A Command to Be Debt-Free

Information on how to become debt-free comes in unusual forms. Some time ago, I came across "The Ten Commandments of Shopping," distributed as an insert in a church bulletin. I found these commandments, created by Gordon Botting, a financial advisor, quite instructive. If people mired in debt followed all ten of Botting's commandments religiously, perhaps they could purge some of their unprofitable habits and create ones that would save them some money

The first commandment on Botting's list says, "Thou shalt not shop without a list," and the second is like unto it: "Thou shalt not shop without a limit." Both of these commandments are a call to get organized in order to be in control of your spending. As you apply the process, you have to be careful of the people with whom you go shopping, because in his eighth commandment, Botting cautions, "Thou shalt avoid other spendthrifts." Obviously, it's important to shun the company of people who are born to shop if you are going to debt-free.

The commandments so far may seem like tongue-in-cheek advice, but careful examination reveals that there is a serious underside to them. As I looked them over, Commandment Number 10 held the most appeal for me. It simply says, "Thou shalt back away." The instruction is succinct, but needs some explanation. This is the strategy, according to Botting. After selecting your items, just before you reach the checkout counter with your shopping basket, stop and ask yourself, Do I really need all these items? "If you can put some of them back, you will have given yourself a financial discount," Botting says. Here is an appealing financial tool that anyone can use.

The advice proved so motivational that the next time I went shopping, I decided to practice what had been preached to me in this tenth commandment. At a store nationally known for its name-brand bargains, I picked out three smart-looking outfits, even though I had gone in to buy only one to take as a gift for my mother, whom I was going to visit. I toyed with the three dresses, two of which were meant for me. I studied their color, style and price. I hung them up against the rack and backed off to examine them some more. All three looked desirable, but I asked myself the requisite question: Do I really need the extra two? Of course, the answer was No. I obeyed Commandment Number 10 and backed away. I selected one for my mother, replaced the other two on the rack, and with the joy of an overcomer, marched to the counter and swiped my debit card. I had given myself two-thirds off. It was that easy.

Keeping this commandment could prove a boon to your financial freedom. You may have heard it said that it's impossible to go into a supermarket for one item and come out with just the one thing you went in to buy, but applying the commandment to "back away" can make a difference. It's not too late even if you are at the checkout counter. Leave the unnecessary items, pay for the one thing that you came for, and claim your financial discount.

To the rational Wharton School of Business economist, this method of financial restraint may seem frivolous, but taken seriously, it is possible that this approach to debt reduction, combined with will power, could work. There is nothing to invest, no consultant fee to pay. It is just a simple, low-budget approach to irradicating acquisitiveness and reducing extravagant spending habits. It's a commandment worth keeping.

at 9:06 PM
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