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Summary: Is it sinful to borrow money? Is it evil to declare bankruptcy? And why do so many people seem to be in financial trouble today?

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There are a number of businesses that prey on the poor. That’s where they make their money. They market to people’s WANTS (and sometimes “Needs”) and then end up causing the poor to become even poorer.

But wait… there are other companies that will do exactly the same thing for you and me. In fact, I have one of their cards in my wallet (pull out wallet and produce a Credit Card).

ILLUS: The owner of a meat market had a customer come in one day and inform me she had gotten some unexpected money and wanted to fill her freezer. This customer picked out about $200 worth of meat and handed the owner her credit card.

The owner smiled and said: "I thought you got some unexpected money”.

"I did," she replied. "They raised the limit on my credit card"

Credit card companies make money in two ways.

1st – by charging the businesses a percentage of every sale that is made on their card. That’s why the gas station down the street offers you 5 cents off every gallon of gas if you’ll pay with cash or a check. They don’t want to pay the credit card company for their services.

But 2nd, these credit card companies make the most money by counting on us to accumulate so much debt that we end up NOT paying our bill on time. In fact, if you pay your bill in full each month, credit card companies regard you as “dead weight.” You are not their preferred customer.

Credit card companies count on you not being able to pay your bill on time. In fact, they encourage this behavior. Have you ever noticed on your statement the phrase: “Minimum payment”?

If you decide to only pay a portion of your bill, the credit card company is pleased. Do you know why? Because they charge an exorbitant amount of interest. Anywhere from 20 to 30% in some cases.

Now, that said, I use a credit card to keep track of my expenses for tax purposes. But there’s an inherent danger in using credit cards. Studies have found that – on average – people end up paying about 23% more every month than they would if they did not have a card.

Why would people spend more with a credit card?

Because if we ONLY have cash in our wallets, something in our brains says “STOP” when we find that only have a few dollars in our billfold. We’re not as likely to make “impulse” purchases, because it takes time to get the cash to buy what appeals to us.

But credit cards allow us to make “impulse” decisions in our purchases. Credit cards make it easier to buy what we WANT when we Want.

ILLUS: One wit observed: “Visa will take you anyplace you want to be… except out of debt.”

Next week we’re going to examine ways to get rid of financial debt.

But this week, we’re going to focus on dealing with our WANTS - because it’s our WANTS that lead many of us to spend more than we make.

ILLUS: I’m told that out West there is a General Store on the edge of nowhere. As travelers stop in they are greeted by a sign that says:

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