Be Content

This is the last installment of a 10 part series I call Financial Freedom. The previous installment was called Tithe Your Time https://thingsmyparentsnevertaughtme.family.blog/2020/01/14/tithe-your-time/

During the last major economic recession, I noticed something disturbing. Many more people were committing suicide. The University of Oxford estimated that 10,000 people committed suicide due to the bad economy. It seems like some people base their value on how much their personal bank account holds. When a persons bank account falls to zero then their self worth equals zero. I would suggest that we do not know what hitting rock bottom looks like and we are more than the value of our bank account.

Familiarize yourself with the story of Job. He was a righteous man who lost everything. Money, family, health and friends. In the world’s view he had gone from fame to misfortune in a most extreme way. To his credit, Job never lost faith. Hebrews 13:5 “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have…” We are called to be satisfied with whatever God gives us. Phillipians 4:11-13 “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity: in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” This is powerful! In whatever situation you are in, God will strengthen you. No matter how low you think you are, God still has you. The Bible even says that being poor is a blessing. Matthew 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” But, also consider this. Being rich can be a curse. Mark 10:23 “…How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” So be careful what you wish for. The wealthy have a heavy burden and their money can actually blind them to truth. I recently read a Psychology Today article which found that making more money does bring with it a certain amount of satisfaction but does not bring you happiness. What people don’t realize is that the more you have, the more responsibility you have to spend it wisely. The stuff rich people buy are huge distractions from the important things.

1. List some ways that money and/or things it buys distract you. If necessary ask forgiveness and for God to help you in this area.

2. Write down some things you have that you are thankful for. (Health, family, food, etc.)

3. Dwell on and be thankful to God for providing your every need.

I have never really looked poorly on rich people because they have money. I do, however, often wish I had the things they can buy like cars and vacations. I don’t believe it’s wrong to have stuff. God has graciously provided finances to people in varying levels but I do realize that the pursuit of that stuff is not a worthy goal in itself. Romans 9:15 “I show mercy on whom I have mercy and I have compassion on whom I have compassion” I don’t know why God chooses some to have more than others. I just try to be faithful with what I have been given plus realize that more stuff is not necessarily good as it distracts me from God.

My prayer is that I would see God clearly in my affluence and appreciate whatever blessings He gives me.

Conclusion to Financial Freedom:

Money is a blessing no matter how much you have and there is so much in the Bible about it. I would encourage you to seek more wisdom about money. It is an area we should all seek God’s leading to grow in. What I shared is only scratching the surface. Be a good steward of the things God has provided and be wise with it. Make your resources an act of worship and you will find contentment in it.

Enslaved to Debt

This is part 8 of a 10 part series I call Financial Freedom. The previous post, Count the Cost, can be found here: https://thingsmyparentsnevertaughtme.family.blog/2019/12/10/count-the-cost/

My wife and I try to live within our means. In general we have stuck to this commitment. However, for many years large purchases seemed impossible. We did incur a large amount of debt in our cars and home. We were not alone. According to Money.com in 2018 the average debt for a 51 year old like me in the U.S.A. was $134000. It seems like the banks have a great deal of control over our finances. Proverbs 22:7 “The rich rule over the poor and the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.” The average credit card debt in March 2019 according to the Federal Reserve was $5700! This means a massive amount of money is being transferred from your bank account to someone else! This did not sit right with me. My goal was to do something about this.

I look at it like the reverse of compound interest. When you buy something with credit then you end up paying much more for it. Let’s say you have $5000 of credit card debt and assume you charge nothing else to that card. You make payments of $100 a month at 18% interest. When you have paid off that credit card you will have added an extra $4311.25 in interest over 94 months. Let that sink in. A purchase of $5000 cost you almost double. Compare that to saving the $100 over 50 months and paying cash. A little patience and self control will make you $4311.25 richer. This same concept can be applied to larger items like cars and houses. This sounds impossible, right? However, the Bible calls us to it. Romans 13:8 “Owe nothing to anyone…” This idea is repeated throughout the Bible. If God said to do it then shouldn’t we give it a try?

Most people think it impossible but can you really afford otherwise? Here is what can be done. Lower expectations. Do I really need that sports car and a massive house? The bank wants to maximize it’s gains and will encourage you to buy as much as you are able. Paying cash will make you consider cheaper alternatives as well as paying less for that item over the long term. Before considering large purchases get other debt paid off. Pay down credit card and student loan as much as possible. It is a better investment to get out of debt first. Apply windfalls and raises directly to this debt. Then save! Start paying for cars and houses cash. If you already owe start double or triple paying as you can. Keep reminding yourself that debt equals slavery. Give it a try. God will not disappoint.

1. Make a plan to become debt free. If you are out of debt stay that way. If you are in debt, figure out how to get out of it.

2. Pray that God shows you how to stay out of debt. You may need forgiveness for acting outside of God’s will.

3. Be thankful for God’s direction and pray to honor God in this commandment.

We are currently working to become debt free. We now pay for cars cash and make double payments on our house. How cool is it to never have a car payment! It’s an amazing thing. I am so thankful for the freedom God gives my wife and I in that. I can’t wait to have our house payments disappear! It’s still a long way off but could you imagine what your life would be like to no longer have that massive debt? I can imagine how great it will feel to have no house payment and a peace of mind knowing we always have a home. No more stressful days wondering if we will make rent even when facing job loss! Doing the things God calls for is super cool!

I pray that God will help you be resolved in getting out of debt and staying that way so you may know a peace and fruitfulness in your finances as we are commanded to do in His word.

Count the Cost

This is the 7th in a series I call Financial Freedom. The previous post was entitled Prepare for the Future which can be found here: https://thingsmyparentsnevertaughtme.family.blog/2019/11/26/prepare-for-the-future/

The one thing my wife and I learned to do from our parents was creating a budget. We even took a class at church on how to make a budget together. We had fun with it. However, the first year of marriage was lean. If we had $2 left in a week for the dollar movie theater, it was exciting. This budget thing was extremely useful to know exactly how much we could spend. At the time we were acting according to God’s plan.

Christians are called to budget. Proverbs 21:5 “The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, but everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty.” Making a budget and following it were very helpful in keeping us out of debt. Besides a car payment we had no debt. Our credit cards were paid off each month. Jesus talks about counting the cost of a project. Luke 14:28 “For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?” To run a country, company or household you must know the cost of things and make a plan. 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 “Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.” Our positive example in stewardship of resources is representative to the world as faith in God.

To make a budget, simply make a list of everything you spend money on … tithe, housing, allowance, car payment, gas, etc. There are many resources that can help you determine where money is spent. Everyone’s list is different. Some will be estimates. It does not need to be perfection. Just a general idea. I like to think of it by month but whatever is easiest for you. Compare to your take home pay. If the numbers don’t add up then make adjustments as necessary. Easy right? Maybe not for some. It may require difficult decisions.

1. If you do not have one already, create a budget making sure that your tithe is top of the list.

2. Prayfully consider where adjustments can be made.

3. Be thankful for the provisions God has provided and doubly so if anything is leftover like $2.

Our parents did well to show us how a budget was made. It kept us out of financial hardship. I prepare a budget every year or when we have some life change. I share the budget with my wife and children. Yes, I think children should be aware and taught financial planning. Making a budget brings me peace of mind. The budget has transformed over the years with a variety of life decisions. At first, it was a way to figure out how to spend every last penny. Now, it is a useful tool in reaching our financial goals and making us more secure. Knowing the cost has allowed us to better serve God in our tithing and giving. How cool it is to obey God and bare fruit.

My prayer for you is that you will become a good steward of your finances and “count the cost” by creating a budget.