10.12.2011

Financial Review {Three Months}

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The first month after deciding to become gazelle intense on paying off our mortgage, I shared with you what we were working towards and how keeping larger future goals in mind helped us stick with the plan for today. Last month I explained my thoughts about credit cards and how they could be used responsibly as well as some ideas for setting up boundaries in their usage.

In the last month since writing that post, I've been thinking a lot about how easy it is for money to consume a person. Even though the goal of getting out of debt and being good stewards is a very good thing, I want to be careful not to become too focused on money flow or so "gazelle intense" that we miss opportunities to help those around us because all of our money is being channeled into the bank payments or rainy day fund.


Yes, I know that when we no longer owe anything to the bank, we will actually have more to give away and share, but I don't want to be like Ebenezer Scrooge in the meantime. There has to be a happy medium - a balance of saving for the future and paying off our debts, while recognizing that all we have been given belongs to the Lord and we are to share it generously with others.

Rather than listen to what I think about it though, let me share a few of the passages of Scripture* that have been jumping out at me over the last month. I've found them to be good reminders that while we are to be good stewards of our money and resources, we are not to be controlled by them.

Giving Freely {Proverbs 11:24-25}
It is possible to give freely and become more wealthy, but those who are stingy will lose everything.
The generous prosper and are satisfied; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.

Watching for Wastefulness {Proverbs 12:27}
Lazy people don't even cook the game they catch, but the diligent make use of everything they find.

Avoiding Scams {Proverbs 13:11}
Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows.

Honest Gain & Keeping It In Perspective {Psalm 62:10}
Don't try to get rich by extortion or robbery. And if your wealth increases, don't make it the center of your life.

Learning Contentment & Stewardship {1 Timothy 6:8-10, 17-18}
So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money (often misquoted) is at the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.
[...]
Tell those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone. But their trust should be in the living God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and should give generously to those in need, always being ready to share with others, whatever God has given them.

God Is Enough {Hebrews 13:5}
Stay away from the love of money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, "I will never fail you. I will never forsake you."


Advice From The Wisest Man Who Ever Lived {Ecclesiastes 5:10-15, 19; 6:9; 7:14}
Those who love money will never have enough. How absurd to think that wealth brings happiness! The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what is the advantage of wealth - except perhaps to watch it run through your fingers! People who work hard sleep well, whether they eat little or much. But the rich are always worrying and seldom get a good night's sleep. There is another serious problem I have seen in the world. Riches are sometimes hoarded to the harm of the saver, or they are put into risky investments that turn sour, and everything is lost [sound familiar to anyone with a 401K?] In the end, there is nothing left to pass on to one's children. People who live only for wealth come to the end of their lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day they were born.
[...]
And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life - that is indeed a gift from God.
[...]
Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don't have. Just dreaming about nice things is meaningless; it is like chasing the wind.
[...]
Enjoy prosperity while you can. But when hard times strike, realize that both come from God. That way you will realize that nothing is certain in this life.

So there you have it - just a few of the verses that God has been using in my life over the course of the past month to remind me that there is a fine line between stewardship and hoarding. It's a good thing to have financial goals and to be aware of where your money is going, we just need to make sure that we don't let it consume us. If you're on the edge of a meltdown because your grocery budget isn't $3/week like the extreme coupon people, then it might be time to reevaluate how you rank money on the important scale. People are always more important than a healthy bank account or a stuffed-to-the-gills pantry.

That being said, here are the steps we have taken towards our financial goals in the the last month:

1) We knocked off two more principle payments on the mortgage
2) We paid cash for a project car (been in the works for a long time)
3) Added to our rainy day fund on a weekly basis
4) We also got enough points through our credit card to begin Christmas shopping on them - love those rewards!

Have you ever struggled with the line between stewardship and money-love? Where do you feel that line begins? How have you done in the last month? Reorganized your financial plan? Started taking steps towards a bigger goal? If you've written a blog post about it, please leave the link in the comments, or simply share what you've been doing and the steps you've been taking. It has been encouraging to me each month to read what others are out there doing. See you next month!

* New Living Translation

3 comments:

  1. Hi Carrie

    Thank you for your post. It's so true that the good and the hard times are both from God. And that, even when things are tough, he has promised " never will I leave you, never will I forsake you". These grown up lessons are hard to learn, but God is faithful, and has provided for this day.
    All the best to you and Peter as you get to spend your points :)
    Love, Lizelle

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  2. Hmmm, I'm terrible with these things. When money is tight I really do go into Gazelle mode, rationing my expenditure to $1 a day (minus essentials, obviously) and stuff like that. Currently I'm on $5 a day ; )

    My problem with the biblical approach to wealth and poverty is that it seems to suggest that it's ok to be poor so long as you work hard and that the rich will ultimately suffer by being consumed by their wealth. That may all be true, but it just seems to say that we shouldn't try to shift the balance, but that the poor should just be pleased to be beloved of the lord or whatever. When I do think the poor should fight for a better share of the pie...

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  3. Lizelle - Thanks and yes, sometimes those lessons are hard to learn when it's so easy to say that we want it all now.

    Emily - $1 a day is quite impressive! Re: the other stuff. Here's my take on it - if you leave Christianity and Biblical principles out of it and simply go by good old fashioned American work ethic, then I would say that the poor are more than welcome to a share of the pie, and if they work hard, they'll get it. Where we may disagree is that I don't believe in handouts, but I do believe in hard work and the results and rewards that come from that. Sometimes you take risks (like we have with a book, a rental, and an electrical business) and you pay out money on those risks and you get no return (i.e. the house is empty, the book didn't sell, and the government is taking more than we've made with the business). However, sometimes you take a risk and it pays off big time - but either way, it's worth trying. The Bible doesn't have anything against wealth, but when money consumes you (i.e. the LOVE of money - not money itself), that's where the problem comes in. Having enough money might make you comfortable, but all the money in the world doesn't buy happiness. That's really the point. Hopefully that clarifies what I was trying to say. Either way, thanks for taking the time to write and leave a different point of view - I'm all for that! :-)

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There are more than 400,000 words in the English language. My only request of you is this: Use them wisely.

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