If you pay extra each month on your home mortgage, you add immediate equity to your home, reduce the interest paid over the term of the loan, and reduce the length of the loan. Do this consistently and you’ll save thousands of dollars in interest and shave years off the original loan. Even if you can’t commit to a large monthly amount, just round your payment up to the nearest hundred.

Pay off your car loan.

Interest on your car loan isn’t tax deductible and rates are generally higher than on your home mortgage. So pay it off as soon as possible by rounding up your monthly payment to the nearest hundred and then add $50, or whatever you can, to that amount.

Open an IRA.

If your funds are limited, open an IRA only after you have maxed out with your company’s retirement plan. If you have no company retirement plan, open an IRA immediately.

Evaluate life insurance.

If you’ve had the same term-life insurance policy for five years or more, you may be able to cut your premiums by changing policies. If you apply for a new policy and get a new medical exam, the insurer may feel you are a better risk than fixed insurance health assumptions indicate, and that means you should qualify for a lower premium rate.

Be accountable for your money.

Know where your money is going by establishing a budget and sticking to it. If an expense is not budgeted, don’t spend the money.

You might think it’s an out-of-date concept, but the biblical principle of debt-free living is still God’s plan for His people today. The blessings of being debt free go far beyond finances. They extend to the spiritual and marital realms as well. And the effects of financial bondage on marriage relationships are reflected in the statistics of failed marriages.

So come on, God’s people -- make saving money and debt freedom top priorities in the life of your family. No matter if others continue with negative savings, now would be a great time for you to turn your savings into making a positive impact for your future.

Howard Dayton is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries. Dayton and the late Larry Burkett joined forces in 2000 when Crown Ministries, led by Dayton, merged with Christian Financial Concepts, led by Burkett. The new organization became Crown Financial Ministries, on the web at www.crown.org.

© 2006 Baptist Press.