I read a news article this week that left me with mixed feelings. The nation’s 3 largest banks raked in $4.6 billion last year from ATM and overdraft fees.
When I first read this article I felt intense anger at the monster banks in our country. I thought, These big banks are stealing Americans’ hard-earned money. But then I thought, Do Americans not have any more personal finance skills than to allow their checking accounts to overdraft, or pay fees to draw money out of an ATM machine? (The average fee for using an “out-of-network” ATM in the United States is now $4.76 according to Bankrate.)
The Center for Financial Literacy at Champlain College in Vermont recently scored citizens in the 50 states for personal financial literacy. The state I live in, Alabama, scored a D. That’s awful!
Among the many Bible teachings regarding personal finance I believe 2 are paramount: give to God’s Kingdom, and get out of debt. Don’t check out on me, please, keep on reading.
Give to God’s Kingdom
The first thing we must realize is that none of us actually owns anything. That’s right. God is the owner of everything. Heed the words of Psalm 24:1: “The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, the world, and all those that dwell in it.” Everything we possess now, or ever will, belongs to God. We are only entrusted with it for a time, and during that time we must make wise choices with God’s resources. It’s the principle of stewardship, said Larry Burkette.
So if we are entrusted by God to be His stewards (His managers of what He allows us to have) then we must prioritize God’s work in the world. Understand that God is not some poor, weak God that He needs our money. Remember, He already owns everything.
But our personal giving to the Lord’s work makes the world a better place. As we give to God’s work in the world we make eternal investments. We help needy people. Our giving to God’s work is the primary way in which we say “Thank you” to God for all His blessings.
God has made a tremendous promise to us in His Word, the Bible. “More than anything else, put God’s work first and do what He wants. Then the other things will be yours as well” (Matthew 6:33). Did you get that? Give to God, and He gives back to you.
Get Out of Debt
Proverbs 22:7 states, “Those who borrow are slaves of moneylenders.” Ouch! The borrower is slave to the lender. When you are in debt to another, you enter into a slave/master relationship with your creditor.
I cannot write this blog post with integrity without sharing that I have not always lived a “debt free” life. In my young adult years I allowed myself to become a slave to Sears, JC Penney, Visa, MasterCard, GMAC, and other creditors. I had so many monthly payments I lived paycheck to paycheck. I never failed to pay a bill on time, but I had little to show for my paycheck. I resolved to become debt free, and thankfully, I am today.
God can’t keep us out of debt. That is our responsibility as good stewards/managers of what God has given to us. For more than 20 years I have been a Dave Ramsey disciple. Dave is hard core “no debt.” His “7 baby steps” will lead to personal financial freedom.
Money problems are unique in that they go to bed with you at night, and wake up with you in the morning. When you have money problems you just feel hopeless.
That’s the reason we give to God, and we get out of debt. These 2 financial decisions always bring great hope.