How to Identify and Break Poor Financial Habits

Welcome back to the “Financial Freedom—God’s Way!” Let me ask you a question. How do you get rid of a bad habit? The answer has two parts. First, you need to recognize the bad habit. Second, you must replace the bad habit with a good habit. The same process applies when we talk about how to manage your money in ways pleasing to God. Before you can move to spiritually higher ground in your finances, you must first learn to identify and replace worldly economic habits with habits based on God’s Word.

The economy

Right up-front let me say that the topic of economics is very interesting–if you happen to be an economist. This is probably because economists are a different breed of cat. They are a difficult bunch to pin down. Someone once said that if we took all the economists in the world, lined them up end-to-end, they would never reach a conclusion! This must have been the same someone who said that the only reason for economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable! But a word of caution: We ought not to be too hard on economists. After all, they have correctly predicted eight out of the last three recessions!

It is important for you to understand the basics of our national economy because our national economy directly affects your personal financial attitudes and habits. Many economists believe our nation will continue to go through temporary economic ups and downs. But on the whole, most everyone in a position to know or have an informed opinion, believe our national economy will continue to suffer from an incurable malady–the misuse of debt. Quite often our government chooses to spend more than it makes, and all too often tries to make up the difference with debt (borrowing from U.S. citizens and companies, and other national governments, etc.).

Our government has taught us well. You and I often choose to live on more than we make, and all to often we try to make up the difference with debt (spending from credit cards, loans, etc.). You get deeper into debt the longer you spend more than you make. The longer you spend more than you make the more debt becomes a habit, and habits (especially lifestyle habits) are hard to break.

Why are bad habits hard to break?

Because breaking habits requires change and for most, change is very uncomfortable. However, if you stick with the change long enough, the change becomes comfortable and the new habit begins to stick. For example, clap your hands. Most likely you moved your hands from side-to-side. Now, try clapping your hands by moving your hands up and down. This change is uncomfortable, isn’t it? But, if you practice clapping up and down long enough, you will become more and more comfortable, and soon your practice will form a habit.

Simply put, if you want to manage your finances in ways pleasing to God, you need to identify and change some of your financial habits.

More specifically, you need to change your spending and debt habits to learn to live on LESS than you make (more about the “less” later). You need to recognize that as a citizen, as a church member, and as an individual, you have been led down a worldly road and into some bad economic habits–habits that get you into trouble. But there is a way out. The way out is to move away from the world and into God’s Word. You need to begin to rebuild and reshape your attitudes and economic habits by understanding and applying two key, biblical financial principles. These two principles can and should serve as the foundation for every economic decision you will ever make and help you break out of the debt cycle.

What are these two critical, biblical financial principles? The first is the biblical principle of “wealth.” According to the Bible, what does “wealth” mean to God? What does “wealth” usually mean to man? Why the difference and what to do about it? We will talk about “wealth” next time.

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Bob Louder is the Founder and President of Christian Financial Ministries (www.good-steward.org). Bob is also the author of the new best selling book, “Debt Free Living God’s Way,” available only on the Internet (www.debtfreelivinggodsway.org). Since 1987 Bob has helped people in hundreds of churches all across the country and in the European military community learn, understand, apply and pass on “Debt Free Living God’s Way” principles and practical applications. He has represented some of the top Christian financial authors and ministries to include Larry Burkett, Dave Ramsey, Christian Financial Concepts, and Crown Ministries.

Copyright 2006 Christian Financial Ministries, Inc., All Rights Reserved. You may reprint this “Special Report” in whole or in part without permission from Christian Financial Ministries, Inc. Please credit material used to Christian Financial Ministries, Inc.