Being Careful With Credit Cards

Title: Being Careful With Credit Cards
Category: Financial Issues
Subject: Credit Cards
Being Careful With Credit Cards

This information was not authored by the Editor, rather the Editor serves as a contact person. This information was provided by the office of Keith Hamilton of the Georgia Baptist Convention.

Credit Card debt is soaring. Read this to help you with this important issue.

Your Credit Cards

In Dee Lee and David Caruso's book, "Let's Talk Money," the authors talk about "being in the big hole." The average credit card balance in America is $8,000 per family. This is a new problem our parents did not have to face since credit cards did not exist before 1959. Even today, Sears makes more money on its credit plans than selling merchandise. However, there is hope at the end of the tunnel for many Americans who utilize credit cards on a daily basis. Current statistics indicate 42% of all cardholders now pay off their balances each month. This is good news for the 42%, but what about the rest of America? Thomas Fuller says, "Debt is the worst poverty." According to Lee and Caruso, "If you think nobody cares you are alive, just miss a couple car or mortgage payments." How do you know if you are out of control? Take a simple test by checking the statements that describe your use of credit cards.

* You have been turned down for credit.
* Your spouse or family do not know how far you are in debt.
* You have received phone calls from creditors.
* You do not have any idea how much money you owe.
* You have reached your credit limit.
* You cannot name all the credit cards you own.
* You pay the minimum monthly payment on the credit card.
* You regularly transfer credit card balances to new credit cards.
* You carry a balance more than 10% of your annual income on your credit cards.

If you checked two or more yes, then you need to change your lifestyle and focus of your spending habits and desires. The first step for a Christian is to recognize all the money we have is God's. We are only stewards of His wealth. We are responsible for making sure every penny we spend will bring honor to our Heavenly Father. As we think about this thought, it should really bring our spending habits in line with our income. God does not want anyone to be enslaved to debt for it is a cruel master. Once you recognize this principle of stewardship, then there are some practical steps you can do to be "free" from the bondage:

1. Make this a matter of constant pray.

2. Make a commitment to change your spending habits. "If you want to keep out of debt, you must earn more than you yearn." Stop charging items you cannot pay for with this month's paycheck.

3. Cut up your credit cards except for one that is used only in emergencies. (Not for sale items!)

4. Pay off your current credit cards by paying the credit card with the lowest account balance first, then the others. Find a way to earn additional income to pay off your credit cards. (This would include using a salary increase to pay off credit cards. It is not fun, but it works.)

5. Contact the free service of the Consumer Credit Counseling Service for outside help. 1.888.462.2227 or

6. Finally, turn your heart's desires over to our Heavenly Father

Keith T. Hamilton, CFPTM
Church Financial Services
Georgia Baptist Convention