13 January 2013

What's in Your Wallet?

Do you know what percentage of income the average person in Japan saves each year?  They sock away 18.2 percent of their annual income. In contrast, the average American SPENDS $1.33 for every $1.00 earned.

This boat won’t float for long.

Proverbs 6:6-8 says, “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!  The ant, it has no commander, no overseer, no ruler, and yet it stores provisions in summer and it gathers its food at harvest.”

The ant instinctively saves for a “rainy” day. We also should exercise the sense to save. There are three “circumstances” we are going to put into practice for saving:

1. We are going to save for emergencies.  “What emergencies?” you may ask.  Your plumbing will back up, your car will break down, or someone in your family will get sick and go to the doctor.

2. We are going to save for purchases.  You may need a new couch; you may want to go on vacation. The idea is to save up and pay cash. We’ve just had Christmas, and you may not have even begun to pay for that spending. Decide not to do that anymore, instead, save up and pay cash for gifts.

3. We are going to save for the future.  You may want to retire or see your kids go to college. You are going to save for that.

Proverbs 21:20, “In the house of the wise there are stores of choice food and oil, a foolish man devours all he has.”

A modern day telling of this verse could go like this:  In the house of the wise, people survive on less than they take in, and they save for the future, but the foolish live paycheck to paycheck- which is what 75% of Americans do, spending more than they earn.

Having ‘stores of choice food and oil’ will require you to prioritize your money by planning, budgeting, and making your money behave.  This has to be done because you most likely have a certain amount of money to live on.

It will be necessary to clearly define, in your life, what a need is, what a want is.

Think of it like this: You need to eat; you want to go to a restaurant. Those are different things. You need a roof over your head, but you may want a 3-bedroom house with a 2-car garage.  

The problem for so many people is they spend money on wants, leaving insufficient funds to provide for needs.      

Prioritize your dollars.  Most have a certain amount to live on each month, so it is important to put a priority on each dollar.

For example, let’s say its payday, and to keep things simple, let’s say you get paid $10.  Your first priority as a follower of Christ is to always tithe, that is, give 10% to God.  And, it should always be the very first dollar.

Your second priority is to pay for your living expenses.  You have to eat, and you have to sleep somewhere.  Until now, in this scenario, your living expenses have been higher than they really should be, and nine of your ten dollars has been spent on those living expenses.

But, you have decided to be aggressive about eliminating your debt. You've sold your car and got a less expensive one.  You stopped drinking expensive drinks.  Maybe you cut back in some areas, and, after aggressive planning, you have managed to actually save $2.00 from your living expenses.

You are going to put that $2.00 toward your ‘third priority.’

Your third priority is the “Oh, no” fund.  It is $1,000.00 that you are going to work your buns off to set aside for emergencies.  Two dollars doesn't sound like much, but, you have been taught tithing, and God has blessed you.

You landed a side job this month, and earned an extra dollar. You also sold something on Craigslist and made another $1.00.  In your very first month, you could end up putting $4.00 into the “Oh, no” fund.

Before long, it is payday again, and the cycle continues.  After you do this for a few months, you will have $1,000.00 in your “Oh, no” fund.

It is time to focus on debt elimination once you have established your “Oh, no” fund. Don’t let your enemy talk you out of this.  If you hang in there, when most people give up, within a short period of time, except for probably what you owe on your home, you will be debt-free.

Managing wisely the resources entrusted to you by God is one of the true marks of spiritual maturity.  What you do with what God provides reveals what you really believe.

This practical advice is not meant to curb your reliance on God; it is to open your eyes to applying His word to your everyday lives.  He is still sovereign; He still gives and takes away.  He is our Jehovah Jireh, our provider.

Let’s do our best with what He provides.

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