In part 5, we learned about discontentment and how it can be a driving force to destroy our financial lives or a driving force to make it better. Now onto Part 6!
What Are Your Priorities?
How do you prioritize your money? Often, we don’t think about how we prioritize our money, and our management of it, but it tends to take on a natural flow. This is how we generally handle our money:
- Repay Debt
- Pay Taxes
When it should probably look more like this:
- Pay Taxes
- Repay Debt
The reason for the inverted order is that if you do the top two properly, not only do the bottom three become easier to execute, they will actually cost you less! Giving will make you feel good, lower your tax liability, and help you to better appreciate the money you do have.
Saving will generate income, and a cushion to protect you in the event of unforeseen circumstances. If you’re more concerned with saving then you’ll use less time spending, and less spending ordinarily means less debt to repay. Isn’t it nice how it works? When you do it the other way around, everything goes up, and you’re left with excruciating difficulties!
How Does Giving Help?
I’ve heard many people say this, and I didn’t believe them until it began happening to me. When I began to give to causes I believed in, I started ending up with more money. Maybe it is because you become more subconsciously aware of your spending, or maybe it’s God letting you know you’re on the right track, whatever it is, I have more than I did before.
Now, I won’t go off and cite money falling from the sky as the reason to give. I do it because I know I’m bettering other people’s lives and I’m being obedient to what the bible says. I’ll tell you right now, I used to be very disobedient, and my financial life was a wreck. But now, things are much different. People ask me for advice. Had they seen me 7 or 8 years ago, they would’ve thought they were crazy to consult me!
God & Church Only Want Money
This is a false belief that many like to peddle around. God doesn’t care about your money, and he doesn’t need it. God does know that where your money is, is where your heart is:
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
– Matt. 6:21
Further proof that God doesn’t care about your money can be found in this popular piece of scripture:
43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
– Mark 12:43-44
Surely, if he cared about dollars and cents, then he wouldn’t have been impressed with the widow’s donation. Instead, he praised her for her faithfulness and devotion. Some might cite that God wants the first part, the best sacrifices. If I invited you over for dinner and served everyone freshly baked food, then served you microwaved leftovers, how would you feel? Percentages tell where you heart is, you can’t buy your way into heaven. God wants your heart, not your money.
I could look at anyone’s bank statements and after a few minutes of studying, tell them what they loved. You could do it to my statements as well. We naturally spend our money on things that we love. God proposed a challenge, give him your heart, and he would take far better care of you and then some. Or as Andy Stanley puts is:
God is saying: ‘If you trust me, I’ll take care of you. If you trust you, then you take care of you.'”
– Andy Stanley
It isn’t that God doesn’t care about you, he just can’t force you to love him. That’s why we have free will, so we can choose to honor him. What better way to do that than with where we keep our hearts: our money? Does this mean we should be irresponsible and give it all away? Not really, we’re called to be responsible, but not greedy.
What Percentage of Money Do You Live on?
If you don’t choose what percentage of your income you live on, someone else will choose it for you.”
– Andy Stanley
This part of the series isn’t about blindly giving money away, it’s about having a plan. Ultimately, that plan should be living off of a certain percentage of your income. If you can choose the percentage and stick to it, it will make much of your financial planning far easier.
Percentages also help you to visualize where your money is going and they give you a more macro view of the hundreds and thousands of transactions that give you your quality of life. If you don’t know the percentage, then you better figure it out then adjust it as you see fit. Some people might even be living on 120% of their annual income! Does this mean that your quality of life will decrease? Probably, and Andy Stanley had this to say about that:
If you choose the percentage that you live on, you may not be able to live the lifestyle you’re currently living. That’s OK, because the lifestyle your living, for many, it’s killing you!”
– Andy Stanley
Choose your percentage, then make the necessary changes to restrict your dollars down to that percentage. This will be a huge step in the right direction when it comes to whipping your finances in order. Wouldn’t it be nice for your priority list to be simplified down to:
This doesn’t advise against paying taxes, but if you do things properly, then your taxes shouldn’t be so terrible, and you’ll easily be able to manage it because you will have done priority #2: Save money.
Scriptures for Further Study
24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
– Matthew 6:24
31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
– Matthew 6:31-33
7 Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD Almighty.
“But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’
8 “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.
“But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’
“In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.
– Malachi 3:7-10