Category Archives: Control Spending

Increase The Money in Your Pocket Now

I know people are in a range of different places with regards to their finances. Those that have a solid foundation already are optimizing spending and debt management and looking for investment opportunities to grow their finances.

However, many simply feel like they are running as fast as they can to just stay in place… never making progress toward their goals. Long term job selection and career or skill development seem far off objectives.  They want to know how to get more money now.

There are at least two very effective ways to get more money in your pocket quickly.

For those of you who have jobs that are commission or “tip” based or those who have the opportunity to work overtime, simply working hard and working longer hours can be effective short term to generate more income. Of course, that effort may not be sustainable long term without detriment to your personal or family life. It ultimately only bears meaningful results if you take that money and pay down debt or create savings or investment funds. If you work harder and then just buy more stuff you “want” but do not “need”, then it has not accomplished anything substantial.

The second approach is undeniably effective, if done in meaningful way. Reduce your spending! You not only keep the money you have earned, but do not forget that you have already paid taxes on this money. A dollar saved is worth more than a dollar earned. It really is yours to save and invest… so long as you do not spend it. To be most effective, start by challenging everything you are spending money on, starting with larger expenses first. Differentiate true “need” from “want”. Aggressively reduce spending on “wants”. Yes, it will feel uncomfortable and force you to change your behavior. But it absolutely generates cash in your pocket at the end of the month.

Want to see how much impact you can have on your finances? Just commit to yourself to test for a month saying “no” to any discretionary spending. In other words, really distinguishing “want” from “need”. Take the extra money you save at the end of the month and put it aside to pay down debt, start an emergency fund, or start preparing for investing. See how quickly you can use this simple approach to get your finances under control. If you are not confident you can commit to this challenge for “no” discretionary spending, then simply set up an assigned dollar value to spend toward your “wants” for the month and track even your small expenses to avoid exceeding that target. Try reducing that target next month. See how much you are actually spending on “wants” and “convenience” vs. “needs”.

Yes… buying that morning coffee from the coffee shop instead of brewing at home counts as “want” and the added cost does matter over time.

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

Build Your Income Before You Build a Bigger House

Build your income before you build a bigger house. This sounds obvious, but so many today start by getting deep in debt in order to have a bigger house “now” rather than waiting until they can wisely afford it. Then they say “It is ok, because everyone else is doing it. It is normal.” or “A mortgage is good debt, an investment.”

The advice comes from God in Proverbs 24:27.

  27Prepare your work outside
And make it ready for yourself in the field;
Afterwards, then, build your house.

God is not telling us to go to work while we have no shelter to protect our family. God is telling us to build our income stream through diligence before we focus on more spending and get deep in debt. That way we know what we can wisely afford while stewarding what He provides.

The truth is that you pay a lot of interest on what you may consider “good debt”. The truth is that many people you look to as “normal” are poorly prepared for the future and living beyond their means thanks to high debt load they assume they can pay back later. They are not ready for retirement. They are not even ready for small emergencies like appliances needing replacement or car repairs. They are really living month-to-month despite income that would be considered in the top 10% of the world.

Do not look to the people around you to determine what your standards should be. They may be drowning in debt and high spending. They may simply have a greater ability to generate high income.  Whatever the reason, don’t look to other people as your example but rather look to God and build your own plan based on lifetime objectives, not month-to-month spending. Be content with what you can wisely afford. As you build your income, establish savings, and establish a credible financial plan for your future you will be better prepared to make wise decisions around if/when you can afford to buy more expensive house, car, boat, etc.

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

Spend Like You Did Not Get a Raise; Budget Like There Is No Inflation

I am sure many of you can identify with the following example from my own life. I lived for many years without a mobile phone. I did not “need” it. I was used to living without it. Once I got one though, I found I got so accustomed to the convenience that it would be hard to give it up. I found a similar experience with the speed of my home internet. Dial-up and then DSL speed were fine, in fact wonderful breakthroughs in technology for their time, until I got used to something faster and then I could not go back. The bottom line… it is easier to avoid increasing our spending then it is to reduce our spending once we get used to having what it buys.  So, if you want to control spending, a good way to start is to avoid increasing your “standard of living” when you get more income. This could be income due to a raise, or income due to reduced tax burden. Either way, you have more money and you do not have to spend it frivolously.

No matter how rough you think you have it right now, most of you reading this on the internet have enough to get by with what are truly essentials of food, clothing, and shelter. We are not talking about fine dining, name brand clothing, and mansions… just the basics. Most people throughout the world would be glad to have what we in the USA refer to as a “poverty” standard of living. We have developed high expectations and a sense of judging our happiness and success by comparing the things we have to what others have. This is not God’s standard, but rather one based on coveting what others have instead of appreciating what God has already provided for us.

Too often people get excited to spend every increase in income they receive immediately for short term gratification to have fancier clothes, nicer house, more expensive food. Thus, even as they increase their income, they still remain in debt and lack any substantial savings. They just increase spending to match increases in income, or worse… with anticipation of continual rise in income they start getting deeper in debt, sure that they can pay it off sometime in the future.

If want to improve your financial situation over the long term, try this instead. Next time you get extra income from overtime, annual bonus, or a raise… pretend you didn’t. Keep your spending flat. Instead, put the increase to paying down debt or to savings, which will lead eventually to having money to invest when you are ready. If this is too hard to set aside the full amount of the raise for this purpose, then dedicate as much of the increase as you can. Maybe you can at least put aside 50% dedicated to paying down debt or saving. Maybe 75%.

One of the most effective ways to do this with today’s technology is to automate part of your paycheck routinely going to a separate account from the one you use for monthly spending. Then the extra amount never even shows up in your checking account for example. You keep spending like you did not get a raise, and all of a sudden you start paying down debt and creating a long-term stream of savings which will lead to money to invest.

Pray for God to help you be content with what you have rather than chasing what others have and trying to “keep up with the Jones'”. Identify a clear goal that the money is going toward such as working out of debt or building an emergency fund or starting an investment fund. Share your goals with a family member or trusted friend and celebrate milestones as you make progress!

Although it may be hard, this can apply also to inflation. If you can, try to keep your spending budget steady, even if prices are rising. It means you will have to cut back on what you are buying in order to “absorb” inflation. In some cases, you may have to pivot to lower cost options or brands for some items. In other cases, you can buy some things less frequently or in lower volume. If you can hold your spending budget flat in the face of inflation, then you protect any money you have budgeted for savings, paying down debt, or creating an investing fund. Short term pain helps create long term gain.

As always, seek wisdom and encouragement from God along the way and from any trusted mentor you may have. Just make sure you pick a mentor that models the behaviors and outcome you want to achieve. Not every friend is a good financial mentor.

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

A Small Leak Will Sink a Great Ship

Many of us are tempted to dismiss small expenses as irrelevant when it comes to budgeting. We spend $5-10 or even more without really thinking of it as significant. At the end of a month, we may be surprised to find out how much those small expenses add up.

As a simple example, if we eat out even for only $5/meal for breakfast and lunch each weekday that can add up quickly to over $200/month!

There is a quote I remember from Benjamin Franklin that paints a great picture that makes this easy to remember.

“Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.”

As a small leak that lets water in a boat can sink even a great ship, so too can small expenses sink a budget. While it is always a good idea to start cutting spending by looking at the largest purchases you make, it is also important to look in total at where you spend seemingly small amounts of money consistently and repeatedly.

I find it helpful to use software like Quicken to track these small expenses monthly and total them up to see what I am spending money on. It can be quite surprising at times. If that seems too much trouble for you, just take the time to review your credit card statements and add up the little expenses by category. This will help you see where you are spending your money and how simple changes in your habits may really help you patch the holes in your budget.

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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 .

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 .

Tax Time Again… arrgh. What Would Jesus Do?

It is that fun time of year again… tax day is approaching. No doubt, most of us… with rare exception… would prefer to pay less taxes (or no taxes) to the government. Many are tempted to lie and misrepresent their income to the government in order to reduce their tax bill. We should take care to consider what God wants from us, instead of what we want. There is no qualification about agreeing with the government on how the money is to be spent in order to pay the taxes. We are simply to pay the rightful taxes due.

Romans 13:1-7

Be Subject to Government

      1Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 4for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. 5Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. 6For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. 7Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

Matthew 22:15-22 

Tribute to Caesar

      15Then the Pharisees went and plotted together how they might trap Him in what He said. 16And they sent their disciples to Him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any. 17“Tell us then, what do You think? Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?” 18But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, “Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites? 19“Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.” And they brought Him a denarius. 20And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” 21They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” Then He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” 22And hearing this, they were amazed, and leaving Him, they went away.

Ok. So we are supposed to pay the rightful taxes due. Got it. That said, paying taxes is a lot like spending money. We should do so carefully and only pay what is required. There is no “extra credit” in overpaying taxes. In fact, government often uses the money inefficiently and without wisdom. In almost all cases government uses the money without giving glory to God.

We should pay careful attention to how managing our money affects what we pay in taxes. Key decisions in investing and estate planning can have big implications. To ignore the significant impact of taxes on our financial planning is to be irresponsible and likely pay too much money to the government. If you want to give it away … that is great, but find a way to honor God with the money and give it away wisely rather than overpay the government.

Many reputable investing sites have resources to help such as those at Charles Schwab’s online resource center section on taxes or Fidelity’s online guidance and retirement section on taxes. These resources can be very helpful. So too can relatively affordable tax software like TurboTax which make complying with your tax requirements accurate and more efficient… saving much time and headache. If you prefer, consult your financial advisor and tax professional for impacts that you should consider for your financial planning.

The money we pay in taxes (federal, state, local, income, sales, inheritance, etc.) represents a lot of money. Understanding how to optimize your tax burden will help you achieve your overall financial goals more effectively.

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

The Way of a Fool Is Right In His Own Eyes

We should be careful to listen to God’s advice. Those who wish to become wise, who love knowledge, must accept discipline and correction… must recognize that others may have more wisdom in some areas than ourselves. That is how we learn and get better.

Proverbs 12:1 and 15

1Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
But he who hates reproof is stupid.

 15The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
But a wise man is he who listens to counsel.

If you are not humble enough to acknowledge that others may have wise input worthy to consider, that you may have made or be making mistakes than you will continue to make mistakes.

Be humble. Seek wisdom. Accept correction from God and from others. Learn from it. Grow in wisdom.

These fundamentals apply to all aspects of life… and certainly to all aspects of managing your finances. There are great examples of public organizations or private advisors that can help. Most people even have others around them that may have good input.

For a few examples, please visit our resources section of our website.

Resources

Our mission is to help you. We provide the Resources section of GrowGodsMoney.org to help provide you with greater depth of resources by referring you to high quality organizations that have a lot of great content or provide a financial service (e.g. broker for investments).

We do not get paid by these organizations for referrals. We do not “compete” with these institutions, but rather see ourselves as part of the body of Christ in connecting you with helpful resources they already provide.

If there are resources you would like to recommend or give us feedback on, please send us information from the Contact Us page.

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

A Father’s Wise Advice

The wisdom in Proverbs 6:1-15 is as relevant today as it was when it was written. Please read it slowly and thoughtfully. Avoid reading so fast you cannot 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.

Take great care in giving a pledge or guarantee on behalf of neighbors and strangers. Do not do so unless you can afford to lose that amount if something does not work out.

1My son, if you have become surety for your neighbor,
Have given a pledge for a stranger,

      2If you have been snared with the words of your mouth,
Have been caught with the words of your mouth,

3Do this then, my son, and deliver yourself;
Since you have come into the hand of your neighbor,
Go, humble yourself, and importune your neighbor.

4Give no sleep to your eyes,
Nor slumber to your eyelids;

5Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hunter’s hand
And like a bird from the hand of the fowler.

Be not lazy. Instead, be industrious, taking ownership for your own care and for that of others you are responsible for. Think ahead, well beyond the short -term daily provision but rather looking ahead to the future. It may seem far off now, but if you don’t prepare now, you will face crisis later.

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.

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.

Do not devise evil for your own financial gain.

12A worthless person, a wicked man,
Is the one who walks with a perverse mouth,

13Who winks with his eyes, who signals with his feet,
Who points with his fingers;

14Who with perversity in his heart continually devises evil,
Who spreads strife.

15Therefore his calamity will come suddenly;
Instantly he will be broken and there will be no healing.

Consider scripture from Proverbs as if it were advice from a wise, loving father… because it is just that.

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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 .

The Basics: Control Spending and Debt

There is no amount of income, no matter how great, that can make up for out-of-control spending. To rely on income without controlling spending is like a fisherman who works feverishly to empty water from his boat with a bucket, but never plugs the large hole in his boat… he may keep up for a while, but eventually the boat is going to sink.

If you need convincing, do not take my word for it… look at governments around the world who routinely take in unthinkable revenue/income and still manage to spend more than they take in. The more they have, the more they spend… until finally the boat is sinking, and often they still do not control spending. They just look for a bigger bucket to scoop the water out of the boat.  It would serve them well to plug the hole in the boat.

Ok, you say…that is governments… they are spending other people’s money. It can’t happen to individuals. Look at celebrities or professional athletes who make many millions of dollars and then end up broke and bankrupt when their career is over. They never controlled spending or debt.

It is a crucial part of any financial strategy to be intentional and controlled in your spending and debt. Please check out our resource links on Control Spending and Debt to get a great head start in this area.

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