Saturday, May 6, 2017

Doing Right with What’s Left

Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. 

-- Ecclesiastes 5:10 

Money talks. And often it just says, "Good-bye."

Can you relate to that old saying? According to the Moneyish website, the average American now faces $37,000 in debt, which doesn't include their mortgage. About 10% of us owe more than $100,000! And we're also not saving for the future. The Trading Economics website reports that our nation's personal saving rate--the ratio of personal income saved to personal net disposable income during a set period of time--averaged 8.3% from 1959 until 2017. It reached an all-time high of 17% in May 1975 and a record low of 1.9% in July 2005. Today, we're saving about 5.6% of our income.

How can we climb out of this ever-widening money pit? As with all important things in life, it comes Money Keydown to priorities. The average American is spending 40% of their income on non-essential items like travel, entertainment and hobbies. Meanwhile, they're holding about two bank-issued credit cards and carrying a total balance owed of about $5,600.

Debt is hardly a modern-day issue, and the Bible has plenty to say about it that's as relevant now as it was centuries ago. First, set aside the first 10% or more of your income for God's work by giving to the church. This tithe sets our priorities by putting God first in our lives and focusing our faith on him to meet our needs.

Need some other debt-busters? Set aside the next 10% or more for personal savings. Major expenses--like a leaky roof, auto repairs or doctors' bills--are bound to happen. (And don't forget about retirement!) But if you save little by little over a long enough period, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how your money has grown. And it will be there when you need it most.

This all leads to the obvious question: After you've given to God and then to yourself, how do you handle the rest of your income?

The answer varies by person and his or her unique situation. But there are some general rules of thumb for being good managers of our resources. First, we need to discipline our desires and be satisfied with what God has given us. Buying the newest, shiniest and most state-of-the-art, must-have item is rarely necessary if last year's model still works fine. We also need to acknowledge the reality of our situation. If we're spending more than our income just to keep up with the neighbors, a reality check can put things into much-needed perspective. Do you always need that $4 cup of name brand coffee? Finally, draw up a specific plan by budgeting your money toward what counts most. (And then stick with it!)

When it comes to money, it really is all about priorities. How we handle what God gives us is a tangible test of our trust and willingness to make him our Number One. And if we show him that we can handle just a little while honoring him in the process, he can use us to advance his Kingdom on Earth by putting us in charge of much more than we can ever imagine. 

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