This post is a continuation of yesterday’s theme about how to go through life with minimal debt. The advice that I am giving in this series is not meant to give a standard by which to judge someone else’s life, but it is simply meant as practical advice on to how to live a less stressful life by spending most of your life debt-free. It is not wrong or immoral to disobey this advice; it does not mean that you are a bad Christian if you cannot follow it in your specific situation. However, I would encourage young people to at least carefully consider the things I have to say in these posts and come up with good reasons if you decide that they are not for you. Hopefully this advice will help some young people lead a mostly debt-free life that will allow them to contribute more to the Lord’s work and the needs of others.
Today’s piece of advice is don’t go into credit card debt. Ever. I am not saying that you should never own a credit card, but that you should pay off the balance every month so that you are never charged interest. Credit card debt is one of the most dangerous kinds of debt you can get into because the interest on it is so high, and because it is so easy and convenient to use. Many people get deeply into credit card debt without even realizing how much money they owe.
My advice to teenagers is that they do not even own a credit card at all. At some point in your life you will probably need to get one (perhaps to build your credit rating so you can buy a house), but the longer you can go without one, the better. Spending money that you have not yet earned can be an addiction, and if you get started on it early it will be a lot harder to break the habit later.
I understand, of course, that circumstances out of your control could force you into debt at any time. It could be medical bills, house repairs, or any number of things. However, if you must go into debt, don’t do it with a credit card. Try to find some other way to borrow money at a lower interest rate.If you are a responsible home owner, for instance, you might be able to take out a second mortgage on your house. Although not ideal, this is better than using a credit car for a large purchase because it will cost less. The problem with having credit regularly available on a credit card is that you can easily get into a large amount of debt on small purchases. You should train yourself to resort to debt only in a serious situation. Don’t get used to going into debt to buy a pair of shoes! Instead, wear the pair that you have for another month and try to save up the money for them by cutting back on next week’s grocery bill. If you learn to save more money a little bit at a time, it will save you from getting into a whole lot of debt.
I know not everyone’s going to agree with this advice. A common response might be: “I don’t really owe that much on my cards anyway.” But my response is: Why owe anything at all? You know you’re getting killed on the interest. If you spend a little more or get a second job you might not have to go into debt at all. If you do have to go into debt, try to find some cheaper way to do it.