Monday, April 8, 2013

G is for GIVING: Money and Sense

GIVING:  Money and Sense

You may not be pulling in mega bucks, but you probably have some sort of cash flow you can call your own, whether it’s from an allowance, or from a part-time job or a permanent job.

Regardless of your source of income—or how much moolah you make—it’s smart to start practicing basic money management principles now to help you prepare for the future.  While God doesn’t place a whole lot of stock in material wealth, He is concerned about how we use the resource (i.e. currency notes) He provides for us.

Here are some tips on how to be sensible with your money.

* Give Back to God.  Really, all the money and stuff you get comes from Him, so it’s a pretty smart move to give a portion of what you earn. Back to the One who’s in control of your income—no matter how meager it may seem.  A good rule of thumb:  chop ten percent off your earnings before you go blow your whole wad of cash, and give it to your local church or another ministry God might lead you to invest in.

Get into the habit of giving now, no matter how little money you earn.  It’s  not the amount you give that matters to God, it’s your attitude.

 “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver”  (II Cor. 9:7).
I am praying for the ministry
One other thing: God honors sacrifice.  Guess jeans are great—but so are other, less expensive brands.  Maybe the next time you’ve got  Rs.1000 to blow on a pair of jeans, you could opt for a Rs. 500 pair and give the rest of your money to an organization that helps homeless families or needy kid.  Just some food for thought.

Remember this:  “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (II Cor. 9:6).

  • Save, save, saveI know, it’s tough to save when you’ve got friends who spend money like it’s water, but saving a part of your income is smart especially if you have plans for college in the next few years.  Even if Mom and Dad have offered to foot the bill for your college offered to foot the bill for your college education, you may want to consider  saving some bucks to help lighten the load for them.  There’s no hard and fast rule for how much you should save, but if you stash ten percent of your income into a savings account with a fair interest rate—and leave it alone for a few years—you could be much better prepared for college than your “spendthrift” friends.

Now, if you’re like I am, spending money comes a lot easier than saving it, so you might want to ask someone like Mom or Dad to keep tabs on how much you’re depositing into your “untouchable” account.  Accountability is a key when it comes to saving money.

  • Plan ahead.   It’s easy to spend money as it comes in on whatever you “need” at the time.  But that approach to money management may leave you short of cash just when you need it most.

So here’s a crazy idea:  Put yourself on a budget.  No, I’m not kidding.  Determine now how much you will spend next month on clothes, food, entertainment, music, gas for your car, gifts, or whatever you regularly spend money on.  For major stuff, like stereos, bikes, cars or the Air tickets Mom and Dad won’t buy you, save a little each moth until you have enough for the big purchase.  You might even want to have Dad keep this money for you temporarily so it won’t be readily available for you to go blow on burgers, fries and video games.

  • Avoid the credit trap.  This tip may be a bit premature because you probably don’t have tons of credit card companies mailing you stuff about preapproved credit limits and no annual fees—yet.  But understanding the dangers of unnecessary debt is important.  A couple of good rules to follow: 1) Before you plop down plastic or buy something on credit, ask yourself, Would I purchase this if I was paying cash for it?  If the answer’s “no,” then evaluate whether or not you really need it; and 2) If and when you use a credit card to make a purchase, pay your balance off in 30 days to avoid interest charges.  And don’t charge up to your limit; you’ll get head over heels in debt faster than you can imagine.

Like I said, this advice may be a little premature, but just remember: In our society, people don’t spend according to their income; they spend according to their credit limits.  There’s a big difference between the two and it’s gotten a lot of people in major financial trouble.  If you can just remember these three little words—“Don’t abuse credit”—you’ll be off on a great start.

  • Lighten up.  This isn’t so much of a money management tip as it is a warning:  Watch your work schedule.  Don’t get so caught up in earning money that you lose sight of other priorities, like spending time with friends, family, and most importatanly, Jesus, Yeah, it might be pretty cool to pump up your Reeboks out on the football field or jam in front of JVC speakers with surround-sound quality but believe it or not, most of the time the non-tangibles in life are a lot more valuable than the tangibles.  Working more hours to make more money to by more stuff that you really don’t need is a futile process.

Excuse me for getting preachy, but I’ve been involved in that futile process, and the benefits of acquiring more stuff that you don’t need are very limited.

The bottom line in money management is, think before you spend.  Don’t get impulsive.  Remember who’s giving you every dime you shove into your pocket—and it’s not the tooth fairy.

Money is a tool that God gives us to use for our benefit and the benefit of other, and He’s serious about our responsibility to manage our money wisely. That’s a pretty good indication that we should be too. CL

                                                                                            By Lisa T

Confident Living Magazine

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