Good Money Sense

To be good stewards of God’s money we should strive to have good money sense. Yes, you read it right, I said God’s money because it is His money. God gives us His money and expects us to take good care of it, i.e. good money management and good spending habits. Good money sense requires self-discipline amongst other things.

I’ll be honest, before I rededicated my life to God in 1999 I never thought of my money being God’s money. I worked hard for my money and I spent it however I wanted, not thinking about God. I gave Sunday offering and I thought that’s what I was supposed to do as a Christian. 

In 1999 I started watching sermons from different Pastors on TBN and one of the pastors was Dr. Creflo A. Dollar. I remember one of his sermon was about being good stewards of God’s money. Wow! This is when it hit me,  “My money is not my money, it is God’s money and I need to be a good steward of His money.” This gave me a totally different perspective regarding good money sense.

Before we get into the nitty gritty of this message, I’d like you to know that I’ve been a finance and budget professional for 35+ years and this has helped us with managing our family finances. But foremost we go-to God for wisdom and guidance, and whatever we do is for His honor and always thankful.

Though there is much to talk about good money sense, we will focus on giving and saving. I’ll share with you a few personal experiences, tips and lessons learned over the years.

Good Money Sense

Giving

I grew-up in the Episcopal church and I remember Ma faithfully filling out her pledge envelope and putting money in it. As an adult I gave offerings. 1999 is when I started tithing. My husband was not ready yet, but I was. So I respected where he was in his Christian walk and though our incomes were combined, I only tithed on my income. A couple years later we were watching a sermon about tithes and he asked me “We are tithing, right?” I was like, “Me not we.” And that’s when “we” started tithing. Again, everybody’s Christian walk is different and should be respected.  

This is way too much giving

For new Christians and people who did not grow up in a church that tithes, it sometimes takes a while to embrace the concept of tithing because the first thought is, “Are you telling me that I have to give 10% of my income… that’s a lot. I can’t afford it.” Not realizing that, number one, it’s not really your money, it’s God’s money and number two, when you do decide to tithe, not because you feel obligated but from your heart, God will make you not even feel it. I’m talking from personal experience. As a matter of fact, it’s like you have more money to spend. It’s supernatural. Only God can do that.

The other question that always comes up is, “Do I tithe from my gross or net?” I’ve heard pastors explain both. All I’m going to say is, this is between you and God. Pray and ask God for wisdom and guidance. He’ll tell you what to do.

Okay, so offerings are in addition to tithes. I’ll be honest, I was not paying attention to all this until 1999. Anyway, some people feel this is way too much giving, tithes and offering, come on. But again, when you start giving both tithes and offerings, and make it a part of your monthly budget, you will be okay. God will make it okay. Okay! Trust God!

How do I feel about giving?

Well this is how I feel. Giving is between you and God. And you should give voluntarily and from your heart. Also, if you are financially struggling, have limited money or no money, you have to do what’s best for you and your family. I truly believe God understands that there are times, given the circumstances, we just can’t give even when we want to give. Look, God is not us. He is a loving and merciful Father and He cares about our wellbeing.

Saving

My Aunt Sylvia was a master saver

Growing up I remember my Aunt Sylvia (single, no kids), a well-known and well-respected English teacher in Panama. She always had money. Every Christmas she would give her nieces and nephews (and it was a bunch of us) $100 each. Back in the day that was a lot of money. She was also our go-to person when we were in a financial bind and needed a little financial help. She helped everyone one of us financially and was there for us in so many other ways. I love my Aunt Sylvia and appreciate everything she did for me, my siblings and cousins.

So one day I asked my Aunt Sylvia, “How is it you always have money? What is your secret?” She said to me “Debbie, the only thing I do is save.” I was like “Aunt Sylvia, you mean to say that’s all you do? No investments?” She said “I only save. I’ve always saved consistently.” I was amazed. Okay, so, in addition to self-discipline, consistency is important.

I know from personal experience that the hard part is starting and then being consistent because it’s like something always pops up to keep you from starting and when you finally start, then something pops up where you wind up taking out the little saved. But, it can be done and when you stick to it, you will reap the benefits.

I can’t do it

When I talk to people about saving, the first thing that comes out their mouth is, “I have nothing to save. I can’t do it.” Okay, let’s take a minute to look closer into your spending habits. Do you spend $5, $10, $20 or more on fast food, lottery tickets, gambling, vices, etc.? I’m not trying to get into your business but it seems to me that you if you can spend money on those things, you can certainly afford to save $5, $10, $20 or more monthly. Start small (gradually increase), don’t touch it and watch your money grow. You will be pleasantly surprised. I always advise to have at least two savings accounts, one you don’t touch (only for emergencies, unexpected expenses) and a fun one (vacation, trips, leisure stuff, etc.). These are not your retirement savings account.

Don’t spend it

The other advice I give is, when you get any type of pay increase, promotion, cash award, etc., don’t spend it; save part of it, if not all. You didn’t have it before and was managing without it so act like you don’t have it. Also, if you happen to come into a large sum of money, don’t spend it until you have a spend plan. Put it away in a savings account. Make it make a difference, i.e., pay off or reduce mortgage, credit card, car payments, personal and student loans, etc. I’ve seen people receive large sum of money and don’t know what they spent it on and have absolutely nothing to show.

Build a cushion

Many of us get paid weekly, twice a month, every two weeks or monthly. You have to adjust your bill paying habits based on when you get paid. Most people can’t pay their bills until they get paid. The ideal situation is to always have a cushion equivalent to at least one third of your monthly pay in your checking account, that way you won’t have to worry about paying bad check fees due to insufficient funds because you will have a cushion. So how do you build this cushion? Well, this is where self-discipline comes into play. You will have to leave an amount in checking (treat it like a saving) every month until you reach the desired amount.

More saving tips

If you get paid every two weeks, this means you have 26 pay days in a year. This also means that there are two months you will have three pay days. I always advice to mark on your calendar the two months with the three pay days. Don’t spend that third pay check! You’ve been living 10 months with two pay checks and managing. Put that third pay check away in a savings account. You can use it to pay for your vacation or Christmas gifts or to pay off or reduce high bills. Make those two pay checks really count.

Also, If your employer offers 401K or any other retirement plan, and you’ve not joined, please read up on it and consider joining. This is a great way to save for your retirement.

Are you ready to be a good steward of God’s money?

Well friend, are you ready to be a good steward of God’s money? Look, let’s keep it real. As I said before, to be a good steward of God’s money, you should strive to have good money sense. Some people have good money sense while others have to work on it. So for those who have to work on it, It won’t happen overnight but once you start, with self-discipline, consistency, and most importantly, God’s help, you will get it and do well. You will be amazed and pleasantly surprised of how things will work together for your good.

Okay friends, I’ve given you my two cents about good money sense. I hope you got something good out it and find it helpful.

Bible Reflection

“Remember this-a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”  And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.” 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 NLT

“Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.” 1 Timothy 6:17-19 NLT

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