My wife and I have decent jobs but spend everything we earn. My parents recently told us that we don’t spend money wisely. I was offended at first, but I am rethinking our habits. I heard you on the radio talking about this. What do you suggest we do to change our habits?
Young and Broke
Dear Young and Broke,
I respect your humility in admitting your situation. You are not alone! Many people today do not handle money wisely and, therefore, live from month to month on the edge of a financial disaster. The government, friends, and family enable people, but in many cases, basic financial tools are not known or are simply ignored. God’s financial principles are the answer to poor financial habits. I call them the economic virtues of working, giving, saving, spending, and investing. Let’s consider Warren Buffet’s example to inspire you to better spending habits.
Warren Buffett is one of the richest people alive today. He is CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and a world-famous investor. The company is worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Buffett, 92, has exercised frugal habits in his personal life. Yahoo Finance recently reported the things he says people should avoid if they want to better their financial condition. My comments are indented and italicized.
Neglecting personal development
Invest in your skills and education to boost your earning potential.
“Take advantage of any extra training or certification offered at work. Become a reader, listen to podcasts, seek a mentor, and become a life-long learner.”
Relying on credit cards
Avoid carrying a balance due to high interest rates. Control your spending.
“Some cards carry up to a 29.99% variable rate! That adds nearly 30% to every purchase unless you are dedicated to paying off your cards every single month. To work your way out of credit card debt, choose the snowball or avalanche method or a balance transfer, or work with the Christian Credit Counselors. Here is help for getting debt under control. Utilize a budget to help manage your money and reach specific goals.”
Frequenting bars and pubs
Choose affordable social gatherings. Gather at homes to save money.
“People spend more money while under the influence of alcohol. There are numerous reasons to consider giving up the habit if you want to positively impact your wallet and improve your health and quality of life!”
Chasing the latest technology
Buffet chooses functional over flashy. Carefully assess whether a technology upgrade is a need or a want.
“This takes self-control. Postpone purchases until the need outweighs the want.”
Buying new cars
Buy pre-owned and drive as long as they are reliable. Avoid the depreciation of new vehicles.
“Routine maintenance can extend the life of your cars. Deposit an average monthly car payment into a dedicated account so that you have the funds to buy when the time comes.”
Unused gym memberships
Free or low-cost fitness routines at home work well if practiced regularly.
“Invest in some basic equipment and follow a YouTube instructor. If you need the accountability of a gym or trainer, then join a healthy environment where you are sure to go.”
These can be costly! Review regularly and cancel those not used frequently.
“Check your bank/credit card statements for those you may have forgotten.”
Over-reliance on skincare products
Find a simple, effective routine.
“Be discerning with social media influencers and aware of FOMO (fear of missing out). Use basic products regularly, and protect yourself from the sun.”
Regular nights out
This gets expensive. Try budget-friendly home-cooked meals and movie nights.
“Budget for quality time with your spouse. Seek friends who share similar values and financial priorities.”
Understand the odds. Seek long-term wealth accumulation, not momentary thrills.
“Choose to invest wisely and carefully rather than gambling to try to gain money quickly.”
This is a costly habit. Quitting will save you money and possibly lengthen your life.
“A carton of cigarettes can cost as much as $100 or more. The long-term costs are significant. Ask God for help to break this habit.”
The golden key to managing money
The key to financial margin is to live beneath your means. Learn to be content by giving thanks for all you have. Rather than seeking more, see what you can live without. Challenge yourself to make some sacrifices. Try dropping subscriptions, driving older cars, living in smaller quarters, postponing expensive vacations, or putting off buying new clothes. Look at this not as punishment but as an intentional way to reach financial goals and, thus, improve your financial life. Enjoy the progress you make each month and celebrate milestones.
Proverbs 10:4 says, “Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth” (NIV). Think of the enormous contrast here. Keep busy working hard, serving others, and taking care of the things you own. This will keep you from wanting to spend.
Ask like-minded friends to join you and encourage one another on the journey. Your parents may be the best encouragers of your new direction and habits! You may need to make significant lifestyle changes. Godly stewardship matters because we are managing God’s property. We don’t own anything — it all belongs to Him! How we manage the resources He provides ultimately impacts our eternal destiny, so be faithful.
I would like to invite you to our Crown Reunion in Ridgecrest, North Carolina, from October 12–15, 2023. Here, you will learn more about financial stewardship, meet our staff and some of our international partners, and grow spiritually with new friends. More information is available here: https://www.crown.org/reunion/.
Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries, a global Christian ministry, founded by the late Larry Burkett. He is the host of a daily radio broadcast, My MoneyLife, featured on more than 1,000 Christian Music and Talk stations in the U.S., and author of his most recent book, Economic Evidence for God?. Be sure to follow Crown on Facebook.
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