by Pastor Mark Mackay
The Christmas and New Year period is great but, for many families the period that follows, in February, brings us back down to earth really quickly. The credit card statements come in and it includes the Christmas spending and the kids returning to school. We all know what it’s like to be enjoying the ‘silly season’ but then wake up with the bill. Additionally, this year, many families have found that one of the results of the COVID season has been to overspend their money.
This stress points to a wider problem in our community—that of debt stress. With the growth of the ‘instant society’ in which we live, we don’t have to wait for many things—the internet gives instant information, social media gives instant connection, entertainment platforms give instant fun. But one of the downsides is that we don’t learn to save money; we expect to buy something instantly. So, we take on credit and debt.
Recently, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) reported that 18.5% of Australian consumers were overwhelmed by their credit card debt load, with outstanding balances now totalling more
than $45 billion.
Now, let me be clear, there is nothing inherently or implicitly bad about debt. Sometimes debt is necessary. But I’ll leave it to people smarter than me to advise on the types of good and bad debt. My concern is the effect excessive debt has on families. Financial stress has become one of the leading factors in family dysfunction.
The Bible sheds light on the issue of financial stress: “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. As goods increase, so do those who consume them.” (Ecclesiastes 4:10-11)
One of the best ways we can address money in our families is to have a family budget. The problem is most people have never done a budget for any purpose (household, work, recreational club). So, we need someone to show us how. Our Church will be conducting a CAP Money Course in the afternoons of 21 and 28 February. You can find out more abut CAP Money at capmoney.org. This course will show you how to create a budget and then manage your finances. To know more about the course, feel free to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you find yourself in debt and it has become a source of stress, let me encourage you to not become a slave to that debt. Start with a plan, seek good advice, do the CAP Money Course and then set out to put money in its right place.
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