Monday, April 16, 2012

Past, Present, Future (part 6) - Financial

Well, it's been awhile since I last posted on this subject, and I've got to admit that it is pretty difficult to pick up and run with it after this long. I've been thinking about this next subject just about every day and trying to figure out what God is trying to show me and what He wants me to share. This is not an easy topic for me because I don't feel like I know much about it. So, while I've had ideas about the other topics and how to teach them to my daughters and basically just needed reminders from God, I'm learning almost everything new this time.

I do know that throughout the Bible there is a common teaching about giving God the first 10% of EVERYTHING we earn. Growing up, my brother and sisters and I received an allowance like most other kids.  The difference between us and our friends was in the amount. Our parents couldn't afford even the dollar they gave each of us ($4 total), but they wanted us to learn the importance of tithing. So, with our dime (10% of a dollar) clutched tightly in our hand for the hour drive to the little country church where daddy preached, we made sure we didn't fall asleep and accidentally lose the dime. (You can be sure we all napped on the way home - if we weren't wearing old pantyhose on our head and making faces at passing cars!!!)

Malachi 3:6-12 shows how serious God is about His people tithing. Here is verse 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."

I know there are many who would say, "I can't afford it". All I can say is, "I can't afford not to". Give God the FIRST 10% of your pay and see if He blesses you beyond what you could imagine. Our budget doesn't work out on paper - never has. There are more bills to pay than there is money to pay them. But we have committed to paying our tithe first and bills/debt second. God makes the ends meet and many times gives extra EVERY SINGLE TIME. He has been faithful in our lives to keep this promise from Malachi. There have been times where, in our human nature, we have decided to hold tithe so we can pay for something else, and every time we have done that there was not enough money. God is serious about this. And He wants me to teach my daughters this now so that, when they are in their own homes, they can bring good to their husbands by bringing in God's blessings. 

There are so many more things that fall under the financial category, and I don't pretend to know what to do about most of them. I know it is important and Biblical ("Give to God what belongs to God and give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar") to pay bills and debts. What do you make each paycheck? Spread your bills between the two so that the same amount is coming out of each check. Then figure out how many debts you have. If any of them have interest on them, budget for at least the minimum payment, round up if can afford to. Then figure out how many don't have interest (spread them evenly between the checks as well). I have learned that it's important not to put every spare penny into paying off debts but to use some for fun stuff - even if all you can afford to set aside is enough for a cup of hot chocolate once every pay period. Otherwise you'll become bitter about never having fun. We learned this the hard way. My husband wanted to spend every spare penny. I wanted to put every penny towards getting debt paid off. Neither one of us was "winning" and we were both angry at the other. We finally came to a compromise to set aside $10 a paycheck (every two weeks) for fun. Anyway, figure this "fun" money in along with your non-interest debts. Doing the math, figure out what is left after paying bills and debts with interest. Take that number and divide it by how many non-interest debts you have in order to figure out how much you can afford to pay toward each. It is important to pay your bills and debts with interest completely each month so that you don't create more debt or raise what you already have. But it is the responsible thing to do to pay something toward the non-interest debts as well. 

Many people suggest starting savings and build it up as quickly as possible. Of course, when it takes every penny just to put food on the table, the idea of savings becomes a joke - which is the case in many households. We aren't building it up very quickly at all, but we do have a "savings" category and a "car repair" category along with our non-interest debts, and those get the same amount put into them each paycheck as the debts.

I know I haven't said anything Biblical about the bills and debts and savings. I can't point to Bible verses that God gave me for why I should do things this certain way. I can't even begin to figure out how teaching this process to my daughters will help them to bring good and not harm to their husbands now and in the future. All I know is that this is works for us and, as a result, it's what I'm teaching my girls. 

One other thing they need to learn is to NOT spend money they don't have on things they don't need. This will help them not create debt. There are times (medical, college) when a person has to spend money they don't have, but it should be on necessary things, not "toys".

Anyway, that's all I have. If you forget everything else, please remember Malachi 3:10. That's the only lesson from this that I hope everyone learns. The rest is just suggestions from me. That is from the mouth of God Himself!!!

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