Thursday, 23 September 2021

T To Your Health

The Killer in Your Wallet

Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery.

-Mr. Micawber (in David Copperfield by Charles Dickens)


The one of the year holiday season is one period when many people spend far more than they should, hoping to buy a little happiness for themselves or someone they love. It would be bad enough if this imprudent extravagance only depleted the bank account. But in most cases, it adds to credit card debt.

With debt comes misery, as Mr. Micawber said. With misery comes stress and ultimately ill health - psychologically, physically, and sometimes spiritually and relationally. Although few scientific studies have been done to date on the direct effect of debt on physical health, an article published on WebMD described the chain of health related consequences from having more debt than you can handle. “In an Associated Press/IPSOS poll of 1,000 adults taken in early December, half of all Americans say they worry frequently about their debt, many of them saying they worry ‘most of the time,’ the article said. “The average household has ten credit cards, and the average interest rate is 19 percent. To pay each card off at the minimum monthly payment alone would take decades. In other words,” the article continued “credit has become a huge headache. And this is only one stress-related illness debt can cause. Stress increases levels of the hormone cortisol, whichcan lead to or worsen heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and even some forms of cancer.”[1] Other results can include gastro-intestinal problems and loss of sleep, plus “comfort eating,” which leads to obesity. Thus it’s not only the interest that compounds, mental and physical dis-ease follows hard in the wake of compounding debt.

Relationships also can suffer in the context of excess debt. There is little doubt that the feeling that you are drowning in debt, if it continues long-term, will be detrimental to your own health, and the health of your relationships, due to unresolved stress and conflict that can arise if one party is hiding the facts or one is blaming the other for the situation.


Al and Donna had been married over 25 years when Al made some risky investments without consulting his wife. To further complicate the situation, he used borrowed money to pay the bill because he was sure, based on the evidence he could obtain, that the company involved was going to pay a significant dividend very soon and that the profit would more than cover the expense accrued to that point. Unfortunately, those dividends never came, but the credit card bills never missed a beat. Ultimately, the load became unbearable, and Al began to develop multiple physical symptoms of the weight he was carrying. He finally leveled with Donna that he believed that the only way out of the hole he had put them in was bankruptcy. This did resolve most of their debt, but it also overstressed their relationship as they gradually drifted apart, and ultimately divorced.


By contrast, when both spouses view their debt as a shared challenge to be overcome together, they are half way to the solution, which involves (according to a number of financial advice websites) the following steps:

  • Set financial goals – many people have never even considered where they want to be, financially, three, five, or ten years from now. When you shoot for nothing in particular, you hit it nearly every time.
  • Determine where you are – sobering as it may be, the only way to get from where you are to where you want to go is to start by figuring out where you are. Compute your assets and subtract your debts. This is your “net worth.”
  • Create a spending plan – a budget is central to this process. While there are many forms that you can buy and use for this, the Federal Reserve has provided free “How to Budget & Save”[2]
  • Reduce spending – research ways to obtain what you need for less. Make a game of it with the whole family engaged. This will expose the children to the some fundamental financial issues, one of them being that many current expenditures can be reduced.
  • Eliminate debt – starting with your high interest debt. List them all, then pay them off, smallest to largest, over time
  • Create an emergency fund – since into every checkbook some rain will fall, the suggestion is to set aside three to six months’ worth of living expenses. This may seem daunting if you are living paycheck to paycheck, but it seems obvious enough that sooner versus later is a good choice. Start small, and build.
  • Carry adequate insurance – for many of us, all it would take is one uncovered medical emergency to bury us financially. Other insurances are important, too, including life and disability, auto and liability in addition to your homeowner’s coverage
  • Save for life’s major expenses through stock investing – there is more risk here than a bank savings account, but historically there has been a higher return. No-load mutual funds are a good alternative.
  • Make a will – this is an essential part of getting your affairs in order. Significant savings can be achieved for one’s family, and significant potential conflict avoided among the, by the creation of a written will. This can also be backed up by a videotaped “will,” if you wish to make it more personal.
  • Give – while this principle might seem to contradict your primary goal, charitable giving is a good reminder that even though we feel “broke” most of the time, we are still rich by the standards of most of the rest of the world. Besides, both Old and New Testaments suggest that we can never outgive God, Who is pleased with our giving, when it is done cheerfully.[3]


This article is adapted from The A to Z Guide to Healthier Living by David B. Biebel, DMin, James E. Dill, MD, and Bobbie Dill, RN. Available, with free shipping, directly from the author at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

[1]“Debt Can Be Bad for Your Health,” by Jean Lawrence; WebMD Feature;


[3]These principles are summarized from a wide range of suggestions in numerous books and on various websites, including:


Columnist: Dr. David B. Biebel

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Dr. Biebel has authored or co-authored twenty books, including one bestseller: If God Is So Good, Why Do I Hurt So Bad? and the Gold Medallion winner, New Light on Depression. His recent releases include Making God Visible and Away in a Manger: The Christmas Story from a Nativity Scene Lamb's Point of View.

His goal is to help people attain and retain optimal physical, emotional, spiritual, and relational health (personal wholeness) so they can love the Lord with their whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, and their neighbors as themselves. He founded Healthy Life Press ( to help new authors with something to contribute in this arena to get their works into print.

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        To Purchase these or any other of Dr. Biebel's titles click HERE


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