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Debt has become a way of life for us in America--our government and us individually.  If you read Nehemiah 5:3-5 it talks about the Jewish people and how they were mortgaging their fields, their vineyards, and their homes to get grain during the famine.  Some were having to borrow money to pay the king's tax on their fields and vineyards.  The passage then talks about slavery, and compares the principle of slavery with being "powerless".  It states "we are powerless, because our fields and our vineyards belong to others."  We must realize that debt means someone else owns us, or owns our goods.  When we have debt we are not in a position of power, but rather slavery.  Just as slavery meant being subject to another, so are we subject to the lender when we are in debt.  In fact Proverbs 22:7 says "the rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender."  The word servant here in the original language could actually be described as "slave".  The principle of financial slavery is so simple and we know it, but we do not want to face up to the fact that we really are slaves, if we owe money to another. 

Debt is like economic cocaine.  We are hooked as a society, as a government, and as individuals.  We are so programmed to below we HAVE to borrow.   Sales personnel nearly fall to the ground when I say I am paying cash for furniture or a vehicle.  "You don't want our NO PAYMENT FOR 12 MONTHS plan"?   It is assumed we are to charge it.  We always have.  Everyone else does it.  We have a mindset that debt is OK.  It is normal.  It has NOT always been normal.   I no longer care what my monthly payment will be,  how many months the note will be, what the interest rate is, or what my credit report looks like.  Our mindset of debt and credit must change. 

Here are some WARNING SIGNS from Ease the Squeeze that indicate potential troubles on the horizon.  Score yourself. RED (R) (describes me/us perfectly), YELLOW (Y) (I/we struggle some), GREEN (G) (you must be talking 'bout someone else).    

Area of Consideration
Score

Considering  Debt consolidation
Making minimum payments only
Paying off credit cards totally at end of month
Paying bills late
Juggling bills
Creditors calling
Spending more than you make
Savings are minimal
Giving is less than 10%
Giving is not joyful
Anxious about the stock market, financial indices
Charging every day items
Checks are bouncing
Overtime or second job is necessary to keep up
Hiding charges from your spouse or family
Domestic/family disputes about finances/spending
Daily concern over your investments
Time spent thinking about finances is significant
Not able to invest in 401k or investments
Have tried to deal with it alone instead of God/others

Green     Yellow     Red
Green     Yellow     Red
Green     Yellow     Red
Green     Yellow     Red
Green     Yellow     Red
Green     Yellow     Red
Green     Yellow     Red
Green     Yellow     Red
Green     Yellow     Red
Green     Yellow     Red
Green     Yellow     Red
Green     Yellow     Red
Green     Yellow     Red
Green     Yellow     Red
Green     Yellow     Red
Green     Yellow     Red
Green     Yellow     Red
Green     Yellow     Red
Green     Yellow     Red
Green     Yellow     Red

>10 Red= time to make some radical changes- a Financial overhaul is necessary
 5-9 Yellow or Red= Time to make some changes--too many warning signs
0-4 Yellow or Red= Time to make some targeted changes-- a tune-up may be necessary

 
 

The purpose of this exercise is not to drag you down, but to ensure you are taking responsibility for your situation.  There may actually be valid reasons for our situation, but we must look up and look forward. 

"Your credit card is not saving you from emergency, it is creating them!"
The average family is increasingly drowning in credit card debt.  In 1990 the average American family had 2 credit cards with $2985 in debt.  In 2000 the average household had a balance of $8123 (cardweb.com).  Nellie Mae recently found that 78% of college students had credit cards, with an average debt of $2748.  10% of them owed more than $7000.  They want to give you a free t-shirt or a credit card with your favorite sports team and then to hook you for life.  It varies little from a drug dealer or cigarette companies offers to try free first...    In 1999 alone, an estimated 461,000 Americans younger than 35 sought protection from their creditors in bankruptcy.  We are taught debt is OK, and getting out of it without taking proper responsibility is OK.  Even our government perpetrates this mindset.  We now owe > $7 Trillion  with no plan to pay it back.  We have bought the lie that financial freedom is having more and having it NOW!  Buy now.  Pay later.  The Gotta Have it Now syndrome.  No patience.  No self-control.  No planning.

How will you begin to Ease the Squeeze?

 
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