Thursday, March 11, 2010

Perilous Times: Prepare for the future 3

My father lived by Romans 13:7-- "Owe no man any thing."

Dad hated debt. The most he ever made in his life was $60 a week. He worked many days during the Great Depression for $1 a day and was happy to get that.

Mom and Dad had eight children, and I was the youngest. After Mom died and Dad remarried, he took reponsibility for two more. Just having a family that size is enough to put most people into dire poverty. But my parents raised a family of hard workers, and our poverty wasn't dire. Sure, we didn't have an extra dime, but our poverty in those days didn't come close to the poverty that chokes families affected by alcohol and drug addictions, abuse, greed, hatred, and rebellion toward God.

We were rich with the love of God and one another. The willingness to work made us rich with satisfaction in what we earned. The chickens and animals we raised for food, and the fresh vegetables and fruits we grew in the garden and preserved made the table rich with bounty.

But my father's commitment to stay out of debt also was a blessing. Although he didn't make much money, he bought land at tax sales and later resold it. He made a garage into a rental house, and when some of the children married, the upstairs became another apartment. He built a new small house on the back side of our land, then sold it.

The day he bought a shiny new Chevy with cash was a big day. It wasn't nicer than anyone else's--but it was paid for.

With today's economy, experts who study history and look at the future say getting out of debt should be a high priority for preparing for perilous times. We need to watch how we spend our money. Do we really need any more clothes? Is it necessary to eat out so often? Are all the luxuries in our homes necessary? Do we need the best and highest-priced television cable packages?

Do we try to save on utilities and other expenses that aren't fixed?

If we keep track of where the money goes, we'll be surprised at how much goes into a black hole that has no significant purpose.

There are definite advantages to being raised poor. I know I can get by on much less than I spend now.

Consumer Credit Counseling teaches there are two types of people: Those who spend because they think only of immediate gratification, and those who think only of the future. Their financial advisers say it's best for married couples to be from opposite groups. People who think only of tomorrow don't enjoy life. Those who live only for this moment never have any money and usually are in debt.

I think all of us can develop the ability to mix saving/spending into our characters. To get out of debt, we might need to think more of the future, but when we accomplish that feat--we'll have a wonderful time in the present.

Doesn't that sound like a good way to survive perilous times?