Okay, But What If Debt Really Is Bad?

We’ve had a fabulous discussion over at the Home Sweet Mortgage post, and I’d love to continue it. The thing is, the direction I would really like to take it is into the area of creatively brain storming how a Christians might live and function if they decided Debt really was completely unacceptable.

I’m not saying it is (Mindy and I have chosen to take loans out for her to finish school), but I’m contemplating what things might look like if we firmly believed that it was. You see, I think too often we are quick to interpret and justify away some of scripture because we can’t figure out how it would “work” in our world today. I think that’s why a lot of people don’t believe in non-violence (a topic for another post). I think this is also why most people give the “buying is better then renting” statement and then give the short financial advice to back it up.

Again, I’m not saying buying is bad, I’m just saying maybe we can think of ways to think of all of it in a completely new way. Jac, mentioned people in the church giving others loans. That’s a neat idea that is outside the box of what we ever consider. I want to brainstorm ideas like that.

So, the floor is open. The one rule is that what ever idea you present, it has to be given with the assumption that Debt is unacceptable and not an option.

How do we live? were do we live? College? Cars? the floor is yours…

8 thoughts on “Okay, But What If Debt Really Is Bad?”

  1. So, part of the question is not that home ownership is antithetical to the Bible, but how can we afford homes without mortgages? The first step is to save cash by living below our means. We can move to areas of the country–or the inner cities–where homes can still be bought on a year’s income.

    HUD has a program called Teacher Next Door (also available to firemen and policemen) in which teachers can purchase foreclosed homes in certain “improvement areas” for half the HUD list price. For a three year commitment, public servants can get a real break on the price and become stabilizing forces in transitional communities. We have seen several GREAT homes for $30,000 and under.

    America also has a dearth of multi-generational living. I also think it would be helpful for churches to pair elderly people without family support with young couples just starting out. Young people could share living costs and save for future home ownership in exchange for providing help and companionship.

  2. We’ve checked with the teacher next door program a few times, but there were never any homes available. Meredith explained recently that they opened them up to Katrina victims.

    Here is one of my ideas. What if the church started teaching young people quality information about finances from a Christian perspective? My husband and I both took out huge loans for school. My father, who is not at all financially savvy, gave me really bad advice. And my husband’s father forged his named on the promissory note. My husband had no idea what he was getting into. So at this point we have such high school loan payments that we can’t afford a house that’s not a dump and we can’t afford to fix a house that we can afford. We also had a series of really bad events that decimated the savings that we had accumulated before we had children. If someone had been around to give us sound financial advice before we had a chance to accumulate all of that debt we would be in a better place. But now it is taking a long to work our way out of it.

    Another suggestion would be for friends and family to contribute to children’s college funds or just savings in general instead of buying all sorts of toys and junk that the children don’t really need. Then the kids don’t have to go into debt to fund their educations and it should be relatively easy to buy a home, even if they are doing it on one income while a parent stays home.

    The last suggestion I have is to buy the most modest home for the size of your family. So many people I know have huge homes. They could have purchased something that would have been big enough and put it on a 15 year loan instead of 30 years and have it paid off by the time their children are ready for college. Then the money that they are used to putting toward their mortgage would go toward college for their kids and allow their children to start out life debt free.

  3. Thanks you two!
    I guess not as many people have begun to think outside of the box of our culture very much. I think your ideas are great! I think if we begin to start thinking in this way we might actually get somewhere.

  4. I’m not one to let reality spoil my dreams, so lately I’ve been hoping to one day buy a plot of land on which to build an earthbag dome house. They are cheaper to construct and sustain.
    Other than that, we don’t own a house but we have a cheaper living situation because, though we are a young married couple, we have never lived alone. We have two roommates, because having two rooms of a four bedroom duplex is cheaper than a two bedroom apartment. (There are other, non-economic reasons as well) I like the above ideas of inter-generational living.

  5. Well, I think there is an idea that when you get married it’s “time to start your own life.” To me, that is kind of ignorant, as if we ever live autonomously. We wanted to shake that up. It’s one of our efforts to combat the unChristian individualism in our society.
    This also proved useful when I was in Oklahoma and Tiffany didn’t have to live alone.

  6. Amen to that.

    We should chat more about life in communal space and all that. It sounds like your experience has been good.

    throw that “start your own life” stuff out the window.

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