Summer Wise – Summer Not

Week 6 – Managing My Money

This is week 6 in a series called Summer Wise Summer Not. Today our focus is on how to manage our money. From the wisest and wealthiest man to ever live, we are going to learn Five Basic Principles That Lead to Financial Freedom.

1. Keep good RECORDS.

This is the principle of accounting. “Know the state of your flocks, and put your heart into caring for your herds, for riches don’t last forever…” – Proverbs 27:23-24a (NLT) Flocks represent assets. Solomon is saying, you have to know what you have.
Keep track of your assets. You need to know where you stand financially.

Have you heard someone say, or have you said it yourself, “I don’t know where all my money went!” If that is you, you are in trouble. You need to keep good records. “Get the truth and never sell it; also get wisdom, discipline, and good judgment.” – Proverbs 23:23 (NLT) Get the facts at any price. You need to know the truth. How are things going?

This principle is especially critical when it comes to our finances. Ignorance + Easy Credit = TROUBLE! Anyone want to testify? You know where you stand by keeping good records. There are basically four things you need to know.

a. What do I EARN?
b. What do I OWN?
c. What do I OWE?
d. Where does it GO?

You need to write it down. Keep a log. Develop a system for maintaining good records. If you say, I don’t have time to keep good records! Let me ask you this. Do you ever worry about your finances? If you would spend more time keeping good records, you could spend less time worrying about your finances, and you would have a lot less to worry about.

2. Plan your SPENDING.

This is the principle of budgeting. You have to set some financial goals and stick with them. “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.” – Proverbs 21:5 (NLT) Financial freedom is never determined by how much money you make. It’s determined by how you spend from what you make.

The average American spends six hours a week in shopping related activities.
I have always said, some of you are above average. One study found revealed that nine out of ten people shop impulsively. We respond to commercials. We respond to emotional appeals. I see it. I want it. I must have it.

I always feel like I have beaten the system when I am in a mall or store, and I leave empty handed. The goal of advertisers and merchandisers is that you NEVER leave empty handed. They are pushing for the impulse buy. That often leads to buyer’s remorse.

The way to avoid impulse spending and buyer’s remorse is to plan your spending. “The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get.” – Proverbs 21:20 (NLT) Foolish people spend their money as fast as they get it. In fact, it is a warning sign whenever you hear yourself, or someone else say, “I can’t afford to pay you right now, but can you hold this until I get paid?” Now you are spending your money BEFORE you get it. That is a problem. That might be a sign you need to look into finding a support group for shoppers. 😊

There are all kinds of creative ideas to help people break the habit of impulsive buying. One idea is to place credit and debit cards in a bowl of water in the freezer.
When you feel the urge to spend you have to wait for the ice to melt. No microwave? How do you break the habit of impulsive buying? You spell relief B-U-D-G-E-T.

The definition of budget is simply planned spending. Proverbs says plan your spending. Budgeting is telling your money where you want it to go rather than wondering where it went. It is wise to make spending a matter of prayer. Spending decisions should also be mutual if you are married. God has promised to give us wisdom when we ask Him. So, keep good records and plan your spending.

3. SAVE for the future.

“The wise man saves for the future…” – Proverbs 21:20a (TLB) Americans are not great at saving money. All you have to do is listen to reports of how many are broke as they enter retirement. Why is that? It is because people live for today with no thought for tomorrow. They live by mantra – I want what I want, and I want it all now! They are going to live within their means even if they have to charge it!

The Bible calls us to plan our spending and save for the future. Set some goals. “Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows over time.” – Proverbs 13:11 (NLT) It is wise to set three goals when it comes to finances:
a spending goal, a saving goal, and a giving goal. “Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise!” – Proverbs 6:6 (NLT)

It is a little but embarrassing to think Solomon is telling us to learn from an ant how to be wise. Have you thought about the size of their brain? But the idea is that and ant stores up a little at a time so that when winter comes, they are prepared.

Many people seem surprised that Christmas rolls around every year. They seem shocked to find that they are about to enter retirement with no money. I know there are exceptions, but in many cases, they just did not plan ahead. They spend it all as they went. While some might argue their spending was necessary, that is typically not the case.

I cannot tell you how many times people have come to me to share their financial burdens, and how they were struggling to pay the bills or make ends meet. It never seems to occur to them that they might be able to pay the rent if they didn’t have a $600 a month car payment, and a $200 cable bill.

Why do we do that? Why do we spend whatever we get? Why don’t we save for the future? Often it is because we are never satisfied. We are always craving more of what other people have. Nothing is ever enough. What we perceive as necessities are often wants – if we are honest. Beware of the Envy Monster! It can happen with clothing, cars, houses, gadgets, you name it.

This same principle can apply to spouses, kids, personal looks. Whenever we compare ourselves with others, we inevitably come up short in some area of life. We all fall short in some categories and give in to thinking enough is never enough. To save for the future, you’ve got to follow the fourth principle that Proverbs teaches.

4. ENJOY what you already have.

That is the principle of contentment. “Those who love pleasure become poor; those who love wine and luxury will never be rich.” – Proverbs 21:7 (NLT) This verse is being violated every day all over the country. I see a luxury I’ve got to have it! Again, the issue is not that I need it. I want it.

There’s a BIG LIE: behind all of this. The lie is why we’re not happy or content with what we have. We hear this lie all the time. Here it is – Having more will make me HAPPY. Another way of saying it is that having more will make me more. My happiness will increase as my assets, and toys, and experiences increase.

That’s just not true. If it were true, the wealthiest people would be the happiest people. And they’re not. This lie affects us all in some way. And it is affecting and infecting our kids. By the time a high school kid graduates from school, he’s watched 350,000 commercials. How can that not affect them? There is the constant desire for more. And just when you think you have enough, they come out with an upgrade. The new and improved version of whatever it is, and you just have to get it!

There’s a significant difference between complacency and contentment. Lordship and laziness are not the same. Contentment means enjoying what you have. It doesn’t mean you don’t have any goals or ambition. The Bible says to set goals. There is nothing wrong with trying to better yourself — socially, spiritually, economically. That’s fine! But you need to learn to enjoy today and not say, “I’ll be happy when….”

Can you complete this sentence (not out loud): “I’ll be happy when…I have…” If you can immediately fill in that blank, you are not content. You need to learn to be happy now, while you still have goals, ambitions, and desires. “Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have.” – Hebrews 13:5a (NLT)

Sometimes we’re so busy getting more, we don’t have time to enjoy what we already have. We’re so busy getting the newer, bigger, better, faster – always moving up – that we don’t have time to enjoy what we already have.

So often families are overextended financially because they are buying things they don’t need. Both partners have to work and sometimes they carry second jobs as they hustle just to pay the bills. Pretty soon the family begins to deteriorate. They have a beautiful house, but it is not a home.

Everybody is irritable, tired, and cranky. The kids gave absentee parents. Everybody is exhausted. LISTEN! Your kids need attention, not things. You ever heard people say, or said it yourself, “I give my kids quality time.” I hate that phrase. Quality time is an excuse for minimal time.

I’ll bet if you went and asked your kids “Would you rather have quality of quantity?” Without a doubt they would say, “I want quantity.” You don’t always have to be doing something with them. They just want you to be around and to be there with them and for them more often. And when you are there, please be present. Phones (adults and kids).

We get so caught up in this syndrome because we’re over-extended and we don’t enjoy what we have so we keep running after more. Then you hear this rationalization: “I know we’re hustling, and we don’t have much time right now, but this is just a season. It’s only temporary.”

Who are you kidding? How long will you keep telling yourself that lie? I am absolutely convinced, for some people, no matter how much money they make, their yearnings will always exceed their earnings. That’s a fact of life for some. Their yearnings will always exceed their earnings.

Some have fallen into the trap of developing a habitual lifestyle that is frantically rushed because of things. Your life is being driven to make payments on things. You can’t enjoy life because there is no time to enjoy it.

The Bible says you have to LEARN contentment. People make fun of me, especially my kids, but we use things up, we wear things out, we make it do, or we do without. If we throw it away, it’s toast.

A number of years ago we decided we were going to live debt free. We attended the first ever Financial Peace University class offered here at the church. Apart from our mortgage, we decided we were done with debt. I can’t tell you how liberating that is. It has been a game-changer for us. There is freedom, peace, joy, contentment, etc.

Some of you, if God called you to do something generous for someone, you wouldn’t be able to do it. You’re so financially entangled you couldn’t move or change jobs if you wanted to. You are in bondage. You couldn’t afford to miss one paycheck because you are living so close to the line. You don’t have to continue living like that, but for things to change, you need a plan.

“But Steve, I got what I wanted for just 180 easy payments.” There is no such thing as an easy payment. They’re all hard. Payments stink! Just remember this – It is always easier to get into debt than it is to get out of debt. Excel – You cannot wander out of debt – You get out because you are intentional.

5. GIVE AT LEAST 10% back to God.

That’s the principle of tithing. It’s taught all through the Bible and Proverbs is no exception. Give at least 10% of our increase back to God. “Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine.” – Proverbs 3:9-10 (NLT) I am not sure that I have ever met a generous person who didn’t tithe on their income.

Some people are confused about where the tithe is to go. It is not about choosing your favorite charity, that is a donation. The tithe, by definition is 10% and it is to be brought to the storehouse, which I think is clearly the church, but you would expect that out of the preacher, wouldn’t you?

Then people want to know, “Should I tithe on the net or the gross?” What do you want God to bless, the net or the gross? If you want God’s help in your finances, if you want God to help you get out of debt, if you want God’s blessing, then I would challenge you to put Him first.

Some people decide to try to pay all their bills and then at the end of the month tip God. “I’ll be generous and put $20 in the offering plate. Did you see that, God?” God says, Put Me first! “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” – Matthew 6:33 (NLT) Seek God first. Whatever we make, the first 10% is given back to God as an expression of love, of faith, of obedience. When we tithe, we make giving a priority.

We give out of gratitude for the fact that He’s already blessed us in the past, He is taking care of us in the present, and we have faith that He’s going to provide for our needs in the future.

Somebody asked John D. Rockefeller about the secret of his success. He said, “Save 10%, tithe 10%, and live on the rest.” “The earnings of the godly enhance their lives, but evil people squander their money on sin.” – Proverbs 10:16 (NLT)

Are your earnings enhancing your life? “Blessed are those who are generous, because they feed the poor.” – Proverbs 22:9 (NLT) God has promised His blessings to generous people. God is a giving God. When you’re giving, you’re like Him. If you’re not tithing, you’re only cheating yourself. You’re not hurting anybody but yourself.

God gives five principles here: Keep good records. Plan your spending. Save for the future. Enjoy what you already have. Give the first 10% back to God. That’s God’s foundation for financial freedom.

I imagine some of you might say “I’m in so much debt right now, I can’t afford to save. I can’t afford to tithe.” You can’t afford not to! If you want God’s help in getting out of debt the starting point is to put him first in every area of your life. We get caught in habits and patterns and we keep telling ourselves someday we are going to do this, but someday never comes, because old habits are hard to break, and we keep doing the same things that got us in trouble in the first place.

The Old Testament Prophet, Isaiah summarized things well when he questioned why we “spend money on things that do not satisfy.” (55:2) The number one reason people get into debt is because they think things will satisfy. We buy things we think will make us happy – new clothes, a new car, a new house, whatever. But it doesn’t last. The next thing you know you want the newer, the bigger, the better, the faster, etc.

If you’re looking for things to satisfy you, they’re not going to. But God isn’t against things. 1 Timothy says, “God has made everything for our enjoyment.” But we need to understand there is a difference between finding enjoyment in things and finding satisfaction in life. The solution is found in one of the beatitudes that Jesus told, “Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires; God will satisfy them fully!” – Matthew 5:6 (GNT)

Satisfaction is found in a relationship with your Heavenly Father. The better you get to know Him, the more satisfied you will be. Satisfaction doesn’t come from a shopping spree. Real satisfaction is found in a relationship with the One who made you. Some of you are barely making it financially. Your finances are out of control. But that’s not your biggest problem.

Out of control finances are really a symptom that your life that is out of control. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ will bring your life into focus. I don’t know why but I am convinced that God has chosen finances, as the acid test of our faithfulness. He could have chosen anything else.

But so much of our lives revolve around money — trying to get it, trying to make it, trying to save it, trying to protect it, trying to spend it, trying to invest it, trying to use it. So much of our lives revolve around money and so many of our problems and heartache revolve around the misuse of money and being overextended in debt. Money is the acid test of just how much we really trust Him.

Five Foundations for Financial Freedom.

• Are you keeping good records?
• Plan your spending.
• Save for the future.
• Enjoy what you already have.
• Give at least 10% back to God.

So, which of these principles do you need to work on?

If Jesus is #1 in your LIFE, He will be #1 in your FINANCES.

If He’s not #1 in your life or in your finances, would you be willing to make that commitment today? TITHE CHALLENGE/COMMITMENT – SPIRITUAL COMMITMENT