Intentional Spending vs. “Impulse” or “Luxury” Spending

Don’t worry, we are not talking about selling your car and home and living out of a box or moving back in with mom and dad. It is an entirely different thought process that should be considered in validating that your home, car and other long term spending commitments are appropriate and not excessive. Today’s exercise is focused on getting a reality check on your short term spending habits for discretionary spending.

Think of it like a “fast” from discretionary spending. Choose a month each year, perhaps January is a good month to start with as many are recovering from over spending in December. For that month, make a commitment to avoid discretionary spending. Minimize or eliminate eating out at restaurants, avoid impulse purchases of clothes or electronic items or really anything. Clearly define “need” vs. “want”. Even be intentional in buying groceries to stick with what you need, rather than a bunch of extras like snacks or expensive luxury items when less expensive basics will suffice. Avoid going out to the movies or sporting events or concerts. Follow through to the point that you feel you are giving up things you like.

At the end of the month, evaluate your spending and see how much less money you spent than your typical month. Then you can reflect on where you should make permanent adjustments to your spending habits to reduce your monthly spending, perhaps reducing below what you thought practical. Even if you change nothing outside of one month of lower expenses… you will help offset your likely over spending in December. If you did not over spend in December… you can dedicate the money saved to pay off debt, or set up an emergency fund, etc. Even donating the extra money to serve someone in need can be very rewarding and in keeping with God’s instructions for our life.

Are you willing to take the challenge? or are you addicted to discretionary spending?

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

Who is Blessed and Who Should Take Caution?

To those who do not know the LORD or walk in relationship with Him, this message may seem like foolishness. However, it is based on sound doctrine from the Bible. We should not overlook the importance of YHWH’s blessing on us as His followers, nor His cautions. Whether we are blessed and rich, blessed and poor, or blessed and somewhere in between it is important to seek His blessing. But remember, blessing does not always translate to “rich”, and “rich” does not always translate to happiness and joy and fulfillment.

Luke chapter 6 records some rich and deep teaching from our Lord, Yeshua. While we always want to read in context (e.g. read the whole chapter(s) rather than picking a verse here and there), I want to make sure we don’t breeze over some of this rich teaching by putting too much in one article. Sometimes we get distracted to read through the whole section of scripture for the day and lose the opportunity to pause and prayerfully reflect on what it means and how it applies to us.

Luke 6:20-26

The Beatitudes

     20And turning His gaze toward His disciples, He began to say, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21“Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. 22“Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. 23“Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets. 24“But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full. 25“Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. 26“Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way.

Clearly this is an example where God’s ways are not our ways! The logic seems upside down by man’s values. Who wants to be poor? hungry? filled with sorrow? scorned and insulted? Who does not want to be rich and well liked?

Let us first point out that this does not mean you can’t have relationship with the LORD and go to heaven if you are rich. Abraham was rich, as just one quick example.

Have you considered that those who are poor, hungry, and sorrowful are perhaps not “self sufficient”. They know they need help. They know they can not figure it all out on their own. This attitude can often help set them up to truly submit to the LORD or submit more fully. They “have nothing to lose” and recognize they need help from one who is wiser.

On the other hand, many who are rich and content may focus more and more on being self sufficient and less on relying on God. This increases risk of not having a deeply connected relationship with the LORD. Additionally, the LORD want to be first in their life. Many who are rich have at times gotten their wealth through pursuit and prioritization of money over other things (not always! money is not inherently bad, just the love of money). They would have to submit to the LORD and serve Him rather than money.

I wanted to close with what serves as both encouragement and rebuke. We should all ask ourselves… “are we scorned for Yeshua?” Do our co-workers, friends, and family even know we submit to Him. Do we put Him first? Do we choose His ways over even popular cultural and family traditions? Have we changed our lives based on our relationship with Him, even though it causes tension with others?

I pose that in most cases if we experience no conflict on behalf of our relationship with Christ, than perhaps we need to evaluate if we are truly representing Him and His teaching to the world. If people around us can’t tell we follow Yeshua, than perhaps we are not actually fully submitted to Him… or we are just hanging out with a small group of believers and not bringing the gospel to others… which again comes back to not being fully submitted to Him.  He commands us to share the gospel with the world. Don’t kid yourself about churches being perfect either. Even within a church, if you are living for Christ according to Biblical principles and willing to be different and change, you will find yourself being set apart in some ways from others who are in your church. When you change visibly in the name of God, it is amazing how others come forward to pull you back as if your choice to change your life for God has made them uncomfortable because you are living different from them. They don’t want to change or feel guilty, so they must convince themselves, sometimes others, maybe you that you are wrong.

Pray for the Spirit to lead you. Follow the Spirit and God’s written word in the Bible. Test everything against this. Do not just accept as fact the traditions of men or churches.

22“Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. 23“Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

 

YHWH Speaks On Life and Conduct

Our Father loves us dearly. He has provided us with His word to guide us, His Spirit to fill us and help us, and the death of His Son to make a way to forgive us. Let us never take that for granted, being complacent in our own way of living according to the ways of the world. The world if sinful and not righteous. Let us take His fatherly advice and change how we are living to be more like He instructs for us.

Proverbs 19

On Life and Conduct

1Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity
Than he who is perverse in speech and is a fool.

2Also it is not good for a person to be without knowledge,
And he who hurries his footsteps errs.

3The foolishness of man ruins his way,
And his heart rages against the LORD.

4Wealth adds many friends,
But a poor man is separated from his friend.

5A false witness will not go unpunished,
And he who tells lies will not escape.

6Many will seek the favor of a generous man,
And every man is a friend to him who gives gifts.

7All the brothers of a poor man hate him;
How much more do his friends abandon him!
He pursues them with words, but they are gone.

8He who gets wisdom loves his own soul;
He who keeps understanding will find good.

9A false witness will not go unpunished,
And he who tells lies will perish.

10Luxury is not fitting for a fool;
Much less for a slave to rule over princes.

11A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger,
And it is his glory to overlook a transgression.

12The king’s wrath is like the roaring of a lion,
But his favor is like dew on the grass.

13A foolish son is destruction to his father,
And the contentions of a wife are a constant dripping.

14House and wealth are an inheritance from fathers,
But a prudent wife is from the LORD.

15Laziness casts into a deep sleep,
And an idle man will suffer hunger.

16He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul,
But he who is careless of conduct will die.

17One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD,
And He will repay him for his good deed.

18Discipline your son while there is hope,
And do not desire his death.

19A man of great anger will bear the penalty,
For if you rescue him, you will only have to do it again.

20Listen to counsel and accept discipline,
That you may be wise the rest of your days.

21Many plans are in a man’s heart,
But the counsel of the LORD will stand.

22What is desirable in a man is his kindness,
And it is better to be a poor man than a liar.

23The fear of the LORD leads to life,
So that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil.

24The sluggard buries his hand in the dish,
But will not even bring it back to his mouth.

25Strike a scoffer and the naive may become shrewd,
But reprove one who has understanding and he will gain knowledge.

26He who assaults his father and drives his mother away
Is a shameful and disgraceful son.

27Cease listening, my son, to discipline,
And you will stray from the words of knowledge.

28A rascally witness makes a mockery of justice,
And the mouth of the wicked spreads iniquity.

29Judgments are prepared for scoffers,
And blows for the back of fools.

Take time and dwell on each verse. Which one or two strike you the most as relevant in your life. Pray the Lord helps you to deal with this area of your life and continue your transformation to be more like Him!

Do not misunderstand the point about poverty and riches relating to “friends”. It is a warning not to be rich to have friends, but that if you are rich, many will claim to be your friend and try to use you. The poor know who truly are their friends and brothers. They stick with them even when there is nothing in it for them but only to help a friend or brother.

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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 .

Contrast the Upright and the Wicked

There is stark contrast between the upright and the wicked. We are not talking “shades of gray”. Meditate on the guidance offered by our Creator in Proverbs 13 in regards to managing your finances. Pray for His help and guidance to lead you down the right path. Apply this wisdom to your financial considerations in life in how you act, in whom you put your trust, in how you teach your children, in how you treat others, etc.

Proverbs 13

Contrast the Upright and the Wicked

1A wise son accepts his father’s discipline,
But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.

2From the fruit of a man’s mouth he enjoys good,
But the desire of the treacherous is violence.

3The one who guards his mouth preserves his life;
The one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.

4The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing,
But the soul of the diligent is made fat.

5A righteous man hates falsehood,
But a wicked man acts disgustingly and shamefully.

6Righteousness guards the one whose way is blameless,
But wickedness subverts the sinner.

7There is one who pretends to be rich, but has nothing;
Another pretends to be poor, but has great wealth.

8The ransom of a man’s life is his wealth,
But the poor hears no rebuke.

9The light of the righteous rejoices,
But the lamp of the wicked goes out.

10Through insolence comes nothing but strife,
But wisdom is with those who receive counsel.

11Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles,
But the one who gathers by labor increases it.

12Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

13The one who despises the word will be in debt to it,
But the one who fears the commandment will be rewarded.

14The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life,
To turn aside from the snares of death.

15Good understanding produces favor,
But the way of the treacherous is hard.

16Every prudent man acts with knowledge,
But a fool displays folly.

17A wicked messenger falls into adversity,
But a faithful envoy brings healing.

18Poverty and shame will come to him who neglects discipline,
But he who regards reproof will be honored.

19Desire realized is sweet to the soul,
But it is an abomination to fools to turn away from evil.

20He who walks with wise men will be wise,
But the companion of fools will suffer harm.

21Adversity pursues sinners,
But the righteous will be rewarded with prosperity.

22A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children,
And the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.

23Abundant food is in the fallow ground of the poor,
But it is swept away by injustice.

24He who withholds his rod hates his son,
But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.

25The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite,
But the stomach of the wicked is in need.

I urge you to consider Proverbs 13 as truly relevant to your life and decisions today. Think of this wisdom like a handy checklist and use it often for evaluating your behavior and making decisions. Don’t rely on your own “gut feel” or judgment… we are not as wise as we think. Rely instead, on the guidance that God has already provided to contrast the righteous from the wicked.

Proverbs 3:5-7

5Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.

6In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.

7Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.

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

The Foundation of Your Financial Strategy

Effective organizations develop a set of guiding principles to help guide their decisions. Individuals that want to be effective managing their finances need to do the same.

We provide an example of a Guiding Framework for managing finances on GrowMyMoneyNow.org that highlights some key principles or elements you need to consider while building your own personal financial strategy. However, this does not replace the need for you to develop your own personal guiding principles that should not be limited to finances but rather define how finances fit relative to broader aspects of your life.

I will share an example of my personal top three guiding principles.

  1. Serve God
  2. Serve my wife
  3. Serve my children

You notice that finances and career are not even on the list as a stand alone priority. That is because for me money is a tool to achieve my guiding principles rather than a value in and of itself. (By the way… the pursuit to maximize money with no other objective is called greed and you will never have enough.)

Clearly identifying these principles ahead of time helps me make good decisions when I am confronted with tempting opportunities that come along such as opportunity to make more money. I consider that opportunity but must weigh it against whether it will help or hurt my ability to live according to my guiding principles.

If “making more money” were high in my guiding principles, then I would make a different decision. The guiding principles you set should steer your decisions.

You should periodically revisit this personal framework (e.g. annually). If you are married, you should involve your spouse.

If you set these principles meaningfully, you are setting the foundation upon which you build the rest of your financial strategy relating to income, spending, debt, investing, etc.

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

Should I Buy or Sell Stocks in Today’s Environment?

Seems like the stock markets manage to remain at or near all time highs while at the same time the world is unstable… quite something to consider.  Government and bank manipulation of interest rates have driven people out of safe and responsible fixed income and into overweight position in riskier stocks.

Should I buy now with both hands because this is as low as the market will go? or should I wait until some world event (or the reality of the poor global economy) triggers a significant pull back? Should I sell everything now at market highs? What should I do?

Avoid investing based on emotions or impulse. Instead, start by developing a longer term personal financial investing strategy… a plan… and spend time reviewing how to adapt for the current environment.

For those of you who are not yet in a position to be investing in the stock market, I encourage you to continue working on the basics we cover elsewhere in our teachings… learn to earn an income consistently and then work hard to increase it, learn to budget and save… differentiating “wants” from true “needs”, develop an emergency fund in cash for surprises that always come, give to others in a way that honors God by investing in His kingdom. Your time may yet come when you will be well prepared to invest in stocks. Do not rush it lest you take on risk you are not ready for… as a child sprinting into the street to get his favorite ball, not aware of the oncoming cars.

For those that are in a position to invest in stocks… today’s article is for you. To begin with, you should have a plan before you just buy stocks, so if you are a beginner and not yet in the market, you need to do a bit more homework before you just buy a stock for a company you like because it is less expensive than it was before. This is not a robust strategy. You need diversification, an identified list of goals and objectives, a specific timeline for your investment… you need to be prepared. Plan carefully and seek wise advice. We have covered this too in other articles on our site.

Stocks that are falling, can fall much farther. In financial investing many use a parable of a “falling knife”. In other words, be careful trying to buy into declining stocks to greedily. If they have not found their bottom yet, you may be reaching out to catch “a falling knife”. When you do that… it hurts. As an example to illustrate… you see stocks decline 10% and you jump in with both feet… only to see them decline another 10-15%. Ouch. Let’s hope you don’t then panic and get out before they recover.

On the other hand, stocks that are near all time highs can actually go higher.

If you are a well prepared investor with a solid plan, you have prepared for this market volatility. You have a portion of your investing funds set aside as cash or “dry powder”. In other words, you are anticipating that you will have an opportunity to purchase stocks when there is a decline (ammunition ready to fire when needed). Now… what to buy, how much, when… all still important questions.

It is very important to identify a time horizon for your investing. Most of us should avoid day to day or month to month “trading” and instead focus on longer term investing such as over a few years or even a retirement portfolio. This important perspective is key in identifying what to buy and when and how much.

Dollar cost averaging is your friend. Hopefully you have previously set targets for specific diversification of stocks you would like to have as prices fall that would best diversify and boost your portfolio. This is part of having a plan. Then you buy some as the stock you are following falls. You do not do this on a whim or as a reaction to falling price. You have already done homework and seize the opportunity to invest in something you already targeted and studied. If it was at 100$/share a few months ago, perhaps you set a target to get a starting position (25%) when if pulled back to 95$/share to be followed up with increments again at 90, 80, 70. You do not try to pick the bottom and get all in at that bottom. That does not work.

If you are just now looking for opportunity and have not done a lot of pre-planning… take your time. Look for stability in the market and a support level to be reached that may indicate that the stocks you want have bottomed out… avoid catching the falling knife. You must avoid the temptation to try to pick the bottom. If the stock falls 20%, stabilizes and bounces back up 5%… be content to get a starting position at 15% discount, don’t try to pile all in at the absolute bottom. Greed will cause you great pain. Do your homework while you wait.

Oh… and you almost never want to use all your dry powder quickly because the the market may go lower than you think. You may want some cash left in your account to use over a 3-6 month time period.

If you are fully invested and have no cash position… seriously consider getting some investing help to make good decisions on how to reduce the risk of your portfolio through diversification, stocks with high dividends, and even creating a cash position… yes even if you may have to realize a loss by doing so. Avoid the trap of staying in a bad position in your portfolio just to insist to yourself that it will recover and you did not take a loss on that investment. Do you really want to go hunting a bear (e.g. “bear market”) with no dry powder?

Be careful. Do not be greedy. Avoid impulse and emotion. Hunting bears (e.g. “bear market”) can be dangerous game, and it can also be dangerous to be “all in” when markets are already overpriced and dependent on government manipulation of interest rates.

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

Big Gains Come With Big Risk

1 Timothy 6:10 For 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.

Do not be greedy for high gains by placing large bets on stocks or other investments or pursuing “get rich quick” schemes. If they worked without a lot of risk, the person offering the “can’t miss” opportunity would not be trying to get you involved. Instead, they would use their own scheme to get rich and then go about their early retirement or pursuit of more money.

Speculative investment is fine as a diversification, but be prepared for any investment to go up or down, no matter who recommends it.

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

Fatherly Advice from God

Our Father loves us dearly. He has provided us with His word to guide us, His Spirit to fill us and help us, and the death of His son to make a way to forgive us. Let us never take that for granted, being complacent in our own way of living according to the ways of the world. The world if sinful and not righteous. Let us take His fatherly advice and change how we are living to be more like He instructs for us.

Proverbs 19

On Life and Conduct

       1Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity
Than he who is perverse in speech and is a fool.

2Also it is not good for a person to be without knowledge,
And he who hurries his footsteps errs.

3The foolishness of man ruins his way,
And his heart rages against the LORD.

4Wealth adds many friends,
But a poor man is separated from his friend.

5A false witness will not go unpunished,
And he who tells lies will not escape.

6Many will seek the favor of a generous man,
And every man is a friend to him who gives gifts.

7All the brothers of a poor man hate him;
How much more do his friends abandon him!
He pursues them with words, but they are gone.

8He who gets wisdom loves his own soul;
He who keeps understanding will find good.

9A false witness will not go unpunished,
And he who tells lies will perish.

10Luxury is not fitting for a fool;
Much less for a slave to rule over princes.

11A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger,
And it is his glory to overlook a transgression.

12The king’s wrath is like the roaring of a lion,
But his favor is like dew on the grass.

13A foolish son is destruction to his father,
And the contentions of a wife are a constant dripping.

14House and wealth are an inheritance from fathers,
But a prudent wife is from the LORD.

15Laziness casts into a deep sleep,
And an idle man will suffer hunger.

16He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul,
But he who is careless of conduct will die.

17One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD,
And He will repay him for his good deed.

18Discipline your son while there is hope,
And do not desire his death.

19A man of great anger will bear the penalty,
For if you rescue him, you will only have to do it again.

20Listen to counsel and accept discipline,
That you may be wise the rest of your days.

21Many plans are in a man’s heart,
But the counsel of the LORD will stand.

22What is desirable in a man is his kindness,
And it is better to be a poor man than a liar.

23The fear of the LORD leads to life,
So that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil.

24The sluggard buries his hand in the dish,
But will not even bring it back to his mouth.

25Strike a scoffer and the naive may become shrewd,
But reprove one who has understanding and he will gain knowledge.

26He who assaults his father and drives his mother away
Is a shameful and disgraceful son.

27Cease listening, my son, to discipline,
And you will stray from the words of knowledge.

28A rascally witness makes a mockery of justice,
And the mouth of the wicked spreads iniquity.

29Judgments are prepared for scoffers,
And blows for the back of fools.

Take time and dwell on each verse. Which one or two strike you the most as relevant in your life. Pray the Lord helps you to deal with this area of your life and continue your transformation to be more like Him!

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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 .

Better is a Dry Morsel In Peace, than a Feast With Strife

No better place to explore an amazing cache of Father’s financial advice than Proverbs. Read and reread it. Pause and consider it. Pray for the Spirit to enlighten your mind to understanding and application in your life. Do not simply read over it quickly and move on.

Proverbs 17

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.

3The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold,
But the LORD tests hearts.

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.

Dwell on these. Truly consider each one, one at a time. There is tremendous wisdom contained within… a Father’s gift to His children.

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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 .

 

Even The Rich Can Serve God Rather Than Money

In Genesis 14:17-24 Abram returns from a significant military victory in which he saved his nephew Lot along with other captives and many possessions that were taken as plunder of war. He takes nothing of the plunder for himself. He gives a tithe to Melchizedek, identified as both king and priest, returns the captives and the plunder asking only for the food his troops already ate and a share of the goods recovered for his allies.

17 After Abram returned from his victory over Kedorlaomer and all his allies, the king of Sodom went out to meet him in the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley).

18 And Melchizedek, the king of Salem and a priest of God Most High,[d] brought Abram some bread and wine. 19 Melchizedek blessed Abram with this blessing:

“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
    Creator of heaven and earth.
20 And blessed be God Most High,
    who has defeated your enemies for you.”

Then Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of all the goods he had recovered.

21 The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give back my people who were captured. But you may keep for yourself all the goods you have recovered.”

22 Abram replied to the king of Sodom, “I solemnly swear to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, 23 that I will not take so much as a single thread or sandal thong from what belongs to you. Otherwise you might say, ‘I am the one who made Abram rich.’ 24 I will accept only what my young warriors have already eaten, and I request that you give a fair share of the goods to my allies—Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre.”

Abram makes a point to show that he did not fight to get riches. He fought because it was right to do so. It was a righteous battle, rather than one fought for greed or love of money. Abraham is wealthy, but does not serve money. He serves God. He gives to God through the tithe to Melchizedek and asks for some of the goods for his allies. Melchizedek gives praise and honor to God for the victory.

God wants us to follow Abram’s example… to fight righteous battles not for personal gain but to live in accordance with God’s instruction. The battles we are called to fight are not always literal. Many times we are not called to raise sword or spear but rather to speak the truth and stand up for our faith and resist those who wish to silence Christians through fear or persecution. Sometimes it may be choosing those we do business with or vote into political office based on their public demonstration of faith and honoring God instead of someone who is selfish and greedy for power… and helping convince others to do the same.

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

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