How Can I Get My Finances in Order?

Seven in 10 Americans have cried about money troubles, according to a recent survey published by CompareCards. And 4 in 10 said they agreed with the statement: “Nothing makes me cry more than money.”

Matt Schulz, the firm’s chief industry analyst, said much of the despair comes from people being laden with debt and unable to absorb unexpected setbacks: “So many people’s financial margin for error is so slim that an unexpected car repair can be a real hardship. Then, if you factor in things like job loss or a medical emergency, that can make things even worse.”

But there are sure financial principles that can help you achieve peace of mind, stability and even prosperity. There is a guide containing these principles that has helped people prosper for thousands of years, even during periods of drought, flood, famine and war, and through the rise and fall of empires.

It is the Holy Bible.

One important passage, found in Proverbs 22:7, warns about the consequences of going into debt: “[T]he borrower is servant to the lender.” Though there may be legitimate reasons for occasionally taking out a loan, such as purchasing a home or paying for tuition, far too many people take on debt casually.

A person in debt generally must “service” it, meaning pay interest on top of the principle. Remember, lenders only lend money because they are making a profit. Their profit is your loss. A good rule of thumb is to not pay interest on anything that loses value.

It is vital to make sure that anytime you borrow money, there is a legitimate reason behind your decision. These instances should be rare.

If you have already incurred debt, you should wage war on it. In most cases, it is prudent to pay off the higher-interest-rate debt first, although adjustable-rate debt can be dangerous too, since it has the potential to ratchet up depending on the interest rate set by the government. And it is generally a bad idea to extract equity from your home or take out a second mortgage, especially to finance unnecessary expenditures. The extra debt could come back to haunt you.

Another biblical principle applicable to financial security is outlined in verse 29: “Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.” No matter how smart you are, you will never be a success without diligence. The word diligent can mean skillful and can refer to an expert or teacher. Becoming an expert or a teacher requires hard work, but the rewards are abundant!

Prepare for the highest and most well-paid job you can. Don’t be afraid of putting in extra hours (Exodus 20:9; Proverbs 21:25). A second job may be required for a time, or even night classes. Be creative. Consider all options. “Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks [or whatever occupation you have], and look well to thy herds. For riches are not for ever …” (Proverbs 27:23-24).

Poverty comes if you are slothful (Proverbs 24:30-34). Don’t assume poverty is not your fault—although some situations do occur that are beyond our control. Still, take responsibility for yourself and for your family. Don’t freeload, use others, or think you are entitled to something (2 Thessalonians 3:10). You are accountable for your financial house, not someone else.

A third biblical principle, found in Proverbs 21:20, says a wise man saves treasure while “a foolish man spendeth it up.” You should set aside money each paycheck for known future expenses such as vehicle repairs, trips and home renovations. Also, save for the unexpected, such as job loss, health problems, repairs or accidents. A prudent strategy would be to work toward building an emergency fund to cover all your expenses for six months. The future can be unpredictable, “for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1; also James 4:13-17).

Saving is a key part of caring for ourselves and our families (1 Timothy 5:3-8) and being able to provide for the needs of others where able. Proverbs 13:22 says, “A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children ….”

The Scriptures also caution against get-rich-quick schemes and unethical businesses practices (Proverbs 10:2; 13:11; 28:8; Deuteronomy 25:13-16).

Perhaps the most heavily stressed biblical principle regarding healthy finances is to give generously. While giving may seem illogical as a step toward financial stability, God promises that when you sacrifice and serve others’ needs in whatever way you can, you will be rewarded (Luke 6:38). Therefore, give generously to others as your means allow. As your hard work and financial planning provides increase, share that with the less prosperous (Acts 20:35; Psalm 41:1).

Most importantly, give generously back to God. He created all things, and He claims the earth and its fullness as His, including all silver and gold (1 Corinthians 10:26; Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 10:14; Haggai 2:8). God can make us poor or rich (1 Samuel 2:7). By giving mankind dominion over and allowing us to use His creation, God has essentially made every man and woman His business partner (Psalm 8:6; Matthew 25:14-30). Keep God as your partner by tithing on your increase (Leviticus 27:30).

When you give God His portion, one tenth of your income, He shares in your profits and then reinvests even more in you and your ventures. God loves, blesses and promises to supply the needs of a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7-9). As tithe payers and the wealthiest men of their ages, Abraham, Job, King David and Solomon all found out that you cannot outgive God (Job 1:1-3; Hebrews 7:1-2).

For more on the way to have peace of mind regarding your finances, and stability and even prosperity, order your free copies of Solve Your Money Troubles! and The Financial Law You Can’t Afford to Ignore.