are certainly to do all that we can to provide for our own families! To not provide for our own (or do our best to try to do so) is worse than someone who does not believe in God.
“And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless. 8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” I Timothy 5:7-8
In this economic condition, it is necessary to think outside the box for ways to bring in income and often a single source of income is not enough or not wise for the unstable future ahead. JWR and contributors to the blog have provided some good articles with ideas for careers or moon-lighting jobs to bring in extra income that is not dependent upon employment and are more likely to survive in a TEOTWAWKI situation. No one has a 100% sure job. Things happen. I have successfully worked myself out of multiple jobs by managing/publicizing my employers’ companies, which were then bought by buyers who only had positions for me if I relocated somewhere I had no interest in living. Congratulations and surprise! I got a nice bonus and severance check but had to look for another job all over again, sometimes at very inopportune times. The current job market is not one I’d want to have to seek employment. This is one where it is better to make your own job and develop products and/or skills that others need locally (or can easily be sold through online stores, like Amazon). Dependence upon a big company remaining stable through the rocky road ahead is a big gamble. We need to have work that our community will need and choose to purchase (or barter) no matter how hard times get.
So, first sit down and look at what is realistic right now for your family’s income. List everyone’s source of income– husband’s job, wife’s job, Social Security check(s), any extra work done or items or services regularly sold (eggs sold, babysitting or house cleaning services, quilts made and sold, etc), rent received from anyone on property you own, annuity payments received, interest income, any cash gifts or inheritance payments received, and any other source of income you receive each month. If you get paid weekly, multiply the weekly amount by 4.2 to get an approximate monthly amount and write that calculated amount down instead of the weekly. Figure out what your family’s total income during a typical month is for each source of income and then total them all up. This is what your family’s current income looks like.
If you don’t have the exact figures kept for all of the incomes sources you know about right now, then estimate on the low side and start writing down sources of income and amounts during the upcoming month as money comes in. Setting up a financial notebook that is dedicated for this purpose is a good idea. It can be a very useful tool to help you stay organized! Keep it near where you go through the mail so that when a check or a statement comes in, you can easily write the information down in your notebook. (The same will be true of expense information arriving in the mail, too, but we’ll talk about that later in this article series.)
After writing down the sources of income, begin thinking about how you could realistically increase your income. What skills, tools, capabilities, and opportunities do you have available to you that could help bring in more income and/or replace expenses? Do not yet write down what you are saving or potential income. Just write down what income you are currently bringing in, though you may want to make a list someplace other than your financial notebook of ideas of what you can reduce off the upcoming expenditure list and potential income sources you might pursue. Brainstorm those ideas and pray about what is realistic and what the LORD might be leading you to do. Ladies, just remember that caring for your home and family is your first priority so don’t jump on anything that would sacrifice that important job. Also, do not count on future income that you don’t yet have and make any commitments or spend any money in anticipation of possible income. However, you might want to begin working toward this future income. It often takes time to build up a small side business, so you better get started planning and working on it now!
In the next part of this series of articles, we’ll hit Self Discipline and Expenses.