Monday, 24 June 2019

C Columns

Your Daily Bread: Just Barely Making Ends Meet

 

By Terry Frisk

“How can I give and save when I can barely make ends meet?”

That is a really good question! One that I have struggled with at times during my faith journey. My wife and I started attending church later in life, so the concept of giving was new to us and we found it difficult to part with our hard-earned money. We had a family to support, bills to pay, a mortgage and an auto loan. There was simply no room in the budget to give more than a few dollars to the church and have any left to save. We just could not make enough money to have enough to spare for giving and saving. But, the more I read the Bible, the more I knew that this was not how God intended us to live. In Ecclesiastes 5:10, we learn:

“Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.”

That is when we realized we had to change the way we viewed our finances. The problem was not how much we earned, but how we managed the income we received. Everything we have or receive is a gift from God. Giving back a portion shows our gratitude for His gifts. Saving is a way to be prepared for either anticipated or unanticipated financial needs. Giving and saving need to be the first priority in managing how you allocate your income.

How much of your income should you give and save? My father always told me you should give 10 percent and save 10 percent of your income. Giving 10 percent is referred to in the Old Testament as tithing. It was one of the commands that God gave Moses for the Israelites (Leviticus 27:30-32). Some may argue that this rule was relaxed in the New Testament, quoting 2 Corinthians 9:7:

“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

It is up to you to determine your level of giving through prayer and reflection. Personally, I have found that the more I give, the greater the rewards both monetarily and spiritually. Being generous with your money makes you more generous in other areas of your life. As you become more generous, others are moved to return the generosity. When this occurs in your work life, rewards will come through increased income. Even though you are giving more, you are also receiving more. With respect to saving, Proverbs 21:20 states:

“The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down.”

While there is no biblical guideline for how much to save, I think saving should not exceed the amount one gives. For me, equal amounts of saving and giving provide a good balance for honoring God and building a reserve for emergencies and major purchases. How do you get started? Here are the steps we took toward increasing our savings and giving, reaching for the 10 percent goal on each:

1. Be thankful for all the gifts God has given you. Remember everything you have is from Him. Doing this over time will change the way you view your financial position. If you are truly thankful for the blessings you currently have, then you will not be tempted to spend money on a bigger house, new car or other material items that you really don’t need.

2. Start keeping track of how you spend your money. There are several applications that you can download to your smartphone to track your spending that are free and simple to use. Or, you can use an old-fashioned journal. The point is to see how you are currently spending your money. You may be surprised by how much you spend on things with little value.

3. Use the spending information gathered above to develop a spending plan. Determine the margin between your income and spending and allocate it equally between giving and saving.You will not likely be able to reach a full 10 percent for giving and 10 percent for saving starting out. The object is to establish a starting point.

4. Submit a formal pledge to your church or other ministry you are giving to. This is a promise you make to God, one that brings great satisfaction to you when you keep it.

5. Use electronic funds transfer to automatically deduct your giving and saving amounts from your bank account. This helps make giving and saving a priority,  avoiding the temptation to dip into these amounts.

6. Repeat this process periodically, looking for opportunities to increase your giving and saving. Whenever you get a raise, obtain a higher-paying job or some other financial gain, remember this is a gift from God and show your gratitude by giving back. Update your spending plan at least once each year, adjusting your allocation until you reach a full 10 percent in giving plus 10 percent in saving.

It took us several years to reach this goal, but it has been a rewarding experience. God has blessed us for each step we have taken in the process. Just as we have faced financial setbacks, we have been blessed with opportunities to more than compensate for the setback, permitting us to give and save more. Quoting 2 Corinthians 9:6:

“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.”

Your giving supports God’s work to bountifully bless your church, community and the world. You will certainly be blessed in return.

Terry Frisk is a partner in the firm B2B CFO, providing financial advisory services to small businesses. He also counsels individuals on personal financial matters through the Cathedral of the Rockies Budget Counseling ministry. He may be contacted through e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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