Symptoms of Financial Problems


Symptoms of Financial Problems

A credit card, the biggest beneficiary of the ...

Without question, family financial problems seem to increase dramatically during economic slumps. Are the financial problems caused by economic slumps? Generally not.

With rare exception, family financial problems have begun long before the economic slumps, perhaps as early as childhood.

Ignoring God’s Word
Usually families with financial problems only recognize the symptoms of the problems (such as unpaid bills) or the consequences of the symptoms (such as repossession of property). They seldom identify the real underlying cause of the problem.

Most of the symptoms of financial problems that families face in today’s society—business failures, foreclosures, bankruptcies, out-of-control debt, two-job families, and divorce—can be traced to a central problem of ignoring God’s financial principles as recorded in His Word.

It is likely that the problem was learned from parents who also had the same problems. “Now it shall be, if you will diligently obey the Lord your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth” (Deuteronomy 28:1).

God’s financial principles and instructions are not complicated or hard to understand. They were designed to free His people from financial burdens and not to bind them with an unattainable set of dos and don’ts.

Unfortunately, though, since the mid-1950s God’s principles have increasingly been ignored by families who have adopted a get-rich-quick mentality by using easily obtainable credit to purchase “what I want, when I want it.”

The children of these 1950s and 1960s parents learned to buy on credit from their parents’ example.

Now, a generation later, we are reaping the burden of sown seeds of moderate debt in the form of overwhelming excessive debt.

It was Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), Earl of Beaconsfield, who said in an address before the British House of Commons on May 1, 1865, “What we do and allow in moderation, our children will allow and do in excess.” What better words can describe the primary cause of the downward financial spiral of families in our society?

Without a doubt, the lack of financial discipline in parents is reflected and amplified in the lives of their children and their children’s families.

Symptoms of financial problems
If parents do not operate on a budget, seldom will the children.

If parents use credit readily and make buying decisions based on the ability to make monthly payments, rather than on the initial price of items purchased, so will the children.

Once married and on their own, young couples attempt to duplicate in a few years what perhaps has taken their parents decades to accumulate. In order to accomplish that goal, they use credit, as they were taught.

Before long they have numerous assets, but the assets are all tied up in liabilities.

This debt burden causes many of these young couples to experience the following symptoms.

They no longer can pay the monthly bills. Once the credit cards have reached their maximum limits and other sources of readily available credit begin to tighten, financial pressure begins to build. Finally, in desperation, a bill consolidation loan is obtained. Usually within less than a year the credit card debts return, making the end result worse than the beginning.

More income is needed. More credit cannot be the answer, so logic says that more money is needed. Consequently, the wife usually has to go to work. When young children are involved, the result may be breakeven or less.

Buy to pacify the pressure. At this stage many Christian families try to pacify the financial pressures by buying something new or going on a “get away from it all” vacation. However, these usually have to be financed with credit, so again the end is worse than the beginning.

Divorce and/or bankruptcy. When financial pressure reaches the boiling point, with no apparent way out, either the couple takes it out on one another—resulting in divorce—or they file for protection under the bankruptcy laws in order to start over again. However, if God’s principles were not learned during the process, the same financial problems will be present in the second or third marriage or after the discharge of bankruptcy.

Preventive measures
Although symptoms of financial problems can be devastating, it is much easier for families to practice prevention rather than recuperation.

As such, there are four basic preventive measures that families can exercise to counterbalance unbiblical financial practices and to prevent the symptoms of financial problems.

Abstain from borrowing. “The wicked borrows and does not pay back, but the righteous is gracious and gives” (Psalm 37:21). Scripture clearly indicates that borrowing is not God’s best for His people and should never be used as a routine part of financial planning.

Saving. “There is precious treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man swallows it up” (Proverbs 21:20). In today’s society, spending and borrowing are promoted, and saving—in order to purchase with cash—is discouraged. It is more in keeping with God’s principles to save for future needs and purchases than to borrow or use credit.

Making hasty decisions. “The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, but every one who is hasty comes surely to poverty” (Proverbs 21:5). Patience and consistency, rather than quick decisions and instant success, are the ways to financial security. One of the best disciplines parents can teach their children is to work to reach a goal.

Develop a budget. “Poverty and shame will come to him who neglects discipline, but he who regards reproof will be honored” (Proverbs 13:18). Children should learn by parents’ examples how to develop and live on a balanced budget. If they don’t, chances are when the children have families of their own, they will continue with the cycle of debt.

Conclusion
If Christian families truly lived by sound biblical financial principles, they would not only be lights to show the way to financial freedom for their friends and acquaintances, but their children would grow up with the knowledge of God’s principles and how those principles should be used.

They in turn would pass on to their children what they were taught. With consistent teaching and discipline it would take less than a generation to break Christians’ financial bondage and free them to fund the work of the Lord.

 

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