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Balanced Finance by Andy Stanley Pt. 2: Reading the fine print

In of this series, we discussed the 3 laws of balance in your finances.  Andy Stanley says that these laws are:

  • Have a reference point
  • Make constant corrections
  • And have a clear objective

For “have a reference point” Andy states that this means you need a system to track where your money is going.  He is a very big advocate of using Quicken, and also mentions that doing it by hand is a great way to start.  I highly suggest starting out by doing it by hand just to get a feel for things. Check out our article on how to budget, and our other article about the envelope budgeting system.

By tracking your spending you will be armed with information to help you make constant corrections!  But what good are corrections if you don’t have a destination for your course to lead you to?  This brings us to the second part of the balanced series.  Andy Stanley calls this the fine print, because the goal is what guides you, and really contains the power.

What Is Your Goal?

Andy asks this question knowing that you (and myself included, which surprised me) what our over-all goal was.  If I had to pick one all-encompassing objective of my financial desires, it would be to save enough so that I could live comfortably, and independently of a job while providing well for my family.

He addresses many different goals that he has heard and each one of them (including my goal) is deficient in one way or another.  They are all “out of balance.”  Mine neglects the needs of others outside of my family, and it also doesn’t address my manner of accumulation and it’s effect on the ones I love.

If I hoard money and avoid spending like crazy, I’ll reach my goal, but how pleasant will my wife’s life be during that time?  There are a lot of things to cover to keep your finances in balance, and Andy highlights many of them.

What Is The Correct Answer?

Like many loaded questions, there are many answers, but Andy wants to provide one simple biblical answer that makes the process a whole lot easier.  Andy states:

  • Start with putting less emphasis on “things.”  He even suggests selling things that you love more than people in your life.  He justifies this by saying “it’s not yours anyway.  You won’t be buried with it, so why make getting rid of it so difficult.  Instead, you should get rid of it and watch the joy it brings to the next person, and subsequently, the joy your loved ones will have not being second to it.”
  • Be a good steward of it all.  Just because you tithe 10%, it doesn’t mean that the 90% left over is yours to be careless with.
  • Understand that the money that you have is God’s to begin with.  It is just placed into our care, for us to live, love, and demonstrate our faithfulness.
  • Enjoy life now with financial responsibility, but don’t be a hoarder.
  • Help others where you feel led to.

There are a lot of gray areas left over, and Andy moves on to say that really, the answer to the question is to “honor God with the other 90%.”  Unfortunately, he can’t tell us what we can do to honor God, it is up to us to pray about.  For non-Christians, this might be a very unhelpful statement, but if you dig in a bit further, think about the basic things the bible talks about:

  • Taking care of your family.
  • Helping those in need.
  • Being kind.
  • Being selfless.

Even non-Christians can agree that those are good things to do.  Andy Stanley uses an analogy to better relate this idea of using your 90% to honor God.  If you loan your vehicle out to your friends, do you expect them to treat only 10% of your vehicle with respect and care, or 100%?  What about your wedding vows?  Did you intend on honoring 100% of your wife, or just 10%?

God requests that you tithe 10% to the church so they can help the surrounding community, but he wants you to be good with 100% of the money.  How much stuff can you accumulate anyway?  Andy mentions that the more you have, the more unhappy you’ll be because each thing you buy has responsibilities.

Pray and ask what you need to do to honor God with the money.

None Of This Makes Sense

I know some people are saying that none of this makes sense.  Even many Christians have problems with this because it requires them to think more selflessly about money, but Andy also mentions this:

The older you get, the more this makes sense, but the older you get, the fewer opportunities you’ll have.”

– Andy Stanley

I can back this up with proof as well.  Look at Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and their Giving Pledge.  The pledge is for the wealthiest people in the world to pledge to donate at least half of their money.  Lots of people might cite the fact that these people have billions upon billions of dollars, but that is just an attempt to circumvent the point, they realize that good must be done with the money.

Take Stress Out of Your Finances

The real idea about this is to take the stress out of your finances.  Stress occurs when things are out of balance, but by implementing these ideas, you get rid of:

  • The baggage of debt.
  • The baggage of owing a bunch of useless things.
  • Selfishness.

And you get to enjoy:

  • What you have.
  • Contentment.
  • Taking care of your family and keeping them first.
  • Financial independence.
  • Helping people or causes that you thought you didn’t have enough money to help.

If your finances aren’t going the way you want, then change is what you need.  Start seeking balance in your finances.

Back to the Balanced by Andy Stanley series.

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