Whether you live in America or somewhere else, right now the biggest problem you’re likely facing is paying your monthly bills. The forced shutdown of the global economy has pulverized national and family budgets. In Canada, it is reported that federal unemployment insurance claims have rocketed to Great Depression levels.
Ding-dong, Dorothy, the economy is dead.
Last month, many Americans were living paycheck-to-paycheck. This month has seen that paycheck taken away.
There is no sense citing endless statistics. Tens of millions of Americans can’t even handle a $400 emergency. Banks and credit card companies are preparing for a tsunami of payment deferrals and loan defaults as consumers buckle.
Like boozy wastrels drunk on prosperity, millions have squandered precious time and money in the face of mounting evidence a crash was coming. Instead of having savings for a rainy day, Americans are now facing a financial reckoning that’s going to burn. The toll isn’t only financial; it’s physical, emotional and spiritual. And authorities are seeing a corresponding spike in suicides and substance and domestic abuse.
The fiscal grim reaper is here. In all fairness, he did send us many notices of his impending arrival, like the Great Recession in the late 2000s. That financial bloodbath was as long as Wall Street and up to the businessman’s belt.
Since that tender time, federal reserve banks have made themselves hoarse yelling into deaf ears. They have repeatedly warned about gross government and corporate debt, the perils of endless quantitive easing (printing money), and escalating household debt.
More than 10 long years have lapsed since the Great Recession. What did we learn? What is this latest economic jolt teaching us? We learned that we are thoroughly addicted to materialism. We learned that decadence defines our daily living. We learned we lack character. Even the poor among us live like feudal kings, yet millions are now beyond broke.
Prosperity is bankrupting us in more ways than we think. If you are suffering financially, the good news is that, if you are willing to correct your living, there is a little time left to set your financial house in order.
Here is what you can do right now.
The first step is to understand God has set basic financial laws into motion. When those laws are broken, penalties result. The penalty is a sign that laws are being broken—and signs are meant to be heeded! God has put penalties in place for broken law to help correct our thinking and our living. When God’s laws are obeyed, great material and spiritual blessings result—including freedom from anxiety, worry and fear.
When someone becomes physically sick with a cold or the flu, the body begins to immediately discharge poisons through mucus production, the eliminative system and by rest. That is the human body trying to bring itself back into alignment with God’s laws governing health. Likewise, financial poison comes in the form of debt, budget deficits (not enough money to cover your bills), and burdensome interest payments. These poisons must be ejected! This is the second step!
Without jeopardizing your health or that of your family, reduce your standard of living to pay off your debts and balance your budget as soon as possible! This means doing everything practically possible to avoid consumer and business debt. A well-considered loan will produce above its principle and interest—meaning it should profit! The wise earn interest while the foolish pay it.
Right now, many governments are offering no-strings-attached money to help small businesses and citizens. If you need to, you might have to take advantage of the assistance your taxes have already helped to pay for or will help to pay for later. God is not against accepting help in time of need. In certain well-advised circumstances, it is the prudent thing to do. There is no shame in taking a handout in a time of need—especially when we are determined to go on and use that help to correct the cause of the problem.
Consider seeking wise counsel before taking on long-term debt or loans for what could be a short-term employment problem. A bad loan will be a poison, which will seriously aggravate your financial problems! Get creative—use drive and initiative. These are some of the laws of personal and financial success. Talk to a rich uncle who might be willing to give you a hand (not handout) during these difficult times. Offer to work for the help. Take odd jobs doing handiwork. The point is, make your opportunities.
The next principle is to set a budget and track your spending. Herein we see another basic law of God: Don’t spend more than you make. Budget! Our financial problems don’t usually revolve around not having enough money but not managing it properly. Slipshod financial management is a reflection of a breakdown in character. We all have to learn to manage our prosperity—especially those who haven’t learned the first principle of working hard.
Examine your attitude toward materialism. God’s law forbids lust and coveting, but coveting drives the world economy. Is it driving your spending? God’s Word says a person trying to get the best of his employer or trying to get riches will not prosper in the end. It often leads to owning substandard possessions and always leads to substandard character.
We all must come to learn the first lesson of life: Seek God’s Kingdom and His character above riches. That is the only way to financial prosperity. Strive to better yourself in an effort to give to your employer, your family and to God—but also strive to learn to be content in your circumstances.
Get creative. Housing, transportation and food are major line items in personal budgets. Excessive car loans that stretch into five to seven years are financial folly. Maybe it’s time to evaluate cutting these areas without jeopardizing your ability to work, and without jeopardizing your health and your family’s well-being.
Another financial law of success is persistence. Don’t throw in the towel! If you’ve recently been laid off, realize many hundreds of thousands have been laid off too. Most of them will begin to waste time. Don’t waste time.
Sloth is stealing, even if it’s only stealing time that can’t be recovered. Put your time to profitable use. Stay productive. Read a good book; improve your skills; refinish some old furniture; play games with your children; go for a walk; breathe in fresh air.
“Chomp at the bit” to get back to work. A robust work ethic is at the heart of building righteous character. Begin calling prospective employers. Line up interviews. Make a job out of getting a job.
This can be a time to advance your career! Employers will start hiring again. Make sure your name is at the top of the list. God is a producer. He expects the same from us. He doesn’t waste a moment or an opportunity. Hiring may be at a momentary freeze, but you don’t have to be frozen in time or frozen in one spot. Be zealous and work hard!
Next, when you get back to a solid financial footing, start saving for a rainy day. There are two types of savings to aim for: operational savings and reserve savings. Operational savings are for emergency repairs and other out-of-the-blue expenses. Reserve savings should equal three times your monthly net income—or at least enough to cover your expenses for three months. If need be, put your budget on a diet, because austerity may be the order of the day to achieve the results you need. The old saying applies: Make hay while the sun shines. Time is fast running out.
When tragedy strikes this world, God is often accused of loafing on the job. Mankind shakes his collective fist at God. He is accused of being heartless, unwilling to lend humanity a helping hand. God gets blamed for nearly all tragedy, pain and suffering. But if He were to stop you from chasing your pleasures that lead to such destruction, you’d soon accuse Him of interfering in your life. When the tragedy strikes, who is to blame? We can’t have it both ways.