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FIRST-PERSON: Living debt-free

GAINESVILLE, Ga. (BP)–Our world has changed significantly since Larry Burkett first penned the words of his best-selling book, “Debt-Free Living,” over 20 years ago. But, as the old saying goes, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

In the case of debt, personal and national levels have not remained constant — they have skyrocketed, and it is still the top request for help that we receive at Crown Financial Ministries. But what has not changed is the source of wisdom that Larry drew upon to lead the readers into lives free from financial slavery: God’s Word. It remains relevant, practical and effective for bringing about the spiritual and financial transformation that we need.

As Christians, every aspect of our lives should be distinctively aligned with God’s purpose for us — and that includes our financial lives. Does that mean that we never deviate from the “straight and narrow”? Hardly! From time to time, we all need “refreshers” to pull us back onto the path that God has set before us.

Here’s a refresher we all need to practice: five simple steps to debt-free living.

1. Transfer ownership. Prayerfully transfer ownership of every possession to God (see Psalm 8:6). Remember, He’s the owner; we’re the managers (stewards).

2. Give the Lord His part. As a tangible reminder of God’s ownership, give Him the first part, the tithe, from your income.

3. Allow no more debt. Don’t use any more credit or credit cards until all existing debt has been paid. Pay with cash, check or debit card at the time of purchase.

4. Develop a realistic budget. You’ll need a written spending plan that allocates percentages of your income into living expense categories — including repayment of creditors.

5. Retire the debt. Concentrate on paying the debts with the highest interest rates. As each of those is paid off, apply its payment toward the one with the next highest balance. After the second is paid off, then apply amounts from the first and second toward the third highest and so forth.

And here’s some exciting news. Larry Burkett’s “Debt-Free Living” has been updated and revised to encourage and help people eliminate debt in today’s more challenging economy. For more information and to download a free chapter sample of the book, visit Crown.org/DebtFreeLiving.
Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries and host of Crown’s MoneyLife radio broadcast. Co-founded by Howard Dayton and the late Larry Burkett, Crown Financial Ministries (Crown.org) is an interdenominational ministry with 200 staff and over 10,000 volunteers dedicated to equipping people globally with biblically based financial stewardship tools and resources through radio, film, seminars, small groups and individual coaching.

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  • Chuck Bentley