“A” Is For ATTITUDE

money“The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.” -William James

 

Let’s talk finances. Now, don’t click on another page. Just take three deep breaths and a couple minutes and read through this post.

 

The average person doesn’t really believe he has a problem when it comes to finances. He really doesn’t. As long as he’s making monthly payments on time, as long as he has some mad money he can play with each week, as long as he can continue to feed and satisfy those occasional indulgences from time to time, he erroneously believes things are just fine. Unfortunately he’s like the alcoholic, the drug addict, the gambler, or the person addicted to pornography who says, “I don’t have a problem.” But the truth is, the average American has a major problem when it comes to money, Christians included. They are horribly in debt, miserable managers of their money; and gullible beyond belief when it comes to buying things on credit.

 

Can I share a simple principle with you? If you’re paying interest on anything, regardless of the great interest rate you may have gotten or the low monthly payment; if you are paying interest on anything, are you ready for this? YOU ARE LOSING MONEY.

 

In fact, when you see the word “interest,” if you visualize two words in huge, gigantic letters as if they were written in the sky; “SOMEBODY ELSE,” that will help you better comprehend the principle. Why? Because that’s exactly what happens every time you’re paying interest. SOMEBODY ELSE is getting rich off YOUR money. Yet so many people say, “Well, you know, we got a great interest rate.” Or, “Luckily I got the same low monthly payment on this car that I had on my last one.”

 

Christian financial expert, the late Larry Burkett, said, “Christians are now paying nearly 10% of our income every year in interest alone. And yet we give only 2% back to God.”  So here’s the picture. The average Christian in America is miserably over his head in debt and walking in rebellion towards God. We definitely have a problem. But watch out if anyone attempts to discuss it. Why? Because we’re very touchy when it comes to our stuff. When it comes to my money and my finances, that’s a private matter and it’s none of your business. Isn’t that pretty much the way you feel?

 

So if someone suggests we have a problem with our finances, we immediately get defensive and go into money 3denial because none of us wants to admit we have a problem.

 

Does anyone remember Harry Truman? Not the President. The man who lived on the side of Mount St. Helens in Washington? I’ll never forget the guy; He had 23 cats. (Does that help?) Well, back in 1980 he was on Mount St. Helens. TV reporters were interviewing him while the mountain was shaking behind him. Harry’s sitting there with his 23 cats and seismologists were saying, “This mountain’s gonna blow; ” Volcanic experts were saying, “This mountain’s gonna blow.” Harry Truman said, “I don’t believe a single one of your ,experts. I’ve lived here all my life. I know this old mountain better than anybody else. I’m not going anywhere. “ And they’d banter back and forth.

I remember his sister on national television (you may remember watching). She pleaded with her brother, “Please, get off this mountain. It’s gonna blow;” “No, it’s not,” Harry insisted. “I’ve lived here all my life. I don’t have a problem.”

 

On May 18th, 1980, at 8:31 a.m., the mountain blew. It blew with a force 500 times greater than the power of the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima. Twenty-five hundred feet blew off the top of the mountain. It blackened the sky from Seattle to New York and as far south as Oklahoma. No one has ever seen a trace of Harry or his 23 cats since.

 

Now I’m praying that you are not a Harry Truman. I’m going to assume you want God’s wisdom, God’s guidance, and God’s provision in your life. I’m going to assume you want to be financially healthy and to be free from the albatross of financial burdens, bills, and bondage.

 

lt’s possible for anyone of us. In fact, regardless of how much debt you have today, I agree with Larry Burkett, who says in seven years anybody can be out of debt. Anybody; That includes you.

money 6

 

All of us can be out of debt and financially healthy, or well on our way to it, if we really want to be. But we have to want to. But if we don’t begin with step number one, nothing else we talk about will help. We need to begin withOUR ATTITUDE TOWARD MONEY.

For more on the subject of changing our attitude click on this link:

 http://relaxedchurch.sermon.tv/pa/9792495

(adapted from “The ABC’s of Financial Freedom” by Barry Cameron)

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The new normal for Christians

There is an awful lot of talk these days about the “new normal” especially since NBC introduced “The New Normal” sitcom to its fall program schedule. I will not even begin to comment on the content and character of said program due to the adult and socially driven agenda of the series.

The media and news programs are also flooded with talk about what looks like the new normal in America. Here are a few examples of what we are being prepared for as more of the “normal” than the exception in the new America.

8% + unemployment

50% of Americans on public assistance programs

Continually falling wages and buying power

Retirement at later and later years, if at all

Muslim leaders entertained in the White House while our long time ally, Israel is snubbed

25% the new standard for tipping

The new normal in America is generating enormous amounts of concern and elevated levels of disgust. How have we fallen so far, so fast? Where will it all end? Is there any hope for a return to some of the healthier normal of the past?

All I can say is, there’s an election coming in a few weeks and if you are unhappy with some of the new normal talk and direction that we are confronted with and are experiencing daily, then get out and vote for the best candidate that is likely to change it. Otherwise, be quiet and just live with it.

The really sad news, though, is that the new normal is not just a disappointing direction of the country, it has infected the church as well. At a recent meeting of some fellow pastors our conversation centered on what seems to be the new normal for Christians. Here are a couple eye openers.

  • The average American Christian gives 2.6% of his income to the Lord or an average of $17 a week.

Here’s a piece from Crown Financial Ministries that features a sermon by author Randy Alcorn. A summary: Randy says we’re living in the most affluent society the world has ever known. American Christians control 70% of the world’s Christian wealth. The average American Christian gives 2.6% of his income.

The average amount of giving by an adult in a Protestant church is $17 a week, which is $70 a month, or $840 a year. A full 96% of American Christians don’t tithe or give 10% of their income.

Crown includes this in the piece as well: The average Christian gives 30% less than the average churchgoer in 1933 during the Great Depression.

  • Less than 20% of Americans regularly attend church. That figures out to a once every five weeks church attendance for the average Christian. That might be a little lower than your attendance patterns but it reveals an alarming condition. And the trend is trending downward all the time. Is this the new normal for church attendance? Is the church no longer a priority in the life of a Christian? Is the church relegated to a bottom five classification when it was once #1?

These and other statistics reveal that Christians are just going the way of our culture instead of shaping and leading it. It seems that lowered standards, commitment and values, that our society has embraced, have made their way into the church and Christian’s hearts as well.

Isn’t it time for the church to be the church and Christian to be just that, Christians who are serious followers of Christ rather than drifters. Isn’t it time for real Christ followers to be trend setters rather than trend followers? Isn’t it time to return to the normals of the past that were far better and more productive, both personally and for the kingdom of God? How about beginning with these two?

  •  “A tenth of all you produce is the Lord’s and it is holy.”  Leviticus 27:30
  • “Let us not neglect our church meetings, as some people do.” Hebrews 10:25

Join with me in rejecting the new normal and sticking with the time tested standards of old.

Enough said. Let’s do it!

 

 

Help for someone you know and care about

Sex is a sensitive subject. It is arguably the biggest concern, crisis and curse of our culture. It is everywhere.

Even so, it is a subject few people want to discuss or confront in a healthy and positive way. We either want to hide our heads in the sand or we want someone else to deal with it for us. So let me offer my services.

For the last four weeks at New Venture Christian Church we have been addressing the subject of sex. We have been examining Satan’s Sex Ed plan that he is teaching to our culture. We have then placed his teaching up against the truth of God’s Word and what we have discovered is nothing short of amazing.

If you were not able to hear the messages in this series or if you caught just part of them I would like to encourage you to give a little time to listening through all four of the messages.

But it is bigger than just you. You know people personally or casually who need to hear either all the messages in the series or one that addresses their specific circumstance. You may be the only person in their life that will direct them to the source that can give then real insight, direction and hope. You may be their best or only hope. I would invite you to take the courageous step and link them, in the best way you see fit, to this truth that they so desperately need.

Here are the links to the four individual messages and then a link to the online site that offers all four messages from one source.

I will be praying for you as you listen yourself and as you direct other to as well.

 

Kingdom Builders—Whose?

Let’s talk about kingdom building.

Let’s begin by identifying two kingdoms. One is God’s. God’s kingdom is wherever the reign of God is. God is sovereign. He is King. He is the absolute Ruler. His kingdom is where he is invited and allowed to rule and reign supreme. That kingdom begins in the heart of individuals who surrender absolute authority to Him. It exists in lives that are sold out to His Lordship. Jesus said to someone asking about the whereabouts of the kingdom, “The kingdom of God is within you.” Matthew 17:21. From there it extends to include the church and the rule of God in the world.

The second kingdom is our own personal kingdom. It is that realm where we want to have control. It is that which people build for their own enjoyment. It is where the selfish desires of the heart are lord. It is where self, despite claims to the contrary, is the driving force. It built around pleasure, possessions, prestige, popularity, and even power.

Now, if I were to ask the average person which kingdom they would prefer to build some would say God’s Kingdom while others would be absolutely honest and say their own kingdom. I like honesty. I prefer people to call it what it is. I can respect a person who says they are selfish and don’t mind if you know. I don’t agree with them and think they are headed for disaster, but I can respect their honesty.

What concerns me more is those who believe and claim they are building God’s kingdom and are actually building their own. They are self-deceived. They are mistaken and misdirected. In reality, they are actually holding the Kingdom of God back more than building it.

How do you know when that is happening? How do you tell if a person is going down the wrong road and not aware that they are on it? Or how do you identify someone who would say they are building God’s kingdom and are actually constructing their own? Even more pressing, how do you know if you might be that person?

 I think there are at least four clear indicators of exactly whose kingdom we are building. Before I mention them I need to clarify this point. Many people have a mistaken idea of what actually it is that builds the Kingdom of God. What we would sometimes think are Kingdom builders are actually personal interests and involvements. For examples, going to church, reading your Bible, praying, putting some money in the offering and hanging around good and godly people can all be thought of as Kingdom builders (and in some cases they are)when in most respects they are self development interests and involvements.

So, here are four indicators of just whose kingdom you are most concerned about and involved in building.

  1. Passion: what are you most passionate about? What gets you excited? What causes you to lay awake at night? What inspires your creative juices? What brings you to the point of sacrifice? What moves you to get out of bed in the morning? What brings forth plans in your head and on paper? Is it your own pursuits or is it the Kingdom of God. Are you more passionate about your kingdom or Gods?
  2. Service: what are you most likely to give up your limited time for? How much time do you devote to your pursuits verses the needs of others? What do you go out of your way to do? Who are you most willing to sacrifice for? Who are you most willing to get down and dirty for?  When you get up in the morning and think of your day, what comes to mind first and most, what you want to accomplish that day or what you can do to serve others and the Kingdom? Are you more likely to serve your own needs or to serve God by serving others?
  3. Stuff: our stuff speaks volumes about whose kingdom we are really building. Look around yourself. Look at the Kingdom of God and then answer. Are you more interested in getting more stuff or seeing that the needs of the kingdom are met? When you get your pay check what is on your mind, getting something you want or providing something the Kingdom needs? Are you getting more and more stuff while the needs of the Kingdom continue to go unmet or under met? Does your stuff declare that you are more interested in building your kingdom or God’s
  4. Money: Money buys stuff, however, money is a kingdom indicator all by itself. No one said it better than Jesus when he put it on the line, “You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24) He didn’t say, you shouldn’t or you might not serve then both, he said you cannot. It is impossible. It is absolutely impossible to serve both.  And here’s the truth, it is really simple to tell whether or not you are serving God or money. It is really easy to know who has first place when it comes to your money. Are you ready? Here it is. Are you giving to the Kingdom at least a tithe of your income? “The purpose of tithing is to teach you to always put God in first place in your life.” (Deuteronomy 14:23) All that is necessary is to look at one’s check register to know if you are building your kingdom or God’s.

I would suggest that these kingdom building factors are far more than an interesting discussion for a blog post or a magazine article. It is of eternal significance. There is only one thing that will last forever, the kingdom of God. It will never end.  The Psalmist wrote, “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.”  Ps 145:13,

This world and everything in it will one day be dissolved and disappear but the Kingdom of God will live on forever and ever and ever and ever and ever. It will never end. I don’t have all the answers as to when and how that will happen but it will happen. It is going to happen whether or not I understand it. It will happen whether or not I believe.

Because of the certainty of the future I would suggest that you devote your entire life to building that which will last forever, His Kingdom and not yours. That doesn’t mean we cannot enjoy what God has blessed us with. But it does mean that our passion and service and stuff and money are invested in His Kingdom always before our own kingdom.

Time for a Kingdom check-up?

How to Save $4000 a year

No one likes to save money and stretch dollars more than I do. Different people have different ways of getting the most out of the dollars they have. There are only so many dollars so you have to make them work for you and not against you. Here are ten ways my wife and I save money and make our dollars work harder and stretch farther.

  1. I clean my own carpets and upholstery. Two weeks ago I rented a carpet cleaner with the upholstery wand and devoted about six hours to cleaning all the carpet, area rugs and upholstery in the house. Cost, less than $50. Annual savings estimate $250
  2. I do my own yard and basic car care. People ask me all the time how I get my yard to look like it does. My answer, I care for it myself. I follow the recommended schedule for care and treatments. It really doesn’t take that long. And I wash my own car (with a few exceptions) and do general care myself. And yes, I still change my own oil. Annual savings estimate $400
  3. I fix it myself. Calling a repair man or service technician is always my last resort. If there is a way to fix something that breaks or malfunctions, I will at least attempt to figure it out. Only when I have run into multiple dead ends will I give in and make the call. I can count on one hand the times that has happened over the last forty years. One of those times was last night. The tension spring on our garage door snapped yesterday. One look at it told me that I didn’t have the tools to do the job so I made the call instantly. Annual savings estimate $350
  4. I exercise regularly without a health club membership. I am in my sixties and have never felt better health wise. I jog on a regular basis as my exercise of choice. Though I need to supplement with some strength training, it keeps me healthy and feeling great. Last year I gave in and got a three month club membership for the winter but this year I bought some cold weather jogging clothes and decided to tough it out. It really hasn’t been tough to this point. Not only do I save money on club membership, I save untold amounts of money on doctor’s visits and medications. It might be in the genes, but I cannot remember the last time I went to the doctor for sickness. Annual savings estimate $500
  5. We give at least a tithe to God. Right off that sounds like a cost instead of a savings but not when you discover how God works. For example, in Mal 3:10-12 it says, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit,” says the LORD Almighty. “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty. When God is honored with faithful tithing he not only blesses in ways that money cannot buy but He preserves and protects and extends the life of what we have so that it is more productive and doesn’t break down as often. I wish I had time to share some stories but I need to get to #6. Annual savings estimate, inestimable.
  6. We research and wait on purchases. We make sure when we make a purchase we have the best possible deal out there. We refuse to allow salesman or impulse buying get their way. The bigger the purchase the longer we wait, pray and research. We never make a sizable purchase without waiting at least over night. For some reason the desire and urgency just isn’t there in the morning. Annual savings estimate $350
  7. We use credit to our advantage. We have one credit card that we use to purchase everything on, and I mean everything, if they will take credit. We pay off the total every month—EVERY MONTH. We never carry a balance. At the same time, we are getting two dividend miles for each dollar charged. So each year we are getting about two free airline tickets. And by the way, if I ever get a payment in late, like I did one month last year, when I thought I had made the online payment and for some reason it failed to go through, I called and asked for grace and they refunded the interest and late fees. All it took was an ask. Annual savings estimate $600
  8. I use Priceline and other discount sites for all they are worth. I really like to work Priceline.  I never pay asking price for a hotel or rent-a-car and usually save from 30-60%. For example, when we go to visit our kids in Cincinnati and might need to get a hotel I get the four star Hyatt Regency in downtown Cincy on the 20th floor for $50 a night. I have done that on a number of occasions. Annual saving estimate $300
  9. We take care of what we have. An article appeared on the MSN homepage last week on “9 Ways to Keep Your Car’s Value for Resale.” I can say it in one; take care of what you have. That means preventative steps as well as fixing it when it is broken rather than letting it go and lead to more and more costs due to neglect. And that’s not just the car but everything. I always keep a list of things I need to fix or take care of. It may take me awhile to get around to some of them but do eventually. Annual savings estimate $500
  10. I have saved the big one till last. I make my own coffee. That’s right, I pass right by the expensive coffee store. The only time I pull in, is when someone has given me a gift card. I love coffee. I drink way too much coffee. But I also like good coffee. And I like it when I want it. I have a Bunn coffee maker. For those who don’t know, that means the water is hot all the time and the coffee comes out as fast as you can pour the water in and close the lid. I buy good coffee at discount prices and make my own, morning, noon and night. Annual savings estimate $750.

So, if you add them all up it comes out to about an annual savings right at $4000. That’s a pretty big chunk of money. There are, however, three requirements for something like this to work in any setting, planning, ambition and discipline. If you have or can develop these three, even when you really don’t want to, it will always shake down to saving big buck.

I would love to hear of your ideas on how you save money and about how much it saves you in a year.

The Cursed and Blessed Business

If you find yourself today getting a little nervous with the content of this blog, there just might be a clear reason. Let me explain it this way. Let’s say your appendix is rupturing and you go to the doctor, and the doctor pokes you in the leg it’s not going to hurt.  Right?  If the doctor pokes you in the lower right side of your abdominal area what are you going to do?  You are going to scream bloody murder, because he’s poking you on the unhealthy spot.  If you find that you are a little bit sensitive about this topic, perhaps God is going to do a little healing on a spot that is, at this moment, a little bit unhealthy. 

Let’s start with this scripture from Leviticus 27:30, “A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD.”

Who does the tithe belong to?  It belongs to God.  It doesn’t belong to us; it belongs to God.  What is a tithe?  It comes from the Hebrew word ma’aser.  Literally, this word means a tenth.  One tenth, scripture says, of everything that God trusts us with, it belongs to Him.  It is holy to the Lord.  It is His.  In fact, if we got really, really technical, we could say that a tithe isn’t really even giving.  It is simply returning to God.  

Now, how do American Christians do with this principle?  Here’s a couple of stats for you.  The average Christian does not give 10%, but the average Christian gives about 2% of their income to the work of God.  How many?  What percentage do tithe? Fewer than 3% of those who call themselves followers of Christ honor and obey God with the tithe. 

What we have here is a critical heart issue that, in many ways, is the key to all of our finances working properly, and that is honoring God with His principles of giving the tithe, returning the tithe, and even beyond that.  Let’s talk about two different kinds of businesses. 

The first would be what we will call the cursed business.   Malachi 3:8-9 says this.  God asks the question, “Will a man rob God?  Yet you rob me.  How in the world do we rob You, you ask, and God responds, ‘You rob me in tithes and offerings.’” Now, what does He say you are under? “You are under a curse — the whole nation of you — because you are robbing me.” Now, why are you under a curse?  Because you are robbing Me.  How do we rob God?  By not returning the tithes and giving offerings. 

The Hebrew word for rob is the word qaba. Very literally, this word means to defraud.  It means to rob.  It means to spoil.  It means to embezzle.  Here is a sobering way to think about it. If I don’t tithe, I am embezzling from God.  I am stealing from the Owner of the Universe, and I am making a tragically dangerous trade-off. 

Let me tell you about a bad trade, very, very bad trade.  I read this week about a guy who had a 1957 Chevy. My family, that I grew up in, owned two of them. One was actually in 1957 and the other in the mid 60’s. This guy, that I am talking about, own his about 15-20 years ago or so ago. It was about the time they came out with this new car back then called the Pinto.  You see where this is going, and he traded a 1957 Chevy for a Pinto!  Bad!   Bad trade. 

To withhold what belongs to God is a very, very bad trade.  We are trading the blessings that God wants to pour out in our lives for a measly ten percent.  Now, let me just say that I have talked to many people who are like, “Oh, my gosh, I don’t know what to do.  I am trying so hard financially.  It seems like I will take a couple of steps forward, and then bam.  It is like three or four steps back.  No matter how hard I try and work at this, I just can’t get ahead, and I am just hurting, and I am worried about finances, and there is just never, ever enough, and there is just always more month left than money.  What do I do?”  Could it be, could it be, that perhaps the business of personal finances is cursed in that we are not honoring God at level one, returning the tithe to Him? 

Hagaii 1:6, maybe you feel like this. The Bible says, “You’ve planted much, but you’ve harvested little. You eat but you never have enough. You drink, but you never have your fill.  You put on clothes, but you are not warm.  You earn wages, only to put them in a purse.”  Can you relate to this? It just seems to go away?  The cursed business. 

The second kind that we are going to talk about is the blessed business, and this is where it gets fun.  Malachi 3:11-12, for those who tithe, God says, “I will prevent the pest from devouring your crops, says the Lord Almighty.  Then all nations will call you blessed.”  All nations will say you are blessed of God. 

There was this little bitty small town that was driven by the grain industry.  Almost everybody was in the grain business, and there was this little small town church that was struggling financially, always had.  And the church asked one guy, the guy that owned the big grain silo, who was known as a man of integrity, “Would you manage the church finances?”  And the guy said, “I will on one condition.”  “What’s the condition?”  He said, “For the very next year, you don’t ask me any questions.  You don’t look at the books.  You let me manage them the way I want to, and at the end of the year, I promise you, we will be ahead of the game.”  And they, because they trusted him, said, “Sure.  Go ahead.”  One year later, the church was out of debt.  The church had had the best year of ministry ever.  All the people in the town were saying they were so blessed.  Their grain business did awesome, and they said, “How did you pull this off?”  He said, “It is very simple.  When all of you brought your stuff down to my silo, I just took ten percent of what was yours, and I gave it to God for you.  I just helped our whole church tithe.  Look at the results,” he said.  “First of all, not only did you not miss it ever, but most of you were very, very blessed.  Our church is out of debt, and look at the ministry that we have been able to accomplish.”  The blessed business. 

Here’s a thought that I hope that you don’t miss. This is the thing that most people don’t understand.  It’s the spiritual side of it.  Ninety percent with God’s blessings is far more than one hundred percent without His blessings.  This is the part that humanly doesn’t make sense.  This is the spiritual factor of God, that ninety percent with the blessings of God is far more than doing what you can do with one hundred percent of it. 

So what is your preference, the cursed business or the blessed business?

Freedom From Debt

Let’s talk a couple minutes about getting our finances under control. I know it’s not possible but it has to be addressed. A huge part of financial freedom is the elimination of overhead.  We are talking about reducing debt.  What I am about to show you is one of the most important things you could ever learn about your personal finances.  Dave Ramsey calls it the “Debt Snowball.”  Look at the bottom look at the attached diagram.  Here’s what we’ve got.  In the first column, we will see the different people or businesses that we owe.  In the second column you will find the amount that is owed.  We owe $450 to Sears, $650 to Macy’s, $1,600 to our parents, and so on.  In the third column, you will see the minimum payment, the very lowest amount that we are allowed to pay to eliminate this debt. 

What are we going to do?  What I am about to show you will change your life forever.  Here is what’s going to happen.  You’re going to find an extra $200 a month.  Now, you may say, “Where in the world will I find an extra two hundred dollars?”  Good question.  I don’t know, but you will find it.  You will get very, very creative.  If you have to take a second part-time job, you will do that.  If you will eliminate cable TV or a cell phone, or stop drinking expensive drinks, or whatever, you will find $200 a month, and what you will do with that $200 will change future generations.

Here’s how it will play out.  Let’s start with Sears.  We owe them $450.  Your minimum payment is $50.  You will pay them $50 and add to it the $200 that we just found, totaling $250, and within a matter of only a couple of months, Sears is gone.  Bye, bye, Sears.  We’ll never have to worry about that again.  Now, we are going to let the money start to snowball away the debt.  What are we going to do?  Let’s attack Macy’s.  Macy’s, we owe $30 a month.  We are going to take the $30 and add to it $250 a month.  Now, where did that $250 come from?  You remember?  We just freed up $250 a month because we paid off Sears.  We are going to take that $250 and the $30, and together, we’ve got $280, and guess what?  In just a matter of a couple of months, Macy’s is gone as well, and the snowball is getting bigger.  Let’s take our parents.  We are paying them $200 a month.  We will add to it the $280 that we freed up, because we no longer have to pay Macy’s or Sears, and now, we’ve got $480 a month going to pay off mom and dad.  Again, a matter of a few short months, and mom and dad are paid for.  Then, we are going to take this money that grows each and every month and apply it to the next debt that we owe, starting with the smallest amount of debt, so we can knock it out, and going piece by piece down to the largest.  We are going to let the debt snowball, completely wipe out everything that we owe but the house. 

Now, how will that benefit you in the long run?  Let me show you something that’s really, really fun.  If you just continue to pay minimum payments, like so many people do, it is going to take you 120 months to pay off your debt.  That’s 10 years before you pay off all this debt.  That’s assuming you don’t take on any more.  Now, watch this.  If you do the debt snowball, your payoff time is not 120 months, but instead, 21 months.  That’s a difference of 99 months of not paying any debt.  Now, buckle your seatbelt and get ready for this.  If you take $1,110 … now, where did we get $1,110?  If you will look at the debt that you just paid off, you freed up $1,110 a month in debt payments that you no longer have.  If you take that money and you invest it at 12% for that same 99 months that you would have been paying on your debt, at the end of that time period, you will have $186,569.86.  In most parts of the country, that’s a house, paid for in cash, totally debt free.  You can do it. 

Here’s Linda’s story. As a widow she was $66,000 in debt six years ago. This week she paid her last payment on the $66,000. She is debt free.