Banks in the US collect billions of dollars a year of overdraft fees from consumers. What many consider only a one-time fee of between $25-$35 over time adds up to being so much more if done on a regular basis. With spending being at an all time high and many people living below the poverty line, there are those who have chosen to use money that’s not in their account and accept the risk of incurring overdraft fees.
All of this is a cycle. For some it comes from a place of disparity and for others, it is learned behavior from what their parents did, but overspending is killing the possibility of living a debt free life.
About 10 years ago I found myself in a bad situation. I was working as a contractor and I got laid off right before the holidays. All I could think about was how I was going to feed my kids. It wasn’t a matter of turkeys and toys but a matter of if we could survive off of peanut butter and jelly until my next job started or unemployment kicked in. Well I cashed my check and put that money aside for bills. Then I went to the grocery store and bought over $200 worth of groceries with a bum check. That was a check I knew I didn’t have the money for, but I figured once I got back on my feet, I’d repay what I owed.
Fast forward a few years later when I was doing a little better and entertaining family at my house when I got a knock on the door. It was a sheriff there to take me to jail. When they read the charges, I sank so deep in the back seat of the squad car and cried from shame and embarrassment. What I had done was fraud and it was something that I thought beyond $35 extra wouldn’t cost me more than what I paid for the groceries that day, but it cost me a lot. While sitting in the holding cell, I remember when the sheriff came for my mom. I remember crying because I couldn’t understand why they were taking her away from us and if she would ever come back. She did however return the next day and she explained to me that she was doing what she had to do to make sure we ate. See she too had written a bad check and actually had done it multiple times and the grocery store pressed charges. She was released and later had to pay what she owed in addition to other fees but it could have all been avoided if she had never over drafted.
Overcoming this cycle takes being a good steward over your finances, trusting God with your tithes, and budgeting. Times do get tough but if it gets to the point you feel you have to overdraft, then ask for help. Overdrafting comes from us believing we can fix a thing when it is not for us to fix but for God to show up on our behalf.
If we trust the Word, then we would know that God has us covered. Matthew 6:25-34 teaches us that we should not worry about what we are going to eat or drink but we are so busy trying to fix things ourselves that we fail to consult God or seek the Word for direction. We in turn create a mess with our finances.
Then there are those that just live completely beyond their means and have created a habit of overspending. Overdrafting has become a way of life and an extension of their paycheck. They can never get past the fees because they do not know how to budget and take control of their spending.
That’s why I thank God for Pastor Yolanda and her calling for the Ezra Financial Fast this week. Some people are not taught how to be disciplined with their finances or they go by what they’ve seen their parents do. Kids watch the overspending, utilities getting cut off, eviction notices being served and if they see the family rise above it, then they think the methods taken were correct. They don’t know if momma and daddy over drafted their accounts, took out payday loans, pawned items, or robbed Peter to pay Paul. It is important for spiritual leaders to not assume that everyone knows how to handle finances. It is even more important for them to teach Believers the right way to budget and grow their monies, so they don’t fall into the traps of overspending.
Hebrews 13:5 reminds us to be content with what we have and should serve as a reminder to not overspend; “Don’t be obsessed with getting more material things. Be relaxed with what you have. Since God assured us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you.” (MSG) God will not let us down so if you are ever facing a financial challenge and in need, do not over draft but seek the Father’s guidance on what to do next and how to meet the need. God will make a way.
Deborah Woolard is a single mother of three from Raleigh, NC and she currently resides in Charlotte, NC. She is an ordained & licensed minister and she serves as the Youth Director at R5 Church. Her love for writing, especially poetry is one of the many ways God allows her to use her gifts for His glory. Her poetry can be viewed at https://m.facebook.com/gracefullydsignedbydeborah/.