• Never use a credit card to buy anything that isn’t budgeted.

• Pay the entire credit card bill each month.

• The first month the entire credit card bill cannot be paid, destroy the cards.

The difficulty encountered when people attempt to reestablish credit reinforces an important truth taught in Proverbs 22:1: "A good name is to be chosen over great wealth; favor is better than silver and gold."

It takes a long time to build a good reputation but very little time to destroy it. Although God is faithful to forgive, this doesn’t mean that the consequences of violating His principles of finance can be avoided. There is no quick fix to damaged credit. The best way to reestablish credit is through the disciplined use over a long period of time of whatever credit is remaining. In addition, if all past debts have been repaid, then each creditor should be personally contacted and asked to review the credit rating they have given to the credit bureaus.

Another helpful option in reestablishing credit is to obtain a secured credit card. A secured card is a bank credit card that is established by depositing money in a bank account. The account serves as security for the card; if the bill isn’t paid, the money in the account may be used to cover that debt.

Again, remember that the "first myth about credit is that you must have it, because you don’t." Use credit only for specific purposes for which you have budgeted and planned. And know how to use credit wisely. Lenders may promote the idea that a person should establish credit at an early age. But, in fact, the earlier you learn and put into practice biblical financial principles, the better off you’ll be. And the longer you can go without credit the chances are less that you’ll have to depend on it later.

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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.

© 2005 Baptist Press. All rights reserved. Used with permission.