Thursday, March 27, 2008

Freedom Finance: happy?

Even the envelope was professionally enthusiastic while the letter exuded energy, announcing that our credit card limit was now raised to $15,000 and we were eligible for instant cash. Sure enough, tucked in behind the sheet of paper was a large check made out to my husband for $10,000.

Easy street, right?

The fine print hid the interest rate of 18.9% plus the cash advance fee of another $35. That $10,000 instant cash would have cost us nearly $1,900 in interest the first year. Not so free.

My husband called the credit card company, told them to reduce the limit to $5,000 and turned the check into confetti.

Ours is a consumer economy, driven by purchases. The more you buy, the more the economy grows. It’s all built on sand, of course.

The average consumer in America has over $9000 in credit card debt and half pay only the minimum monthly payment. Americans pay over $50 billion in interest each year and 1.3 million credit card holders declared bankruptcy last year.

Last week we discussed contentment, because lusting after new possessions produces this kind of debt. If you find that you fill those emotional empty places with stuffed shopping bags, you may be familiar with credit card debt.

This week, notice your contentment level. How many items have you bought because you wanted them that instant or you gave in to an in-store advertising trick? How much stuff are you storing because you bought on a whim, thinking this purchase would be honey on the sore places of your soul?

Paul wrote, “I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little.”[1]

And how did he learn that contentment?

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”[2]

So can we.

[1] Phil 4:12

[2] Phil 4:13

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