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21 practical steps to break the debt cycle

Good day, and welcome to our Financial Matters weekly notes. Today we are going to be looking at some practical wealth principles to wipe out your debt.

A THOUGHT TO CONSIDER:

We are sure living in crazy times. I know that it can be difficult to be positive and forward looking when everything seems so uncertain and messed up. But, at this time, it is a good time to reflect on how things have gone, and it is so important to LOOK UP, DARE TO DREAM, and SET UP A STRATEGY for the year ahead.

Today I want to share a few practical steps to help you break the debt cycle.

You can do it! With a little planning and a bit of work, you can turn your financial affairs around.

A habit is something that if practiced, and if you regularly repeat it, becomes a way of life. Good habits usually lead to success, while bad habits lead to destruction. Today I want to look at a few options that you can consider to get out of the debt trap.

Romans 13:8 “Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another.”

Let’s face it. Debt leads to a lot of unnecessary stress. When you add up all your debts (your home mortgage loan, car loan, your store cards, loans, and a few credit card repayments) it can leave you with that sinking feeling.

When debt levels rise, it seems to eat up your cash flow. Spare cash seems to vanish, and this makes it increasingly difficult to even make ends meet, let alone break the debt cycle. When in debt it can feel like there is no way out.

Proverbs 22:7 “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.”

If you are battling to make ends meet, and are regularly needing to use your credit card to cover your monthly expenses, without being able to settle the debt in full the following month, interest is going to eat up a lot of your hard-earned income. Surely your hard-earned money could be better utilized to save for a new home, or for your children’s education, or for your retirement, or for holidays, and for making good memories.

But, no matter how bad things are today, there is a way out. You can get out of debt and get back on your financial feet. You can exchange poor financial habits for new good habits. I know that you can change your financial priorities. You can turn things around.

person holding black ceramic teapot.

PRACTICAL WEALTH-BUILDING PRINCIPLE:

Today I want to look at a few practical steps that can help you break the debt cycle, and pay off your debt faster…

  • 1. Get determined to break the debt cycle: Be honest about your current financial situation. Where are you now? Face your fears, and set up a goal to be debt free by a certain date. Where do you want to end up? With a decent plan, you can turn your financial affairs around. Get disciplined. Form some good habits and set up a plan, and commit your plan to God. He will help you! Break the cycle! Be wise and say no to debt!

Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me”

  • 2. Review your budget: Why not consider cutting wasteful expenditures and possibly eliminate certain items in your budget, so that you can use the extra cash flow to eliminate your debt? If you are aware of what your budget looks like, you will be more aware of your spending, and more likely to break the debt cycle. You can plan ahead. This will help you in breaking the debt cycle.

Matthew 14:28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?”

  • 3. Study your bank statementsIn order to break the debt cycle and get your finances back on track, you need to establish where your hard-earned money is going. Where are you spending your money? According to your credit card statements, where are you racking up debt? You need to review your statements. Analyze your spending. Once you know where you are spending your money, you can take action to change your habits and stop your debt from spiraling out of control. Are you spending too much on clothing or entertainment? Are you buying things you don’t need or really use? What is your weakness? Avoid these areas. It may be hard, but a little short-term pain will lead to a longer-term gain.

 Matthew 7:7 “…seek, and you will find…”

  • 4. Get advice: If you are battling to get your finances in order then get some advice. Chat to your friends or a respected family member who have got it right. Seek wisdom. With a little help, you can analyze your current position and hopefully learn some good habits and construct a realistic plan to break the debt cycle.

Proverbs 12:15 “Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.”

  • 5. Stop trying to keep up with the “Kardashians”A lot of people get caught up in looking at other people’s lifestyles and attempt to keep up with them. Don’t live like this! Many people buy things they don’t want, with money they don’t have, just to impress people that they don’t even like! Don’t follow the crowd. Be the best you, that you can be. Many go out and buy new cars, bigger homes, or brand-named clothing and items, just to fit in with others. First, cover your basic needs. Don’t get deeper into debt just to keep up with the “Jones’s”. Wow, it may be nice to drive that brand new BMW, but what about the huge repayment over the next 6 years, not to mention the cost of the insurance. You may think you need that thing to fit in, but the truth is that more people are too absorbed in their own lives, to even notice what you do or don’t have. If your friends are so image-conscious, maybe you should relook at your friendships.

Exodus 20:17 “You must not covert (desire or crave or be envious) of your neighbour’s house,

  • 6. Differentiate your “wants” from your “needs”: Every time you buy something, ask yourself is this a want or a need? If it is a necessity, then buy it. But if it is just a “nice to have” that you can live without, then rather don’t buy it. Rather think it over. Ask yourself if it is worth it, or if it would be better just to hold off and save up for it? Sometimes we just buy things without thinking. Take a step back and assess whether buying that item is going to add to your long-term happiness, or if the extra debt will add stress to your life.

1 Corinthians 10:23 “You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is beneficial.”

  • 7. Set up a shopping listMake a goal of only going to the shops when you need to go and ensure that you have a shopping list of what you need to buy. You can resist unnecessary purchases and you will be surprised at how much you will save if you don’t set foot in every shop.

Proverbs 21:5 “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity…”

  • 8. Cut up your store cards and credit cards: Credit cards can be great if used correctly. They can help you track your spending. But, if your credit cards (or store cards) are a temptation that keep you in debt and cause you unnecessary stress, then grab a pair of scissors and cut them up! This simple step can protect you from the stress of extra debt, and help gain control of your spending by getting rid of the temptation.

Proverbs 25:28 “A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.”

  • 9. Pay more into your debtsDo your best to pay more than the minimum on your debt repayment. This way, you will reduce your liability, save on interest repayments, and will help you settle your debt faster. If you do the math, and see what you are actually paying back on your loan or overdraft or credit card, you will be shocked! You can save yourself a lot of stress and wasted money by settling your debt as soon as possible.

Proverbs 27:12 “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.”

  • 10. Use extra cash windfalls and other lump sums you receive to squash your debt: If your debt is eating into your cash flow, why not use any bonuses, tax refunds, or cash gifts you may receive, to attack your debts?

Proverbs 21:10 “… the fool spends whatever he gets.”

  • 11. Sell assets you don’t need or no longer use: If your debt is too high, why not consider selling your unused assets and unwanted goods to free up extra cash to squash your debts?

1 Timothy 6:9 “But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and are caught in the trap of many foolish and harmful desires, which pull them down to ruin and destruction.”

  • 12. You could try to earn extra income: If you want to speed up breaking the debt cycle, why not try using your talents to create an extra source of income? Why not consider taking on some extra work, selling something, or doing freelance work to bring in additional income, that you can use to reduce your debt liabilities?

Proverbs 10:4 “Lazy people are soon poor; hard workers get rich.”

  • 13. Only buy what you can affordYou may be surprised at how much credit your bank is willing to lend you.  I want to encourage you to be careful that you do not overspend. Just because you have access to credit does not mean you have to take it up. Debt will add stress. So, rather buy what is affordable. Rather increase your savings and build up your own Wealth Portfolio. Don’t let others convince you to buy something that will add financial strain. 

Proverbs 14:16 “The wise are cautious and avoid danger; fools plunge ahead with reckless confidence.”

  • 14. Learn to be content with what you have: Money and things do not make you happy. Learn to live the simple life. Be content with what you have. This alone can go a long way to breaking the debt cycle. Do you really need a brand new car on finance?  Do you really need to add to your financial strain by upgrading your property? Rather save up the spare money, so that you can live stress-free.

Philippians 4:12-13 “ I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Christ who gives me strength.”

  • 15. Review your expenses: Why don’t you take a look at what you are paying for the regular items in your budget? Maybe you can review your insurance premiums or bond loan rates. Maybe you can consider downgrading the car you drive, or reviewing certain lifestyle expenses in order to reduce your monthly expenses. You may just be able to get a better deal than you lead to a reduction in your expenses. Maybe you can cut back on your electricity or water consumption, which will lower your expenses. These extra savings in your budget can be used to tackle your debt.

Proverbs 22:7 “… the borrower is slave to the lender.”

  • 16. Save up an emergency fund: Part of the never ending debt cycle is attributed to not planning ahead. From time to time, you will face financial storms. It may be your car that breaks down or the fridge that conks in. Plan ahead! Budget for emergencies. Save up at least 3 months’ income as quickly as you can and keep it in an accessible bank account. Make sure that you only use these funds for emergencies. Do not dip into this account when you see that item on sale. Make sure that you set these funds aside for the unforeseen events that will occur from time to time. If you have funds set aside you will not need to rack up credit card debt to fund your emergency. This planning ahead will help you break the debt cycle and alleviate a lot of unnecessary stress.

Proverbs 6:6-8: “Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise! Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter.”

  • 17. Build up an opportunity fund: Set up an investment to fund your future dreams and to have funds set aside for opportunities that may come your way. Plan ahead! Budget for your dreams. Set funds aside to fund future opportunities.

Proverbs 21:10 “The wise man saves for the future”

  • 18. Save before you spend: Make sure that you save and invest before you spend your money. If you spend first, you will never have anything left to save. Let your savings and investment come off a debit order before your other expenses. This way you will always save first, and you will build up your investments.

Proverbs 10:4 “A wise youth harvests in the summer, but one who sleeps during harvest is a disgrace.”

  • 19. Save up for your dreams: You will be surprised how easy it can be to save up for something that you really want. And, it is highly rewarding to know that after all that hard work you took to build up your savings, you finally can achieve your dream, debt free!

When you really want something, and you re-order your priorities by cutting out wasteful expenditure, in order to realize your dream, you will have joy instead of stress. You may end up spending less on entertainment or on take-a-ways in order to save up so that you can accomplish your dream. What is your dream? Is it a new car? Or an overseas holiday? Whatever your dream, let it spur you on to save.

When you save towards something you want and work hard in order to acquire it, instead of feeling a sense of guilt, you will feel a sense of accomplishment and joy knowing that you worked hard and saved for something meaningful that was going to add value to your life and that you paid for in cash.

Proverbs 13:12 “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true there is life and joy.”

  • 20. Pay it forward: Once your debt is settled, make sure that you avoid future debt. You can build up your savings and set aside money for your future goals and dreams. By delaying your purchases and saving for the item, you will improve your cash flow, reduce your stress levels and save a truckload on interest repayments. Instead of paying interest, you can earn interest, if you pay it forward and build up your savings and investments!

Proverbs 13:11”…he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.”

  • 21. Consult God: God is interested in you. He wants to help you break the debt cycle. He wants to walk the journey with you. So, consult Him. Trust Him.

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”

With a little planning and a bit of work, you can turn your financial affairs around.

There is a solution. With God at your side, nothing is impossible, and no situation is so far gone. There is hope. There is a way out!

YOU CAN BREAK THE DEBT CYCLE.

Proverbs 16:3 “Commit your work to the Lord & then your plans will succeed.”

photo of planner and writing materials. Planning to wipe out debt.

INTERESTING FACT:

A Strategic Vision sets out your aspirations and goals for the future. Your Strategic Vision is a picture painted in words, that will inspire you to move forward.

A Strategic Plan will help you focus on the process to get you to achieving your dreams.

I want to encourage you to set up a Strategic Vision and a Strategic Plan. The vision will help your define your goals, while the plan will set up the process to help you get there.

POWER QUOTES OF THE WEEK:

“Rather go to bed supperless, than rise in debt.” – Benjamin Franklin

“Never spend your money before you have it.” – Thomas Jefferson

“When you get in debt you become a slave.” – Andrew Jackson

WHAT DOES GOD HAVE TO SAY:

It is so easy to get despondent when looking at the crazy times in which we live. It’s easy to live in fear and to worry. We are living in tough and uncertain times. But I need to tell you to look up, even when everything is down. Don’t give up! Don’t give in. There is hope in God.

Keep your eyes up. Look up!

Nahum 1:7

“The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.” (NIV)

Psalms 121:1-2 NKJV

“I will lift up my eyes to the hills— From whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.”

Keep your eyes on Jesus!

Hebrews 12:1-2 NLT

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.”

We all paid a debt we could not repay. It is called sin.

Romans 6:23 NIV

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[a] Christ Jesus our Lord.”

But God made a way out …

John 3:16

 For God so loved the world (THAT IS YOU) that he gave his one and only Son (JESUS), that whoever believes (PUTS THEIR HOPE IN HIM) in him shall not perish (IN HELL) but have eternal life (IN HEAVEN).

If you are not in a relationship with God, please invite Jesus Christ into your life to be your Lord and Saviour…

We were cut off from God due to our sin, but Jesus paid the full price on the cross so that we can be reconnected to God. God loves you so much that He made a way for you to become part of his family. He wants to share forever with you.  

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name (Jesus), he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12) 

You can start or restart your walk with God, as His beloved child. What are you waiting for?

selective focus photo of person holding book. Praying about debt and breaking the debt cycle with God.

LET’S PRAY:

Dear Heavenly Father. Today I surrender my life to you. I also ask you to set me free from debt. I ask you to protect me and to lead me. Today I give you my life along with my burdens and failures. Lord Jesus, I ask you to be my Savior. Be the central part of my life. Today I acknowledge that I need you. Lord, I put my life in your hands and want to please you in all I do. In Jesus name. Amen.

CONCLUSION:

May 2021 be the year that you deal with your debt. With God’s help you can break the debt cycle. And also the world seems dark at present, hold on! Look up! Look forward! Set your eyes on Jesus!

God bless you. 

Would you want to start or restart your walk with God? If you feel led to, click here to pray a simple prayer we have set up for you.

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