Saturday, January 20, 2007

Drowning in dumb

Well, actually the subject is on drowning in debt, but I like my title better. I'm talking about a recent 20/20 special on the subject of basically how dumb we Americans have gotten about our finances. (I hear my non-American readers chuckling in the background). The program aired last night (Friday Jan 20) and is entitled "Flat Broke: Begging And Borrowing In America". I'd highly recommend it.

Over the past year I've been researching and working on a web-based software to help manage cash flow and eliminate debt. An interesting experience got me thinking along these lines: several years ago the start up that I worked for was not doing well. They had already had three rounds of layoffs (etc - typical start up story). I decided we needed to be debt free. We didn't have much debt since we drove old/paid-for cars, but still had around $12k in credit card debt. So my wife would get one of the bills and ask how much to pay off. I'd generally just guestimate: "How much is it? 4000? Ya, pay half." One month I got a little too aggressive and we almost didn't have enough cash left for the next-month's rent. The difficulty, I found, was in aggressively paying off the debt while maintaining sufficient cash available to meet other short-term and longer-term requirements and goals. More on the software later.

The question I pose is this: given the many things that the Bible speaks regarding debt, and given the mental and spiritual torture that many experience while drowning in dumb, er, debt, is it wise to following the currently popular financial formula? If the borrower is slave to the lender (ah, priceless), then isn't the path to freedom obvious? Check out the 20/20 program and check out my friend Dave Ramsey while you're at it. In debt? This is the year for freedom.

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