Credit card debt in the United States recently hit a record high.
And there’s more bad news: Research from the credit agency TransUnion shows American households are having trouble paying off their credit cards.
While medical costs have increased by 34% in the last decade, and food prices went up by 22%, the primary contributing factor cited by Americans for the credit card debt was: “spending more than I can afford on unnecessary purchases.”
Why do we spend more money than we should?
Better yet, how do we stop?
In her 28-day devotional entitled, “Breathing Room,” Sandra Stanley says money is a spiritual matter. Too often, she says, “we trade peace for a purchase” because of fear.
Specifically, we fear:
We Fear Missing Out – We purchase an item with a credit card, even though we should wait until our next paycheck because we’re afraid of missing a limited-time sale. Or, we buy sports equipment for our kids we can’t afford because we fear they won’t get the opportunities they need to succeed.
We Fear Not Mattering – We buy the lie that our possessions can prove our worth to the world. Therefore, we overextend our budgets for wardrobes and vehicles to buy prestige in the world’s eyes. We forget that God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).
We Fear Falling Behind – Comparison tricks us into thinking we need to catch up to our peers. We tell ourselves we should be further along in life than we are. So, we remodel our home or purchase another, because our stuff suddenly looks old and outdated compared to everyone else’s.
We Fear Disappointing Others – We say “yes” instead of “sorry; I just can’t this time” because we fear disappointing others. This fear creeps into our financial life especially at Christmas and special occasions. We also face it with special trips or vacations. We overextend ourselves because we fear disappointing others.
Jesus said in Luke 16:13: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
“Your money’s direction shows your heart’s affection,” says Stanley.
Before making your next purchase, ask yourself if any of these fears are influencing your decision:
Do I fear missing out?
Do I fear not mattering?
Do I fear falling behind?
Do I fear disappointing others?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you’re not alone.
These are areas where God invites us to cast our cares upon Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).
Proverbs 15:16 says: “Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it.”
To break bad financial habits, we must first identify what fears are driving our purchasing decisions. Then, we must ask God to show us how to invest what He’s entrusted to us.
After all, Jesus said the abundant life we desire is not found in an abundance of possessions (Luke 12:15).
About the Author:
Laura Lacey Johnson is a cutting-edge faith and culture writer who focuses on everyday headlines. In addition to speaking, she is a contributor to ChristianHeadlines.com and American Family Radio. To read Laura’s latest work on the headlines, visit www.lauralaceyjohnson.com, or to download your FREE copy of Why Jerusalem is Important to 3 World Religions, click here.