Today’s post is a guest post by Mike, the founder of Credit Card Forum, a message board and blog for discussing credit cards. If you’d like to guest post on Faith and Finance, send an email or leave a message on the contact page.
All of us have our weaknesses and for some, it might be the temptation to overspend on credit cards. But even if you’ve never had a dime of debt in your life, these three verses can help you spend smarter, regardless of whether you pay with plastic or paper.
#1. Haggai 2:8 – The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the LORD Almighty.
It’s easy to tell ourselves “It’s my money so I’ll spend it how I want!” However the problem with a statement like that is it’s incorrect… it’s not our money, it’s God’s! Same goes for the world and all that is in it (Psalm 50:12). So not only is “your” money not yours, but neither is your car, your home, or the chair you’re sitting in right this very moment.
When you make a purchase ask yourself “Would God really want me to spend his money on this?” This makes saying “no” to something we want much easier. When you remember it’s not your money, suddenly you don’t feel so entitled to it. In fact, these days when I think about buying something frivolous I feel guilty, because I realize if I bought it, I would be wasting God’s money. I try to apply this litmus test with everything, from big decisions like buying a house (which is why I live in my little apartment) to small things like buying something overpriced at the grocery store.
#2 Proverbs 22:26-27 – Do not be a man who strikes hands in pledge or puts up security for debts; if you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you.
Wow… I can think of a number of ways how this represents the present. Take mortgages, which could be the most literal example of this. We all know a major contributing factor of the housing bubble was because folks were pledging for massive mortgages, while clearly lacking the means to pay. If they were foreclosed upon and evicted, their beds are literally being snatched out from under them.
This is also a good representation of modern day credit cards, when abused. I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with using credit cards for gas rebates, cash back, airline miles, etc. as long as you pay the balance in full each month. However some people apply for a credit card and spend frivolously, with little to no means of paying. In fact, just yesterday my hairdresser was telling me a story of how when she was 18 or 19, she got her first credit card and spent $1,000 at the mall the very first day, despite having no income/resources to repay that debt. When we do things like that, it’s just asking for trouble. These verses from Proverbs sum that up perfectly.
#3. Luke 14:28-30 – For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he may have enough to finish it; lest perhaps, after he has laid the foundation and is not able to finish, all those seeing begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build and was not able to finish.I believe there are different ways we can look at this. This could apply to planning for a specific purchase, including the literal construction of a building or the concept of budgeting for a house over time (i.e. mortgage). However I don’t believe it has to be something so grandiose, because we should also “sit down and count the cost” before buying something on a credit card. You don’t want to be someone who has “laid the foundation” (minimum payment) but is not able to finish (pay it off completely). Lastly, I think this could also be symbolic for personal finance over our lifetimes. We have to ensure the decisions we make will also work out in the long run.
By the way, Peter at Bible Money Matters also has some interesting insight on this verse, including its meaning in context. I also highly recommend reading Tim’s Back To Basics: Debt which dives into a number of other relevant verses that will help you.