Science has long told us that having strong religious ties is one of the greatest guarantees of happiness, with recent studies showing that religious worship is the only community activity that promotes sustained happiness. The term ‘religion’ actually means ‘to bind together.’ A question that many Catholics may ask themselves at some points in their lives, however, is whether or not their faith can also help lift them up when they are facing financial hardship.
What does the Bible Say on Debt?
The Bible guides us with respect to the debt by noting (in Hebrews 13:5): “be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” It is an inspiring message indeed at times when we have to tighten our belts to pay off debt. Having faith that God will provide for us helps put us in a positive frame of mind. Whether we have a mortgage to pay or we are saving for our children’s college or raising finance for future projects, it is important to make decisions mindfully and positively. Doing so reminds us that there are many others in need whom we can help with our time, efforts, and even our resources.
What Happens if You are Already in Debt?
As the famous passage in Psalms 23:4 states, “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Even if you have a big debt and you are worried about making ends meet, know that you aren’t walking alone. Armed with the power of faith and prayer, you can get to work on creating a financial strategy to deal with creditors. Make an appointment with a financial advisor and discuss options such as refinancing a mortgage, consolidating loans, or selling off assets. Obtaining further finance may sound counter-productive, but it may be helpful in the long run if you need to get by for a specific time period until funds become available. If your debt simply involves paying off a credit card or creditors, you will need to create a payment plan, aiming to pay off high-interest loans as quickly as possible to reduce the total amounts you have to pay out. Rely on technology to ensure you stick to a budget in the future. Apps like Mint will enable you to clearly identify areas in which you can cut back on spending.
Speaking to Your Bank
You should also talk to your bank about ways in which to lower the interest you owe on loans. For instance, if you have built up a good credit rating over the years, you may be qualified for a better interest rate on a credit card or loan. A consolidation loan or balance transfer, meanwhile, may help you pay off current credit debt at a lower interest rate. Obtaining as much information as possible is vital, and this means taking the time to meet with bank staff, financial mentors, and anyone who is knowledgeable enough on finance and banking to point out services and solutions you may not have been aware of. The result of your research should be a specific strategy with a stipulated length of time for the complete payment of all your debts.
Being in debt is not the end of the world. The Bible reminds us to always trust that God is by our side and that, like the birds and other creatures of the wild, worrying about going hungry will do us no good. Rather, armed with our faith and the support that the Catholic community can bring, we can work on arming ourselves with information and creating a debt repayment plan that will help us realize that much like many of life’s biggest ups and downs, debt is temporary and does not define us.