I’m in Debt

My name is Nicholas from Nairobi Kenya, a Happy Warrior in the making. My question is on the F of Finance. How does one increase his income and get out of debt, especially now that the world and Kenya are experiencing high inflation rates? I ask this notwithstanding what you have said about your financial situation being a result of bad decisions of yesterday.

I have a wife and two children. The demands of raising my family have put me in a debt situation. I am employed and earn a salary.

Thank you and I hope to hear from you.

Nicholas M.

Dear Nicholas,

We welcome you to the ranks of the Happy Warriors. One of the most important lessons in life is knowing what your strengths are and knowing when you should turn to others for help. We strongly recommend that you research Dave Ramsey’s programs and books. He is a master at advising people how to get out of debt. That said, however, there are some steps to take immediately.

Please start off with a financial meeting with your wife. Make a joint decision that the two of you are committed to getting out of debt and improving your financial destiny as a priority. You didn’t mention how old your two children are, but if they are old enough to understand, tell them about this exciting family project that is going to lead to a brighter future.

You didn’t mention whether your wife works outside the home or whether she is a homemaker. If your wife does already work outside the home, discuss whether she is doing so to maximum effectiveness. Don’t underestimate the value of what she does in creating a home and being a mother. Reevaluation might be needed all around. The next step is to examine every single possible way in which your expenses can be lowered. The good news is that this period of austerity needn’t last long; just long enough to turn the tide.

The final step is to analyze and investigate every possible way in which to increase your revenue. This may include obtaining a raise from your current employer, finding a second job you can do evenings or weekends, and starting a small service business for your neighborhood, friends, and family.

As you will know from our book Thou Shall Prosper–The Ten Commandments for Making Money, it is really important to stop thinking of yourself as an employee and instead, to start viewing yourself as a business professional with your hand on the helm of your life. You are not a passive person; you actively sculpt your life and now is the time to do so ambitiously and aggressively.

Having said that, we would like to comment on the reality of inflation that you mention. While we are not familiar with the situation in Kenya, we know that our money has increasingly less spending power in the United States. Not only are prices of commodities like food skyrocketing, but we see no end to immoral actions by governments that will continue to punish hard-working people. This only accentuates the importance of this juncture of your life. It is time to increase your revenue.

Finally, we want to tell you that you are in a far better situation for increasing your revenue than you would have been were you single and childless. We hear many young people explaining that they are not going to get married or have children because of a terrible economic situation and the frightening unleashing of evil in the world. While it does cost more to house and feed four people (you, your wife, and your two children) than it does to take care of one person, we hope that you rejoice in your family and make sure to stay cheerful and grateful. It is easy to overlook the huge contribution to your financial success made by your wife and children, as well as to the meaningfulness of all the parts of your life that we discuss in our new book, The Holistic You. You all need to lower your expectations in the short term, but having each other, as well as friends and faith, will help the difficult times to pass more quickly and leave you beautifully situated to flourish in the future.

Onwards and upwards,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

This Ask the Rabbi is dedicated in memory of Adi Vital-Kaploun, 33, who was murdered on Oct. 7, 2023 in front of her 4-year-old and 4-month old children.

With prayers for the safe release of all the hostages including Romi Gonen who was shot before being taken to Gaza as a captive.

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