Creditors have better memories than debtors.
Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac∗
The borrower is slave to the lender.
As you can well imagine, money problems are becoming more common in my office. It’s not only the banking institutions that are upside down in debt. The giant ponzi scheme of depending on rising stock and home prices to increase net worth while borrowing money to buy what we want when we want as often as we want is coming crashing down. The creditor is standing at the door waiting to be paid. Many of us are standing there with empty pockets pulled inside out.
Debt is causing the unwise to be too near the brink of disaster. With little or no money in savings and budgets stretched to the breaking point, everything has to go perfect for the bills to be paid on time. With barely a financial cold, things could come crashing down. It’s not unusual for my clients to have two $400 car payments. These are two payments they can’t afford and after paying them and the doctor bills and their many credit cards and student loans and house payment there’s nothing left. Then, if hours are cut at work, disaster is lurking just around the corner and we’re only a few days from chaos.
I hope you are doing what we’re doing. We’re having our own stimulus package. We can’t wait for the government to come in and rescue us. Nor would we want the government to rescue us. The Bible says that whoever doesn’t take care of his family is worse than an unbeliever. It’s our job to take care of our family. It’s your job to protect your family. WE have to CUT OUR spending. WE have to PAY OUR debts. WE have to SAVE OUR money. No one else will do it. We’re stimulating our own family economy.
Here’s a simple idea: quit eating out. Your lunch, premium coffee, pop and donuts at the Quickie Mart and dinner out on Friday or Saturday night can easily add up to $300 a month or more. That money would go a long way to pay off that pesky credit card.
Here’s another idea: read. Two authors I’ve found helpful, which I’ve recommended to clients are David Bach and Dave Ramsey. Bach has several books that are helpful: Smart Couples Finish Rich (a good book for couples just starting out) and Start Late, Finish Rich (for those in their late 30’s and above). These books would be helpful for both spouses to read together so they can be more on the same page financially. He also has a web site (www.finishrich.com) that has encouraging stories of people who have gotten their financial lives in order. He has many ideas on how to save money, reduce spending and make wise money decisions.
Dave Ramsey (www.daveramsey.com) is a rising star on the financial advice scene. He’s been around 20 years, but his three hour national daily radio show has been expanded recently to include a daily TV show on Fox Business. You can catch his hour long TV show on the HULU.com website (Just type in “Dave Ramsey.”). His abbreviated audio podcasts (39 minutes, Monday through Friday) are available on iTunes for free. His claim to fame is getting out of debt and he has many ideas to encourage couples and individuals to do so. He’s also encouraging and upbeat, a nice contrast to the negative, pessimistic and gloomy news shows we get on TV every day. He has what he calls “Financial Peace University,” a 13 week program (91 days) to start on the process of getting your financial house in order. The 13 week course is summarized in his book The Total Money Makeover. You can get the entire 13 lectures on either DVD or CD. He has specific steps (He calls “Baby Steps”) people need to do in order to get to financial freedom. His web site has information on his financial advice as well as success stories from participants in his program. He says the average adapter to his approach gets out of all debt, except the home mortgage, in 18-24 months. If you are swimming in debt, his ideas may be the guidance and encouragement you need to get started and he has the support you’ll need for the long haul.
So begin your own personal stimulus package. Don’t let the daily discouraging news on the economy get you down. Get rid of your creditor slave owners and declare you own freedom.
*Franklin, B. (1914). Poor Richard’s Almanac: Selections from the apothegems and proverbs, with a brief sketch of the life of Benjamin Franklin. Waterloo, U. S. C. Publishing Co. (Google Book Search: “Poor Richards”).