LeRoy and Hope Dais
Mary is on an emotional high when she goes shopping. It is
the high light of her week. But shopping causes anxiety for Jane:
Is there enough money in the checking account to pay for my
Does spending money push your anxiety button or give you a
high? Do you enjoy shopping and purchasing products so much that
you care nothing about how you will eventually pay for them?
Credit cards and easily accessible loans have caused many
people to change their approach to spending during the past six
decades. They have cast caution to the wind. Their failure to
reconcile what they spend with what they earn has resulted in
unbridled debts, exploding numbers of bankruptcies, and
Many shun a financial truism: To keep our financial
household on a solid foundation, we must spend less than we earn.
When the totals for these two categories are reversed, we become
debtors and lose a portion of out liberty (Proverbs 22:7). We
become servants to our creditors and our uncontrolled desires for
things we neither need not can afford.
DISCRETION AND DISCIPLINE
A shopper must understand the difference between needs and
wants. Needs are what he must have to live: food, clothing,
housing, etc. Wants may range from things that enhance his
lifestyle to extravagant luxuries. Whether expenditure for a
"want" is excessive may depend upon a person's income. If he
finds it difficult to evaluate whether his spending is
self-centered and excessive, he should look at his support for
gospel ministry and assistance to those in need.
The selection of items available to a shopper increases
continually. Because the advertising industry uses powerful
methods to promote products, a person doesn't even have to enter
a store to be enticed to buy. Most newspapers are more a buyer's
catalogue than they are news. TV commercials bombard viewers for
what feels like half the time the set is on. To shield against
such barrages, a person must continually distinguish between
needs and wants.
BLESSING OR CURSE
Until credit cards were introduced in the 1950s, purchasing
on credit was more difficult than it is today. Now large banks
are showering consumers with appeals to accept and use their
credit cards. And most merchants readily accept payment via these
plastic substitutes for money. They know that customers are
likely to buy more when they have the convenience of using a
card. One lady even commented, "Credit cards go so much further
A friend recently said that her daughter would soon graduate
from college, not owing anything. In contrast, her daughter's
roommate has spent her college years buying anything she desires.
She now owes $70,000 on credit cards. Just think: owing such an
enormous amount at graduation, before even entering the work
It's not that our friend's daughter wasn't familiar with
credit; her parents had given her a card at age 16. While she
still lived at home, her parents taught her the wise use of
credit cards: All charges would be paid each month, or the card
would be taken away. That discipline continued during her college
It takes both discretion and discipline to use credits cards
properly, as a trustworthy convenience. If the balance builds
month after month and the accumulating interest pushes the debt
total skyward, such conveniences are a curse.
When children want a certain toy, they want it now. Parents
responding wisely will help their youngsters learn patience,
endurance, and planning. When they are taught to put funds aside,
they can then experience the joy of purchasing with their own
The amount of a purchase and the fund-accumulation period
will depend on the child's age. A five-year-old shouldn't have to
wait long to purchase a small toy, whereas a ten-year-old can
work longer to earn funds for a bicycle.
As in all matters, parents must model what they hope to
teach their offspring. Living one lifestyle, they can't teach
their children another. In an instant gratification society,
folks want things without delay. High school graduates want a new
car. Young couples want a house as large as their parents'.
College graduates want a salary as big as a twenty-five-year
Spending can be enjoyable and safe when people learn to plan
ahead, save ahead, and, instead of following the bad example of
others, live by God's principles to set a good example for
For those who aren't now budgeting, careful record keeping
for several months will help you prepare a fairly accurate
budget, categorizing such basic items as housing, food, clothing,
transportation, recreation, etc. To follow biblical teaching on
giving and saving, folks should take a percentage for tithes and
offerings and another percentage for savings from income before
dividing the remaining amount for expenditures.
A budget is not an unchangeable "law." It needs to be
adjusted periodically to allow for changing circumstances. It is
a valuable tool because it specifies how much we are allowed to
spend for certain categories each month, and it raises a red flag
when we over spend. A properly managed budget will keep us out of
debt (some prefer to call it a spending plan).
God owns all things, including us (Psalm 24:1). He provide.
strength, health, work, and income. As stewards of the resources
He provides us, we are accountable to Him for how we spend money
and use possessions.
As we turn our cares and worries over to God and trust in
Him completely, He will give you peace and contentment in carr-
ing out our responsibilities.
BECOMING DEBT FREE
If you have debts other than a mortgage on your home, you
are by no means alone. But you don't want to be a part of the
multitude any longer than you have to be! Because debt payments
are a burden, you'll want to work hard to become debt-free. Here
are some steps to reaching that goal:
Pray for the Lord's help.
Set up a budget.
Determine what you could sell to help reduce debt.
Make a list of what you owe.
Set up a debt payment schedule (begin with the smaller high-
Control credit-card use.
Change your lifestyle; be content with what you have
(Hebrews 13:5). The Lord will reward your determination.
Taken from "The Bible Advocate" (April/May 2005) a publication of
the Church of God, Seventh Day, Denver, CO. USA
Entered on this Website October 2006