Most of us won’t have to wait until we die to be punished for our various misdeeds, especially when it comes to handling our finances. Even those fortunate to receive Christ’s forgiveness face “pocketbook” choices daily that have consequences. The choices we make can lead to disciplined and charitable fiscal living. Or we can succumb to temptations and fatal traps.
My hope is you will bring a little prudence into your financial stewardship while avoiding a few deadly debt sins.
1. Remember that pride still goes before a fall. People tend to feel overly optimistic about their ability to pay back debt, stay healthy, and hope their technology maintains its performance. But cars do need repairs, cavities need to be filled, and insurance may not cover a surgery. Many students do not prepare for worst-case scenarios. You should have an emergency fund. It’s not if it happens, but when.
2. Remember that envy colors our perceptions. One of my alumni works in advertising and told me, “What we decide is reasonable to consume is what we view being consumed around us.” People get caught up trying to keep up with what they see on TV, believing they should own the same things others own, even when it is beyond their ability to afford. It’s easy to feel left out and far behind, but do you always need the newest stuff?
3. Remember not to be slothful with your finances. Finances can be complicated and require paying attention to some of the most dreaded of all things: numbers. Failure to pay attention to school loan terms and due dates can have severe consequences. Many students have no idea what type of loan(s) they have – relying on their parents to handle them. Some students never take the time to get the big picture of their finances. Avoiding stuff is easy. Paying attention is hard, especially when confronted with the unpleasant reality of a hefty credit card bill or struggling to learn investing basics just to enroll in a company-sponsored retirement plan at their first job. Too often, students don’t study their finances as intensely as they should to even understand the benefits of compound interest.
4. Remember not to get greedy when borrowing. One of my alumni made this mistake once – she thought, “Why buy an economy car when you can get a loan for twice as much and ride around in style?” She added, “I’m already borrowing $10,000, so what’s another $5,000?” Over-buying, or greed, is a trap into which students can easily stumble. A dollar is not always a dollar in our minds, my grandmother once said. Some days a dollar will be more valuable to you than others. So will loose change.
My wife and I taught our kids to learn not to buy on impulse and plan every purchase carefully. If you don’t have the money now — save until you do.
All of us need to develop a strategy for our finances…this is a personal responsibility. Do a financial audit. Sit and talk with your parents about their strategy. Many Chi Alpha chapters teach a class on financial stewardship. Read the wisdom of the Scriptures. Take the Financial Peace University seminar offered by Dave Ramsey. Walk wisely. Pride, envy, sloth, and greed (4 of 7 deadly sins) do not need to wreck your finances or future.
Love is a verb,
©2013 by Mike Olejarz