Last week we talked about the job skills that you could gain during the years you are paying off your debt. This week, I'd like to address some other skills that will greatly benefit you in your ministry.
The area I'd like to address would be catagorized as "living skills". One way to make good use of the years during debt payoff is to work on developing a solid Christian lifestyle. What does that mean? To some the challenge is not to fall into the 'materialistic' culture mode, especially once out of college and having a job with a steady income. The tendancy is to move up the ladder a bit from those college days of scrimping by, and enjoying a bit of 'freedom' in finances, lifestyle, and enjoyment. These things out of proportion can rob you of ever getting to the field. Remember that you will need to pay at least double if not triple on your college loans if you ever want to set foot in the direction God has called you. Live on a strict budget, and learn what that looks like and how it can help you navigate your financial challenges.
Another living skill is to learn how to (monthly) balance your checkbook, and your budget book. Shop on your budget, and learn how to cut costs on meals through more 'from scratch' cooking, looking for sales, coupon shopping, shopping with lists not hunger, etc. All these will be great lesssons to use for the rest of your life.
When you have to make a larger purchase like a newer car, stereo, that desired motorbike, make a wise choice in light of your situation and budget. "Do we really need a second car, or is there a way we can make one work for the both of us?" Rather than the cool SUV, motorbike or sports car, how about a more economical gas saver type? (You'll probably ride motorbikes all the time on the missionfield anyway, you don't need it now.)
Don't forget to tithe! Just because it seems you have no extra cash and are living on a very tight budget, that does not mean you can neglect the obedience of tything. I've never seen anyone that can out give God. Give your first 10th to God and the 90% will reach farther anyway. Also, begin your savings plan if you have not already done so. Don't spend every cent you have. Leave some margin for the unexpected. That's what a budget will do for you. Stick with it.
One last thing, if not already established, develop and maintain a daily exercise routine. Walk a lot. You don't always have to drive to the corner market for the big shopping trip. Make multiple trips over several days, getting a bit of your shoppping list each time, an amount you can easily carry home. Carrying what you buy, helps keep you from impulse buying, and saves you money, plus the benefit of the exercise.
Here's to each of you that find yourselves stalled in the "debt" gap. Use it to your advantage, and learn good living skills that will carry you through, not only in this gap, but for the rest of your life.
Your NW Recruiter