27 ¶ Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
When it is in the power of your hand to do so.
28 Do not say to your neighbor,
“Go, and come back,
And tomorrow I will give it,”
When you have it with you. ~ Proverbs 3:27, 28 (NKJV)
By Bro. John L. Cash, “Country Preacher Dad”
I’d like to share a bit of a practical lesson today. Throughout the span of our marriage, Susan and I have paid our share of medical bills. I would suspect that the same thing can be said about you. Even when a person has health insurance, there are still always a lot of deductibles, non-covered charges, and co-pays to take care of. And have you noticed that every doctor, nurse, technician, and department sends you a separate bill? The task of paying off all of these charges can easily seem overwhelming.
I want to share with you a bill-paying strategy that has always worked for me. It has its roots in an off-handed comment my father made when I was a little child. Watching my father sit with his checkbook amidst a towering bills made me a little fearful. I asked him what he would do if he didn’t have enough money to pay all of the bills. He said, “Well, if you don’t have enough money to pay all your bills in full, send all of your creditors SOMETHING. As long as you are making regular payments, even one dollar a week, the judge won’t haul you off to jail. And most creditors will work with you if you’re doing your best.”
So based on that, here’s “Brother John’s Slick Bill-Paying Scheme”:
- Go to the store and buy a box of cheap envelopes. You can probably get a hundred of them for a dollar. It doesn’t even matter if they’re so cheap that they have lousy glue on the flaps. You can put a drop of glue on them or a bit of tape. You’re just going to mail bills in them.
- Go to the post office and buy a book of stamps. If you can afford a roll of stamps, buy that. You’re going to need them.
- Pile up your doctor bills and look at them.
- On Friday when you get your paycheck, look at your financial situation, and honestly assess how much money you can put on your hospital bills that week.
- Divide that amount of money up between your creditors. Mail each one a check. Even if it isn’t much, still mail it. It shows good faith on your part. And, after all, you have already calculated that it’s as much as you can afford to send. (If you’re not satisfied with the amount you can send, look for non-essentials that you can cut out of your budget.)
- Repeat the process each Friday, and mail everybody a check. When you pay off one creditor, add the amount of that payment to somebody else’s payment. Before you know it, you’ll have your bills paid off! And that is a wonderful feeling.
Before I started doing this, I sometimes procrastinated paying on a hospital bill. Because I had “only twenty dollars” for a particular bill I would put off paying on the bill until “I was able to pay more.” When you do that, the hospital wonders why you aren’t paying on your bill and may send you a letter asking you why. Truth be told, the hospital would probably be satisfied with the twenty dollars. Nowadays, if I could only spare $20 a month for a particular bill, I’d mail it to them $5 a week. And I’d never get a phone call or letter.
Some of the billing departments at hospitals have told me that I really don’t need to send a check each week because they calculate balances on a monthly basis. But I have had more luck sending a check each week. When you only send a check once a month, you may show two payments on one statement and none on the next. The “one check a week” insures that your efforts show up on every statement.
Benjamin Franklin is famous for saying, “Industry and thrift decreases debts; despair increases them.” And today’s Scripture lesson (at the top) bears out the same lesson. So don’t hide from your bills. Ask the Lord to bless and help you, and then send everyone a little bit each week.
Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 27 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days has a desk-job at a public school and teaches Latin on closed-circuit-television.) He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where the Preacher has also paid the orthodontist for three sets of braces, a little at a time ). The Cashes have two sons, Spencer (age 21), and Seth (age 18), who live in the parsonage, too, except when they are away at college. He would love to hear from you in an email sent to email@example.com.