Other "Thinking Drafts" and writing by Keith Drury --http://www.indwes.edu/tuesday .
From: Money Sex and Spiritual Power by Keith Drury
(c) 1992 Wesley Press
1. Pay God first.
Do your giving to God off the top as the first "bill" you pay. Paying God first reminds you that everything is actually under God's control and that you are submitting all you finances to God. God tends to bless those who support His work. 1
2. Get out of debt, then stay out.
Get out of debt quickly, then stay out permanently. Going into debt spends future income for present living. This "have it now -- pay later" mentality is neither good finances nor good Christianity. Debt-free families get a ten to twenty percent discount on life. When you are out of debt you will be able to spend your income on present needs and wants, not just paying for your past living. Going into consumer debt can even mean you are paying now for things which are already worn out or broken. It is pure "live now -- pay later" philosophy, and essentially anti-Christian. As a Christian you should try to get out of consumer debt at least. And, if you are really smart, you'd go on to reduce all debt as quickly as feasible.
Pay off installment loans first, then auto loans, then home equity loans, and finally even consider accelerated payments on your mortgage. Once you are completely debt-free, your income will seem huge compared to what you now have left after paying your bills. I recognize that during times of hyper-inflation it seems smart to borrow as much as you can and pay back with cheap dollars. However, the essential live-now-pay-later philosophy is the same. How will you teach your teenagers to "wait" sexually if your family has seldom waited materially?
3. Develop frugal habits early.
Just because you are poor doesn't mean you're frugal. In fact, poverty sometimes has the opposite effect. We can figure, "Since things are so hopeless, let's live it up tonight." But the chances of developing frugality when you have less are better than after you are rich. So start now. Perhaps you have to be frugal just to make ends meet now. Here is a great irony. The seeds of riches lie in poverty, if we respond right. If you are poor, and you learn a lifetime habit of living on less, this simplicity, combined with hard work will lead to riches. It's much harder for a rich young couple to learn frugality than a poor couple. So, if you have little, thank God for the opportunity to develop a life habit of frugality.
The advantage of learning frugal habits is that they are just that -- habits. Even when you no longer "need to scrimp" you still will scrimp. Frugality means you live on what you need, not on what you want. Frugality divorces expenses from income and attached them to needs. The questions will be "Do I really need it?" not "can I really afford it." It is obvious what a lifetime effect this habit has. Once you learn the habit, your expenses will not automatically climb each time your income increases. Thus you will begin having more left over with every raise in pay.
Our family learned a variety of frugal habits when we had little to live on. We purchase food wholesale in bulk -- right down to spending several dollars on twenty pounds of salt -- which turned out to be a lifetime supply! We accept lots of hand-me-down clothes (until our kids turned 16!). We drive old cars which we usually sell five years later for more than what we paid for them. But there are our personal habits. There is no one system of frugality for all families. What we do might seem "going too far" to you. And what you choose might seem radical to us. Each family must carve out its own frugal practices and we can't judge each other on our own scale.
A penny saved is not a penny earned. It's more. Saved money is tax and interest free. Besides, there is a spiritual issue here too. Living simply on purpose keeps us closer to the basics, and thus removes the "materialistic fog" in our lives which God has such difficulty penetrating.2
4. Become a generous person.
Give generously, everywhere. Sure, give to the church, but give elsewhere too. Avoid falling into the trap of considering your church giving your total contribution to giving. We in the organized church often leave the impression that stewardship and generosity are synonyms for church-giving. We forget to emphasize how Jesus taught a life style of giving to all, not just to organized religion. Of course, the Church needs money. But limiting your giving to the church while you shut off generosity to other individuals will produce a stingy pattern of giving. If you shut up your compassionate heart to a friend at work, even though you are paying your tithe, how can the love of God be in your heart. Christian generosity runs deeper than giving to organizations for tax credit. It includes an over all spirit of giving which starts at Church but extends to all people. If you practice this kind of generous life style God will bless you with even more to give.
5. Work hard.
Hard work and money are connected. Yes, you might get "lucky" sometime and make money without working very hard. But basing life on a "lottery mentality," expecting to get rich without hard work, is not Christian. Work hard, give a fair days work... plus a little more, for a fair day's pay. Avoid laziness, which will guarantee poverty. In fact, forget the association between hard work and money all together, and just focus on working hard. Learn to enjoy hard work. Teach your kids to work hard... even if they complain at first. One you develop the habit of always working extra, money will seek you out. Money gravitates toward work.
6. Delay major purchases.
Many young families practice the philosophy, "If you need it, buy it." As soon as the old washing machine breaks, we rush out to get a new one simply because "the wash is piling up." We wouldn't think of going without a TV for a few months if the old one breaks down. Instead, we rush out the very next day to frantically replace it. We just don't give God time to work.
Rather than making an immediate purchase, if we would put everything on hold for a couple of weeks, God might save us the price of a new washer. Perhaps he will send a friend your way who will "take a look at it" only to find a simple connection problem which he fixes for free. Or after a couple of visits to the laundromat you'll find someone who says, "Hey, we've got an old washer we're selling for five dollars if you'll haul it away." That washer will last you for five more years. Or your husband (who's never even seen the inside of a washing machine) will take the back off and fiddle with it a while and when he puts it back together it works perfectly (and he the pretends he knew how he fixed it!) Or a repairman might fix it for far less than you could get a new one. Or maybe even the washing machine just fixes itself and mysteriously starts working again in a few weeks! These things happen! We've seen each of them. But it takes time. The point is, waiting a while may eliminate the need to buy something new at all.
Delaying major purchases also gives God time to work in your own mind. What you now feel is an absolute necessity may not seem so important after a three-week cooling off period. Sometimes, God does not provide the wanted item. Instead he changes your desire to have it. Either way He fully provides your needs.
7. Start saving.
Saving is not the first smart financial step. The first step is getting out of debt. Once you quit "having it now; paying for it later" you can take the second step: "Having it now paying for it now" -- living off your current income. Only when you get out of debt and are living on what you make, should you move to the third step: "Paying for it now; having it later." This third step of delayed gratification is probably what we all should have started out with. But most of us come to it more slowly, and thus get rich much later in life than those who practice this discipline from the beginning. "Third step saving" practices let you enjoy the anticipation of having something in the future, while you save up for it. Looking forward to the purchase is sometimes as fun as having the thing itself. And there is a side benefit. Sometimes after saving up for so long, you understand the real cost and it is impossible for you to shell out the cash to buy it. How many of us really would plunk down $20,000 cash for a new car? In cash? If we all bought cars with saved up cash, Detroit would become a ghost town! But don't worry, most people won't even read this book. And most of the people who do read it will ignore this advice anyway, so there'll still be plenty of jobs for your Michigan friends.
How to save? Initially start saving up for major purchases -- a TV, Major appliances, big vacation, second car, and finally maybe even your family car. Some even say you should save up for a house, but this certainly can't apply to everyone. The idea here is to start saving something. Like church-giving, it is a statement you are making which flows against the have-it-now-pay-later philosophy of life.
8. Keep money secondary.
Seeking wealth is self-defeating. The more you chase it, and the more you'll get, but the less satisfied you'll be. There will always be somebody richer than you. If you want to get rich -- either quick or slow -- you are on a slippery slope. Instead, seek to serve others, to work hard, to seek God's kingdom first... and money will get added as you travel along. Money is a by-product of service and work.
9. Make long-haul decisions.
Sometimes spending more money now will save you money later. A good pair of shoe trees might cost more now, but give you an extra few years life on your shoes. When we built our home we added additional insulation and geo-thermal heat. These long-haul investments cost more at first, but pay back dividends increasingly as long as we live in the house (and to our successors, and the environment).
Most of us live so much for the present that we seldom have the cash to make long-haul decisions. This is how the "rich get richer; the poor get poorer." It is a deadly cycle. Not inventing the cash to make long-haul decisions now simply ensures we won't have the cash later to make other long-haul decisions.
10. Borrow and loan things.
Being the independent folk we are, most of us hate to borrow or rent something. Our own self-reliance demands we "get one for myself." True, sometimes it is better to purchase an item -- if over the years it will "pay for itself." But often we simply want to have it now. However, in figuring this out we need to be careful. I hate renting things, so I can always crunch the figures enough to prove I can justify buying something for myself.
I don't like borrowing either. It seems so humiliating, almost unbiblical, doesn't it? Many of us figure Ben Franklin's proverb, "Neither and borrower or lender be" is somewhere in the Bible.
But borrowing and loaning makes good sense, especially for Christians. After all, early Christians did not consider anything they had as their own and shared everything with each other.3 And Jesus instructed us to never turn away those who would borrow from us.
As for Jesus, consider his life: He was born in a borrowed stable, raised by a borrowed Dad, got several key disciples he borrowed from John the Baptist, taught from a borrowed boat, slept on borrowed mats, multiplied a borrowed lunch, rode into Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey, held the last supper in a borrowed room, died on a borrowed cross and was buried in a borrowed tomb.
Of course, we shouldn't be an irresponsible moocher. 4 But borrowing saves you money over the long haul, and lending saves others money. When Christians borrow and lend it releases more money for the Kingdom of God, eliminating duplicate expenses all over town for items which could be loaned to each other.
11. Teach your kids about money.
If your children are still at home, start early teaching them these principles. Give them an allowance as soon as they have felt material needs (the day they reach out grasping for something at the store). Remind them to take along their money when you go to the store. Let them choose how to spend it, even on foolish purchases. It is better for them to learn on a lost dollar now than learn later on lost thousands.
As they grow older help them earn money beyond your parental welfare payments. Teach them the connection between hard work and money. Let them learn the principles of giving, blessing, and saving by practicing them. Though you should remind them from time to time, don't protect them from failures. If they squander all their money on some frivolous purpose and wind up broke the day the deposit for their school's ski trip, don't bail them out. Such pain will be a life time lesson. (Actually this lesson is better taught when the child is a pre-schooler with their allowance -- then more principles they learn before age 8 the better.)
By the time they are teenagers you might be able to teach them business principles as well -- (1) Capital formation -- saving or borrowing money; (2) Investing capital -- purchasing equipment or products with which to make money; (3) Labor -- working with the equipment or products; (4) Value-adding -- making the product or service of greater value by applying labor (5) Mark-up -- selling for more than you paid for it; (6) Profit -- the net dollars "clear" made on the product or service. These lessons will carry your children through their lifetime if you take time to teach them now.
My oldest son, David started learning these principles in seventh grade by borrowed money to purchase a cassette tape duplicating machine. He began copying tapes for churches, a college and various traveling speakers. He paid off the loan in several months and was able to make enough to save up enough cash to buy a second machine. He continued to duplicate tapes, sometimes himself, sometimes hiring others to work for him. By his junior year of high school he had made and saved enough money for a down payment on a house in the town where he intended to go to college. He sold the tape business, purchased the home and has rented it out with a positive cash flow ever since. The income helps him through the rest of his high school and college years.
In seventh grade my youngest son John bought a trailer load of landscaping mulch which he packaged in large bags to sell door to door for cash income. (We had moved to the country so he had space to store it!) Beside this immediate cash flow project we are helping him plant a thousand tiny trees every spring break in the field behind our house. He intends to sell them in 6-10 years to pay for his college.
These are just one family's ideas. To some these ideas sound wild and impossible. To others they are minimal. The point is that every family has some way their daughters and sons could make money. Just look around you. There are jobs for teenagers at fast food establishments, and shopping malls. The are babysitting needs near you. There are even businesses they could run themselves with a little encouragement from a parent or grandparent. What ever you do, your kids can learn that money is related to hard work.
12. Let God bless you.
Really! He can do it. God doesn't need your money -- you need His. If you really believe He owns it all, then He can bless you with some of it if He wants to.5 Can he trust you? Are you a good investment? Will you simply waste it all on yourself? Or will the things closest to His heart get your support. What evidence does God have that you are so faithful in handling what He's already given you, so He should bless you more?
It is my experience that God blesses people who "can handle it." If you follow the above principles for years, the natural results are that you will become rich. The principles and practices themselves produce wealth. But beyond that, God sometimes chooses to bless his good stewards with bonus blessings. These are undeserved extras He pours on top of those produced by hard work, saving, or frugality.
Perhaps you'll sell your home after a dozen years or so for twice what you paid for it. Maybe a friend will invite you to join him in a land purchase and you'll make thousands of dollars in a single year. Or you might give three weeks of your time to do a project for free -- never expecting anything out of it -- then, ten years later it brings you thousands of dollars. You may be praying about funds to replace your roof when a hailstorm damages it so much that your insurance company will completely replace it at no cost to you. Who knows, you might somehow get free use of a brand new car. Or,perhaps a little boy you taught years ago in your Church will grow up and offer to build a house for you at an unbelievable bargain. Are these things mere coincidences? Could God bless you this way? He can. These things happen. I know... each happened to me. Make the kingdom first. and who knows what He'll add to you.
13. Then... beware!
When you've followed all of the tips above, and you've kept them up for many years, you will likely wind up rich.
That is, you will have no debt, some savings, simple needs, and your income will be more than you spend. That is being rich. You are rich when you have more than you need.
But, then you will have a new problem. It will be harder for you to get to heaven. Not impossible, mind you... just harder. You will tend to trust in your savings instead of God. You may become proud and take personal credit for being so well off, thinking that you are smarter than every body else. And it will be harder, not easier to give. For instance, after being so frugal for many years, you'll have a hard time giving to anyone or an organization who seems to waste your gift by living far higher than you do. You may get more selfish as a rich person than you ever were when you were poor. Your possessions will dull your spiritual fervor and "the good life" will take the edge off your concern for the lost.
If you do wind up with more income than you need, it could poison your own soul. In fact, if you continually pile up more riches on earth you will gradually absorb a toxic level of materialism into your soul. You could go to hell a rich person. What good would it be to gain the whole world and lose your own soul?
So what should you do if you become rich? There is only one antidote to the poison of wealth: giving. This is the only way to keep riches from destroying your own soul. It is the only way to be rich in the afterlife. You must habitually and freely give -- pass your money through to God's work and others. If you can happily maintain the habit of unselfish giving, you might still get into heaven... even if you are rich. After all, it's not impossible for a rich person to be saved -- its just harder.
1. God tends to bless those who support His work. While God's blessings are related to our giving, getting more should not be our motive for giving to God's work. If our motive is giving-to-get we are not giving generously but selfishly and God loves (and blesses) a generous giver.
2. By frugality here I do not mean being cheap (buying everything so cheap that it self-destructs and turns out being a poor investment). Neither do I intend to suggest that Christians shouldn't buy an expensive gift at times. Once in a while we should "break the alabaster box" and give lavishly. It is possible to become just as materialistic in frugality as in spending. But it's far less common. For most of us, the problem is being too lavish on ourselves, not on others.
3. The earliest believers treated everything as common property though held in trust by the individual for the common good. As one of their church had a need another would sell something to meet that need(Acts 2:44-45). Further explanation of this Christian practice of sharing occurs two chapters later where we are told that "No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had"(Acts 4:32). Most of us today treat this practice of early Christians as an aberration rather than the norm. However, this kind of free giving, sharing, loaning and borrowing is normal for a Spirit-filled Christian community.
4. ...irresponsible moocher. I are not recommending "living off the land" by borrowing everything from others and abusing the privilege. Along with borrowing goes the analogous responsibility to return the item cleaner, improved, filled up, or fixed up. And of course, remember to return it! Make sure it is a two way street -- that you lend as well as borrow. That means you should buy some things to loan to others and tell them you've got it.
5. Let God bless you. We must be careful to avoid confusing God's blessing with the false "prosperity gospel." God can and does bless His children but not always materially. To expect riches as a rightful inheritance because we are His children is presumption. Remember, He gave His son a cross. Nevertheless, God does often bless His children with more than they need... sometimes even pressed down, and overflowing! If we will be patient and give Him time to work through others, He sometimes will bless us with far more than we need. This is the blessing addressed here. Such blessing is not a reward, but a tool -- for us to use as a steward.
From: Money, Sex, and Spiritual Power by Keith Drury
(c) 1992 Wesley Press
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