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Do Not Go Into Credit Card Debt, Ever

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.


Try not to go into debt for college

Recently my pastor has been talking more about financial responsibility as it relates to debt. He gave some good advice on his blog last week about dealing with debt if you find yourself sinking into it. I’ve decided that I wanted to share some of my own advice on this blog, not necessarily for those who find themselves in more debt than they should be, but more for young people who have their whole futures ahead of them. I want to remind them that they do not necessarily have to spend most of their adult lives in debt. There are things they can do that give them a good chance at paying off their debt quickly once they get into it. I hope this advice will allow them to keep a less stressful existence than many other people, and give them more freedom to serve God with their money.

Today’s advice is don’t go into debt for college. As difficult as saving for college may be, saving for a house and multiple vehicles for your future family can be even harder, because unlike college, your parents probably won’t help you out and you went get preformance-based grants from wealthy philanthropists.

Here’s some things you can do to help make it through college without debt:

1. Get a job in highschool. The sooner the better. Work summers. I know that it’s hard to get a part-time job in this economy, but give it your best shot. Don’t be afraid to work when your friends are partying. Do it out of love for the family you plan to have some day.

2. Get a job at college. No matter what your courseload is, most of you should be able to make the time for 10-20 hours of part-time work if you really want to.

3. Study hard to get the best grades you can in highschool. The better grades you get the more funding will be available to you. Nobody, including your parents, want to give money for you to go to college if you don’t deserve it.

4. Don’t go to the most expensive college. Depending on your major, it might not make too much difference for your future which college you go to. Yes, everybody wants to attend the best school, but many people who attend the good schools don’t even study and take advantage of their opportunity. The important thing is to study hard wherever you’re at.

All these rules have exceptions, but you should try to follow them if you can. For instance, if you are going to be a doctor, it may not be realistic for you to get out of school debt-free. Still, in that case, you should be careful not to take out any loans until you are confident that you can graduate with the degree that you are taking out money for. If you do manage to make it through med school you will probably have no trouble paying off your debt.

Anyway, these are just a few quick thoughts I had. Feel free to critique them in the comment section.


Why still bring up September 11th?

But now’s the time to sip the lime and bask in summer’s breath.

It seems so rude when thoughts intrude reminding us of death.

(Excerpt from the Prologue of the 9/11 Epic Poem)

Why bring up 9/11 after all these years? Why should we not simply forget about it and go back to sipping softdrinks as the poem says? The reason I bring it up is in case some people have not learned the lesson yet: the lesson of human mortality. Yes, good, sunny laid-back days are alright as long as you have allowed yourself to be changed by the bad days. But many people refuse to be changed by the bad days, and go back to an attitude of relaxation without finding a satisfactory answer to the ultimate questions. My point for this poem is simple: THE ULTIMATE QUESTIONS NEED TO BE ANSWERED!!!

Finite actions have infinite results

That date, well known, is etched in stone, on far too many tombs;

And ev’ry year these thoughts draw near when mid-September looms.

(Excerpt from the Prologue of the 9/11 Epic Poem)

One of the main points of the 2nd half of stanza three is that finite actions have infinite results. In a finite sense September 11th 2001 was simply a twenty-four-hour period of time, and yet no one can deny that these few hours brought about eternal consequences. Many lives stopped that day as a result of the actions taken by the hijackers, and many were saved by the heroism of the passengers aboard flight 93. We need to remember this truth every day of our lives. The things we do with our time and money are not finite, because they affect the lives and decisions of other eternal beings created in the image of God.



How waiting for winter inspires the yearly 9/11 reverie

But while we wait we meditate on mem’ries from the past;

Our minds recall the day we all were altered by the blast.

(Excerpt from the Prologue of the 9/11 Epic Poem)

As we begin the third stanza of the epic poem, the symbolism of summertime changes slightly. Now summer represents not only the nonchalance of the pre-9/11 period, but also that of the post-9/11 period as Americans tried to get back to thinking normal thoughts in the years after the attacks. But every year as we waited for the coldness of winter to  come upon us, we couldn’t help but remember the day when summertime in 2001 suddenly ended, and our outlooks on life (and human nature) were unexpectedly darkened.

The farmers dare to gladly share with all the neighborhood;

For now at last their fears have passed that harvest won’t be good.

(Excerpt from the prologue of the 9/11 Epic Poem)

The theme of a peaceful summer day is carried still further in this second half of stanza two as the neighborly genorisity of the farmers is emphasized. Unfortunately, the authenticity of this generosity can be challanged on the basis that it is only because the farmers have more than they need. The question remains: how generous would they be if a catastrophe hit them? Would they willingly experience hunger to keep others from starving to death?

September 10th 2001: the perfect summer day

At least for now there is no plow that’s tearing up the land:

The fruits of Earth complete their birth, received from God’s own hand.

(Excerpt from the Prologue of the 9/11 Epic Poem)

This stanza continues the theme of the perfect summer day as representative of the blissful ignorance that preceded 9/11. This mental image is one of the complete fullness of life, a time to rest in the fruits of one’s labors, attempting to forget that in just a few weeks all the fields will have to be plowed under for the winter cycle. Due credit for what has been recieved is given to God, because, as an author, it would be wrong for me to even pretend to ignore God’s responsibility for everything good that happens to us humans.