Getting Out of Debt Before it Overwhelms You

Consumer debt is like a cancer. Consumer debt is like termites. They are working their pain beyond the notice of the outside world. While they eat away at the infrastructure of our bodies and homes, we often go about life unaware.

Woman with headache on phone

Consumer debt is like a cancer. Consumer debt is like termites. They are working their pain beyond the notice of the outside world. While they eat away at the infrastructure of our bodies and homes, we often go about life unawareI sat with friends recently who received the news they have cancer. They were devastated. Crushed.

“How could I be dying? I feel fine. ”

They wrestled with the emotions of anger, grief, loss, and hopelessness. They wondered why none of their annual checkups had caught the problem until it was in stage 4. We prayed together. We grieved together.

I have two friends who had to go bankrupt in the past three years. Both of them were very close friends who seemed successful, healthy, and smart on the surface…and they were, but under the surface of their lives was a cancer. It had been growing for some time. The cancer of consumer debt.

Productive Debt is the type of debt used to invest in something “productive” (something that produces income) like a small business, a machine to make your work more productive, etc.

This type of debt is risky, but has the potential to pay for itself and more… Consumer debt is all about Consumption. It’s that car that is worth less every year. It’s the Christmas gifts you bought last year (that you are still paying for). It’s the bills for going out to eat last month that you are still paying on. That is consumer debt. Like a cancer, it grows. If you don’t have an intentional plan to pay far, far, far more than the minimum payment, the principle will grow. The interest rate will grow. Then paying the “minimum” balance will grow. When you merely pay off the interest, but not the principle, you are in trouble. Until you attack the cancer at the core, the principle, you will not stop the spread. Therefore, if you wait until your consumer debt is in “Stage 4,” you may be spending more and more monthly to simply service the debt. That’s financial speaking for merely paying off the interest payments.

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You may feel overwhelmed. It may feel more like an elephant on your chest than a cancer in your checkbook. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Begin by freeing up income. Sell stuff in the attic, the basement, etc. Have a garage sale. Take out a part time job. Get more income. Then aim the income at the credit card with the lowest balance. Make a plan to pay it off in less than a year. Take all extra income and attack with full force. Each month as you see the balance go down, celebrate and use that emotion to stay the course. Sell more unused stuff. Keep the part time job. Once that card is paid off, take all the money that was “servicing the first card” and aim it at the second. (After you cut up the first card and never use it again.) Here are some Scriptures to meditate on as you crawl toward freedom.

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Chad Hovind
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