Financial woes are the number one cause of divorce because so many people are addicted to spending. Some Native couples live beyond their means, for they do not consider anything less really living. People in our Western Hemisphere owe millions of dollars because we tend to spend more than we earn. The buy-now-pay-later syndrome can lead couples to financial ruin. Most money problems involve selfishness. Because marriage is about selflessness, debt impacts marriage in devastating ways.
Credit cards are not the same as currency. Just because you can afford the payment does not mean you can afford the item. Each time you use a card, you are borrowing money at a very high interest rate. When introduced in the 1950’s, banks sought customers who would pay off their cards regularly. Today, they seek customers who will not. The longer you take to pay off your credit card, the more money they make. While you may need a credit card, you don’t need debt. Most couples cannot pay off their cards each month. Balances in excess of $10,000.are common, but take many years to liquidate. If you can only pay minimum payments, indebtedness has probably become a lifestyle. Always read the fine print. The credit card companies can raise your rates even if you are a few minutes short of a payment deadline. Penalties are then added to your balance. As your credit worsens, banks hike up your interest rate to match your risk to them. But don’t take it personally. They will exploit anyone.
Many couples are deep in debt. Many say their financial woes began when they began charging things. Eventually, their indebtedness drove them to hide from their creditors. They shut off the phone and don’t answer their door. Urban opportunities for employment or education are lost because they accrued debts too big to pay. Some try divorce as the solution, only to end up fighting over which spouse will assume the debts. Consider these “Ten Steps to Financial Freedom.”
1. Recognize Creator as the Source of your finances (Deut. 8:18).
2. Tithe. Stealing from God puts holes in your pockets (Mal. 3:10).
3. Take joint ownership of your financial challenges (I Pet. 3:7).
4. Pay all your debts. Talk with lenders if problems develop (Mt. 18:27).
5. Never co-sign for others (Pv. 17:18).
6. Lend money only if you can afford to lose it (Lk. 6:35).
7. Abstain from impulse buying (Pv. 21:5).
8. Consider how accruing more debt could impact your family (Col. 3:21).
9. Avoid high-risk investment schemes (Jas. 4:13-14).
10. Refrain from the love of material gain (I Tim. 6:10).
Debt destroys marriages. Satan wants to see you broke, unhappy and divorced. Don’t get mad at your mate: get mad at your debt. If you must, do the necessary “plastic surgery” by cutting up your credit cards and paying them off ASAP. Debt-free living combines good common sense with good Christian stewardship. Many pastors offer counseling to couples seeking to get out of debt for good. The road to financial freedom is challenging, but well worth the journey. If the word selfishness is the cause of financial headaches, the word discipline is the cure.
There is some good news: spending can be controlled. Devise a pragmatic financial plan and stick to it. Before a couple makes a purchase, they should consider three questions.
Can we afford it?
Do we really need it?
How much will we really use it?
Controlled spending will work when a sensible budget is agreed upon and adhered to by both the husband and the wife.