5 Ways to Help You Use Your Money as a Missional Tool

I bet tax time doesn’t make any top 1o favorite time of the year lists. Doing our taxes is more obligation than anything.

Photo Credit: fpsurgeon via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: fpsurgeon via Compfight cc

It’s not just tax time that is difficult when it comes to money. In most households “money” is a bad word. We don’t talk about it, or when we do, it causes a lot of stress.

I have heard the phrase, “use money as a tool”, and ” money is not good or evil”.

I agree with both. Yeah, easier said than done.

But how many of us view our money as a tool to further a mission? As a Christian, I view myself as the caretaker or money manager of the funds that come my way. I want to manage that money just as wisely as I expect my own financial planner to do with the money I invest with him.

When I think of it this way, I understand that all the money I have has been entrusted to me by the One who owns it all. And He asks me to use it to further His mission.

5 Ways to help you use money as a missional tool:

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Warning! Living with Consumer Debt Is Not Normal

I know. You are in the midst of shopping for Christmas presents. You have a list of people who expect to get a gift from you. You only have 13 shopping days left until Christmas! Feeling stressed yet?

Can I bother you to ask whether you are even paying attention to how much you are spending on Christmas. Or do you say what many others say, “I will worry about that next month.”

Don’t do it!

Here is what will happen if you charge all of your Christmas presents on a credit card with the current average interest rate and you pay only the minimum payment each month:

How much will you spend on Christmas presents this year?

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The Joy of Giving

Our four-year-old son throws a fit when we mention giving away something that he considers his own. It can be a broken toy that he hasn’t touched in months, but as soon as I try to throw it away or give it to someone else—the dam holding back the crocodile tears breaks loose!

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Something inside all of us feeds this hoarder mentality. I hope you survived Black Friday and Cyber Monday without any concussions or remorse over the amount of debt accumulated. Sadly, this year Black Friday continued its encroachment into Thanksgiving day with many stores opening Thanksgiving evening.

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7 Financial Decisions that Will Help You Live Missionally

I know, it’s hard enough to take care of your own needs much less put any thought into what other people need. And yes we are entering that time of year where you get hit up by everyone from everywhere—school age kids selling chocolate bars you really love but don’t want lying around your home; mailers from some charity you gave to five years ago; phone call solicitors asking you to support a local organization; and now social media!

Some of us respond out of guilt or end up feeling a little resentful. How can anyone pursue the American Dream and give to every opportunity that presents itself?

I suggest you can’t nor should you.

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4 Ways I Teach My Three-Year-Old Son About Money

In a blog I wrote—10 Life Lessons for My Three-Year-Old Son—one was to learn how to control money or it will control you. Some things easily get stashed into the “I will get to that later when he is a little older” category. Then we wake up one day and they are about to leave our home for good. Handling money is one of those. Besides, what can you teach a three or four year old about money? Well quite a bit actually.

Like everything else our children will learn more by what we model than what we talk about. So be warned—if you are not good at managing your money, it will be hard for your child to learn how. But, hey, why not begin now? Doing so will provide a great role model for your child.

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How to Be Free with Your Money

This is a guest post based on a Bible Study by Donnie Dixon. Donnie is the Founding and current Family Pastor of The Church at Canyon Creek in Austin, Texas. Donnie has over 25 years of pastoral experience. He and his wife, Carolyn, have four boys.

What does being free with your money mean? Carefree? Expecting free money? No! How about emotional freedom; free from debt; and freedom to give? You bet! God desires money and freedom to be compatible. Unmanageable debt imprisons us.

The average US household credit card debt stands at $15,191, the result of a few deeply indebted households forcing up the numbers. Based on an analysis of Federal Reserve statistics and other government data, the average household owes $7,087 on their cards; looking only at indebted households, the average outstanding balance rises to $15,191. Here are statistics, trends, studies and method behind the average U.S. household debt. (current April 2014)

Debt is like a crazy aunt we keep down in the basement. All the neighbors’ know she’s there, but nobody wants to talk about her. Ross Perot

The Bible teaches us how to be free with our money.

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Who Else Wants to Feel Confident about Their Savings Plan?

More than a quarter of Americans have no emergency savings, according to an annual survey released Monday by Bankrate.com. Of those who do have savings, 67% have less than six months’ worth of expenses, what Bankrate calls the recommended amount, and those with at least three months’ of expenses declined from 45% in 2013 to 40%. (Hadley Malcolm, USA TODAY)

An emergency savings is usually defined as having six months of living expenses available for when of an emergency such as the loss of a job or a major unexpected expense.

In general our society encourages even guilt us into the notion that we need to have savings. Not only an emergency fund, but also hundreds of thousands saved for retirement—whatever that is.

For some Christ followers, a tension exists. If I concern myself too much about savings and retirement, am I lacking faith that God will provide?

How can a person feel confident about their savings plan? Here are a few of my thoughts:

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Can’t Keep Up? 5 Reasons to Cap Your Lifestyle

What do you mean cap my lifestyle! I want more! Just like anyone I feel the pull to increase my lifestyle all the time. It is the American way, man. Bigger house, nicer car, fancier vacations, better schools.

16And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ 20But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:16-21 ESV

About the only TV shows I watch are sports or news…well the occasional Paw Patrol or Bob the Builder with my three-year-old.

I like watching our local Fox news program, and my favorite segment is “Your World with Neil Cavuto”. A week or so ago I heard this stat—

48% of all Americans only have one month of emergency funds (money available in case of an emergency). And, shockingly, 20% don’t have any savings at all!

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What Does Your Tax Return Reveal about You?

Like most people this time of year, I am working on my taxes. I kind of enjoy working on them, except the time it takes me to do it. I know, I am a little strange.

I know that for most tax time is stressful. Really anything that has to do with finances is stressful

Tax time adds the stress of meeting a deadline, wondering if we will get money back or owe money, and an in the face look at what our income was for the past year.

It is easy for tax preparation work to turn into a pile of tax forms, receipts, looking for tax shelters, and working with numbers. Lots of numbers.

I guess some people don’t mess with it at all. The only thing they want to know is whether they owe more taxes or not. So they put all their stuff in a box and give it to a tax professional to take care of it.

Maybe the truth is too hard to look at. Been there before. We don’t want to know how little we really made last year. Or how much we are paying in taxes. Or how we are not making ends meet.

I did an internet search about tax returns. Tons of articles about how to cut my taxes, what to do with my refund, how to avoid an audit, and so on.

But I didn’t see anything about what our tax return tells us about ourselves?

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The Great Ownership Hoax

We think that we own all the stuff we have. That is a hoax. I am not talking about how the bank owns most of the big-ticket items we have—houses, cars, boats, appliances, etc.

 

 

Here is the kicker. Even if you don’t owe anyone for anything that you have, you are still not the rightful owner.

I know that doesn’t sit well with anyone, including myself. Especially us Americans think that not only do we own all of our stuff, but we also own our life. We decide how we will spend our money and time.

However, we have gradually gotten way off base. Listen to this:

Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.Genesis 2:15 NASB

From the beginning of time God didn’t turn ownership over to Adam. He gave him instructions on how to manage and steward what God owned.

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