Originally posted on the Christian Post on February 3.
To learn Biblical answers to your financial questions, you can #AskChuck @AskCrown your questions by clicking here. Questions used may be lightly edited for length or clarity.
I need some help. I am a 50 year-old widow with a teenager at home, and I’m using credit cards to survive, drowning in late fees. I am over extended and miserable. My income cannot support my obligations so I decided to find a part-time job in the evenings and weekends. But now I am taken away from my weekly involvement and support system in church, leaving me very unhappy. Still, I don't have any other way of paying off these credit cards. What should I do? Please help.
My team and I will pray for you as you and your child go forward in life. Please know you can contact us for more personal help.
Perhaps it will comfort you to know that God himself pledges to be a husband to you, saying in Isaiah 54:5, “For your husband is your Maker, Whose name is the LORD of hosts; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, Who is called the God of all the earth.”
You are not alone: there is help for you in the Lord who cares for you, in the community of believers, and through Crown.
First: Seek the Lord’s intervention. “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans,” Proverbs 16:3.
God is the ultimate resource for the wisdom, strength and guidance you need. Ask Him to direct your steps as you create a plan.
Second: Carefully build a budget. “Be sure you know the condition of your flocks,” Proverbs 27:3.
In a time in which most people’s money was tied up in livestock, this is a verse that says BUDGET! You can’t make a plan without knowing where you stand, and Crown has many free tools for you to take stock of your finances. Don’t be afraid to know the truth.
Track all of your income and expenses carefully. Look for ways to reduce spending and increase income. This will require discipline, but God can provide that as well. Second Timothy 1:7 says, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”
Third: Humbly ask for help. “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed,” Proverbs 15:22.
You do not have to figure this out alone. Crown works with some wonderful partners, like those at Christian Credit Counselors, who can advocate for you to lower payments and to organize your debt. I often recommend to widows and single moms to form a voluntary Advisory Board by gathering three to four men and women who are willing to give you advice as needed. It helps to get their input and encouragement on a monthly or quarterly basis. Talk to your church as well, as many have financially savvy members who help others with taxes and finances as a ministry. Just be sure they do not have a conflict of interest.
With years of experience counseling struggling families, your creditors want to reach a resolution too and will welcome your efforts to settle accounts. Once you assemble your advisors, take a look at the Debt Snowball Calculator to set up a debt reduction strategy.
Fourth: Stay in Fellowship with Believers. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another,” John 13:35.
It’s true that working that extra job may take some of the time you would like to spend at church away from you. If at all possible try not to work Sundays but preserve that as the one day of week that you rest and worship. Also remember that no matter what sacrifice you are making, this short-term pain will be replaced by long-term freedom when your debts are resolved.
I don’t know your schedule, but many Bible studies take place during the week, and if you can’t find one that meets your needs, consider starting your own Bible Study group with the friends who are your support system.
Crown has some wonderful resources like our MoneyLife Personal Finance Study that can teach you and your friends about God’s attitude toward money and laying a spiritual foundation for the changes you are working toward.
If you’re looking for encouragement in the year ahead, please accept this gift from Crown. You can receive practical principles and daily encouragement from God’s Word in the God is Faithful devotional, sent straight to your inbox to consider what God has to say about our daily life.
To #Ask Chuck @AskCrown your own question, click here.
Chuck Bentley is the CEO of Crown, the largest Christian financial ministry in the world, founded by the late Larry Burkett. He is an author, host of My MoneyLife - a daily radio feature, a columnist for the Christian Post, and a well-known speaker. Follow Crown @CrownUpdates. For interviews or speaking requests contact email@example.com.