Question: “What does the Bible say about managing your finances?”

Answer: The Bible has a lot to say about managing finances. Concerning borrowing, the Bible generally advises against it.

See Proverbs 6:1-5; 20:16; 22:7, 26-27 (“The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender…. Do not be a man who strikes hands in pledge or puts up security for debts; if you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you”). Over and over again, the Bible warns against the accumulation of wealth and encourages us to seek spiritual riches instead. Proverbs 28:20: “A faithful man will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.” See also Proverbs 10:15; 11:4; 18:11; 23:5.

Proverbs 6:6-11 offers wisdom concerning laziness and the financial ruin that inevitably results. We are told to consider the industrious ant who works to store up food for itself. The passage also warns against sleeping when we should be working at something profitable. A “sluggard” is a lazy, slothful person who would rather rest than work. His end is assured-poverty and want. At the other end of the spectrum is the one who is obsessed with gaining money. Such a one, according to Ecclesiastes 5:10, never has enough wealth to satisfy him and must be constantly grasping more and more. First Timothy 6:6-11 also warns against the trap of desiring wealth.

Rather than desiring to heap riches upon ourselves, the biblical model is one of giving, not getting. “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7). We are also encouraged to be good stewards of what God has given us. In Luke 16:1-13, Jesus told the parable of the dishonest steward as a way of warning us against poor stewardship. The moral of the story is “So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” (v. 11). We are also responsible to provide for our own household, as 1 Timothy 5:8 reminds us: “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

In summary, what does the Bible say about managing money? The answer can be summarized with a single word-wisdom. We are to be wise with our money. We are to save money, but not hoard it. We are to spend money, but with discretion and control. We are to give back to the Lord, joyfully and sacrificially. We are to use our money to help others, but with discernment and the guidance of God’s Spirit. It is not wrong to be rich, but it is wrong to love money. It is not wrong to be poor, but it is wrong to waste money on trivial things. The Bible’s consistent message on managing money is to be wise. If you need financial help, you can inquire more through Christian Financial Concepts – http://www.crown.org.

Recommended Resource: The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey

Information taken from: https://www.gotquestions.org/managing-finances.html

 

 

Financial Peace University

 

Poor and Educated Part II (The Value of A College Education)
In last month’s Money Matters column, I talked about the severity of the student loan debt crisis in America.  To highlight, Americans, owe more than $1.3 trillion in student loans debts and the only debt category higher is mortgage debt.  We are essentially mortgaging away our future by paying for our past!  Part of the reason we struggle to build wealth is because we have gone into such deep debt in the pursuit of an education.  Don’t get me wrong; I have a high regard for education and I believe if you can get an education and it will help you in the future, you should get it!  But do it wisely! Let’s talk about some things we can do to make sure the money we are spending on making ourselves better is well spent!
First, let’s talk about your choice of school.  Do you want to go to any Ivy League college?  According to ivycoach.com, Princeton is the cheapest Ivy Leagues University and tuition and fees cost just over $61,000 in the 2016-2017 academic year!  Yeah, that’s a little pricey for me.  So if you are like me, and you don’t have Ivy League money a state school would be a great alternative!  Even better, you could attend a state college (which is usually cheaper than private schools) in your home state and save on out-of-state-tuition!  Community college may also be an option and they are even cheaper than state colleges.  Although community colleges may not offer the degree one is seeking, It is not uncommon for a student to start at a community college and after a year or two of taking all of their prerequisites, transfer to a nearby state college.  There are several ways to get an education you just have to realistically look at your options and devise a plan.
If you are going to earn a degree or pursue a certification, you have to know how much your degree/certification is going to cost you (in time and dollars) and you should know how it will benefit you when you graduate.  Do not choose to be clueless!  The cost to get an education can be found on the school’s website and you can get an idea of what kind of money to expect from sites like salary.com  And if you are not willing to settle for the income commensurate with your career choice, then you might want to reassess.  You also need to know the marketability of your prospective degree.  For example, teachers, doctors, lawyers, engineers, and mechanics are usually in demand and these professionals can find jobs just about anywhere.  But if your degree is in Egyptology, Bag piping, Canadian Studies, Comic Art, or Auctioning, your career opportunities are much more narrow.  I know in this American culture, it is popular to encourage people to “follow their heart” no matter what the cost, but that is just unwise.  I’m not telling you to chase the money and work a job you hate because it pays well, but I am saying you have, and will likely gain more, responsibilities that must be considered.  It may be possible to satisfy your heart’s desire through another means other than your occupation like through volunteer services, a second job, or a society club.  It’s just something else to think about.
Like I said earlier, I have a high regard for education.  People should never stop learning and getting a formal education is a great way to learn.  But, just like most things in life, there are multiple ways to go about it. Investing in an education can be a big step and it is worth the extra time it takes to count the cost (Luke 14:28-31). Doing some research and planning
will bring focus to your goals, making you more efficient and can easily save you tens of thousands of dollars!  This gift of life God gives is short (James 4:14) and too precious to waste.  And we only have a limited amount of resources (ability, time, and money).  So, if you, or anybody you know, is pondering the thought of getting an education or some training, I recommend taking the time to do some detailed planning.  Besides, like Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to plan, you are planning to fail.”
By Alfred King, Financial Consultant
Poorly Educated Part I (The Value of A College Education)
I don’t think anyone would argue that times have changed.  In generations that have passed, all you had to do is graduate from high school and you were going to get a job that could take you all the way to retirement while earning a pension and allowing you to retire respectably.  But as advancement has taught us, the proverbial bar has been raised.  In this day and age, pension plans are few and far between and even having a college degree doesn’t guarantee anything!  If you want to make your mark in a given field, you almost need an advanced degree.  Having these advanced degrees definitely open up opportunities that would be closed without the extra knowledge and training, but it comes at a price.

 

This proves there is a certain value to education we cannot ignore.  It pays to be educated!  And just like everything that has value, getting an education cost!  And it cost more than it ever did before.  As tuition, books, room, board, and fees continue to rise, I can only see it getting more and more expensive in the future.  But what value do we place on education?
The cost of an education depends on few things.  Some of which are the schools where the degree is being earned (as some schools are just more expensive than others), the degree, itself, and the job market related to the degree.   But before we deal with those topics, which we discuss in subsequent articles, I want to take the time to contemplate the most prevalent method of paying for an education (the use of student loans) and how it affects the wealth of graduates.  See the following:
  • Americans owe over $1.3 trillion dollars in student loan debt.  Student loan debt is the second highest consumer debt behind only mortgages. (Forbes, 2017)
  • The average Class of 2016 graduate has $37,172 in student loan debt and 59% of millennial graduates say they have no idea when their student loans will be paid off. (US News, 2016)
  • The average monthly student loan payment (for borrowers aged 20 to 30 years old) is $351. (Student Loan Hero, 2017)
The income of graduates is being used to pay off debt rather than build their future.  Our graduates are gaining an education,  at a much greater cost than anticipated because it is mortgaged against their future earnings (i.e. their wealth building tools).  “How so?”, you might ask.  Let’s assume an average 23-year-old graduate is paying $351/ month for student loans for 10 years, which is the average to repay their debt.  If there was no debt, instead, that money every month is being put into a mutual fund investment.  Now let’s say after 10 years when the graduate is 33, they decide NOT to add anything else to the investment and is content with it doing nothing but gaining interest over the years.  When the graduate reaches the age of 65, with just average returns, they will have over $750,000 in that account!  Again, that is assuming they did not put a dime into the account from age 33 to 65!  If the graduate never stopped adding to the account, they easily could be a millionaire!  But instead of building wealth and securing a financial future, that money is paid to money lenders and banking institutions and they are making billions on top of billions from servicing debt!

 

Education is important.  I believe in education and I encourage everyone to seek it.   But we have to be wise in our pursuits.  We can’t get so enamored with the thought of getting an education that we just do what everybody else is doing.  Isn’t that the definition of average?  Didn’t God create us to be better than average?  Of course He did!  Remember, you are wonderfully and fearfully made (Ps. 139:14).  It’s time we start taking the road less traveled so we can reach our full potential.  There are alternates to loans such as scholarships, grants, work studies, internships, apprenticeships, and the most overlooked alternative of all, work.  All of these options might not be applicable; but they should, at least, be vetted.  Remember, Jesus warns us to count the cost before we make a commitment (Luke 11:28-31).  Now we see how expensive an education can be when it is paid for with student loans.  So let’s really try to avoid student loans if possible so we can get the most out of our money and build wealth for ourselves and not for the financial institutions.
[1] Friedman, Z. (2017, February 21). Student Loan Debt in 2017: A $1.3 Trillion Crisis. Retrieved June 18, 2017, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/zackfriedman/2017/02/21/student-loan-debt-statistics-2017/#2be279e85dab
[2] Powell, F. (2016, May 9). 10 Student Loan Facts College Grads Need to Know. Retrieved June 18, 2017, from https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/paying-for-college/slideshows/10-student-loan-facts-college-grads-need-to-know
[3] A Look at the Shocking Student Loan Debt Statistics for 2017. (2017, May 17). Retrieved June 18, 2017, from https://studentloanhero.com/student-loan-debt-statistics/
The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Poorer
I know you have heard the saying, “the rich keep getting richer while the poor get poorer.”   And, for the most part, it is true.  But, why?  Have you ever wondered why the rich prosper and the poor don’t?  I’ve heard several reasons for this.  You hear things like “the playing field is not even;” “the deck is stacked against me;” “the rich are robbing the poor,” and so on.  While I’ve never seen a rich man or woman chasing down a poor person and taking their money. I would agree that all things are not always even.  So, with that said, should you take advantage of every opportunity to be on the other side of things?
Let’s be frank.  Jesus said there will always be poor people (Matt 26:11); but, He didn’t say it had to be us!  So if I don’t have to be poor, I need to figure out what I can do to change. What can I do to be on the winning side of the money equation?  I read an article published by an Ivy League business school that provided some research that brought to light some interesting facts.  First, the article pointed out that similar value systems transcend racial differences.  In other words, poor people, regardless of their race, share like values, and as you might expect, the economically prudent, despite racial differences, have comparable money practices.  But because a large majority of races share similar values, this nuance and under-appreciated distinction gets lost in racial generalizations.  I’ll come back to this point later.  Secondly, when you look at the difference between the rich and poor, one of the most notable differences is their value system.  For instance, wealthy people see money as a tool to advance themselves; or, a means to an end.  And the “end” their pursuit is meant to add real long term value.
Now converging the two points above, consider the following 3 assertions as facts:
1.       Blacks and Hispanics are, on average, poorer than whites.
2.       Blacks and Hispanics spend 16% and 30% less, respectively, on education than whites of similar incomes.
3.     Blacks and Hispanics spend up to 30% more than whites of comparable incomes on visible goods like clothing, cars, and jewelry.
        This means that, compared to white households of similar income, the typical black and Hispanic household spends $2,300 more per year on visible items.           To do that, they spend less on almost all other categories except housing, and they save less.
What is all this saying? Well, there is a lot that can be inferred here, but there are two main intrinsic themes I think we all need to internalize.  First, our destiny is not determined by the color of our skin, but by the choices we make.  Is life fair?  No.  It has never been.  Was it fair for Jesus?  Did the early church deserve to be hunted, persecuted, and even executed for preaching salvation through Jesus only?  No.  But they still overcame.  And so shall we if we are willing to pray like it all depends on God and work like it all depends on us. Secondly, we have to realize that our income is too valuable to waste on temporal novelties.  I know we need clothes, but does it have to be Gucci?  I know we need cars to get to work, but do the cars need to be Mercedes?  By making poor money choices, we are not being good stewards and we are choosing to be poor.
I believe in generational curses.  And by maintaining the same errant habits and misguided perspectives, we not only are doomed to repeat the past, but we teach the next generation our folly and limit their potential too.  If that is not a curse, I don’t know what is!  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  Change is possible, but we have to have the courage to be different.  We must look at items like cars, clothes, and jewelry as short term appeasements that don’t have much long-term value.  We need to place more value on education, insurances, and long term investment plans like mutual funds.  Where ever you are financially, you are not bound to stay there.  You can change your situation, but it will require you to change.

By Alfred King, Financial Consultant

Now, Then, Us, Them
I love the Olympics!  Every 4 years the world stops and focuses on the pinnacle of athletic ability.  In particular, I enjoy the track and field sprints with my favorite race being the 100m dash.  I find it interesting that all the runners have pretty much the same form when it comes to racing.  They all have the form of a winner.  And although winning with money is NOT a sprint (it is actually a marathon that biblically comes over years of making wise decisions), there is a lesson that can be learned from sprinters.

Have you ever noticed that at the sound of the gun, when each runner comes out of their starting block, their head is down?  Each runner is focused on their initial steps, driving as hard as they can to build up as much momentum as possible.  In short, they are focusing on the immediacy of the race; focused on the now!  If you are going to win with money, you have to focus on your current situation first!  I know so many people that have big hearts and want to help others financially, but you have to take care of you first.  You have to get yourself in position.  This is the same reason why the flight attendant says, “If you are traveling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask first, and then assist the other person.”  It’s not selfish, it’s prudent.  You want to be in a position of strength to help someone financially; otherwise, you run the risk of being in the same place as the person or people you are helping.

As the 100m runners are running, they begin to lift their head slowly as they tend to look at the ground they are about to conquer.  They look at their next few steps, in other words, their short-term goals.  What are your short term financial goals?  Do you want to pay off some of those credit cards?  Or do you have a savings goal?  What do you want to do within the next 5 years?  A good financial plan has small milestones that need to be celebrated and are used to measure progress toward the bigger goal.  Short term monetary goals allow you to fine tune your financial strategy as you enter full stride, but can only be addressed after your present situation is secured.

About 40-50 meters into the race, the runners have lifted their heads as they are now looking at the finish line.  They are at full stride and running with all their intensity.  Their form has held perfectly and their breathing is controlled, as they sprint toward their goal.  At this stage, financially, although you may have done everything right, you are the most efficient, effective, and are covering as much ground as possible.  Your short-term goals are flying by you as you gain full speed and the excitement of financial progress creates an intangible, but very real, momentum which allows you to press harder toward your goal even faster.  People are starting to notice there is something different about you.  And although they might not know the details of your finances, they realize that your financial mentality, spending habits, and money language is different.  You are a hitting on all cylinders!  But be careful, this is the worst time to get distracted and lose focus.

As the runners cross the finish line, they begin to coast and enjoy the fruits of their labor, training, and discipline.  They here the roar of the crowd and now their attention shifts from themselves to those around them; especially their family and friends that were cheering them on.  During the race, if you want to win, you must be focused to win.  But when you obtain financial peace, this is the time to be even more generous and you are strong enough to help others.

To win with money, you must have a plan for your finances and your plan should prioritize the immediate needs of your family first.  Then you can begin to look at your future, and as you prosper your capacity to help others will grow also.  But until that moment, you must say “no” to some things and some people.  Quoting Dave Ramsey, “Your financial focus should be Now, Then, Us, and [then] Them.”  The bible tells us that one who does not provide for his family has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel (1 Tim 5:8).  God takes the family first approach seriously.   So, don’t try to do too much too soon!  Remember building a legacy is not an overnight affair and it will require sacrifices.  The only question is, ‘are you willing to make the sacrifice long enough to win?’

Sweet Dreams
When it comes to retirement, we all have dreams. We all have thoughts about the days of when we no longer have to get up to go to our place of employment.  What do your retirement plans look like?  Whether our retirement dreams look like us continuing to work at a job we enjoy (but at our own pace), or if they consist of just lying on a beach in Tahiti, they all have one thing in common; the future.  But how do we get that dream future? How do we retire with dignity?  When should we start thinking about retirement?
Besides Social Security, there are other federal approved retirement plans that allow you to prepare for retirement and it would be wise to take advantage of them; some of the most commonly known plans are 401ks, 403bs, and IRAs.  401k and 403b plans are investment vehicles sponsored by your employer but are administered by investment firms such as Fidelity, Merrill Lynch, Prudential, etc.  Not all employers offer such plans, but when available, they should be used because they are excellent plans for building wealth and the preparing for retirement.
401ks, 403bs, and IRAs are savings and investment accounts, but they come with restrictions on withdrawing the money.  Why would the government put limitations on the access to YOUR money?  That’s easy, because YOU get tax benefits for taking advantage of these great plans. And if there are two certainties in your life, they are death and taxes.  These retirement accounts are NOT to be treated as “piggy banks’ for you to withdraw money whenever you feel like you need it.  The money is supposed to be for retirement; for example, below are three main reasons as to why taking money out of your 401k is a bad idea.
1.    First, it is extremely expensive in the short term. Typically, the administrator of your 401k is required to withhold 20% for the money you want to withdraw and send it to directly to the IRS for any taxes (federal and state) that are due on the money.  And to compound the issue, there is a 10% penalty for early withdrawals! That is money just lost. But it gets worse!!!
2.    Secondly, it is extremely expensive in the long term.  Money taken out of a person’s 401k misses out on the greatest passive wealth building phenomenon known to man; compound interest.
3.    Thirdly, taking money out of a retirement plan may actually create debt. Some retirement plans allow you to withdraw your funds but require you (by garnishing your paycheck) to pay the money back with interest. But we are trying to live debt free (remember the affirmation we say before offering time at every service!). And even though you are “paying yourself interest” you still end up losing the opportunity to do something more important with that money.
So, for example, if you are under 591/2 yrs old and pulled $5,000 from your retirement savings to give, after taxes and fees, your $5,000 is only $3,500!  And that $5,000 you removed from your account cannot gain compound interest which over 30 years, using a conservative interest rate of 7%, could have cost you over $57,500 at retirement when you need to money the most!  Is the $3,500 gift now worth more than your $57,500 sacrifice? Probably not! There usually is a better answer.
Will you have enough money to achieve your retirement dreams? When we reach retirement, we all want our lives to be good testimonies for God as we look back over our lives and say, “Look at how God has prospered me!”  But we hinder the work of God by being impetuous, impulsive, and impatient.  Putting away money to retire with dignity is not only a good idea, it’s a biblical idea.  So, let’s exercise some patience and only use the retirement savings if it is absolutely necessary.  And as we show discipline, God will reward our faithfulness in the fullness of time. God bless!
Please join us, starting April 1, for our next sessions of Financial Peace University (FPU).  Registration is now open in the MFM Bookstore.  The investment is only $100 total for your entire household.  See the entire schedule below.  If you are unable to attend a particular class, no worries, you will not miss out on any information. Ask us how.
Alfred King, Financial Consultant
Money Matters-Can You Really Afford It?”
J.D. Rockefeller, one of the wealthiest men that every lived, once said, “I believe that every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty.”
This is how we need to look at money; with purpose, with possibility, and with function.  Money has three basic roles.  We should use it to save, invest, and everybody’s favorite, to spend.  Spending money is fun and there is nothing wrong with having fun spending money……..as long as it is healthy spending!  And a person that has healthy spending habits stays within their means and knows what they really can afford.  Do you know what you can afford?  What does it really mean when people say, “…I can afford it!”
A lot of times, when we say or hear the words, “I can afford it,” what they really mean is, “I can make the payments.”  But the two things are not the same!  In fact, they are in opposition.  First of all, when one chooses to make payments, they are creating an obligation for themselves.  Or in other words, a debt is created!  How can you become debt-free if you keep accumulating debt?  You can’t! Secondly, most of the time people choose to make payments because they can’t afford to make the purchase with cash.  Next time you’re faced with the option, test yourself and ask, “If I can really afford it, why do I need to make payments?  Why don’t I just pay cash for it and own it?”  The ugly truth is we have come to believe that if we can make the payments we can afford it (whatever “it” is) and the world of marketing does everything in its power to reinforce this false belief.  For example, have you ever been to a car dealership and regardless of what you tell the salesman about how much you intend to spend you were asked, “What kind of payments are you looking for?”  There is a reason for this.  It is because when you opt to make payments, you will pay for that “convenience”.  And how much you pay for the “convenience” of making payments, many times, shows up in the interest rates and the terms on the financing.  That is how finance companies make a profit; by conveniently selling you debt!  Isn’t that so nice of them?!
I know what some of you are thinking. “But what if I can make payments at 0% interest?”  I have two responses for you.  First, you are probably over paying for the item!  That is why you can buy a brand new car and get financing at a 0% interest rate.  It is because depreciation and obsolescence have not taken affect and eroded the value of the car (nor the profits for the seller).  The profit from selling a car reduces as the car ages.  That’s why you can’t buy a used car at 0% interest!  Since money is not made from initial pricing, it has to be made from the financing and fees.  Secondly, if your 0% interest rate is for a limited time, financiers know that the chances are the balance will not be cleared in time and the borrower will be charged interest.  Otherwise, it wouldn’t be profitable and they would be losing money.  And they are not in the business to lose money!
Biblically speaking, wealth is gained by working hard over time (Proverbs 10:4), and we work too hard for our money to spend it unwisely or frivolously.  And over paying for items and exercising poor spending habits work against our ability to build wealth.  We really can’t afford to be unwise with our money!  The wealthy and wise are careful not to overspend, and avoid payments even if it looks like they can “afford the payments.” Dave Ramsey once said, “If you exercise rich people habits long enough, you will eventually build wealth like rich people.”  So why don’t we start doing the same and watch our net worth accumulate?

Trusting God with Finances

Happy New Year!  The New Year marks a perfect opportunity to make a fresh start and do things differently in an effort to better ourselves.  That’s why so many people have New Year resolutions.  The beginning of the year is a convenient and, seemly so natural, a place to start when one wants to set new goals to accomplish for the New Year. We set all types of goals ranging from vows to get more exercise to doing something for charity and everything in between.  As Christians, we often set goals that sound like, “I’m going to take better care of my body this year”, or “I want to read the bible from cover-to-cover this year”.  I would think those are fairly common resolutions.  But when was the last time you heard someone say, “You know, this year, I want to trust God more with my finances?”

But what does that even mean?  What does it mean to trust God more with one’s finances?  Some would argue that it is a reference to one increasing their giving (i.e. tithes and offerings).  Some believe that if a person, simply, is more consistent with their giving of tithes and offerings, they are showing more faith and they will be blessed financially.  It’s that straightforward; right?  But I don’t think it’s that simple.  Here are a few reasons why…..

  1. Tithes and offerings are only a portion of the money God gives us.  God has declared 10% of our earnings are His and 90% of our earnings we are to manage wisely.  What are we doing with the 90%?  As the proverb reads, “a fool and his money are soon parted.”  If God is given His 10% and we waste the other 90%, can we expect God to bless us with more?
  2. Financial situations improve with a change in behavior or money habits.  For there to be a change in behavior, the old habits must be replaced with new habits.  How do we decide what habits are good and/or bad and what will replace the bad ones?
  3. There just is not enough money to do everything we want to do.  We are given a limited amount of money to steward.  So, if tithes and offerings are to be given, something else must be sacrificed.  But, how does a person choose what goes unpaid?  How is a person to prioritize their money?

My point is trusting God with our finances is more extensive than giving tithes and offering; there is more to consider.  Tithes and offerings are only a small part of our fiduciary responsibilities.  It is all God’s money and we are responsible for handling all He has entrusted to us and not just the portion we are to give to the church.  God will be faithful to His Word, but he expects us to do our part.

So if you are looking to trust God more with your finances, you have to evaluate all your finances honestly. Often, especially when it comes to money, we are afraid to see how bad things really look.  And sometimes we have no idea how bad thing really are due to our ignorance!  Either way, we have to face the truth and get help.  The bible tells us to seek wise counsel (Prov. 1:5, Prov. 12:15, Prov. 19:20), and at Mountaintop, we offer the Financial Peace classes to help meet the financial needs of the people.  There is so much we don’t know and it’s evident because we are not prospering!  There is help available, but we can’t let our pride stand in the way and block us from our future!  If pride caused Satan to fall from heaven, it will definitely keep you from financial prosperity.  Have a happy New Year and God bless.

 

Christmas Spending

With all the Black Friday sales and Cyber Monday hype dying down, we now have a chance to let the Thanksgiving dinners digest while we catch our breath.  But Christmas is coming fast!  If you haven’t felt the pressure yet, it’s coming soon.

The not-so-subtle hints and wish lists, if you’re not careful, can cause you to spend more than you planned and put you in a bad spot, financially, going into next year.

In case you didn’t know, I want to let you in on a little secret.  It is OK with Jesus to have Christmas on a budget!  Trust me, He is good with it.  I have learned that budgeting Christmas spending is the best way to maintain order over the finances during these spend-happy holidays.  You can start by deciding how much money you are willing to spend on Christmas.  Notice I didn’t say gift-giving or traveling.  All Christmas related activities that are out of the normal day-to-days spending practices are lumped together.  Whether you are buying gifts, traveling, paying for special dinners, all Christmas spending could come out of the allocated money.  And when there is no more money…there is no more Christmas spending.  Period.  That is when you resort to giving the gift of love!

Christmas is the most celebrated holiday of the year.  You should enjoy it.  But you don’t have to celebrate until you’re broke! It’s O.K. to dial it back some, cut the wish-lists short, and budget your Christmas spending.  Jesus won’t be mad at you (although some of your family might call you cheap!).  Trying to please people is a losing endeavor, so why not take a different approach to the holiday spending this year?  Put your Christmas on a budget and hold fast to the spending limit you set.  You don’t want to still be paying for December choices in January.  That’s like living life in the rear view mirror.   Finish strong and go into 2017 with some positive momentum.  A major part of keeping your finances under control is developing disciplined spending habits.  It may be hard now, but you will be better for it in the future.  Or at least that is what the writer of Hebrews tells us in Hebrews 12:11. So enjoy your Christmas, but don’t go crazy!  God bless and we’ll see you in 2017.