Debt, Money Management, National Debt

Ask Chuck: The Bible, Money, and Love

By Chuck Bentley, Crown Financial Ministries

Dear Chuck,

I’m growing weary of our society’s overuse (and misuse) of the word love. I hear and see it in advertising, on social media, and in conversations. If the first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God, it appears we’ve confused our priorities. It appears we love money more than Him or His word.  

Love is in the Air 

Dear Love is in the Air, 

Thank you for the great question. I chose to answer your question so I could talk about love and money on Valentine’s Day. Did you know, Americans will spend an estimated $50 billion dollars on Valentine’s Day gifts and activities to show their love to a special loved one. My wife prefers that I save the money for chocolate or flowers on this day and show love throughout the year. 

Love and Money

You have identified a significant problem. When love becomes misunderstood or misdirected, we all suffer. Staggering debt levels, lack of savings, and rising stress suggest we have a spending problem and a heart problem. Even recently, experts have declared that when consumption turns into consumerism, it becomes a social disease

The enemy has convinced people that things will bring happiness. Yet, throughout Scripture, God warns us not to be led astray. He tells us:

  • Love God and others
  • Pursue love
  • Guard ourselves
  • Don’t love the world
  • Don’t love money
  • Life does not consist in the abundance of possessions

Just this week, the Wall Street Journal released information that hints at Americans’ disobedience and confused priorities. Credit card debt rose to record highs during the last quarter of 2019. Spurred by a seemingly strong economy and job market, spending increased dramatically. Unfortunately, the number of delinquent payments rose too. Consider this statistic cited in the article:

“Total credit card balances increased by $46 billion to $930 billion, well above the previous peak seen before the 2008 financial crisis, according to data released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on Tuesday.”

Debt brings stress and bondage. People are unable to live as God designed when they are strapped with debt. In today’s world that includes credit card debt, student loan debt, car loans, mortgages, personal and payday loans. It prevents many from saving money to be used as God directs. Bankrate’s recent poll shows that only 41% of Americans could cover a $1,000 emergency with savings. 

The Apostle Paul wrote: “You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.” (2 Corinthians 9:11 ESV)

There’s only one reason God supplies a surplus of wealth to a Christian: so that he or she will have enough to provide for the needs of others. True wealth comes with the responsibility of giving. God promises blessings to all who freely give and His curse on those who hoard, steal, covet, or idolize.

Giving is the foundation of a life lived in selfless devotion to others. It fulfills the second greatest commandment, to love our neighbor as ourselves. Preoccupation with things of this world gets us sidetracked. We lose sight of our final destination and the purpose for which God has us here. 

Billions of dollars dedicated to credit card spending confirm that we have confused our wants and needs. We have forgotten our neighbor and the Lord’s statement: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35 ESV)

When asked about the greatest commandment, Jesus answered: “..you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12: 30 ESV)

Divided hearts have divided priorities and those are evident in the way we handle money. That is why He teaches us in Hebrews 13:5 “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” (NIV) Here is a simple test to know if you love God or money. How do you react when you lose money? Are you in a panic, upset or even angry? Remember, our hope is in God, not the money that he provides. Money will leave us; He will not.

Save Your Way Out of Debt

One way to reduce stress is through automatic saving. The Eli app is a tool that can improve your financial health so you can experience greater levels of freedom in your life. Check out the new Eli app to begin an automatic savings program to reduce your stress and increase your freedom to love God and others as you faithfully pay off your debt. 

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Debt Counseling
Budgeting, Debt

Finances, Debt Counseling, and Marriage

Money and Marital Bliss

According to the Huffington Post, marriage is not just an emotional commitment but a financial one as well. When you enter into a marriage, you often share wealth as well as debt. Money problems are the top reasons cited for marital conflicts. When you seek debt counseling with your spouse, you are more likely to build financial intimacy.

Money tips for Marriage

  • Set Financial Goals
  • Seek Credit Counseling
  • Discuss Financial Habits
  • Talk about Money Decisions
  • Be honest
  • Talk at least once a month
  • Set benchmarks for your finances (Saving for retirement)
  • Set a budget

Setting a Debt Management Plan

After receiving debt counseling, you will know more about debt consolidation to handle credit card debt. If you have credit cards with high interest rates, you can often pay less in interest with debts under the umbrella of a debt management plan.

Couples can celebrate small financial victories such as sticking to a budget or saving money when grocery shopping for the week. After paying off credit card debt with a debt management plan, you can find low-cost ways to celebrate. Many couples take the money they used to spend for their monthly debt payment and use the money to fund a vacation, IRA or emergency fund.

Other financial questions to discuss with a credit counselor and your spouse include how to pay bills together, plan for the future and improve credit scores. A trained credit counselor doesn’t judge, but helps facilitate hard conversations about money.

 

Do you want to know more about debt and how you can make smart financial decisions now that will help you secure a more prosperous financial future? Sign up for our newsletter for monthly money tips.

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    Credit Counseling
    Credit Cards, Credit Counseling, Debt, National Debt

    Credit Counseling and Rising Debt

    Debt and Credit Counseling

    Household debt is reaching unsustainable levels, according to a report by NerdWallet. Another article in The New York Post states the average household debt in the U.S. is about $16,000. By arranging credit counseling or yourself and your family, it is possible to deal with staggering credit card debt. Most Americans pay a lot of money to cover interest charges over the years.

    Though, those statistics only take into account families carrying debt. Experts point out many Americans defaulted on their credit card debt in 2008 during the Great Recession. Instead of declaring bankruptcy, a positive solution is debt consolidation. A trained and certified credit counselor helps you avoid debt settlement scams and bankruptcy.

    Credit Card Debt and Your Roth IRA

    According to some reports, many Americans pay as much as 20 percent every month in interest. The best way to deal with staggering debt is to consolidate your payments through a debt settlement plan. Your creditors typically agree to lower the interest rate while you pay back the money you owe. The plan is simple because you only make one payment every month to satisfy all your credit card creditors. With an automated payment plan, the process becomes simple and stress-free.

    According to the report, American households pay more than $6,000 a year in interest. With an extra $6,000 each year, you can easily max out a Roth IRA or other retirement account as well as save for the future.

    Revolving Credit Card Debt

    According to an article in Mainstreet, paying down credit card debt is a top priority for Americans. But it could take up to 40 years for some families to pay down their credit cards, if they only pay their minimum payments every month. With the New Year on the horizon, make paying off debt a resolution.

    With credit counseling, you learn how to stop the revolving credit card debt trap. A debt consolidation plan stops the bad cycle because you stop using credit cards as you pay off a debt management plan.

     

    Do you want to know more about debt and how you can make smart financial decisions now that will help you secure a more prosperous financial future? Sign up for our newsletter for monthly money tips.

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      Debt Counseling
      Budgeting, Credit Counseling, Credit Score, Debt, Finance, Holiday Tips

      Debt Counseling and Holiday Credit Card Debt

      Debt Counseling and Christmas

      Most people love spending money on their family and friends, wrapping presents with shiny bows and watching their expressions as they open gifts. However, Christmas is a bittersweet holiday for people with excessive credit card debt. By seeking debt counseling before or after the holidays, you take control of your holiday credit card debt.

      According to an article in the Huffington Post, many shoppers experience the shopping hangover after major shopping days such as Black Friday. Even if you shop on major sale days, you don’t get ahead by using credit cards if you can’t pay them back. Revolving credit card debt is at the highest level it has been in several years, according to the Federal Reserve. Debt counseling gives you an edge so you start the New Year on the right path.

      Credit Card Debt Repayment

      If you can only afford to pay the suggested amount due or minimum due, you will benefit from debt consolidation. By receiving debt counseling, you find out how to budget to pay back all of your credit debt as well as monthly bills and expenses. With a debt repayment plan, you figure out how to get out of credit card debt for good.

      By consolidating debt you pay off credit card debt and satisfy your creditors. If you take a different approach such as using a balance transfer credit card, you could end up running up even more credit card debt. Debt counseling helps many consumers overcome the temptation to keep putting items on credit instead of setting the credit cards aside.

      Credit Counseling and your Finances

      If you just want a short-term fix, pay your minimum balance or transfer credit card balances to a new credit card. However, experts say most credit cards charge a 3 percent transfer fee. Also, paying the minimum amount doesn’t lower your interest rate. A credit counselor helps you actually lower the interest you pay on your credit card debt so you pay it all off in less time. A long-term fix is about examining your spending habits, learning how to boost a credit score and budgeting. Many consumers fall into traps. You can change your spending and savings habits with a few simple personal finance tricks.

      Although the holidays are all about giving, it is a good time to treat yourself to debt counseling. With a proper budget, you can buy loved ones holiday gifts and avoid lingering debt.

       

      Do you want to know more about debt and how you can make smart financial decisions now that will help you secure a more prosperous financial future? Sign up for our newsletter for monthly money tips.

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        Christian Credit Counselors
        Christian Credit Counselors

        Credit Counseling – Five Steps to Crush Debt

        Crushing Credit Card Debt

        People who struggle with a crushing amount of credit card debt often feel motivated and positive after receiving Christian credit counseling. Trained and qualified credit counselors work with consumers overwhelmed by debt without passing judgment. According to a recent article by wisebread.com, there are 5 action steps you get a grip on personal finances. Christian credit counseling helps with all of the steps. Debt statistics by NerdWallet shows the average family in the U.S. owes more than $16,000 in credit card debt. Although some consumers feel helpless and frustrated by debt, having a realistic debt management plan helps you turn around the situation.

        Stop using Credit Cards

        One action step to take to crush debt is to stop adding to your existing debt. When you agree to a debt management plan, you agree to stop using the credit cards. A debt consolidation program often lowers your monthly expenses so you can save more. Most people find it easier to pay bills and live below their means when they money put aside in savings.

        Lowering Your Credit Card Interest Rate

        With Christian credit counseling, you receive the help you need to lower the interest rate on your credit cards. A credit counselor negotiates for lower interest rates. Experts say some credit card companies will not lower interest rates for consumers even when you ask nicely. However, the expert credit counselors know how to negotiate and help you meet your financial objectives.

        Agreeing To Down Debt

        Instead of agreeing to a payment plan with each credit card on your own, you will likely find more success by consolidating debt. It is a lot easier to make one debt payment each month, especially when you can enroll in an automatic repayment plan through a bank. In some cases, people who consolidate debt through a Christian credit counseling agency get out of debt 80 percent faster than those who take the DIY approach to debt repayment.

        Spending Less Money

        Although it is important to pay your utility bills, try to limit mindless spending. Also called discretionary spending, some of the items skip include clothing, entertainment, cable and vacations. Once you are debt free, you can resume the spending. Some people continue to treat themselves with free rewards such as a hot bath or walk.

        Earn More Money

        A final action step to take is to increase your income so you pay off your debt. The secret is to funnel any extra money you have into your debt management plan payment first. The second priority is savings.

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            Credit Counseling

            Credit Counseling – Paying Down Debt

            Debt Management Programs

            A lot of people who receive credit counseling wonder if they qualify for a debt management program to pay off debt. Debt management programs are so appealing because a trained and certified credit counselor negotiates a lower interest rate so you can make a monthly debt payment. Many consumers dream of living a debt-free life. Credit counseling makes it simple and easy. To qualify for an intensive plan to pay off debt quickly, it is important to look at where you are and where you want to go. According to a piece by the Great Fall Tribune, credit counseling gives consumers a chance to take control of their situation. However, not everyone qualifies for a more intensive plan to pay off debt.

            Credit Cards and High Interest Rates

            If the interest rate on your credit cards are 24 percent or higher, you are likely a good candidate for an intensive plan to pay off debt. Struggling consumers often deal with high interest rate credit cards that put them on a never-ending debt cycle. Credit counseling provides a positive solution to the financial dilemma.

            Earning Extra Money

            If you aren’t making a lot of money, consider getting a second job or better position so you can afford the agreed-upon monthly debt management program payments. With credit counseling, you learn how to set income and savings goals.

            Your Credit Score and Credit Counseling

            People with low credit scores inevitably benefit from good credit counseling. Whether you decide to consolidate debt or pay off your debt on your own, you will grow wealth more easily by knowing the secrets of a good credit score. Having a good score often means lower interest rates on car loans and mortgages and better job opportunities.

            Life Beyond Credit Cards

            When you enroll in a debt management program you agree not to open up any new credit cards. You can still benefit from the sage financial advice of credit counselors even if you don’t enroll in a program. However, most consumers do well when forced to live within their means by relying on debit cards and cash.

            Other benefits of credit counseling include advice on reducing spending, paying off debt and changing poor financial habits that led to excessive debt. At Christian Credit Counselors, we help consumers struggling with substantial debt. For more information on credit counseling and tips for paying off debt quickly, please contact us.

             

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              Debt Consolidation
              Debt Consolidation

              Debt Consolidation Instead of Dipping into Your Savings

              Saving Money for your Savings Account

              When it comes to credit card debt, some experts recommend dipping into your non-retirement savings to pay off your debt. However, people without adequate emergency savings rarely stop the cycle of credit card dependence.

              With a debt consolidation plan, you are more likely to get out of credit card debt for good. A trained credit counselor works to lower your interest rate, giving you a solid debt management plan with a target payoff date so there is light at the end of the tunnel.

              Tapping cash reserves is often risky because your credit card company could choose to close your account or lower your credit limit. If you are dealing with an unexpected financial emergency, it pays to have at least three to six months of living expenses set aside in a liquid account. Some consumers choose debt consolidation as a way to get rid of debt, but aren’t sure how to handle their savings goals and habits.

              Finances for the Future

              According to a Journal of Family and Economic issues study, people with household debt often feel depressed. By lowering debt and boosting savings, you improve your mood and outlook on life. Debt consolidation helps you get out of debt, which is especially important for people who are single, ages 51 to 64 and without a college degree, the study found.

              Saving More Money

              In addition to saving more money now by lowering your interest rate on credit cards, debt consolidation helps you lay a better financial foundation for the future. After you complete your debt management plan, you can shuffle the money used to pay off credit cards to beef up your emergency fund. It is also a good idea to set at least 10 percent of your income aside for retirement savings.

              With help from a Christian credit counseling agency, you repay your debt to meet obligations and set yourself free from negative guilt and remorse. Many people who complete a debt management plan feel motivated to advance in a career or save more for the future because of the fresh start and feeling of gratification and completion. In some cases, you pay off credit card debt 80 percent faster with debt consolidation compared to other financial strategies.

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                Debt Counseling
                Debt

                Debt Counseling for First-Time Credit Card Holders

                Credit Cards and Financial Predicaments

                If you are a first-time credit card holder, you likely viewed the card as a vehicle for getting you where you needed to go in life. Whether you used your credit card to pay for a new computer, clothes or vacation, the idea of maxing out a credit card scares many new card users. By receiving debt counseling you can prevent a financial predicament as well as solve the problem of runaway debt. A recent article by cnbc.com suggests using the card to build up a good and solid credit card history. By talking to a trained and certified credit counselor, you learn what makes up a good credit report as well as ways to budget and plan for financial emergencies.

                Mounting Debt

                Experts say one of the reasons young credit card holders face a mountain of debt is because they associate a lot of fun and pleasure with credit card use. It is fun to swipe a credit card as opposed to parting with cash. To overcome the challenge, seek debt counseling. Budgeting, saving and planning is often fun when you get creative about your goals. For example, reward yourself with a special reward for staying on budget or meeting savings targets. Plan a major reward for yourself after completing a debt management plan to pay off all your credit card debt.

                Lowering Credit Card Interest Rates

                Many first-time credit card holders feel duped into credit cards with high interest rates. Instead of feeling helpless, rely on a Christian credit counseling agency to negotiate lower interest rates with your creditors. High interest rates of 18 percent or higher are not uncommon, but you can realistically achieve a lower rate by consolidating your debt.

                Monitoring Your Credit Report

                With debt counseling, you also learn how to monitor your credit report. When you become aware of what makes up a good credit score and report, you take the action steps to improve your situation. A good credit score affects your ability to buy a home, take out a car loan as well as get a job in some cases. Misusing credit cards is a common predicament but a credit counselor provides non-judgmental guidance.

                 

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                  Christian Credit Counseling
                  Christian Credit Counselors

                  Credit Counseling – Financial Habits for the Future

                  Managing Money Management

                  Some behaviors predict poor money management down the road, but you can take positive steps for a positive future with the help of Christian credit counseling. According to a piece by cheatsheet.com, there are 5 main behaviors that foreshadow financial difficulties in the future. When you receive Christian credit counseling, you open up yourself to positive solutions instead of negative patterns. People who succeed in the area of personal finances establish good saving and spending habits early in life. Even if you are older, it’s not too late to learn how to keep a budget, save and plan.

                  Budgeting not to Overspend

                  When you get in the habit of keeping a budget, you curb the urge to overspend. People who spend more than they earn often use credit cards. By agreeing to a debt management plan, you set aside money every month to pay back your credits. With the help of trained credit counselors, you end up paying less interest on the credit cards as part of the debt management plan.

                  Avoiding Poor Financial Habits

                  One habit that frugal people have is to buy used items or accept clothing for items from loved ones and relatives instead of always having to buy new. Buying everything new is a poor financial habit that also affects credit card behavior. Most people don’t use credit cards when they barter or trade with friends or family, but they do use credit cards when buying overpriced new items. New merchandise simply costs more.

                  Money and Your Spending Habits

                  Whether you earn all your income or receive money from relatives or stock dividends, it is important to know exactly how much money is coming in and how much is going out. If you consistently spend more money than you have, you likely rely on credit cards. People spending more money than they make often feel stress and anxiety, experts say.

                  Money and Retirement Planning

                  Another good financial habit to adopt is saving. If you save just 10 percent of your income for retirement, you will likely have enough to supplement social security when you are older. By having a debt management plan and budget, you can put aside a certain amount to pay back debts, a percentage for retirement savings and the rest of daily expenses and bills.

                  Avoiding Financial Troubles

                  Experts say people who fail to save for emergencies have financial trouble in the future. With Christian credit counseling, you receive the education and tools to improve your financial habits. Because of the Christian mindset, you don’t experience any judgment.

                   

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                    At Christian Credit Counselors, we want people to experience financial peace. For more information about how to adopt better money management behavior and to get out of debt, please contact us.

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                    Debt Counseling
                    Credit Counseling, Debt

                    Debt Counseling – When Financial Problems Sneak up On You

                    Signs of Financial Trouble

                    Past due statements, accounts closed without you and payments that reflect the minimum due are of few of the red flags that you need debt counseling. If financial problems are sneaking up on you, the best solution is to confront your reality and take positive steps to remedy the situation. According to a piece by cheatsheet.com, there is nothing to feel ashamed about if you have credit card debt that is higher than you realized.

                    Relying on your credit card too often is an innocent habit that turns into a larger problem if left unchecked. Instead of remaining in denial, consider the signs of financial trouble. By enrolling in a debt management plan through a Christian credit counseling agency, you turn a negative into a positive situation. When you are completely debt free, every purchase you make will feel sweeter because you can afford the item.

                    Borrowing money from others

                    If you borrow money from family and friends, it can either be a positive or negative sign. Some people borrow money or take financial gifts from relatives so they can avoid running up credit cards. If you have to pay back a friend or relative, it can strain the relationship. Also, if you turn to friends or family because you have already maxed out your other sources of loans and credit, it is a major financial mistake.

                    Dealing with bill collectors

                    Another warning sign you your financial problems are interfering with your life is when you receive calls from bill collectors. With the help of a trained and accredited credit counseling agency, you don’t need to worry about bill collectors. A credit counselor talks to your creditors for you to come up with an agreed upon plan for debt repayment. For you, it’s all about making one monthly payment. For your creditors, it is about making right on money owed to them.

                    Credit Cards and Debt

                    If you rely on credit cards to pay for the basic necessities such as food and gasoline, it is likely you have too much debt. With debt counseling, you learn how to budget so you spend your paycheck on necessities first. Discretionary purchases include cigarettes, alcohol, entertainment, clothing other than work clothes and luxury items.

                    Feeling paycheck dependent

                    If you need your paycheck to make your monthly rent or mortgage, it means you don’t have enough in savings to cover one or two months of expenses. With debt counseling, you learn how to save up for emergencies as well as for fun vacations and holidays.

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