It’s no secret that we’re living in tough financial times (at least by our standards). Many of us are stretched beyond our now-shrinking means. We’re having to do things differently than we did in the past.

I’d like to know what you’re doing to make it through these times. Do you have a plan? If so, what is it?

We often showcase difficult times as our “defining moments”. To be sure, they can be just that, the moments that change and define who we are as much as they can also simply be the moments that show who we have always been – the way we’ve always behaved and made decisions.

Especially in this nation, though, I think we have a “one-time hero” mentality. When something difficult comes along and we do the right thing – often for the first and last time – we try to define ourselves based on that one experience. Now I’m not saying that if you’re in a tough spot you shouldn’t do the right thing but I would challenge us to make a lasting lifestyle change.

We need not be a nation of “financial yo-yo dieters”, bingeing on the financial candy of more, newer, and better until our financial health warrants a change and then trimming down using until we feel better about ourselves, only to repeat the process again and again. And we especially need to actually do the work of getting out of this. We should not plan on the financial liposuction of personal bailouts, bankruptcies, and winning the lottery.

Remember that ultimately, whether we pay for our mistakes or not, somebody does.

We have to ask ourselves whether we will honor our commitments even though they are difficult. We have to reevaluate our priorities. We have to deal with stress. King David is quoted as having said “… [He] honors those who fear the Lord; He who swears to his own hurt and does not change….”

To do this requires that we make some hard choices and do a few things:

  1. Swallow our pride and admit that we have a problem
  2. Ask God for help
  3. Decide what is important
  4. Find or develop a plan
  5. Actually do what we have planned

A few years ago, I found myself unsure of why I never seemed to have money and I decided that it was a problem. So I prayed about it and felt like God had defined a time when I should start working on it. In preparation, I started tracking what I was spending and where, how much I owed, and so forth.

I was appalled that I had spent hundreds of dollars over the previous year on bank fees, late charges, and interest. I began to see that I could easily save a few hundred dollars a year simply by keeping track of and paying bills on time. And that I could use that money to pay off credit card debt – money I had spent mostly on things I no longer had. In addition to that, I had to define what things I thought were most important and take care of those first. For me, it was like this (roughly in order) tithes, offerings, housing, food (groceries, not restaurants), transportation, bills I owed, everything else.

So for the next few months, I handled my money in this way. I didn’t cut out all of the fun and restaurants, I simply curtailed it. And every time I had “extra” money, I put it to paying off bills.

About 2 months into this I was amazed. It was as if God was blessing my efforts – my bills were being paid off more quickly than I had expected even though I seldom felt constrained by my financial situation. Perhaps I had simply stepped into God’s blessing by hearing from him, creating a plan, and following through.

Over the following 3 months, I was able to pay off all of my credit card debt, pay off some bills, build savings, and buy a house. While I’m not saying that this is God’s plan for you, it is what he did for me when I heard from him, created a plan, and followed through.

So, back to my question to you.

How are you (as an individual or family) working through this difficult time?

  • Where is your trust?
  • Are you keeping your commitments?
  • Have you developed a plan to work through this?
  • Have you prioritized what gets taken care of?
  • If so, what are your priorities?
  • Are you following through?

Seriously, I’m interested to know how you’re working through this. What you’re doing. Maybe I (or somebody else) can learn from what you’re doing.

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