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How to Get Out of Debt ~ Biblical Financial Principles

Want to stop living paycheck to paycheck? To stop worrying about how the bills will get paid? To have the financial freedom to bless others when they are in need?

Well then, you’ve come to the right place. You’re also not alone. American consumer debt totals over 14 trillion dollars and over 75% of households have some sort of debt.

Why is this? Three reasons. First, credit card companies and retail sales depend on making you feel that you just have to have the latest best thing and have it right now. Whether you can afford it or not. Second is because, unless a parent took the time to model this for you or you attended a class somewhere, you were never taught how to manage your money.

Third, is that few have learned to truly put their faith and trust in God with their finances. Which is somewhat understandable because His precepts go against everything we think is true. For example, He tells us that if we give it away, we will have more. How does that work?

However, after learning from others and testing it for myself, I found this; His Word is true, He is faithful, and you honestly can’t out give God.

Below are 8 simple tips that will teach you biblical financial principles as well as help you in managing your personal finances. By following these, you can get out of debt and have the financial freedom to bless others.

1. Trust God

Now, I don’t mean the, oh yeah I trust God, kind of off-the-cuff attitude. I mean whole-heartedly trust Him! Trust Him enough to take the step of faith required to follow His precepts and to trust Him with your finances. This is the one area where God Himself says to test Him in this. Why does He say this? Because He knows that He is faithful, He keeps His promises to His people, He can meet your needs, and He wants to bless you!

Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
that there may be food in My house,
and test Me now in this, says the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing,
that there will not be room enough to receive it.

Malachi 3:10

There are so many inspirational scriptures and examples of God’s faithfulness that I could fill this post with them, but I won’t. I will tell you this. I have tested His faithfulness with my finances and other areas of my life and He has never let me down. Not that every situation worked out the way I planned it would, but every outcome was in my best interest and His glory.

In all my years of following God, and there are many! Even though we made mistakes and have been through some pretty rough financial struggles. My family and I have never been homeless, we’ve never missed a meal, and we’ve always had an abundance of clothes to wear.

For the Lord is good; His mercy endures forever,
and His faithfulness to all generations.

Psalms 100:5

This is the foundation for everything that follows and for you to have true success over your finances. The world will tell you otherwise and the enemy will do everything he can to discourage you. But remember this, your Heavenly Father loves you so much that He sent His only Son to die on the cross for your sins. If you’re a believer, you trust Him with your life and that you will spend eternity in heaven. Why would you also not trust Him with your finances?

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all,
how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

Romans 8:32

2. Seek God First

The next logical step is to be in the Word because we're not going to trust someone we don’t know with our money. Reading God’s Word is where we learn who He is and what He is all about. What His precepts are and how to follow them, as well as what His promises are and how to pray them for our life.

For instance, He tells us in the scriptures below, that we do not need to worry about how we will provide the necessities for our family. As our Heavenly Father, He knows what we need and will provide it. We also learn that if we want His help with our finances, making wise choices, or being successful in anything, we must seek Him first.

Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,
and all these things shall be given to you.

Matthew 6:31-33

This Book of the Law must not depart from your mouth.
Meditate on it day and night so that you may act carefully
according to all that is written in it.
For then you will make your way successful, and you will be wise.

Joshua 1:8

So yes, there is a requirement on our part to know the Word and to follow it. With the distractions of daily life, it can be a challenge to find the time or to decide where to begin to read your Bible. One of the best ways for personal study is journaling because you can tailor it to what you want to learn and it doesn’t need to take a lot of time. If you want to know more about this, check out the post 5 Benefits of Journaling.

3. Tithe

One of the precepts we need to learn to trust God in and faithfully follow is tithing. I say faithfully, because it may take all the faith you can muster to carry it out. This can be so difficult when you’re already struggling to make ends meet, and your first thought is, how on earth can I afford to tithe? But honestly, you can’t afford not to.

Why, because this is the one commandment that comes with a promise.

Take a look at Proverbs 3:9-10.

We have a promise from the Lord that if we'll trust Him with our first fruits, our barns will be filled with plenty. We also just read in Malachi that we can test Him in this and see if He will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing, that there will not be room enough to receive it.

There’s a lot of talk about tithing that we won’t get into now, but here are the basics. To tithe is to give a tenth of your income to the church. Scripture says of your first fruits. meaning it should be taken care of first before anything else, as opposed to giving if you have anything leftover.

Based on the verse below, it does not have to be 10%, it can be more, however it does need to be given cheerfully and not out of necessity.

Let every man give according to the purposes in his heart,
not grudgingly or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver.

2 Corinthians 9:7

If this is not something you're used to and feel that you just can’t give the full 10% of your income right now. Then I recommend starting with a smaller portion and working your way to the full amount. It is certainly better to start somewhere than to skip it altogether.

The same goes for if you feel that your giving is out of necessity or a bit grudgingly. Give anyway and ask the Lord to help you with your attitude and to increase your faith in Him. If you wait until your feelings about giving change, it will probably never happen and then you will miss out on His blessings for you.

4. Be Generous

It all belongs to God anyway. All that we have was given to us by our Heavenly Father and we are stewards of it. Scripture tells us that the more we share what God has given us with those in need the more He blesses us so we can give even more. If we hold on to it for ourselves, then He will reduce what we have been given.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no change or shadow of turning.

James 1:17

I know this goes against what most would believe to be true and against what the world would tell you but God is not of the world. His ways are higher than our ways. We can trust Him in this because of His promise to us in Luke 6:38

Give, and it will be given to you:
Good measure, pressed down, shaken together,
running over, will be put in your lab.
For with the measure you use, it will be measured unto you.

Luke 6:38

5. Limit the Use of Credit Cards

Credit cards can be great and very helpful in making large purchases, but they can also lead to disastrous debt that we feel we will never get out from under. As I said before, everywhere we turn, we are being enticed to buy more and that we need it now, whether we can afford it or not.

This is big business for stores and credit card companies but it causes us to pay way more than we need to in interest charges. However, if we wait to buy what we need when we can pay cash for it, we will have the funds to buy more instead of giving it to the credit card companies in interest.

When you do decide to use credit for a large purchase, say for an appliance or furniture. Try to take advantage of interest-free financing, being sure to make a plan to pay it off before any interest will be charged. At the very least, make a plan to pay more than the minimum payment each month to pay as little interest as possible.

Most credit card statements will show you how much more you will pay if you only make the minimum payment. Depending on your balance and interest rate, it can be substantially more. This is literally money down the drain and has been a huge incentive for me to make sure I pay more than what is due.

6. Systematically Pay Off Debt

For some of you you’re thinking, this is all well and good but it’s too little too late. I am already knee-deep in debt. This may be because of life choices or circumstances beyond your control. In either case, we have a mighty God that can help you get out of debt.

Over the last year, I have been working to systematically pay off debt. It has taken some planning and diligence on my part, but so worth it. Three credit cards are now completely paid off and the old balance on a 4th card was paid and now it only has an interest-free balance for a recent appliance purchase.

To help accomplish this I created an Accelerated Payment spreadsheet. (Click here to download the free printable) By using this, I was able to plan out the next year of which balances to pay off first, how long it would take, and what to work on next, once those were paid off.

This is known as the snowball method of paying off debt. Choose 1 or 2 accounts with balances that are lower and can be paid off faster than the higher balances. Also, consider the interest rate when choosing which debts to start with. If it’s very low or no interest, you may want to pick a higher interest account to start with. Once this account is paid off, then take the money you were paying on that account and put it towards the next debt you want to work on to pay off.

As you can see on the spreadsheet, you would enter the account name and balance, decide how much you can put towards the payment each month, then calculate how long it will take to pay off. I found it helpful to plan out the progress quarterly to make it easier to stay on track. When I knew an account would be paid off during that quarter, I planned what debt that payment would go towards next.

7. Budget

The first column can also be used to plan your monthly budget. Recently I was getting a little stressed over finances because we had taken a vacation and the expense of it was freaking me out a bit. I quickly realized that I needed to update my spreadsheet to see where we were with our budget.

Sometimes we make a mountain out of a molehill regarding our finances simply because we do not take the time to put it on paper so we can truly see where we are. That was the case here. Once I updated the spreadsheet, I not only had a comfort level of how to pay down our remaining balances, I even found where we could put some into savings.

Budgeting also helps you to see where your money is going and if there are areas where you can cut some expenses. Take a look to see what you're spending your money on and if any can be reallocated to pay off debts.

In this age of paperless statements, it’s a good idea to review your bank statement periodically to keep any automatic payments in check. Often companies will get you started with autopay at a lower amount and then increase it later without notifying you.

8. Plan Your Financial Future

Where do you want to be in 1 year, 5 years, or 10 years? Do you want to take a much-needed vacation, change your job situation or have the financial freedom to start a new hobby or business? Like most of us, maybe you just want to stop feeling like you are living paycheck to paycheck.

Making a plan or goal of what you want to do in the future is a great incentive to stay on track with your financial plan. One thing I’ve told my kids recently is to take a lesson from mom and dad by being better than we were in planning out our future. We’re a little late to the party in this area but honestly, it’s never too late to get started in planning for what you want your future to look like.

Now you know what to do, the next step it to put it into practice. This is where the rubber meets the road and we learn to live out our faith. Below are ways to help you get started on the journey to a better financial future.

Faith Lived Out

  • Learn to trust God with your finances by reading His Word and discovering His deep love for you. Learn the promises that He has for you and His faithfulness to keep those promises.

  • Give of your first fruits as a tithe. If need be, take baby steps in the beginning and pray for the Lord to increase your faith in Him. If you're not currently attending a church to give to, then find a solid bible teaching church to attend. If they have Sunday school class or bible study, I recommend going to that as well. Having the support of other believers is vital to our Christian walk.

  • Find areas where you can invest in others with your time, talents, and/or finances. It could be helping with a ministry at church, volunteering in your community, or financially supporting a Christian-based ministry that spreads the gospel.

  • Take the time to pray and plan for your future. Where do you see God leading you and what needs to change in your life to get there? What small steps can you start now to accomplish this goal?

  • Make a budget of expenses and a financial plan to pay off current debt as well as not create any unnecessary new debt. Use the Accelerated Payment spreadsheet to help you systematically pay off credit cards and loans to free up the money needed to carry out your plans for the future.

As an added tidbit, see if there are ways to make some extra cash. It could be by having a garage sale or starting a small side business with a product to sell or a service you can provide to others. The money you make can be used to get a jump start on the snowball method to pay down balances or set aside for your future plans.

I leave you with this promise from your Heavenly Father;

Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing. Psalms 34:9-10

If you have questions about any of this or want to share how God has helped you with your finances, please put them in the comments below. I'm here for you to help you change your financial situation and would love to hear about what God is doing in your life.

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