STUDY SIX: HANDLING YOUR MONEY WISELY

© Rosemary Bardsley 2009,2014

A. ABOUT PLANNING A BUDGET

Planning a budget enables you to manage your money and allocate how much you will give to the work of God’s kingdom, how much you need for regular living expenses, including your mortgage, rates or rent, car rego, insurance etc, how much you want to save in anticipation of large future expenses or for investment, and how much you can spend on non-essential items. Having a budget does help to bring some form of control to inhibit unwise or ungodly spending. Consider it a tool to help you in your journey towards practical spirituality.

Read this about budgeting: http://www.gamblinghelponline.org.au/regaining-control/money-management/balancing-the-budget.aspx

If you need to plan a budget: Complete and print out this on-line budget planner:  

https://www.commbank.com.au/personal/youth-students/student-budget-calculator.html 

Complete Task #1 in the Study Six Worksheet

 

B. ABOUT DEBT
[Some of this section is based on material written by Warwick Michalk formerly of Crown Financial Ministries]

B.1 Defining ‘debt’

Dictionary meaning: ‘Money or property which one person is obligated to pay to another’.
Bills that become due, such as an the electricity bill, are not considered debt if they are paid on time

B.2 What does the scripture say about debt?
In the Bible indebtedness is used as a symbol for the spiritual indebtedness in which we are bound by our sin and guilt. It is obviously understood to be an undesirable state to be in. The Year of Jubilee in Leviticus 25 commanded the cancellation of all debts and all loss of personal freedom or property resulting from debt.

The scripture tells us:

  • Rom 13:8 – ‘Let no debt remain outstanding’
  • Debt is like slavery. Prov 22:7 – ‘The rich rule the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.’
  • Being out of debt was one of the promised OT rewards for obedience [Deut 28:1,2,12].
  • Indebtedness was one of the OT curses inflicted for disobedience [Deut 28: 15,43,44].

Debt presumes upon tomorrow. When we get into debt we assume we will earn enough income or have sufficient resources available in the future to pay the debt. Scripture cautions us against presumption [James 4: 13-15].

B.3 What does debt cost?
Two most common forms of debt are credit card debt and home mortgage.

  • A credit card debt of $5000 at an 18% interest rate is costing $1000 in interest annually, or $5000 over 5 years, $10,000 over 10 years.
  • That $1000 if invested at say 6% would be earning you $3,176 over 5 years!
  • The finance company will earn from your payments at 18% interest $7,154 over 5 years and a huge $23,521 over 10 years.
  • You can see what lenders have known for a long time – the incredible impact of compounding interest.
  • Debt has a much higher cost than you realise. Next time you are tempted to purchase something with debt, ask yourself if the long-term benefits of staying out of debt outweigh the short term benefits of the purchase.
  • A 30 year $200,000 mortgage would actually cost you $232,000 in interest alone

Debt also extracts a physical toll. It often increases stress, which contributes to mental, physical, and emotional fatigue, which in turn can interfere with your spirituality and your relationships.

B.4 When is it okay to owe money?

  • The item purchased is an asset with the potential to appreciate or produce income
  • The value of the item equals or exceeds the amount owed against it
  • The debt should not be so high so that repayments puts undue strain on the budget

B.5 How to get out of debt
There is not time to study this at depth, but here are a few pointers to managing debt.

  • Pray – 2 Kings 4: 1-7
  • Establish your short and long term financial goals
  • Establish a written budget (Compile an estimated monthly budget then test against actual for 3 months and then adjust budget in line with actuals)
  • List your Assets and Liabilities
  • Establish a debt repayment schedule for each creditor
    • Pay off small debts first
    • Pay off higher interest rate debts
  • Consider generating additional income – Many people hold jobs that simply don’t produce enough income to meet their needs, even if they spend wisely. Once you’ve taken this step -
    • Decide in advance to pay off debts with the additional earnings
    • Earn the additional income without harming your relationship with the Lord or your family.
  • Accumulate no new debt – It is estimated that only 40% of credit cards are paid in full each month
  • Be content with what you have
    • The more TV you watch the more you spend
    • The more you look at catalogues, the more you spend
    • The more you shop, the more you spend
  • Escape the motor vehicle debt trap
    • Car  debt is one of the leading causes of consumer indebtedness
  • How about the Home Mortgage
    • Is it possible that God may want you to pay off all debts, including the home mortgage
    • Due to the size of the average mortgage this may be a longer term goal
  • Investment debt
    • Should you borrow money to make an investment?
    • You should only borrow if you do not have to give a personal guarantee which puts all your assets at risk
    • Many people become slaves to the lender and lose everything by guaranteeing debt on investments that went sour
  • Debt repayment responsibilities
    • Prompt payment
    • Should you use savings to pay off debt?
    • Bankruptcy
  • Avoid co-signing or giving guarantees for others’ debts [Proverbs 6:1-5; 11:15; 17:18; 22:26-27]

Complete Task #2 in the Study Six Worksheet now

 

C. ABOUT INVESTMENTS

[This section is based on content written by Warwick Michalk formerly of Crown Financial Ministries]

The Biblical principles already studied also define a Biblical attitude towards investment. The teaching of Jesus sets the priority of the Kingdom of God, and the principle of trusting God in monetary/material areas. It also stresses the temporary nature of this life and its wealth, and the superior importance of the spiritual/eternal dimensions of life. Thus investment should never become the primary or the dominating thing in our attitude to and use of money. On the other hand investment is not in itself wrong. Wise investment, subject to Biblical financial principles, can be used as a tool in the work of the Kingdom of God.

Discuss the following points about investment

Investment goals:
To provide for your family.
To become financially free to serve the Lord.
To operate your business.
To create surplus money to give to the Lord.
To provide a superannuation fund

Saving – the first step to investment
Proverbs 21:20 indicates that the foolish man doesn’t save.
‘Saving is making provision for tomorrow while debt is presumption upon tomorrow’.
Saving: ‘Denying an expenditure today so that you will have something to spend in the future.’
Saving does not mean that you stop giving.
Savings grow with compounding interest
Spend less than you earn, then save and invest the difference over a long period.
Goal – suggested – 10% of income into a savings account to build up investment capital.

Considerations in investment choices
The type of investment
The amount to invest
The interest/return rate
The time

Investment advice –
Proverbs 21:5 – steadiness, not hasty speculation
Avoid high risk investments [Ecclesiastes 5:13-15]
Diversify [Ecclesiastes 11:2]
Remember that nothing is certain – Real estate can collapse, interest rates can fall, shares can be wiped out. So don’t put your confidence in your assets [1Timothy 6:17]

Complete Task #3 in the Study Six Worksheet now

 

D. AVOIDING INTERNET MONEY TRAPS - The only free cheese is on a rat trap!

When viewing either internet sites promising easy wealth or emails saying you have won, inherited or can otherwise obtain millions of dollars, the one thing to remember and to keep on remembering is this: that the only free cheese is on a rat trap. Someone has put out a trap, with some promise of financial reward, and is about to get you [and, which is what they want, your money]. The internet provides ready pickings for the unscrupulous and fraudulent – and unfortunately Christians are often among the easy targets, because of naivety, gullibility or spiritually camouflaged greed.

Email money traps:

In emails about money be wary of:

  • Emails containing a $ sign followed by six or more zeros. These are most likely ‘Nigerian’ or ‘419’ scams.
  • Emails demanding a payment before you can get a large amount of promised money
  • Emails demanding your personal details
  • Emails that do not address you by your name [until after you’ve replied and given them your name]
  • Emails about money coming from a community email address [e.g.hotmail, gmail] not from a genuine business email address
  • Emails claiming to come from your bank [banks do not communicate via email]
  • Any email that addresses you by name but is from someone you do not know and which contains a link to an on-line ‘get rich quick’ scheme or other ‘business’. [They have most likely purchased a list of contacts with your name on it; you may keep getting similar emails even if you ‘opt out’]
  • Emails that refer to you being specially chosen
  • Emails that infer there is only a short time frame left in which to take advantage of this offer.

Note: Replying to, or even unsubscribing from, such emails is unwise as it confirms to the sender that you are a live person. You will remain on their contact list and they will either continue to send you emails using another sender name, or sell your details on to other scammers.

Internet ‘get rich quick’ traps
There are thousands of such sites blatantly inferring that if you join their program as an affiliate or buy their product [usually a download, an e-book or website/s] you will be receiving a ‘six-figure income’ in a few months. They sound very convincing; they present you with personal testimonies of numbers of people who have reputedly got rich; they show genuine looking income statement excerpts; they draw you to their sites by posting blogs on multiple e-article and social networking sites; they post articles containing the keyword ‘scam’ so that when you do a search to find out if the scheme is a scam you will find supposedly multiple writers telling you that it is not a scam.

Be wary of:

  • Any site that demands you give them your name and email address before letting you access information about the product or program.

Even if you do not join their scheme they will make money out of you. They will automatically add your details to their email lists which they will use to contact you about their other schemes and/or sell to other similar scheme operators. You will start getting emails addressing you by name, in some cases sounding as if you have been specially chosen by them to benefit from their ‘special offer’.

  • Sites that say the offer will run out in a few days [or hours or minutes]. If you return to the site a week later it will still be saying something very similar.
  • Sites that say their product/program usually costs $XXXX but you can get it for $XX or maybe even just for the cost of postage if you act now. The truth is it never did cost $XXXX.
  • Sites headed with a collage of things like flash cars or boats, expensive houses, lots of paper dollars, and often a beautiful woman – inferring you will have all of this if you join the scheme.
  • Sites that have a person telling you how dumb he/she was but just look at them now – any idiot can do it!
  • Sites offering to sell you information on how to make money through Google ads [you can get learn this from Google without cost.]

Make sure you read the ‘Terms and Conditions’ thoroughly before giving your name and contact details, and definitely before signing up for products or membership of any internet offer/product/scheme/program. Signing up is often a commitment to on-going automatic monthly (in some cases weekly) charges, which are often difficult to stop and for which it is sometimes impossible to receive a refund.

On-line shopping traps
Internet shopping comes with its own dangers:

  • It is very easy to spend money impulsively and lose track of how much is spent
  • The lack of integrity of some sites
    • Poor product quality
    • Difficulty in obtaining refunds
    • Wrongful use of name and contact details
    • Fraudulent use of credit/debit card details
  • Issues arising from purchaser’s failure to read Terms and Conditions
  • Health fad scams promising you health or longevity from a particular product
  • Fraudulent entries on on-line for sale or auction sites [from both buyers and sellers - where the aim is to get your money without you the buyer getting any product, or to get your product without you the seller getting any money.]
  • Fraudulent use of the PayPal name – aimed at getting your card details.

In each of these and more Christians are being deceived and manipulated into losing heaps of money … money that could have been used in pursuit of God’s priorities.

Note: The Australian Government ACCC provides the following site for our information and protection: http://www.scamwatch.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/693900

Complete Task #4 in the Study Six Worksheet now.

 

E. ABOUT MONEY RELATED ADDICTIONS

When we talk about addictions we are entering an area of the human problem where skilled, professional help is needed. The addict is out of control. He is no longer an ordinary person being deceived by the manipulative techniques of the dishonest, the fraudulent, the scammers: he is, in respect to his addiction, functionally insane. The focus of his addiction replaces his job, his family, his friends, his hobbies, as the love of his life. He will tally up unpayable debt, he will lose his assets, he will destroy his relationships, he will lose his job – in pursuit of his addiction. For the Christian who is also an addict the focus of his addiction also supersedes his commitment to his biblical priorities and principles. He will justify his money-related addictions in terms of wanting money for missions or some other godly purpose, but this is just an empty story by which he fools himself into thinking he is okay and supposes that he is fooling others.

Note: Each money-related addiction is made so much easier for the addict by the advent of the internet, resulting in an escalation of money-related addictions.

E.1 Gambling addiction
Gambling ranges from little things like the ‘scratchie’ at the local newsagent to gambling of thousands of dollars at a Casino. [Note that the pursuit of the ‘how-to-get-rich-quick’ schemes and pyramid schemes can also become an expression of gambling addiction.] Gambling addiction is the condition in which it is impossible for the ‘patient’ to stop or control his gambling.

The combined Australian federal and state governments provide this excellent help site:
http://www.gamblinghelponline.org.au/  

You can access a Christian perspective on gambling here:
http://www.focusonthefamily.com/socialissues/social-issues/gambling.aspx

E.2 Spending/shopping addiction [compulsive buying]
Credit cards facilitate compulsive buying. Internet shopping makes this particularly dangerous – addicts sit at the computer literally clicking their money away without realizing how much they have spent.

Statistically Gen Y is shown to be most at risk of shopping addiction/compulsive buying.

E.3 Wealth addiction
An insatiable pursuit for wealth in which even the multi-millionaire sees himself as poverty stricken.

E.4 Internet addiction
Internet addiction is much broader than money-related, but includes on-line gambling addiction, online ‘investment’ or ‘get-rich-quick’ addiction, and on-line shopping addiction.

Note: A good internet content filter will enable you to block gambling, shopping, and ‘investment’ sites. Check for these options before deciding on your internet filter. [The free filter available at http://www1.k9webprotection.com/ has these options.]

If you are hooked on money-related addictions, or close to someone who is, you need professional Christian counselling. Jesus Christ is your Master. You should not yield his place to your addiction. He, not your addiction should be in charge of your decisions, your money and your time.

Complete Tasks #5 and #6 in the Study Six Worksheet now.