Financial Freedom

Idea$ About Money

by Eric Kreye

In today's world money is necessary! Even in poorer countries, there is a system of exchange--value for value. What makes life more complicated today is that the world economy is unstable, and what affects one country may affect the whole world.

Money is important to the family unit. In America there is an ever-rising number of divorces, and many point to financial difficulties as a major factor. And yet the average income continues to go higher and higher. What is the problem? Could it be that we just don't know how to handle money? Are we slaves to the all-mighty dollar?

In an effort to gain financial freedom, here are a few things to consider:

Make a budget. Keep track of ALL expenses for a month and then balance that against the total income. If the expense is more than the income, then some adjustments must be made.

Prepare a written budget that can be followed from month to month--and stick to it! If for some reason you see that it isn't working, make some needed changes.

Have a family council to talk about financial goals--budgeting is a family matter. Together determine the difference between what is really NEEDED and what might be considered only desires. (For example, a family needs a car, but not necessarily a Cadillac.) Discuss every category--clothes (quality and quantity), food (maybe you can't eat out so often, use coupons, and limit the junk food!), travel (combine short trips to conserve gas, carpool, walk or bike), entertainment and recreation (perhaps spend more time with family activities at home). Try to curb the desire to "keep up with the Joneses." Cut down on the length and/or frequency of long-distance phone calls. Save electricity and heat, when possible.

Get out of debt. This may not be possible to do immediately, but decide on a plan that will eventually bring freedom from debt. Of course, this would not include a home mortgage, unless the house you are now living in is beyond your means. In that case, you may want to consider selling that house and buying one that is more suited to your income. Work on paying off your smaller debts first.

Remember what wise King Solomon said:

"The rich rules over the poor,
And the borrower is servant [slave]
to the lender."
--Proverbs 22:7

To be debt-free may mean you will have to destroy all your credit cards. One author suggests the best thing to do with credit cards when in debt is to pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees and put them in it! (If you decide to try this, be sure you don't start a fire in the process!) As a family commit yourselves to buying solely on a cash basis.

Convert unnecessary assets into cash--a boat, unused ski equipment, that extra television, snowmobiles--and apply the realized cash to existing debts. It may take sacrifice, but you will appreciate the financial freedom it will help to bring. One family decided that they did not need a sports car for their second car. They sold it and as a result got rid of one big payment each month and saved on the cost of gas, maintenance, insurance, and registration for a second car. Some of the cash they received for it helped to pay off another debt. That one decision alone lowered their indebtedness considerably.

Don't hire anyone to do anything you can do yourselves. That could mean cutting the grass, painting the house, doing minor plumbing repairs or car repairs, learning to cut each other's hair, wash your car. Do you regularly pay someone to clean your house? Perhaps you could schedule time to do it yourself. You may be surprised what a little self-denial and a lot of hard work will do.

Consistently save some each month. Yes, this includes those who are currently in debt. Develop the discipline of saving, even if it is only a small amount, on a regular basis.

Seek extra income. Consider this ONLY after correcting bad buying habits. Remember that if a mother decides to get a job away from home, there are expenses involved. It might mean, for example, the added cost of childcare, a new wardrobe, a second means of transportation. Rather, you may consider extra income from a hobby, or investigate the possibility of work at home for the mother. Today much can be done via the computer!

Remember to give God a tithe. Since God is the owner of everything and it should be our purpose in life to glorify Him, we should give Him a tenth of what He has made it possible for us to have. Besides, when we honor Him, He honors us by providing for all our needs. You and God become partners--can you get a better, a more trustworthy and reliable Partner than that?

"Honor the Lord by giving him the
first part of all your income,
and he will fill your barns with wheat
and barley and overflow your
wine vats with the finest wines."
--Proverbs 3:9, 10

Some say, "But I owe so much, I don't have any left to give God a tithe." Remember, God is powerful and has many ways to meet all our needs. Through the prophet Malachi God makes a contract with us that He intends to keep:

"'Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And prove Me now in this,'
Says the Lord of hosts,
'If I will not open for you
the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough
to receive it.'"
--Malachi 3:10

One lady who was on a fixed income determined to give God His tenth of her income, even though she really didn't know how she would be able to do it. She said afterward, "I don't know how He did it, but at the end of the month it all worked out okay. It didn't balance out right on paper, but when I needed money to pay a bill, it was always there." When a faithful tithe is paid, the money unexplainably stretches to meet every urgent need.

Happiness isn't in things. It is in togetherness and peace of mind. Ask God to guide you to financial freedom. If you truly seek His help, He will teach you what you need to know to make sound financial decisions.

"I have been young,
and now am old;
Yet I have not seen
the righteous forsaken,
Nor his descendants
begging bread."
--Psalm 37:25

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