(Drawn on Adam hamMilton’s Resources for Enough)
The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to want. (Prvb 21:5)
Precious treasure remains in the house of the wise, but the fool devours it. (Proverbs 21:20)
Where Did All Our Money Go?
FROM LAST WEEK: We must allow Christ to work in us.
Christ works in us as we first seek his kingdom and strive to do his will. As we do, we begin to sense a higher calling—a calling to simplicity and faithfulness and generosity. We begin to look at ways we can make a difference with our time and talents and resources. By pursuing good financial practices, we free ourselves from debt so that we are able to be in mission to the world. A key part of finding financial and spiritual freedom is found in simplicity and in exercising restraint. With the help of God, we can
- simplify our lives and silence the voices constantly telling us we need more.
- live counter-culturally by living below, not above, our means.
- build into our budgets the money to buy with cash instead of credit.
- build into our budgets what we need to live generously and faithfully.
Living as prodigals
From Jesus’ description in Luke 15:11-16, we see that the prodigal son had the habits of squandering and spending. The word prodigal does not mean someone who wanders away or is lost. It literally means “one who wastes money.” Many of us struggle with that habit. We’re not worried about tomorrow; we want it today. The problem with that kind of thinking is that, for most of us, the “famine” eventually comes. It comes when we have spent everything we have and even a little bit of next year’s income. So we use the credit card and charge it, and we go a little further into debt. Finally, we come to a place where we have nothing left, not even credit, and we can’t figure out how we are we going to get by.
The more we make, the more we waste.
It seems that the more financially secure we become, the less we worry about spending money here and there. We waste a dollar on this or that, and we forget where it went. Money just seems to flow through our fingers. We’re not as careful with our money as we should be. There are many ways we waste money, but there are two primary money-wasters that many of us struggle with. It is not necessary to eliminate these two things altogether, but we should think more carefully about how we spend our money.
How to avoid impulse buying
- Never go grocery shopping when you are hungry.
- Shop only for what you need.
- Don’t wander down every isle, only go where you need to go. Make a list and stick to it; buy what you need and get out of the store!
- Consult a trusted person and wait twenty-four hours before following through on an impulse buy.
Number One Area of impulse spending is Eating out
- The issue is frequency. The average American eats out an average of four times a week.
- By eating out less frequently, we will have more money to save, to spend on more important things, and to give away.
If you were to simply prepare all meals at home, you’d move 4.2 meals from restaurants to your home. At an average cost of $12.75 per meal, you’d save yourself $8.75 for each of those meals. In other words, the average American would save $36.75 per person per week by moving all of their meals from restaurants to home-prepared meals. If we are eating out more than 4 times a week, we need to evaluate our lifestyle.
Clarifying Our Relationship with Money and Possessions
We do not exist simply to consume as much as we can and get as much pleasure as we can while we are here on this earth. We have a higher purpose. We need to know and understand our life purpose—our vision or mission or calling—and then spend our money in ways that are consistent with this purpose or calling.
Be clear about your purpose and calling.
Our society tells us that our life purpose is to consume—to make as much money as possible and then to spend it. The Bible tells us that we were created to care for God’s creation. We were created to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves. We were created to care for our families and those in need. We were created to glorify God, to seek justice, and to do mercy. Our money and possessions should be devoted to helping us fulfill this calling. We are to use our resources to help care for our families and others—to serve Christ and the world through the church, missions, and everyday opportunities. We have a life purpose that is greater than our own self-interest, and how we spend our God-given resources reflects our understanding and commitment to this life purpose or mission.
Set worthy goals.
Being able to accomplish the greater purposes God has for our lives requires some measure of planning. Taking the time to set goals related to our lives and our finances is crucial if we are to become wise stewards of our God-given resources. Each of us should think about our life purpose and goals and then identify two short-term financial goals, two mid-range financial goals, and two long-term financial goals that are aimed at helping us accomplish our broader life goals. At least one goal in each category should relate specifically to our faith. (Suggestion: Use the bulletin insert “My Life and Financial Goals Worksheet” in 3. Communication Resources.)
The Discipline of Managing Your Money
Adopt/Review your budget and spending plan.
Once we’ve set some financial goals, we need to develop a plan to meet those goals. A budget is a spending plan that enables us to accomplish our goals. Some people use an envelope system to help them manage their saving and spending and stay on budget. Others use a variety of different approaches. Many people find it helpful to seek the advice of a financial advisor. For those who find themselves in the midst of a financial crisis, a financial counselor can help arrange terms with creditors and develop a workable financial plan. Whatever approach you choose, the important thing is simply to have a plan.
Follow six financial planning principles. (Ramsey Model or others)
The following financial planning principles can help us manage our money with wisdom and faith:
- Pay your tithe and offering first.
- Create a budget and track your expenses.
- Simplify your lifestyle (live below your means).
- Establish an emergency fund.
- Pay off your credit cards, use debit cards for purchases, and use credit wisely.
- Practice long-term savings and investing habits.
What can we do? Simple Truths:
- Seek God’s wisdom,
- Listen to the wisdom of those who are trustworthy,
- hold one another accountable* (See Goal Setting Worksheet)
- Remember we are created out of generous love and
- We are called to live generously
God, you know all about us, even when we don’t. We don’t know where every dime went, but somehow you know what we did with all that we had, last year and every other year. You don’t forbid us from having joy in our possessions; in fact, you delight in our having joy. But what you know is that simply acquiring more stuff isn’t where we find joy. Lord, forgive us for being wasteful, for being prodigal. Forgive us for leveraging our future in order to have pleasure in the present. And help us to be good managers of the talents that you’ve given us. Help us to be generous and willing to share, kingdom-minded and focused on accomplishing your purposes for our lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
My Life and Financial Goals
How would you define or describe your life purpose?
What are some goals that can help you achieve this life purpose?
What are some financial goals that can help support your life goals and purpose?
Short-term financial goals (next 12 months):
Mid-range financial goals (2–5 years):
Long-term financial goals (5 years to retirement):
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