In 1977, I wrote my first book, Your Money: Frustration or Freedom? In the book I told the story of Walter Cavanagh, a pharmacist from California who owned about 800 credit cards! But according to a recent ABC story, Mr. Cavanagh was just starting. The 73-year-old now has amassed 1,479 cards, and Guinness World Records recognizes him as the man with the most credit cards on the planet.
He also has what must be the world’s largest wallet. It stretches 250 feet, weighs 38 pounds with space for 800 cards, but he keeps most of them in a safe. No wonder his nickname is “Mr. Plastic Fantastic”.
Mr. Cavanagh’s cards come from a wide variety of places including banks, airlines, gas stations, and about every merchant imaginable, with limits from $50 to $15,000.
To his credit, no pun intended, his score is nearly perfect. Mr. Cavangh shares his secret: “I only use one card and I pay it off in full at the end of the month. But you should see the length of my credit report!”
I want to encourage you to follow his example. No, not in the number of his credit cards or the size of his massive wallet, but in the simple way he uses only one credit card and pays it off in full at the end of the month.
My recommendation: Have one or two credit cards and use them for convenience not credit. Pay it off in full at the end of every month.
To better help you accomplish this head over to Compass1.org to download one of our free spending plans/budgets.
Well it’s that time of year to put up the Christmas decorations and engage in the annual tug of war between you, your credit card, and the retailers as you do your shopping for gifts. And guess what? The average shopper racks up more than $500 in credit card debt Christmas shopping and doesn’t pay it off until the following October!
So, what should we do to stay out of debt this Christmas?
No, it isn’t finding the best sale, it’s having a Christmas spending plan that you stick to and making some creative decisions. And it’s even more important to remember what Christmas is really all about……….celebrating the birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
When you use a spending plan for Christmas you tend to think more carefully about your spending and avoid impulsive purchases. So, here are some suggestions on having a debt-free Christmas that is also a wonderful time and memory for your family.
- Be a student of each member of your family and buy or make inexpensive gifts that are valuable to the recipient because it reflects their personal interests and needs.
- If finances are tight this year and you have an extended family, consider name-swapping so each person buys a gift for only one or two people.
- Create a culture of the family enjoying the fellowship with one another and focusing on Christ and not tons of presents.
- Consider as a family giving to those who are needy. We did this when our children were young and discovered it replaced greed and the desire to get more and more with memories we still talk about fondly.
- Make Christmas about Christ by having a birthday cake for Him, caroling with friends, and reading the Christmas story.
The world has taken Christ out of Christmas – let’s put him back in it front and center.
Surveys found that half of American households report having trouble making even the minimum payments on their credit cards. What’s going on?
A lot of people are using credit cards for credit and not just for convenience, and they find themselves living beyond their means. So, here are 4 simple rules for using credit cards and if you can’t follow all of them, you need to perform some plastic surgery as soon as possible and stop using the cards.
- Use a credit card only for budgeted purchases. Oh yeah . . . that means you have to be living on a budget (spending plan). If you’re not, it’s going to be tough to stay out of credit card debt. If you need help with starting a budget, visit www.compass1.org and click on “Connect with a Coach.” One of our volunteer Compass Coaches will contact you online to assist you.
- Pay credit cards off on time and in full every month. This way there’s no interest charges, no late payment fees, and no debt.
- The very first month you can’t pay a credit card bill in full, take out the scissors, and destroy the card.
- Just because you can afford to buy something doesn’t mean you should. Force yourself to wait a couple of days and pray about the decision. More often than not, if it’s an impulsive decision, the impulse will go away, and you will save money.
If you are in serious credit card debt, remember what Proverbs 22:7 says, “The borrower is slave to the lender.” The Lord wants us free to serve Him and not our creditors.
So, begin to “snowball” your plastic by making the minimum payments on all the cards, and focus on paying off the one with the smallest balance. If you need help from a debt repayment company, we recommend checking out www.repaydebt.org (ClearPoint). They used to be named Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Atlanta and for decades have worked with consumers helping them pay off their cards.
When you think about it, a budget is only as good as what you recognize you’re going to be buying. Unfortunately, a lot of people leave these items out of their budget.
- Pets. There are regular vet visits, food, treats, and kennel stays. Americans spent about $55 billion on their pets last year.
- Travel. Trips by auto or plane to see family, go to class reunions, go on vacations, or go see friends.
- Home Maintenance. There are all kinds of “sneaky expenses” – leaky gutters, painting, replacing the water heater, and repairing a leaky roof –the list goes on and on.
- Non-monthly bills, such as, property taxes, and homeowners and auto insurance.
- Gifts. Gifts for birthdays, holidays, office parties, graduations, weddings . . . well you get the idea. Budget what you can afford for gifts and stick to it.
- Fun Money. My mom used to call it Mad Money. It’s a good idea for husbands and wives to have a monthly allowance that can be spent any way they want until the allowance is used up.
Remember, that a budget – I prefer to call it a spending plan – can be your friend. It’s the financial tool that will help you get out of debt, become more generous, and save and invest for the future. To learn more log on to www.compass1.org.
Warmly in Christ,
The first time I saw her, I knew! I knew I wanted to marry Bev and spend the rest of my life with the most beautiful, captivating woman I’d ever seen. The last thing to enter my mind: is she out of debt and using a budget?
When couples first fall in love they have a hard time believing they will ever have arguments over money. But it’s one of the leading causes of fractured marriages. We’ve learned in working with thousands of newly married couples that before you tie the knot, it’s super important for you and your fiancé to talk about some money issues.
So, for the long term health of your marriage and your checkbook, here are some simple steps to take and questions to answer:
- Be completely transparent and honest about your finances. Trade credit reports and financial statements with each other. Think no financial surprises. Nothing damages the trust relationship with your new spouse more than discovering a hidden financial problem.
- Talk about your philosophy of giving, spending, saving, and debt. Disclose to your fiancé whether you are a saver or a spender.
- What are your financial goals?
- Which one of us is going to do the bookkeeping and pay the bills?
- Decide if you both are going to work. What happens when you have children – will the wife want to be a stay at home mom?
- How are the two of you going to combine your assets and income? If one of you has the view that the money they earn is their money, and not our money, this is a red flag.
The best advice we gave our children when they became engaged, was to encourage them to participate in a Navigating Your Finances God’s Way or a Money and Marriage God’s Way small group study. Nothing is healthier than both the husband and wife understanding God’s way of handling money.
I have a question for you. What percentage of adults in America would you guess have debts and unpaid bills in collection? 10 percent? 15 percent? 20 percent?
Wrong! More than 35 percent of Americans have debts and unpaid bills according to a study by the Urban Institute. Let that sink in for a moment. More than one of every three adults in our country has debt in collections. Imagine how that translates into unhealthy stress, tension in marriages, and a host of other challenges. About 67 percent of our nation’s economy is consumer spending, and with consumers so deeply in hock, no wonder the economy has been slow to recover from the Great Recession.
According to an Association of Credit and Collection Professionals Health survey, here are the top three types of debt in collection:
- Health care-related: 37.9 percent
- Student loan debt: 25.2 percent
- Credit card debt: 10.1 percent
So, what’s the solution to this Continue reading Debt Collections
It was totally predictable. When the economy began to recover from the Great Recession, consumer debt started to go back up, and the rate of saving went down. One of the reasons for this is procrastination. Procrastinators, because of laziness or even fear, have a habit of putting things off they should do now until later.
The Bible has many examples of godly people who were not procrastinators, and one of my favorites is Boaz. Naomi, the mother-in-law of Ruth, made this comment about Ruth’s future husband, Boaz: “Wait, my daughter, until you know how the matter turns out; for the man will not rest until he has settled it today” (Ruth 3:18). Boaz had the reputation of a person who acted promptly. He wasn’t going to rest until he finished the matter that day!
So, if you wrestle with procrastination, ask the Lord to give you the courage of Boaz, remembering Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Then, simply take these three Continue reading Procrastination
This weekend I talked to a very savvy and experienced banker who asked me, “Do you know who is responsible for kiting the most checks in history?”
Humm . . . I guessed, “Was it Bernie Madoff or some other perpetrator of a massive Ponzi scheme? Or maybe was it a large company like Enron that got in financial trouble doing shady deals?”
“No, not even close,” he responded. “I’ve had more than my share of people who have kited checks on my bank, but nothing is all history comes even close to what our Federal government is doing today! Take last month for instance. Washington spent about $100 billion more than it received in income. So, the government financed the deficit by selling $100 billion of debt in the form of Treasure notes. And who you think bought the Continue reading Kiting Checks
Downgrade of US Debt: Well, the big news last week was the approval of raising the debt ceiling a couple of trillion dollars, and then late Friday the bombshell of Standard & Poor’s downgrading US Federal Debt from AAA to AA+. If that wasn’t enough, S & P also issued a “negative outlook” which simply means there’s a chance it will lower the rating further within the next couple of years.
Well, what’s this mean for our country? What’s this mean for individuals? How’s this going to impact investors?
Howard’s Assessment: Here’s my take on this:
- Even though there is a lot of finger pointing among politicians and financial gurus give all sorts of reasons for the downgrading, fundamentally it is because our government is spending $1.60 for every $1.00 of revenue, and the increasing debt is unsustainable. Just as any household can’t spend more than its income, the government can’t either forever.
- I believe this is a major wake-up call provided by the Lord to His people to learn and apply what the Bible tells us about handling money. In other words, give generously, spend wisely, save regularly and get out of debt.
- I’m also fully convinced that God is communicating to us that our trust cannot be in anything other than Jesus Christ. 1 Timothy 6:17 tells us, “. . . not to fix our hope on the uncertainty of riches, but only on God who richly provides with all things to enjoy.” He wants us to draw closer to Him and be about our Father’s business.
- No one apart from the Lord really knows the impact on investments. My suggestion, stay close to the Lord and seek His guidance.
What’s happening globally: In both Latin America and India, God is moving powerfully in the ministries of our Compass Global Alliance partners lead by Andres Panasiuk and Richard Samuel. The Compass India small group studies were first begun about six weeks ago and the testimonies are amazing—please pray that in India and Latin America, the Holy Spirit would radically transform the lives of those learning God’s way of handling money.
We are also in the final stages of translation agreements for the Money and Marriage small group study for Korea and all our materials for Israel. We could not have hoped for better partners in both of those countries.
I do: As an ordained elder, I have had the opportunity to occasionally perform weddings of close friends. So far I’ve married 5 couples: two by pools in back yards, two outside by lakes, and one in a home . . . . and this Friday, well it’ll be in a real church! I may even wear a robe! Pray that the great couple and especially the “preacher” won’t be too nervous. 🙂
Love in Christ,
Howard Dayton is the Founder and CEO, Compass – finances God’s way. For more information about Howard, please click HERE.