Some of you might be thinking, "Chris, can debt really be used wisely? Shouldn't it be avoided?"
On the other hand, others of you might think, "I love using debt!" However, you might be struggling paycheck to paycheck as well.
So how can debt be used wisely where it doesn't affect your peace of mind?
Whenever people hear me speak on this subject, it's pretty easy for them to accept, even though it's not popular.
It's not about debt being good or bad. It's about whether you are a good or bad steward.
A great way to illustrate this (regardless of your religious beliefs) is the Parable of the Talents from the Bible.
In this story, there are 3 servants given from their master a certain amount of money, called talents, and commanded to make more with the money he provides. The 1st is given five, the 2nd is given two, and the 3rd is given one.
Notice that it's not their money. They are indebted to this master.
After a certain period of time, they are asked to return the money and anything they have made. The 1st servant with five talents made 5 more. The master rewards him with his stewardship of his kingdom because he was wise with the little he was given.
The 2nd servant with two talents made 2 more and was rewarded exactly the same.
However, the 3rd servant was afraid of losing his one talent, buried it, and then gave it back to the master. The master was angry and cast him out of his house because he didn't follow his commandment to be a wise steward of that money.
To make this story more interesting, it would have been neat to add a 4th servant who's given three and returns with nothing. Just kidding.
The moral of the story is this - Wise stewards make more with what they're given. Unwise stewards do not.
Therefore, debt only works if we are wise stewards where you know you can make more with it. For example, if you get a $10,000 loan for your business that costs you $100 per month, but you can make $1,000 per month immediately as a result of that money. Wouldn't that be a wise use of debt?
Unfortunately, those that are Consumers (unwise stewards) only use debt that takes money away and doesn't give back. Some of those even gamble it away in speculative ventures or "investments" and lose it all. That is bad stewardship.
Wise stewards (Creators) looks for ways to take as little risk as possible with their debt, and then find ways where it can be paid back quickly.
Note - You can be an unwise steward for trying to pay back debt TOO quickly without considering unexpected curves that life can throw at you.
I've experienced both personally. I've used debt to make more money than it cost me, and I've also used debt where bit me in the rear, including paying it down too quickly and not having enough savings as a result. The risk wasn't the debt....It was me!
So the next time you consider getting a loan, ask yourself:
"Am I being a wise steward of this loan where I know I am getting the return I need, or will this hurt me more than help me?"
How has debt hurt or helped you?