- October 16, 2006
- By John Rutledge
Strategy for lowering credit card debt
By Mike Harris
The number one rule to reduce debt is “keep hope alive.” One important way to do this is to deal with the sense of guilt involved with having debt in the first place. It’s important to note that many of God’s finest people struggle with debt. According to The Dallas Morning News, the average student loan debt for a new pastor coming from seminary in 2001 was $25,018. If you have debt, you have a lot of company. We often start behind, and it is hard to catch up, especially for those in ministry. You have to be brave to even start addressing this issue.
A second way to keep hope alive is to tally all your debts. List the company’s name, balance, interest rate and monthly payment. Circle the lowest balance. Make it your first victim. Pay the other accounts their minimums and put all extra debt reduction efforts into paying off this account. When it is paid off, use this extra amount towards your next lowest balance. Within a matter of months you will reduce the number of bills.
Third, cut expenses. Drink water instead of tea. Eliminate unused or unnecessary services, such as premium cable or expensive cellular phone plans. Reducing expenses is easier than earning more income because new income is subject to both Social Security and income taxes. Consider: a person in the 15% income tax bracket must actually earn $12.27 extra to have $10 to use against debt because of taxes. Because of the unique tax status ministers face, they must make $12.80 extra to have that same $10 to attack the debt.
Finally, continue your generous giving to God’s kingdom. When we are under pressure, we need God’s blessings even more. Could there be a worst place to cut back than on our commitment to the God whose blessings we need so badly?
Mike Harris is an area director and a Certified Financial Planner at GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention
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