Several years ago, when my oldest daughter was four years old, I told her that we could not make a particular purchase because I did not have enough money. She was disappointed, but undeterred she sung out in her little voice, “well, just put it on the card . . .” After the conversation that ensued, I realized that she – at no fault of her own – had not made a connection between credit card purchases and cash purchases. To her, paying with cash was a completely different transaction than paying with plastic. It is obvious why it would seem this way to a young child. She has no awareness of the fact that my paycheck is directly deposited into my back account, that we spend that money via a credit or debit card and then pay it back with an electronic funds transfer or electronic bill. Cash transactions are pretty rare in our household.
What is a credit card fast?
Pretty much what it sounds like: refusing to use one’s credit card for a period of time – a week, a month, three months, etc. Another variation of the credit card fast is to continue using credit cards, but restrict usage only to certain essential purchases such as gas, groceries or airfare, but not using the card for eating out, entertainment, clothes, electronics or any other kind of shopping.
Have you ever spent more money than you intended because of a poor filing system or lack thereof? Have you ever missed out on money in your pocket because you misplaced or could not find certain information when you needed it? If you answer is “yes,” you need to take a minute in order to think through where and when you put things. Good organization is an oft-overlooked aspect of good money management. Here are just a few of the areas where it will pay dividends to carefully think through your desk and household organization.
My wife and I talk about finances on a fairly regular basis. Recently during one of our conversations, we discussed the pros and cons of paying off a particular debt versus placing the earmarked money in our savings account. My wife was of the mind that we needed to pay off that debt immediately, however, I was concerned that paying off the debt might leave us in a precarious situation as far as our cash flow – the title of this post probably indicates who won that argument. My point is that paying off debt is a good thing and can almost be a bit of a rush. However, if you pay off a debt, but leave yourself with no surplus cash flow, no emergency fund or limited savings, you could be in worse trouble when unexpected expenses pop up.
In my previous article on this subject, we looked at several reasons why the believer should prioritize tithing before debt reduction. Note that I am not saying that we should neglect our debts – if we promise to repay something, we must repay it. Matthew 5:33 tells us that when we make a promise, that promise should be as good as done. However, if you must choose between paying extra on a debt or giving your tithe, the tithe comes first.
Here are two more reasons why the believer’s commitment to tithing should be greater than his commitment to debt reduction:
For our next two posts, I am going to explore the question: is debt reduction a greater financial priority than tithing? The intuitive answer from a “good money sense” point of view might be “yes”. After all, isn’t debt the worst possible financial ill on the planet? Shouldn’t we be employing every possible financial means to reduce our personal indebtedness? For many of us, ten percent of our income (the tithe) might seem like a good chunk of money that could be used for paying down our mortgage or car loan principal. Mathematically speaking, think of how quickly our debts might disappear if the tithe were applied to our credit card balance? Look at all of the things that good stewards of money practice in order to pay down debt: shop second-hand stores, reduce driving miles, down-size our homes, save energy, cook our own food, make stuff, stretch stuff, use coupons . . . is the tithe only obligatory for people who have been blessed with extra money?
In recent years, I have begun to change great deal of my views on saving for retirement 401k’s, IRA’s and the like. The truth is that I am far less likely to spend a great deal of time and effort saving money for retirement than I used to be . . . but that is a topic for another day. Today, I am participating in the Roth IRA Movement which is an event where nearly 150 personal finance bloggers (who knew there were so many?) plan to write about and draw publicity to the Roth IRA this week.
Every family’s budget is a reflection of that family’s priorities, habits and tastes. Here at Gather Little by Little, we do not try to dictate exactly how persons budget should look. Mainly because that is a fool’s errand. But there are some basic principles which govern the advice that appears on this blog. One of them is: the outflow should be less than your inflow. Most of us try to stay under budget by spending less whenever possible. We are a frugal bunch.
Money blogs are usually a place for getting the most out of life for the least amount of money. They are place to seek ideas of how to gain financial security with the least amount of risk. But did you know that too much of this kind of thinking can be a bad thing? Did you know that Christians can be too tight with their money? Today, I am going to suggest that following Christ might actually require you to not give, not save, but spend more money!
First consider these verses, you will see principles from these verses throughout the statements that follow.