By: Cassandra Laymon
“Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.” -Proverbs 13:11 (NIV)
The most important financial planning principle we have is this: Spend Less Than You Earn. If that is so, why then do we have so much credit card debt in America? I believe this problem starts and ends with our obsession to compare ourselves to our friends and neighbors. God obviously knew this was going to be a problem for us when he handed down the tenth commandment:
“You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.” ~ Exodus 20:17(NLT)
If you have read my most recent book, I Found Jesus in the Stock Market, you know my own story of struggling with the feeling of, “there will never be enough.” I always had this elusive goal of having, doing and being more. And this sentiment tortured me. So, I get it when I talk to people who are trying to keep up with the Jones’.
What many people don’t think about is that the spending they are doing now puts a big damper on reaching their future goals. When we’re young, we think we have a lot of time to catch up later with saving for the future. Then later comes and we’re trying to pay for a couple of college tuition bills, and weddings, spoiling grandchildren, and we realize how very fast time flies.
I’ve had the opportunity to counsel people who have made some severe mistakes in their spending that ended up compromising their long-term goals. Most of the time the problem stemmed from comparison. There is a quote that is often attributed to President Theodore Roosevelt that reminds us that “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Truer words were never spoken. If you are continuously focused outwardly on what you don’t have, you will never be happy with what you do have. This is true in finances, just as it is in marriage. Sometimes it takes extreme circumstances such as the threat of losing your home to learn this lesson. I pray that it will not come to that for you if this is something you struggle with.
When you can wake up every day and count your blessings – your health, your loved ones, the fact that you can feed and clothe your family – those bring great contentment. I’ve shared openly that the only thing that brought me peace was turning my life over to God. My worry and stress about finances changed dramatically when I surrendered it all to Him.
A simple spending formula to follow is this: 10% tithe to the church, 10% to savings, and 80% for your living expenses. Your goal over time should be to increase the percentage of giving and savings, and reduce your consumption spending. (If you are thinking that giving 10% of your money is more than enough, remember that God owns it all!)
If you need help creating a spending plan, I encourage you to take a class that will teach you how it’s done well. Crown and Compass both provide many resources to help you to create a plan to be the best steward of God’s money.