5 Credit Habits for a Healthy Financial Future
Do you ever think about how much more you can impact your community by maintaining healthy credit? Or even about how healthy credit will benefit you and your family?
More than ever before, maintaining good physical health, including financial health, is quite the hot topic.
As Christians who care about the whole person—body, mind and soul—we continually strive to be good stewards of what our Lord has entrusted to us in this life, and that includes our financial resources. Building and maintaining healthy credit has its advantages: better interest rates, a boost on your job application and even lower car insurance rates.
When you have a strong credit report and score, potential creditors consider you to be low-risk and therefore a great candidate for their best offers.
Most importantly, healthy credit is often a reflection of a healthy relationship with the resources that God has provided to each of His stewards.
When we maintain great credit, we put ourselves in the best possible position to be generous with our giving and better able to further the ministry that our Lord has set before us.
According to Larry Crume, vice president of National Lending for Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF), “LCEF encourages borrowers to prepay, if you will, their financial obligations through ordinary and extraordinary means so that less of their resources go toward debt and instead can be utilized more directly in growing their ministry.”
For churches and rostered church workers, this is sometimes easier said than done. Finances may become stagnant at best, and even fall short at times. The temptation to use easy credit like payday loans to solve money issues is a strong but dangerous option.
Still, God calls us to a life of faithful stewardship, even when we struggle to make ends meet.
“LCEF is interested in helping churches and workers be financially responsible [because] we are called to be good stewards of all of our resources [and] churches and workers who are financially responsible allow LCEF to perpetuate its purpose–offering funding and resources in support of the church.”
Chief Credit and Administration Officer, LCEF
With that in mind, there are certain positive credit habits that can help churches and workers to build and maintain good credit health, for the benefit of the family and the church-at-large.
- Keep your revolving balances low and pay down debt quickly. Credit scores are largely based on debt to available credit ratios. Keeping under 30% of available credit card balances will boost your credit rating.
- Make on-time payments, and make them count. If possible, pay credit card balances in full each month. At the very least, never miss or delay a payment.
- Don’t close old accounts, but rather diversify your credit types. Having different kinds of debt, like an auto loan, personal loan or other installment debt, can actually help your credit score. This does NOT mean to borrow for the sake of improving a credit score.
- Be wise with your spending, and stay within your limits. Consult your tax advisor or financial planner for help in making decisions applicable to your own situation.
- MONITOR! Understand and track your credit regularly via trusted websites like Annual Credit Report. It’s much more difficult to manage your credit when you rarely get a glimpse of the big picture.
Since it can be intimidating to navigate the credit landscape, it’s important to work with experts who understand the unique challenges that churches and workers face.
Credit products and programs through the Rostered Church Worker loan program* are designed to help workers build and maintain healthy credit that will allow them to focus on ministry and the future.
“LCEF … fully embrace[s] the Bible’s call that all believers be good stewards of those resources and spiritual gifts God has bestowed on us,” said Kirk. “In this regard, LCEF walks alongside pastors, church workers and congregations [so] that it can become a financial partner that assists them in evaluating potential loan opportunities, prudent loan structures and the consequences of excessive debt. Additionally, LCEF’s Ministry Support group works to help congregations and ministries live out their purpose within God’s kingdom by formulating a specific vision for their ministry.”
In the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-30), we hear of how God entrusts each of us with different financial assets, gifts and opportunities, all toward service to neighbor and the glory of God. Honing these healthy credit habits, and partnering with LCEF to make the most of our gifts and assets, helps to enable the Christ-centered ministries of the LCMS to continue their mission.
And that’s true and lasting health.
This article originally appeared in the 2018 winter issue of Lutheran Church Extension Fund’s official magazine, Interest Time.