Posted by: rodalex87 | September 14, 2011

Making the Most of Your Money in Tough Times

I recently asked myself the question “How can I glorify God with my money?”  I remembered I had a book I read a few years ago about this subject.  So I went to my bookshelf and began to reread Making the Most of Your Money in Tough Times by Kerby Anderson.  Below is a book report of his writing. 

Chapter 1: Money

  • We are not condemned for having money; we are condemned if the way we gain or spend money is unjust or unrighteous
  • Our role in dealing with poverty is to give our money and ourselves (choosing jobs according to our gifts and passions) to those that are poor.  This gives us a platform to give them the true solution to their problems…Jesus Christ!
  • The Lord called Daniel, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah to different economic lifestyles so we can’t assume all Christians are to live low-income lives.  Instead we are to seek God and his calling for our individual lives
  • Live simple by eating less, buying modest clothes that don’t change with trends and giving much so we may pray more, fast more and develop a spiritual life of service 

Chapter 2: Materialism and Consumerism

  • The Bible teaches we are blessed by God to be a blessing to others (Gen. 12:1-2) and we are to rely on God rather than ourselves (Ps. 37:39-40)
  • Materialism (the excessive interest and desire for money and possessions) can dull God’s direction in our lives. Once we have adjusted to a lifestyle of comfort, it is difficult to surrender our will to God (to go to mission field, to go into Christian ministry)
  • We work more than any other country and 95% of Americans say they wish they had more time for their families
  • Live as citizens and not consumers.  Consumers live isolated lives citizens join together for the best of the whole community
  • Contrary to the prosperity gospel, most of the blessings spoken about in relation to the gospel are spiritual not material

Chapter 3: Giving

  • In Old Testament, people gave 10% to Levites and priests, 10% to Jewish festival, and 10% every three years to orphan, poor, and widow
  • The church of today is not the storehouse mentioned in Malachi, but it makes sense to give 10% to local church b/c it is often the clearinghouse to the distribution of funds to missionaries and para-church organizations.  It is therefore important to know what your local church does with the money it receives and decide in your heart if you support their budget
  • We should sow generously to reap generously.  We harvest both material blessings and the greater blessings of righteousness when we give generously.  Proverbs 11:24-25 and 2 Corinthians 9:10 explain the sowing and reaping principle and God’s desire for how we are to manage the money He gives us. 
  • We give according to what we purposed in our hearts.  Our giving should not be led by emotions but a prayerful purpose and plan. 
  • Wrong motives for giving are erased when we give generously and sacrificially.  “I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God which cost me nothing” 2 Samuel 2:24. 

Chapter 4: Debt and Credit

  • A high level of debt in the country is a recent phenomenon.  Before WWII and GI Bill’s credit cards were unknown, car loans were a rarity and home mortgages were unusual. Now we even give loans to college students who have no way of proving they’ll be able to pay off the loan. We are wrong in thinking debt has always been the way to purchase in America
  • The Bible does not prohibit debt, but rather we ought to pay it off as quickly as possible
  • Credit cards should be used for budgeted purposes only and paid off every month.  Only paying minimum balance keeps you in debt longer and b/c of interest rates you may pay much more than the original purchase price. Credit is required for some purchases and necessary to build up a good credit score
  • Home mortgages are good but use wisdom.  Mortgage principle should be less than 2.5 times annual family income, you pay 50% more over a lifetime with a 30 yr mortgage than a 15 yr mortgage, and you should take what you are currently paying in rent into consideration.  Be mindful of unexpected house expenses and possible job loss or inability to work due to pregnancy
  • The steps to get out of debt is to commit your finances to God, stop borrowing, develop a budget including monthly expenses and a plan for paying off debt, attack your debt, and develop new spending habits that are humble and not self serving

Chapter 5: Savings and Investing

  • America used to value saving and living thrift, now we are a consumer culture.  To save well we must be countercultural
  • Solomon, the richest man ever, endorses saving and financial planning for future prosperity and as a safeguard to unforeseen situations (Prov. 6:6-8, Prov. 21:20, 16:3, 21:5, 22:5) while remembering that as we develop plans for the future God controls our steps (16:9)  A cash reserve is necessary for everyone.  Six months of saved income is the goal but may start with 1-2 months worth of income.  I will add that we don’t place our faith in our planning but the Lord’s promised provisions (Hebrews 13:5).
  • Banks are useful and safe, but keep records of debit card payments and research various banks online before going to join one
  • Investing is endorsed by Solomon.  Pick investments that are easy to understand, invest with a goal, set a budget for investing, don’t invest if it causes family stress, prepare for unexpected, diversify your investments (Ecc. 11:2), invest in gold, consider morality of the investment, seek godly counsel.  I will add that investing in kingdom work will also produce profit (Matthew 6:20-21, 33). 
  • There are myths are to why we shouldn’t save for retirement but the reality is most of us will live long enough to retire so it is wise to invest in our retirement

Chapter 6: Insurance

  • Life insurance is biblical in that it provides for your family once you are not able to provide for them
  • Auto and home insurance are required.  Steps can be taken to reduce the price of home insurance such as making cost-effective improvements and purchasing home and automobile insurance together
  • Health insurance is important.  Many people have filed for bankruptcy after the inability to pay for health bills

Chapter 7: Spending

  • Exercise self-control in our spending: don’t buy new car, don’t buy brand names at supermarket and drugstore, purchase basic clothing, repair things yourself (can use internet to help) do your own chores, spend less on food by buying in bulk and clipping coupons and freeze food
  • Avoid compulsive buying.  Compulsive buying comes from people getting a high from spending

Chapter 8: The Bible and Economics

  • The Bible speaks about economics very heavily in Proverbs, prophetic books, and parables of Jesus.  Questions such as how to deal with poverty and what is a just price were main theological issues a few centuries ago
  • Humans are sinful so a system that allows greed and selfishness like socialism will be detrimental
  • Humans are created in the image of God and have dominion to own private property and work for our enjoyment and for God’s glory
  • The government’s role in economics is to ensure justice
  • Capitalism is ok, even Christians have self-interests that are not sinful (earn income to take care of family) and it is good to have minimal government interference.  Capitalism does not make people greedy.  Greedy people take advantage of capitalism

Chapter 9: Economic Questions

  • Today, government costs about 1/3 of our yearly income to fund (cost about 1/12 in 1900).  When they raise taxes (as they often do) more of our work is working to pay the government
  • Taxes affect where people live as many move away from high tax states and move to states with no income tax
  • America is in a lot of debt, more than 6 times what we make as a whole in a year
  • Inflation is a rise in prices and goods because the dollar is devalued by printing more of it.  We print money because we don’t have enough backed up by a physical commodity (like gold) to pay our debts.  If affects the citizen because we aren’t paid more,  rather inflation is the solution to pay off government debt (other two options are to raise taxes or borrow, both of which have limits)

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