One day, I was at the mall and I could not afford to buy the outfit I desired due to financial decisions committed many, many years ago. As a college student, I would vacation out of the country, purchase expensive clothing, and make a series of other poor financial decisions using my credit card. Thanks to those irrational spending behaviors, I found myself feeling enslaved. Between my current monthly expenses and the $10,000 worth of credit card debt I had acquired in college, it seemed as though the money I worked so hard for was being snatched away from me.
The fact of the matter was that I secured a great salary by working 40 hours per week, yet I was obligated to hand over a majority of it to various companies to which I was indebted. Subsequently, I finally understood the Bible Scripture that explains, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7 – NIV). While the Bible does not explicitly list debt as a sin, it does warn against it, and its consequences. Due to my lack of financial literacy at the time, I experienced the consequences of debt, including a low credit score, high-interest rates, and denial of loans and credit cards to name a few. Thankfully, I successfully gained financial knowledge, which helped me form positive financial habits. Soon, I was able to pay off my debt, and eventually, increase my credit score – over 100 points over the span of a year. You, too, can become debt free by following the four basic principles below!
Here are four biblical principles to follow on your journey of financial freedom:
Step 1: Pray
“But in my distress, I cried out to the LORD; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears” (Psalm 18:6 – NLT) .
Are you in despair regarding your financial situation? Do you feel overburdened with debt? If so, the first thing God wants you to do is to ask Him for help. God wants you to bring your every fear, anxiety, and burden to Him. He, in turn, hears your cry of desperation and helps you in your time of need. You may be wondering, “Does God even care about my credit score?” The answer is, yes, He does. He is concerned about all things that concern you!
I remember I had a friend who would randomly call me and pray for an increase in my credit score. At the time, I honestly was unconcerned with credit, but she would pray nonetheless. I believe God used her to pray on my behalf even though I lacked the desire to pray for myself. Take heed and pray for your own financial situation in addition to praying for the financial success of others.
Step 2: Understand your role in getting out of debt
Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works. (James 2:26 – NLT)
You must pray to God about your concerns, but just as important, you must also realize that you have work to do. With my friend’s prayers, I slowly began to take the necessary steps to overcome my situation, and to my surprise, my credit score increased by 100 points! Instead of sitting back and awaiting things to fall into your lap, you must do the leg work. Additionally, you must adjust your prayers, and command action through your prayers. For example, pray for wisdom regarding how to be a good manager of your money as opposed to simply praying for money. Instead of praying for a miracle, ask for clarity regarding the vital steps to take in order to get out of debt. You must ask God for help because He is able to give you the strength and strategy necessary to become debt free.
For example, here are a few “works” you can do to repair your credit score:
Pray for wisdom regarding how to be a good manager of your money as opposed to simply praying for money. Instead of praying for a miracle, ask for clarity regarding the vital steps to take in order to get out of debt.
Learn your credit score
Federal law allows you to retrieve a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each credit reporting company. This can be obtained from www.AnnualCreditReport.com.
Review your credit report and dispute any errors you find
A 2012 Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report revealed that approximately one-in-four Americans found at least one significant error on at least one of their credit reports. You have the right to dispute any inaccurate information you find on your report, and the credit bureaus are required to investigate the situation usually within 30 days and notify you of the results. There are companies like Credit Karma that provide information explaining how to dispute errors on your credit report.
Create a financial calendar
If you are feeling overwhelmed with debt, it becomes easy or desirable to avoid addressing the financial or credit issues you face. Creating a financial calendar can help you stay on track with paying off your debt. You should actively set appointment reminders in your calendar for making bill payments, retrieving your annual credit score report, filing taxes, and so on.
Step 3: Make paying off your debt a priority
If you borrow money from anyone, you should pay him or her back as soon as possible. That is the right thing to do. The Bible says, “The wicked borrows but does not pay back, but the righteous is generous and gives” (Psalm 37:21 – ESV). Oftentimes, people borrow money from companies with no intent to repay the amount owed. This is the wrong attitude and you must avoid this thinking. You must take responsibility for the debt borrowed and make the necessary sacrifices to do what is right. Next time you are faced with the decision of whether or not to purchase an expensive purse or take a luxury trip, consider paying off the debt you owe first and foremost.
Next time you are faced with the decision of whether or not to purchase an expensive purse or take a luxury trip, consider paying off the debt you owe first and foremost.
Step 4: Don’t be greedy
Luke 12:15 says, Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”(NLT) . People often go into debt because of greed. Webster’s defines greed as, “a selfish and excessive desire for more of something (such as money) than is needed.” It is important to check your motives when deciding whether to take on new debt. Are you making the purchase because you really need it, or will the purchase be the result of a selfish, excessive desire? If impulsive spending is an issue for you, you should pray for discipline and patience as it relates to your finances.
I know firsthand that debt can leave you feeling overwhelmed and in despair. I want you to be encouraged. Know that you can get out of debt, but it will take patience, diligence, and sacrifice. Personally, I am still on my journey to becoming completely debt free, and I have been blessed to have a team of advisors who coach and counsel me along the way. I’m not only grateful but empowered to recreate this coaching experience for other women through my organization, Single Woman Power Network. If you need additional assistance with getting out of debt, feel free to visit our website www.SWPNetwork.com and complete the free credit assessment form.
Here is a prayer regarding finances, extracted from The Single Woman’s Checklist: Eight Essentials for Becoming a Prepared, Productive and Powerful Woman:
According to Your Word in Deuteronomy 8:18, it is You who gives me the power to become wealthy and successful. I need Your wisdom and guidance as I develop into a financially powerful woman. Give me the strength to break any unhealthy financial habits I have and help me to make financially sound decisions. 1 Timothy 6:10 tells me that the love of money is the root of all evil, so Lord, help me to not love money. Instead, help me to use it as a tool to fulfill my purpose on earth and to help others. Also, help me to refrain from committing and being a victim of acts of greed, envy, and deceit as I advance financially. Additionally, help me to uphold standards of integrity, honesty, and humility in all my financial affairs. I pray for financial favor to accompany me in my employment and my family matters, as well as the wisdom and discipline to be a good steward over my money. Thank You in advance for blessing me abundantly, and for giving me the power to walk in prosperity all the days of my life.
In Jesus’ name,
De’Nisha Sh’Lene is a social worker and highly sought-after motivational speaker, author, and entrepreneur. Her latest venture, Single Women Power Network is a recipient of the Motor City Match Business Planning Award. Through books, speeches, workshops, and organizations De’Nisha is dedicated to growing your spiritual and entrepreneurial capabilities and connections. Learn more about De’Nisha at www.SWPnetwork.com.