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No Debt No Sweat

A complete financial collection, 19 chapters
• What you can do today to get out of debt and kill the Debt Monster
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• How to save, invest, and retire wisely
• How mutual funds work
• How to stop fighting over money
• What to teach your kids about money
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no debt no sweat!

Failure: The First Step to Success

By Steve Diggs
No Debt No Sweat! Financial Seminar Ministry 1958. What a time! America was feeling her collective oats. It was the year Billboard Magazine began its Hot 100 chart reporting hits by the likes of Pat Boone, Rick Nelson, and the Platters. Gunsmoke, The Danny Thomas Show, and The Tales of Wells Fargo captured our tele-attention in the evenings. The Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants grand slammed their way to the West Coast.

But not everything was so successful. 1958 also saw the launch of one of the most highly promoted cars that Ford Motor Company had ever produced. Of course, today for many people, the word Edsel is almost synonymous with the word failure.

But it didn’t start out that way. Designed to be an innovative, niche-filler in the Ford line-up, the Edsel featured a host of new styling and technical ideas. One of the most talked about was the push button system in the center of the steering wheel hub that controlled the automatic transmission. Even the name was special—chosen from nearly 8,000 options.

But, alas, the Edsel simply didn’t sell. One person described the car’s sales chart as the drawing of a dangerous ski slope. So, after three disappointing years and millions of lost dollars, Ford discontinued production of the Edsel.

So, what does the Edsel’s failure have to do with you?

Well, actually, it may have a lot to do with you. Sure, I realize that some of you are financially healthy and are looking for investing concepts. But there is also another group of you who are hoping to find some answers and relief from money problems that are tearing apart the very fabric of your lives. If you are like many Americans today, you started your early adult life “planning” for success. You, no doubt, planned to have enough set aside one day to buy a home, send the kiddos to college, and retire with dignity.

Yet, despite all those early “plans,” if you are like more than 70 percent of American families, today you are living paycheck to paycheck. For you, the American Dream long ago became a gothic nightmare. If I’m describing you, maybe you’ll identify with some of these struggles:

  • You know all too well what it feels like to sit bolt upright in bed in the middle of the night not knowing how you are going to pay the rent.
  • More than once, you have hesitated to answer the phone for fear of another harassing bill collector.
  • You dread talking about money with your spouse because it always ends in a fight. And, even worse, there are times when you haven’t been totally honest with each other about money and spending issues.
  • When a good cause comes along, your heart breaks because you have nothing to contribute.

If you can relate to any of these scenarios, I’m talking to you. Because, just like the Edsel, you had “plans” for success, but somewhere along the way things got off track.

Remember, Ford Motors turned the Edsel experience around and learned from its mistakes. Today, with scores of automotive hits to its credit, Ford is one of the most successful carmakers in the history of the world! By learning from your mistakes—and then having the courage to do things differently—your future can be a lot brighter than your past.

Everybody on the other side already has a plan. Car dealers, advertisers, real estate salespeople, telemarketers, credit card companies—all have plans to extract the money in your wallet and transfer it to their corporate piggy banks. And unless you are more prepared and dedicated than they are, you’ll lose and they’ll win. No, I’m not saying that these are bad people. But as a consumer you have to be dollar smart. You need a spending, budgeting, and investing plan that you stick with no matter how good that new car smells or how low that introductory interest rate is.

America’s Great Closet Sin

Like most of the problems we face, financial pain has its roots in the bad decisions we have made all along the way. And, like most bad decisions, we are filled with shame and fear that others will find out. To admit financial failure is to admit that something in our lives is out of control—and we don’t like to do that. So instead of bringing the problem into the light where it can be dealt with, we try to hide it from others—and often ourselves. Things go from bad to worse until, finally, the house of cards falls in on itself.

God really does know how we tick. Over the years I have become convinced of two things:

  • As long as I deny or excuse any sin in my life, I continue to fall farther behind. Only when I face my sin can the healing (changing) process begin. Sin is like a cancer; until it is recognized and isolated it can’t be treated. And just as cancer, a sin ignored doesn’t go away—it continues to grow until it finally consumes and destroys the whole body!
  • There is strength in numbers. Sometimes the only way to deal with a problem is through confession and accountability to other believers. James tells us to “confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (5:16).

As we accept and internalize these two vital concepts, things change. We will begin to debunk the three myths that keep us in debt:

  • People in debt think they’re all alone. You aren’t! You’re with more than 70-percent of the population if you’re living from paycheck to paycheck.
  • People in debt think they’re dumb. This is a lie from Satan. As long as you feel stupid and incapable, you won’t be an over-comer. Remember, God has put a lot of gray matter between your ears. Anyone can learn the basics of overcoming debt.
  • People in debt feel hopeless. Things are not hopeless. Virtually anyone who gets focused and follows a plan can get totally out of debt (excluding their home) in a one- to four-year period.

Steve DiggsSteve Diggs presents the No Debt No Sweat! Christian Money Management Seminar at churches and other venues nationwide. Visit Steve on the Web at  or call 615-834-3063. The author of several books, today Steve serves as a minister for the Antioch Church of Christ in Nashville. For 25 years he was President of the Franklin Group, Inc. Steve and Bonnie have four children whom they have home schooled. The family lives in Brentwood, Tennessee.

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