Category Archives: Saving

Cutting Spending? Start With the Big Expenses.

When you set out to reduce spending, focus on the bigger expenses first. Clipping coupons and switching to generic or lower cost brands can add up to significant savings and should be considered, but there are larger areas in which to begin.

Start by identifying your major expense categories and then estimate how much you are spending in each area.  Include items like housing or rent. Consider long term expenses like if you will own a car, what car you will purchase, how many and how often. Remember that owning a house, car or boat not only means the cost of that asset but also cost to maintain and use that asset (e.g. insurance, gasoline, utilities, etc.). It also includes the cost to borrow money to buy these assets if you get a loan instead of saving up first.

The concept is called a Pareto analysis. Organize your expense categories from largest to smallest and then focus your time  on reducing expense in the larger categories first. You also want to look in the smaller categories and look for any easy changes that can reduce cost by a significant amount. But don’t get so distracted by the smaller costs that you forget to really challenge yourself on your larger expenses.

You can save a lot of money by differentiating between want and need or by setting your budget first based on income and long-term objectives before deciding what you can afford. Avoid the typical approach of starting with expensive homes and cars you want and then forcing it into your budget.

A good way to help avoid major cost and buying significant purchases you really are not ready for is to not go into debt to purchase them. Yes, I said it. Avoid debt. Save up the money ahead and then buy them. You actually can do this for a house, car, boat, etc. But it takes discipline and long-term planning. Saves a lot of money as a result. This goes for credit card debt as well, which can be quite significant for some families and all it does is let you buy something you either can’t afford or buy something before you can really afford it and thus pay more for it to get it sooner. Patience and contentment are indeed virtues.


Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

Choose Your Own (Financial) Adventure – But Do So Wisely

I remember as a child reading a style of book that was called a “choose your own adventure” book. This style of kids’ book has a basic story line with several outcomes for each situation the characters encounter based on which choices you as the reader make for them. For example… if in the story the main character faces a choice to go into a cave or continue in the forest… the reader chooses and turns next to the page that continues the story based on that decision. The outcome is different based on the choice the reader makes.

The same is true in life. Yes, for each of us there are some preset assumptions for our adventure… who our parents are, where we are born, what value system we are taught, etc. However, we each have the opportunity to make choices for ourselves that influence the outcome of our personal story. This is true whether or not we choose to admit that we are making decisions that matter. Do we get up and find a job? Do we work hard? Do we show love to others? Do we obey God?

We make decisions every day. It is just that we at times overlook the importance of how even our seemingly daily, “small” decisions influence the outcome of our life.

I used to think it would be helpful to have a guide to help me choose wisely as each situation came up in those choose your own adventure books. What if I had a map that showed which choices led to success and which to destruction? Wouldn’t that be great! It would help me navigate to the best possible outcome for whatever story I was in.

While no one made a guide or map for the choose your own adventure books, God did in fact provide a guide for helping us in our everyday life decisions while we deal with other people and with God. Of course this includes managing our finances wisely!

While the Bible as a whole provides much value and insight here, Proverbs in particular comes to mind as providing lots of specific applications of wisdom for how we make our daily decisions. Many of the Proverbs are laid out in such a way as to contrast righteousness and wisdom to wickedness. We do well to study Proverbs consistently and apply it as God intended as the guide to help us navigate our lives to the best possible outcome.

Do not think of scripture as something old and out of date. Instead, think of it as part of an instruction manual that God has given you… yes you, specifically… for your life. Read it as if God meant for you to use it in making your daily decisions, because He did!

I always encourage you to click the link and read the whole scripture, but I have highlighted some verses in the article that have more applicability for finances specifically.

Proverbs 17

Contrast the Upright and the Wicked

      1Better is a dry morsel and quietness with it
Than a house full of feasting with strife.

2A servant who acts wisely will rule over a son who acts shamefully, and will share in the inheritance among brothers.

5He who mocks the poor taunts his Maker; he who rejoices at calamity will not go unpunished

10A rebuke goes deeper into one who has understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.

12Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs, rather than a fool in his folly.

18A man lacking in sense pledges and becomes guarantor in the presence of his neighbor.

23A wicked man receives a bribe from the bosom to pervert the ways of justice.

At first glance, perhaps some of these may not be clear in regards to finances. Take time to dwell on them. Verse 10 and 12 strike me of very applicable to those of us who may make mistakes with our finances from time to time. Someone who wishes to help us may rebuke our unwise choices and we should take care to keep pride at bay and remain humble enough to receive their correction, even if they don’t say it in the nicest way. We will be the benefactor of the message if we do. Similarly, let us not be the fool trapped in his own folly once we have made a poor decision on finances. Be willing to admit a mistake and get out of it, even if at a loss. This could apply to overextending our debt by buying too big a home or too expensive cars and doing so on debt instead of saving ahead. The interest could cost you dearly. It could apply to investing in stocks when we make a poor choice and have a losing position.

10A rebuke goes deeper into one who has understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.

12Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs, rather than a fool in his folly.

Take time to really reflect on each of the verses in today’s article. Think of situations and decisions you are facing today in your life. Which verses in today’s reading is God putting on your heart to apply in your life to help you make the right decisions?

God may also show you through His word some examples of where you handled a situation well, even if the outcome was not what you wanted… thank Him for the encouragement!

Continue to study and apply the wisdom contained in Proverbs to specific issues in your life. Use the wisdom God provides to help your find the best outcome based on choices you make that  influence your own personal adventure in life!

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

How Is Financial Planning Like the Super Bowl?

The Super Bowl is considered by many to be one of the most important sporting events in the world each year. Many from around the world tune in to watch it even if “their team” did not make it to the final game. Much time and preparation is spent certainly by the teams in preparing for the game, but even by many spectators and fans around the world as they prepare parties and tailgating and other such events to watch the game.

Many people spend more time preparing for, watching, and then talking about the Super Bowl then they actually spend preparing their personal financial strategies. One could spend a little time reflecting on which will ultimately be more important for each of us… but we quickly conclude that perhaps we should spend a little more time planning our finances, even if we have to wait until the big game is over and behind us.

Financial planning may not sound like much fun, so let’s try to make it a bit more interesting. In some ways it is like preparing for the Super Bowl.  Without good planning and execution, you will never win. “Luck” or “winging it” is just not good enough to carry you to victory. Proper preparation for a Super Bowl victory begins before the season every starts.

Start with the end in mind. Teams don’t just show up in training camp with the intent to “play football”… if they do, they do not win very much. They must define success and goals along the way to evaluate their performance in moving toward that success. Winning teams come into the season planning to play for the Super Bowl rings! They don’t just plan to play catch and throw and suddenly find themselves in the Super Bowl. There is short term sacrifice for long term success.

Similarly, for our financial planning you must define what success looks like for you. Define your personal goals and steward progress toward them. Think big! Do not limit yourself to simply having money for earthly things, but also to store up treasure in heaven. How you view your success will strongly influence how you play the game!

Define your goals… define success.

  • Matthew 6:20-21 20“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
  • 2 Corinthians 9:7 –  7Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
  • Proverbs 22:9 –   9He who is generous will be blessed, For he gives some of his food to the poor.

Steward your progress toward those goals and make adjustments when called for. If something is not working as you expected, do not be afraid to consider making “in game” adjustments to your game plan.

  • In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus teaches us through the parable of the talents that a good steward periodically checks on the effectiveness of his efforts and makes adjustments according to their performance.

With every game there are rules. If you do not know the rules and play by them, you will likely not do well on the field. Penalties for failing to follow the rules can ruin your game. In finances, as with most of life’s challenges, God has laid out the rules for us in the Bible. Know what God says about how we should treat others and how we should conduct our earthly affairs. It is also true that man has added some rules, called laws, as well. We should heed both sets of rules.

  • Proverbs 22:11A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, Favor is better than silver and gold.
  • Proverbs 22:55Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse; He who guards himself will be far from them.
  • Ecclesiastes 12:13-1413The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. 14For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.

Plan carefully and seek wise counsel. Do you ever see a winning Super Bowl coach who did not have a staff of assistant coaches… advisors? The head coach makes the final decisions, but the good ones listen to the advice of others and weigh carefully in their decisions the counsel of others.  Surround yourself with bad counselors and you will fail.

  • Proverbs 22:3 – 3The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, But the naive go on, and are punished for it.
  • Proverbs 15:2222Without consultation, plans are frustrated, But with many counselors they succeed.
  • Proverbs 14:15 –   15The naive believes everything, But the sensible man considers his steps.

To win at any level, you should carefully evaluate your gear… your tools. In football, you need the right shoes, gloves, helmet, pads, ball, etc. In financial planning, the tools you use (or don’t) are also important. They can be of great help or set you up to underperform your abilities. We recommend you visit our Resources section of our website to find some organizations we recommend that provide helpful tools to assist you in “elevating your game”… to be more effective and successful in planning and managing your finances.

It is important to focus on fundamentals to excel. No team will win the Super Bowl on trick plays and misdirection if they do not also have strong foundation in executing the fundamentals well.

Super Bowl Champions do not start with trick plays and 80 yard touchdown plays as their foundational strategy and neither should you in your financial planning.  Avoid greed… assuming you can win with a few big plays… a few high risk investments that are “sure to pay out”. You may want to put a few in as diversification, but don’t put yourself in a position to win or lose solely on “making the big play” over and over again. To those who love money, they will never have enough. Money is a tool to serve God and to support yourself and your family. The draw to “get rich quick” brings much risk.

  • 1 Timothy 6:10 –  10For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
  • Ecclesiastes 5:1010He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity.

Let’s talk more about your Offense (e.g. earning money) . Offense wins games. Your offensive stars:

  •  Hard work and a great attitude are a formidable pair. Develop a skill and work hard to generate income.
    • Colossians 3:2323Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,
    • Proverbs 6:9-11 – 9How long will you lie down, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? 10“A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest”— 11Your poverty will come in like a vagabond And your need like an armed man.
  • Invest your financial resources for growth. Don’t stuff your mattress with cash in hopes of avoiding risk.
    • Matthew 25:14-30 – Jesus teaches us through the parable of the talents. Click the link to read the scripture.
    • Ecclesiastes 11:1 –   1Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days.
  • Diversify investments to manage risks.
    • Ecclesiastes 11:22Divide your portion to seven, or even to eight, for you do not know what misfortune may occur on the earth.

Finally… Defense wins championships! No one can win unless they can stop the other team from scoring. Similarly, no one can earn enough money to win the game if they spend like drunken sailors. Just consider government spending, which almost always outpaces essentially unlimited income from taxes – it is never enough to satisfy those in government. Defense requires discipline.

  • Control spending.  Set a budget that matches your income and stick to it in order to control spending. This budget should include short term “monthly expenses” but also saving ahead for long term expenses like a house, university education, future medical expenses, retirement, and contingency funds for the unknown.
  • Control debt. Carefully consider any debt before committing.
    • Proverbs 22:77The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.
    • Romans 13:8 –  8Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.
  • Save money. Save for known expenses and for unknown. Save for today, and save to have money to invest tomorrow.
    • Proverbs 6:6-8 –  6Go to the ant, O sluggard, Observe her ways and be wise, 7Which, having no chief, Officer or ruler, 8Prepares her food in the summer And gathers her provision in the harvest.

Perhaps with a little less fanfare, do not forget Special Teams. They may not affect every down, but they can make the difference in a win or a loss. Prepare for long term expenses such as buying a car, paying off a house, paying for college education, preparing for retirement. To be successful, you must prepare for these things in advance… you can not wait until the special teams is on the field to start planning !

One last piece of advice for your game plan in financial planning… even with the best game plan, you can’t win if you don’t start playing the game! Don’t wait for the “perfect” time to get started.

Ecclesiastes 11:44He who watches the wind will not sow and he who looks at the clouds will not reap.

(If you are too worried about the clouds and winds to start preparing the fields and planting the crops… waiting for perfect conditions… you will not have a harvest. The perfect time never comes. Look only for a good or appropriate time to get started.)

Hope you enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you prefer a “non-football” version, please review our Guiding Framework.

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

What Are You Building?

What do Beavers and Bees have in common? Both are characterized as being “busy”. If you look a bit deeper you see that both not only  work hard, but have a vision of what they are building and proceed patiently and consistently. As a result, they build wonderful and purposeful structures that we would not normally expect from animals. They do so by working together and maintaining focus on what they are building. The beaver does not get discouraged by the fact that he must move one stick at a time… he just prepares to do so and keeps in mind the end goal.. .ultimately working hard and building a dam or safe home. Bees build the honeycomb in like manner with patience and perseverance.

We can take a lesson from the beaver and the bee. We should plan our personal financial strategy with many of the same qualities… patience, perseverance, hard work, and vision. We must take care not to be discouraged by focusing on how much time it takes to start putting the pieces together… earning income, minimize spending, paying down debt, establishing emergency fund, saving for future expenses like cars and college, and starting an investment fund Focus not on the time it takes to put in place each piece of the plan, but rather the need to progress each piece in a thoughtful and well planned manner. No shortcuts! If you hurry and get it wrong you may learn that it falls out of place and you have to start over.

If you are working on reducing spending, for example, instead of thinking of each thing you “can’t buy”, remind yourself of the end goal you are working toward. A clearly defined vision and positive experience will encourage you and help you succeed.

There is a story about a man who was walking near a construction site. He saw three separate workers laying bricks. He stopped and asked each one what they were doing.

The first man looked tired and was not very enthusiastic. He was looking at his watch every few minutes waiting on the next break or end of the day. He answered, “I am laying bricks.” The man had little purpose or sense of what he was accomplishing and was not motivated.

The second man was more upbeat. He worked with a little more energy and replied, “I am building a wall. Look how much we have accomplished already.” He seemed to be satisfied with what he was doing.

The third was whistling joyfully as he worked. He perked up when asked what he was doing. With enthusiasm in his voice he replied, “I am building a cathedral in which many people will worship God and devote their lives to Him. Many people’s lives will be improved. It is going to be beautiful!” The man was excited to be a part of it and that vision inspired him daily as he did his work.

The right focus can inspire and motivate us as we make our daily choices … even if they seem hard or boring on the surface. Avoid focusing only on the budgeting, or decisions on what not to spend, or what you feel you are giving up. Instead focus on what your life will be like when you manage your finances consistent with God’s word and are able to be a good steward of what He provides for your own family and for helping others.

Clearly define your vision… your personal financial strategy. Review our Guiding Framework as a way to get started. Then continue to fill in specific details to develop a specific plan for you. Remember it and visualize it while you make the small and big daily decisions (laying the bricks) that will get you there. Then work hard, stay focused, be patient and you will be amazed what you can accomplish.

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

Avoid The Christmas Hangover – Spending, Debt, and Stress

Christmas is a holiday with many competing areas of focus. Some manage to stay focused on the Lord, but there are many distractions. Some focus on family, but one can easily get caught up in a month long stress about the “perfect holiday” and “who is or is not coming” and “do we have the perfect gifts for everyone”, etc. I have seen people who strive to genuinely follow Jesus yield a month of every year to stress associated with the Christmas holiday, and almost none of it is focused on actually celebrating Christ.

Others get lost in debt, convinced by marketing and our culture that to celebrate Christmas requires spending lots of money, often money they don’t have. For the record, even “good sales” cost you money unless you were going to buy that item anyway. It costs even more if you buy other stuff along with the thing that was on sale. That is why the companies selling you things run the sales… to make money, not to save you money! Often this debt creates stress that lasts for months after Christmas is over as the credit card bills roll in.

Rather than waiting for that after Christmas “hangover” to set in along with the credit card bills and extra 5 pounds you put on by eating too much… consider challenging some of the holiday cultural norms.

1- Reduce the number of people for whom you buy gifts.

Buying gifts for everyone you know is not necessary. Instead of buying gifts out of obligation for many with whom you are not close, just make a point to be nice to them all year round. Treat them with kindness and sensitivity and they will know you care for them even if you do not give them a gift. If they only like you when they receive a gift, then they are not really your friend anyway. If you are concerned that they will buy for you and you will not have something for them, just have a real conversation with them about managing your expenses and budget responsibly and encourage them not to give something to you. If they are not close enough to you to have this conversation, then why are you even exchanging gifts with them? In some cases, it may be very important to someone close to you to exchange gifts… go ahead if you want to.

2- Reduce how much you spend on each person

Contrary to advertising… you do not need to buy a car, a diamond, gold jewelry, expensive electronics, etc. for people just because it is Christmas. If you don’t show them that you love them throughout the year, you will not fool them with an expensive gift in December. For those with whom you want to give or exchange presents, you can set a reasonable budget for each person and then stick to it. This helps you set your overall Christmas budget in a predictable instead of impulsive way.

3- Save up your Christmas budget in advance and avoid credit cards you cannot pay back before you have to pay interest.

Once you decide who you will get gifts for and how much to spend, you have a good estimate for your budget planning. Now divide by 11 and start saving it each month starting in January and continuing through November. Inevitably you will still have surprise expenses in December from the season’s activities, so you don’t plan on taking money for gifts from that month’s budget.

4- You can even consider replacing your current gift exchange traditions with a donation to a charity or family in need… someone you can give to in God’s name with no hope of receiving a gift in return. You will spend less money and honor God more.

If you find yourself condemning me as “Grinch”… I do not mind. You are not alone, but you are in fact also not correct. If Christmas is all about giving and getting gifts as the centerpiece and focus, then it has nothing to do with Jesus Christ and is simply a pagan festival where people want to get a lot of expensive stuff from each other. I wholeheartedly and enthusiastically reject giving (and receiving) gifts on the basis of obligation.

The alternative is to recognize that gifts are intended not as the focus, but as a means of showing those closest to us that we were thinking of them. That does not require spending lots of money, despite what our culture would have us believe. Besides, you can  give gifts to those you love any time during the year… it does not have to be at Christmas.

Many tell us that giving gifts is a tradition originated to honor God’s gift to us in the birth of Jesus Christ or because of the acts of the real man who came to be known as Saint Nicholas. Though many give with this in mind, the fact is that this is not the accurate origin of gift exchange. In fact, gift giving to children in late December did not start with Christian origins, but rather as part of a pagan celebration of the sun god, Saturnalia, in ancient Rome. It is easy to research for yourself… even in Christian history encyclopedias such as by Zondervan.

Let’s explore the gift giving tradition further and test if it is even consistent with celebrating Jesus’ birth according to the principles of the Biblical record of that glorious event. Does this tradition point to or honor God, or is it just a tradition of men and a potential distraction from God?

Mary and Joseph did not get gifts for one another or even for Jesus and they knew who He was and that He would be born soon. The shepherds came to celebrate and honor God. They did what they were commanded by God to do… which did not involve bringing gifts. The wise men did not even come when Jesus was born… contrary to common tradition.  Scripture tells us they came and found Jesus in a house, not a manger. Herod killed all the male children two years and younger… not a week and younger, or even a few months and younger. It was likely they arrived over a year after Jesus was born. When they did come, they brought gifts to honor God. They did not exchange gifts with each other, nor did they expect to receive gifts in return from Joseph and Mary. I should not fail to mention that God came down as Jesus to die for us and while this is a great gift, He expects no gift from us in return.

So if you really want to focus on giving gifts to honor Christian traditions… give in a way that honors God to those who will not be able to give anything in return and convince others to do the same. You will honor God more, find more joy instead of stress, and spend less.

If suggestion number 4 seems overwhelming… start with suggestions number 1-3. The less focus you put on gift exchange, the more focus you will find is available to consider God’s gift to us in the person of Jesus Christ. You will have more time and less stress to enjoy the holidays and hopefully you will not have the Christmas “hangover” in January.

This article was developed and shared in partnership with HearingFromJesus.org.

 

Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way and use it for His glory rather than your own. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

Biblical Guiding Framework For Financial Freedom

God lays out important principles for managing finances in the Bible. He wants His people to be wise stewards of the resources He provides.

In this article we lay out a high level framework that  provides valuable insight for those who take time to genuinely understand and apply it. I have paired the elements of the framework with some of the scriptures that support them, but there are many other scriptures that could be added.

You can also check out our Resources section of the website for other organizations with a great depth of material on this subject.

1 – Earn Money: Develop a skill and work hard to generate income.

  • Colossians 3:23 – Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.
  • Proverbs 6:9-11 – But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep? When will you wake up? 10 A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— 11 then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.

2 – Control Spending:  Set a budget that matches your income and stick to it in order to control spending. This budget should include short term “monthly expenses” but also saving ahead for long term expenses like a house, university education, future medical expenses, retirement, and contingency funds for the unknown.

  • Proverbs 6:6-8 – 6 Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise! 7 Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, 8 they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter.

3 – Control Debt: Carefully consider any debt before committing.

  • Proverbs 22:7 – Just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender.
  • Romans 13:8 – Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another.

4 – Invest: Choose to invest your financial resources for growth. Don’t stuff your mattress with cash in hopes of avoiding risk.

  • Matthew 25:14-30 – Jesus teaches us through the parable of the talents. Click the link to read the scripture.
  • Ecclesiastes 11:1 – Send your grain across the seas, and in time, profits will flow back to you.

5 – Diversify Investments: Diversify investments to manage risks.

  • Ecclesiastes 11:2 – But divide your investments among many places, for you do not know what risks might lie ahead.

6 –Consider Carefully and Seek Wise Counsel: Whether choosing how you will earn income, how to control spending or debt, or how to invest to grow your finances you should carefully consider your strategy and seek wise counsel.

  • Proverbs 22:3 – A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.
  • Proverbs 15:22 – Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success
  • Proverbs 14:15 – Only simpletons believe everything they’re told! The prudent carefully consider their steps.

7 – Steward Your Financial Strategy: Once you establish your financial strategy you must periodically review and analyze all elements to ensure you are following it and it is effective. This applies to earning income, spending, debt, and investment.

  • Matthew 25:14-30 – Jesus teaches us through the parable of the talents not only that we should invest, but that a good steward periodically checks on the effectiveness of his investments and makes adjustments according to their performance.

8 – Ethics: Following God’s instruction in how we manage our finances is more important than the actual dollars themselves.

  • Proverbs 22:1 – Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold.
  • Proverbs 22:5 – Corrupt people walk a thorny, treacherous road; whoever values life will avoid it.
  • Ecclesiastes 12:13 – That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty.

9 – Do Not Be Greedy: To those who love money, they will never have enough. Money is a tool to serve God and to support yourself and your family. The draw to “get rich quick” brings much risk.

  • 1 Timothy 6:10 –  For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.
  • Ecclesiastes 5:10 – Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness!

10 – Store Up Treasure in Heaven

  • Matthew 6:20 – Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.
  • 2 Corinthians 9:7 –  You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”
  • Proverbs 22:9 – Blessed are those who are generous, because they feed the poor

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

The Ant And The Grasshopper – The Rest Of The Story

The environment and attitude in which we work and live, whether dictated by government, business, or within our own family, has a great influence on how we as a individuals and as a culture perform. It can help bring out the best in us or the worst.  We should consider this when selecting where we live and work and also when we have the opportunity to influence or guide the leadership of any of these institutions. We should seek first the kingdom of God and all else will fall into place. When we put our faith in the teachings of God and submit our lives to His principles we make the world a better place.

There is a well known, timeless fable of an ant and a grasshopper that goes something like this:

The fable concerns a grasshopper that spent the summer singing instead of working and saved nothing despite food being plentiful. He consumed everything he gathered with no thought of the future. The ant, on the other hand, worked hard and saved extra food to plan for winter. He made a plan and followed it rigorously, even when it looked like the grasshopper was having more fun while he was working hard.

Winter arrives and the grasshopper finds himself dying of hunger and begs the ant for food. The ant rebukes its idleness and tells it to dance the winter away now.

There are multiple versions of the fable, but the primary version ends with the ant basically letting the grasshopper die and casting even sarcastic words at him with no compassion. Most Christians would agree that the grasshopper was lazy and is now dealing with the consequences of his actions. However, the response of the ant also reveals that the ant does not reflect a Christian worldview, but a selfish one, content to gloat as the grasshopper dies.

There are many alternate endings we could explore, but I will limit myself to two in order to make a point. Both assume that the current ending has in itself a problem we would like to solve.

Alternate Ending 1: Government Must Solve the Problem, [continuing from where the fable left off above]

The other insects in the garden heard how rude the ant was to the grasshopper and came and took what the ant had and gave much of it to the grasshopper calling it “justice” and “equality”. The ant still had enough to get by… in fact he had the same amount as the grasshopper. Both survived winter, but in the following summer the ant, being clever, decided to disregard hard work and rely instead on the insects in charge to meet his needs when winter came by taking from others. When the next season came, there was no food because no one had worked hard and both the ant and the grasshopper died.

Alternate Ending 2: God Has Already Created A Solution, [continuing from where the original fable left off]

A praying mantis heard about the ant and the grasshopper and came to see the ant. He shared the gospel of Christ with the ant and the ant realized that he too made many mistakes, like the grasshopper, but his mistakes were different… like lack of compassion for others. The ant gave his life to Christ and then revised his plans. He learned that if he prepared well, worked hard, sacrificed, and saved… he would be in a position to give to help others. He did not need to be forced to give, but rather he wanted to give freely, as Christ had given so much to him.

The ant met with the grasshopper and shared his personal testimony with him. He then voluntarily gave the grasshopper some food to help him through the winter. Instead of giving half of what he had to the grasshopper, he gave only enough and also taught the grasshopper about hard work, planning, saving and stewarding preparations for the future. The grasshopper listened because he knew the ant cared for him.

When the next summer came around the grasshopper had learned much and because of the voluntary kindness of the ant in the name of Christ the grasshopper gave his life to Christ. They worked hard together and saved extra food in order to help others in the coming winter season. They planned well, worked hard, sacrificed and saved. When winter came they were able to help many insects.

Government taking from those who work hard to give to those who do not creates a dependence on the government. It does not really help those in need over the long term and it removes God from the equation making it a “right” or expectation for someone to receive something instead of them being grateful to God or His provision. When we voluntarily give in the name of God we show His grace and love and can lead many to Christ. But we truly help them when we teach them how to fish instead of giving them a place to come ask for a fish every day.

Does your financial plan and stewardship prepare you to give to those in need in the name of Christ? Or will you instead have just enough for yourself?

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way and use it for His glory rather than your own. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

Are You Digging a Hole, Investing, or Gambling?

There are always a lot of uncertainties in the world. Some may be global political conflict or wars or terrorism. Others may include domestic conflict between political parties with very different views. The world is still recovering from a recession with a lot of interference from central banks keeping interest rates lower than they should remain. You do not hear about it much anymore, but banks are not really back to historical interest rates, which indicates they are still manipulating the markets to the extend they can.

How do you handle your finances in a situation like this? Are you digging a hole, gambling, or investing with your finances?

Digging a hole refers to constantly spending more money than you earn. Even if you are not accumulating debt, if you are not saving money for future emergencies or future planned expenses (e.g. car, house, retirement, etc.) you are actually digging a hole for yourself that gets harder and harder to climb out of as you get older. This principle applies whether world events are volatile or calm. Remember, that if you want to retire someday or even if you have to retire due to medical issues… you may not always be able to continue bringing in new income.  That means that over the long range, you need to save ahead, not dig a hole or even break even paycheck to paycheck.

Gambling reflects those who, often driven by greed, make disproportionately large investments, or bets, on things like oil or a particular stock that they think will make them “rich” if it moves in a particular direction. This approach may be acceptable as a speculative diversification in part of an investment portfolio but the typical investor should never assume any particular investment is “fool proof” and go “all in” on it. Sometimes it will work out, but it may also result in disaster.

A wise investor instead diversifies across multiple investments. He or she is prepared for unexpected moves in value of the investments in short term and long term. The wise investor does not always make the highest return on any one investment, but instead makes a steady and predictable return on investment regardless of circumstances.

So each of us should periodically reflect… “Am I digging a hole? gambling? or investing?”

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

Take A Lesson From The Ants

Many times, Biblical wisdom regarding finances is wrapped up and integrated in scripture that speaks broadly to how we should (and should not) live our lives. I like to review and share these passages as they are in that it is very reflective of real life experiences. Often the issues associated with finances are integrated and inseparable from other issues which influence them. For example, earning money is tied to not being lazy. Similarly, treating people the right way, God’s way, may be a part of your financial decisions as opposed to “get more money at all cost” such as taking advantage of others or lying to them.

The wisdom in Proverbs 6 is as relevant today as it was when it was written. Please read it slowly and thoughtfully. Avoid reading so fast you can not dwell on the message contained here. Allow God to speak to you for your life and the lives of those you may be able to help.

Proverbs 6

My child,[a] if you have put up security for a friend’s debt
    or agreed to guarantee the debt of a stranger—
if you have trapped yourself by your agreement
    and are caught by what you said—
follow my advice and save yourself,
    for you have placed yourself at your friend’s mercy.
Now swallow your pride;
    go and beg to have your name erased.
Don’t put it off; do it now!
    Don’t rest until you do.
Save yourself like a gazelle escaping from a hunter,
    like a bird fleeing from a net.

Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones.
    Learn from their ways and become wise!
Though they have no prince
    or governor or ruler to make them work,
they labor hard all summer,
    gathering food for the winter.
But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep?
    When will you wake up?
10 A little extra sleep, a little more slumber,
    a little folding of the hands to rest—
11 then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit;
    scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.

12 What are worthless and wicked people like?
    They are constant liars,
13 signaling their deceit with a wink of the eye,
    a nudge of the foot, or the wiggle of fingers.
14 Their perverted hearts plot evil,
    and they constantly stir up trouble.
15 But they will be destroyed suddenly,
    broken in an instant beyond all hope of healing.

16 There are six things the Lord hates—
    no, seven things he detests:
17 haughty eyes,
    a lying tongue,
    hands that kill the innocent,
18 a heart that plots evil,
    feet that race to do wrong,
19 a false witness who pours out lies,
    a person who sows discord in a family.

20 My son, obey your father’s commands,
    and don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.
21 Keep their words always in your heart.
    Tie them around your neck.
22 When you walk, their counsel will lead you.
    When you sleep, they will protect you.
    When you wake up, they will advise you.
23 For their command is a lamp
    and their instruction a light;
their corrective discipline
    is the way to life.
24 It will keep you from the immoral woman,
    from the smooth tongue of a promiscuous woman.
25 Don’t lust for her beauty.
    Don’t let her coy glances seduce you.
26 For a prostitute will bring you to poverty,[b]
    but sleeping with another man’s wife will cost you your life.
27 Can a man scoop a flame into his lap
    and not have his clothes catch on fire?
28 Can he walk on hot coals
    and not blister his feet?
29 So it is with the man who sleeps with another man’s wife.
    He who embraces her will not go unpunished.

30 Excuses might be found for a thief
    who steals because he is starving.
31 But if he is caught, he must pay back seven times what he stole,
    even if he has to sell everything in his house.
32 But the man who commits adultery is an utter fool,
    for he destroys himself.
33 He will be wounded and disgraced.
    His shame will never be erased.
34 For the woman’s jealous husband will be furious,
    and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge.
35 He will accept no compensation,
    nor be satisfied with a payoff of any size.

Such a clear and relevant passage, rather than add to it, I encourage you each to read it again, slowly… thinking about each line and how it may apply to you or those you may be able to help.

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

Biblical Guiding Framework For Financial Freedom

God lays out important principles for managing finances in the Bible. He wants His people to be wise stewards of the resources He provides.

In this article we lay out a high level framework that  provides valuable insight for those who take time to genuinely understand and apply it. I have paired the elements of the framework with some of the scriptures that support them, but there are many other scriptures that could be added.

You can also check out our Resources section of the website for other organizations with a great depth of material on this subject.

1 – Earn Money: Develop a skill and work hard to generate income.

  • Colossians 3:23 – Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.
  • Proverbs 6:9-11 – But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep? When will you wake up? 10 A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— 11 then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.

2 – Control Spending:  Set a budget that matches your income and stick to it in order to control spending. This budget should include short term “monthly expenses” but also saving ahead for long term expenses like a house, university education, future medical expenses, retirement, and contingency funds for the unknown.

  • Proverbs 6:6-8 – 6 Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise! 7 Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, 8 they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter.

3 – Control Debt: Carefully consider any debt before committing.

  • Proverbs 22:7 – Just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender.
  • Romans 13:8 – Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another.

4 – Invest: Choose to invest your financial resources for growth. Don’t stuff your mattress with cash in hopes of avoiding risk.

  • Matthew 25:14-30 – Jesus teaches us through the parable of the talents. Click the link to read the scripture.
  • Ecclesiastes 11:1 – Send your grain across the seas, and in time, profits will flow back to you.

5 – Diversify Investments: Diversify investments to manage risks.

  • Ecclesiastes 11:2 – But divide your investments among many places, for you do not know what risks might lie ahead.

6 –Consider Carefully and Seek Wise Counsel: Whether choosing how you will earn income, how to control spending or debt, or how to invest to grow your finances you should carefully consider your strategy and seek wise counsel.

  • Proverbs 22:3 – A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.
  • Proverbs 15:22 – Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success
  • Proverbs 14:15 – Only simpletons believe everything they’re told! The prudent carefully consider their steps.

7 – Steward Your Financial Strategy: Once you establish your financial strategy you must periodically review and analyze all elements to ensure you are following it and it is effective. This applies to earning income, spending, debt, and investment.

  • Matthew 25:14-30 – Jesus teaches us through the parable of the talents not only that we should invest, but that a good steward periodically checks on the effectiveness of his investments and makes adjustments according to their performance.

8 – Ethics: Following God’s instruction in how we manage our finances is more important than the actual dollars themselves.

  • Proverbs 22:1 – Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold.
  • Proverbs 22:5 – Corrupt people walk a thorny, treacherous road; whoever values life will avoid it.
  • Ecclesiastes 12:13 – That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty.

9 – Do Not Be Greedy: To those who love money, they will never have enough. Money is a tool to serve God and to support yourself and your family. The draw to “get rich quick” brings much risk.

  • 1 Timothy 6:10 –  For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.
  • Ecclesiastes 5:10 – Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness!

10 – Store Up Treasure in Heaven

  • Matthew 6:20 – Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.
  • 2 Corinthians 9:7 –  You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”
  • Proverbs 22:9 – Blessed are those who are generous, because they feed the poor

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .