Here are some important ways to stay out of debt (or get out of debt), and other good economical practices:
1st and most importantly, pray and ask God to guide you. After all, it is His money. He gave it to you, and you are only a steward of it. Acknowledge His ownership of the money. (See Proverbs 16: 3)
2nd, give God what He has asked of you (at least His 10%), and a free-will offering. Give to charity, and He will bless you. Don’t hoard it for yourself, or you will put your money into a bag of holes. (See Haggai 1:6, 2nd Corinthians 9: 6-7, Leviticus 27:30, Malachi 3:10, Psalms 24:1, 1st Corinthians 4:2, )
3rd, set aside for/pay your taxes in advance. Give a little extra if you are able, or at least don’t take out any exemptions. That way, when tax season comes along, you will owe less, won’t owe anything, or may get extra back.
4th, Make payments on your debts (and pay them off, if you can). If you are already in debt work toward paying off those debts and avoid getting further into debt. Don’t say to yourself that it does not matter because you are already in debt. The deeper the water, the easier it is to drown when you are tired of swimming and have no where to place your feet and still breathe. Try to stay in the shallow water and get out of the pool as fast as possible. (See Romans 13: 7)
5th, set aside a little extra for paying your debts, if you are able to.
6th, set aside a little extra for emergencies, if you are able.
7th, Live within your means. Don’t buy on credit (unless you already have a way to pay later). Now that those two important.
8th, balance your checkbook regularly (especially after every transaction or at the end of the day when transactions had been made). (See Luke 16:11, Titus 1:7)
9th, check your balance, even if you haven’t been spending or don’t remember purchasing anything. That way, you can keep updated with your funds and be alerted if something seems strange (such as if someone has gotten into your account somehow and stolen your money, or is using your funds without your knowledge).
10th, use a pre-paid card or paypal or gift card for purchases online and/or for other suspicious purchases (or use cash for suspicious purchases, or don’t purchase at all). When purchasing online, make sure your browser, account, and transaction is secure, and it’s best also to be sure that your computer has no viruses, spyware, or other malicious software. Even if you cannot tell for sure (and you may not be able to), at least scan your computer beforehand (especially if you may be suspicious).
11th, make sure you have on your card (if you are purchasing with a card anywhere) to buy the item, so that you do not run into debt/further into debt.
12th, share what you have with others who are in need. Do not hoard all your goods to yourself, but reach out to others who have less than you. (See Matthew 6: 19 & 20, 1 Peter 4:10, and Proverbs 19:17, 1st Timothy 6: 7 & 8)
Now, here’s a few tips on how to protect your pocketbook and the environment:
1.) Re-use tissues until they are used up/are too dirty. Don’t only blow your nose once and then throw them away.
2.) Or, better yet, invest in some handkerchiefs, which can be washed and re-used. (Pre-wash in the sink/tub before throwing them into the washer with your clothes and/or other items.) These are especially helpful for when you are sick, or have allergies. If you run out of tissues and/or don’t have a handkerchief, you can use a washcloth. You may still want to keep some soft tissues handy for when your nose gets sore (you can apply petroleum jelly or coconut oil for comfort).
3.) Parents, invest in cloth diapers, which can be washed and then re-used. They are most likely better for your child, as well as for your pocket book and the environment. Newborns may need the disposable diapers for a while. I am not a mother, so I do not know. Parents might like to do the research. Rinse and/or soak and pre-wash/rinse these out well (and clean and santize the sink/tub or wherever you washed them, some may suggest a toilet, which I think may be best also for the home environment) before throwing them into the washing machine.
4.) Women, invest in cloth pads/pantie liners. These are most likely better for you, as well as for your pocket book and the environment. They may seem expensive at first, but should pay off. Rinse and/or soak and pre-wash thoroughly before throwing them into the washing machine. Remember to wash and sanitize the sink/tub where you rinsed/washed them for a clean home environment.
5.) Invest in a sewing kit to repair your clothes.
6.) Wear your clothes more than once before washing (if they are not obviously dirty or stinky after the first or second wearing, you can wear them more times). This may be better for your clothing also.
7.) Set up a clothesline and use it to dry your clothes, bedding, and other items. You may need or want to use the dryer to fluff up the clothes for a few minutes first, and/or use the dryer for other items that are best machine dried.
8.) Unplug items that you are not using at the moment, when you are not using them. Unplugging TVs, computers, radios, toasters, lamps, toaster ovens, and other appliances and electronics will save you money on your electric bill.
9.) Get creative and use a toaster oven, waffle iron, griddle, and other appliances to cook (when you can make enough in the time allowed). This will cut down on your stove and oven use, which uses more electricity. Toaster ovens may not be better for the environment. Do the research and find out.
10.) When practical, use up items before buying more. You probably don’t need to stock up on a variety of clothing when you have plenty of clothing that is still in good condition for use and appropriate for the environment and weather. Do you really need a second umbrella when the one you have is working just fine? Consider things like that.
11.) In the case of non-perishable food, first aid, and other consumable items, it may be wise to stock up on at least a few extras in case of an emergency. Try to get what you know or are sure you will use if the emergency arises. It may be best to get these items on sale. Check expiration dates and be sure to get items that will last a long time, so that they do not expire before you can get to them and use them.
12.) You most likely don’t need a TV, or at least don’t need more than one. You don’t need to be watching TV all the time. When you do need to follow the news, a TV may be practical. Consider whether you can go over to a friend or relative’s house to watch the news. Do you get newspaper? Do you have internet? You can check the news those ways, too. If you have more than one TV, sell them.
13.) Only get television channels you know that you will watch, if it is cheaper to do so.
14.) Eat your leftovers.
15.) Drink plenty of water, and less juice. You don’t need carbonated beverages, coffee, or alcoholic beverages, so don’t buy them.
16.) Don’t buy drugs or tobacco products or alcoholic beverages. Instead, put the money into your savings, or use it to buy needed items, such as food.
17.) Your children don’t need play stations or xboxes (and neither do you). There is plenty of fun things to do in nature, or you can buy them a few toys and/or good books to read (I recommend true stories, not fiction.), coloring books, etc. Teach them useful crafts, such as sewing, weaving, crochet, painting, etc. It will be better for their mind and health also.
18.) Shop at thrift stores for good quality used clothing. Warning: As soon as or before you bring the items into your home, check them to make sure there are no bugs or other unwanted critters or debris on them. Wash them well in hot water (you may want to wash twice) on the longest cycle possible and dry on high heat for at least 60 minutes. Make sure what you purchase can handle this kind of treatment. This will prevent or reduce the risk of obtaining bed bugs, and also clean your clothes (because you never know what got on them before they arrived at the store).
19.) I do not, at this time, recommend buying used furniture (especially not beds/mattresses). It’s better to go without for a while. A mattress can be used as a bed and as a comfortable place to sit. When living alone and setting up housekeeping, start with a mattress, a chair, and a small stand for a table and other uses. When in transition, I used storage bins as a table. Used furniture such as wooden furniture may be OK, if you check it thoroughly to make sure it is clean and bug free before bringing it in. Do not pick up furniture on the side of the road. Avoiding contaminants and infestations such as bed bugs can save you money and grief in the future.
20.) When there are many stores nearby, shop around for the best deals. Be aware that the best price may not be the best quality. If it is food try to get the healthiest item that is the best deal (guarding your health can also save you money on medical expenses in the future). For medicine, check the ingredients of the brand that you are going to buy and compare with the generic or cheaper brands. The generic may be about the same thing for a much better price. Try to get good quality items that you plan to use for a long time, but still look for the best deal.
21.) Invest in a water bottle to refill, instead of purchasing a water bottle every time you are thirsty, or a lot of water bottles (though in some cases you may need to get that pack of water bottles). When practical, get a larger jug or two of water and use reusable cups for drinking the water.
22.) Only use disposable plates and utensils when practical (power-out, camping, Sabbath, traveling), but even in those cases it may be possible to use reusable dishes and utensils and wash them after Sabbath (or any time when camping and not on Sabbath).
23.) You can wash disposable plates and utensils and re-use them at least once and up to a few times (not definite number, I know).
24.) Use dish cloths and clean tooth brushes for most of your dish washing needs. You may need soap pads/steel wool/sponges/bottle brushes for special cases. Dish cloths can be rinsed well, wrung out, and hung up to dry, and can be washed and re-used. Sponges need to be thrown away after a while, but sponges can be cooked in the microwave to sterilize them.
25.) Carpool (when practical). If everyone pitches in to help pay the cost of the fuel, then you have all economized. It’s also better for the environment. Even better, you can accept a free ride when someone who you know and trust is going in the direction in which you need to go (at the time you need to go, if a specific time is needed, or any time if no specific time is needed). It is nice to offer to pay for some of the fuel, too, to help out the generous person who offered you a ride.
26.) Walk and/or ride your bike (when practical). It’s also good exercise, and so it’s good for you, too.
27.) If someone is going to a store or some place from which you need to purchase an item (in which you do not specifically need to be there to pick out the item), and asks you if you’d like them to pick up anything for you, you can accept their offer if they are trustworthy. If the person is not someone who you trust. If you can trust them, you can send the money with them (send cash). If you especially trust them and/or they are close to you, you may consider writing out a check for them to cash for you if you do not have the cash. Only in extremely trustworthy cases should you send a card. All are at risk. In some cases, the person may pick up the item, purchasing it with his or her own money, and show you the receipt and then you can pay the person. Only accept this offer if you know you can afford the item. Be very specific as to what you want and how much you plan to spend (set a budget) on the item. In the case of some items, it’s best to go and get it yourself. Also, ask for a receipt. In addition to protecting yourself and your money, the receipt will also come in handy if it turns out you got the wrong item and/or if for some other reason you need to return the item.
28.) Pack a lunch (or breakfast or other meal) when going to work or even on a trip. Take some food with you, to avoid the more expensive (and in too many cases less healthy or less than healthy or almost to not healthy at all) purchases at gas stations and/or restuarants.
29.) When traveling or whenever else is practical and you need to eat and don’t have any food on you, if there are grocery stores or other stores nearby, try finding food at a grocery store or a store that sells groceries for decent prices before or instead of looking for something at a gas station or restaurant. In most cases, you can also find a larger variety and healthier options. For example: Fruit and the fixin’s for a sandwich.
30.) When traveling with perishable food, bring a cooler with ice or something else to keep the food cool.
(That doesn’t mean you should never eat out. It is nice to eat out every once in a while.)
Bonus Tip for Those in a Financial Crisis:
If you are unemployed or in a financial crisis and/or can’t afford food, look into food pantries and other charities to get some help. Seventh-day Adventist and other churches often have pantries (though not every one in every area has a food pantry), and SDA and some other churches will help members who are not of their faith (though some churches may only help members of their faith, and if you are a member of that faith, feel free to ask your church for help).
Similarly, if you need shelter and/or a shower, you may want to look into the YWCA (for women), YMCA, Salvation Army, and other charities and churches for help. The Seventh-day Adventist church also has some charities in some areas, and other churches may have some as well.
Do the research and find out what is available to you in your area. Go to the local library. They may be able to give you advice or point you in the direction if there are charities nearby. You should also be able to use their computers for free, and can do research online to find charities nearby.
Trust in God, and ask Him for His help, and to provide for you, and for wisdom and guidance in your finances.
“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:19, HCSB
Note: Comic was assembled on bitstrips. Character featured represents Jessie of Miss Jessie’s Kitchen. Jessie is not an expert in the field of financial advice., nor of getting out of debt, nor a qualified professional financial advisor. Most (if not all) of the advice is shared second-hand.