Inflation has hurt our family. We have very little money to spend on Christmas gifts this year. I am tempted but decided to skip all the Black Friday madness this year. My husband and I discussed using our credit cards for Christmas gifts, but he said no way. Haven’t you offered tips for ways to celebrate without spending money?
Frugal Christmas This Year
Dear Frugal Christmas This Year,
Here we are again—another Black Friday that kicks off the shopping frenzy for 2023.
Some people really look forward to it every year and line up early to rush into stores for supposed bargain deals. Others, like me, tend to ignore it as mostly marketing hype.
If your finances are in need of some help, then read my Black Friday Survival Guide from 2017 or Christmas Shopping on a Budget from 2021. Like your husband, I want you to have a wonderful Christmas without debt! Don’t let Black Friday create a Red New Year! That is, avoid going into debt—period! Don’t spend money you don’t have. Don’t open retail credit cards or buy-now-pay-later accounts. Don’t give in to pressure to spend money you don’t have. Exercise self-control, and track your spending to make sure you can cover the costs (in full!) when the bills come due.
Celebrate With Joy, Not Debt!
As always, I asked my wife, Ann, for her best advice on saving money. She is our resident expert! Here are some ways she suggests to celebrate the beauty of the season without partaking in a gift-buying frenzy:
Pray and Focus on What He Has Done
Pray, and ask God to provide in ways that you could never plan. One of our friends raised seven children on a limited budget. He tells the story of when one of the young boys said they wanted a grand piano for Christmas. There was no way the family could ever afford it. But they prayed. Before Christmas arrived, a friend contacted them and said she no longer needed their grand piano after the death of her spouse and asked if they could use it in their home!
Change your mindset by focusing on the truth of Christmas: the arrival of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who came to give us new life. Nothing comes close to the wonder of this! Refuse to let your heart be gripped by the advertising and materialistic madness of the season. Note what the Apostle Paul wrote in Colossians 3:1–2 (ESV):
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
Renew your mind, give thanks in all things, and focus on the true meaning of Christmas. Listen to the words of Christmas carols, and teach them to your family. They are rich in meaning and timeless. Memorize Luke 2:1–20 as a family. This way, you can enjoy the season without fearing bills arriving in January. Not only will you have a frugal Christmas but a fulfilling one as well!
For everyday inspiration, subscribe to the Crown God Is Faithful devotional. You will receive daily devotionals that will help transform your finances and provide much-needed encouragement. May it be a blessing!
This article was originally published on The Christian Post on November 24, 2023.
I’ve made many bad decisions that have negatively impacted my family financially. There are days when I honestly feel like giving up. I can’t even afford to do nice things for the children during the holidays. We are in a dark hole, and it feels very hopeless.
Dark Financial Hole
Dear Dark Financial Hole,
Financial pain creates some of the worst stress we ever experience because it is intertwined with our relationships, hopes, and dreams. It is especially hard during holiday seasons.
I, too, have made financial mistakes in my life. There were times when it seemed hopeless; there were years when I could not afford a nice Thanksgiving celebration or Christmas gifts. But let me assure you, there is hope for better days ahead. You and your family can climb out of this hole step by step.
Invite God into Your Pain
Ask God to comfort you and give you His wisdom in all your financial decisions. I did this in 1999. I repented of the love of money and asked God to forgive me of my idolatry. Peace flooded my heart, mind, and soul. I re-ordered my financial strategies from living in man’s economy to living in God’s economy. Yes, my finances improved. But, more importantly, peace ruled my heart. I had a heart problem that needed fixing.
Be Patient and Disciplined
Patience is necessary. You did not get into the problem overnight and will not get out of it quickly. But with careful, disciplined management of your finances, this problem will be overcome and likely never repeated. Pain is an excellent teacher if we learn from it. Discipline is the ability to say No to what we want today so that we can Yes to what we need tomorrow. And what you need is a simple plan that you repeat every day: spend less than you earn, give first, save second, and pay off debt.
Working through financial struggles can make you more resilient and compassionate toward others. You will discover true friendships, and those relationships will deepen. You will be stretched in ways you never imagined—but all for your good. You will find new strengths and discover resources, talents, and abilities you didn’t know you had. In all this, you will find hope and make daily progress.
Scripture to Remember
Trust God to provide.
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:19 ESV)
Ask for strength and discipline to work hard.
In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty. (Proverbs 14:23 ESV)
Pay your debts, and give.
The wicked borrows but does not pay back, but the righteous is generous and gives. (Psalm 37:21 ESV)
Be content, and give thanks for what you have.
For I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Phil. 4:11–13 ESV)
Get Focused and Get Started
Set goals, and seek the help of a trusted advisor/mentor. Simplify your budget by temporarily going on a needs-based-only diet. Consider it a spending fast. Cut out everything except basic necessities: shelter, transportation, health, insurance, food, and education. A Crown Budget Coach can help!
If you have an expensive car, trade it for a cheaper, reliable vehicle. Own too much house? Consider selling and renting until your situation improves dramatically. Some people move to tiny homes or rural settings for cheaper housing or move in with friends or family. Ask God to help you think outside the box. Do not worry about what others may think. They are probably too concerned about their own problems and may follow your lead! It takes courage to change one’s lifestyle in the fight for financial freedom.
Ann’s Tips for Saving Money
My wife helps me with these questions, and she is an expert when it comes to being frugal. Here are some of her tips for you:
Hope and Financial Margin
Many Americans have not learned the benefit of living with margin—spending less than we earn. It is a freedom that removes fear and doubt. It grants confidence for the days ahead, gratitude for what we have, and dignity. Rather than relying on hand-outs or borrowing from others, we make progress in hard work and planning. This sets an example for those around us.
You will make it through the holidays with a focus on love and gratitude. Brighter holidays are ahead if you take it one day at a time.
God promises to provide for us. But often, He asks us to step out in faith and do our part first. Our obedience or disobedience doesn’t change His character but can change our outcome.
Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.
Psalm 33:20–22 ESV
Read How to Reduce Financial Stress and Help My Financial Anxiety for more information.If credit card debt is a financial stressor, Christian Credit Counselors is a trusted source of help. Contact them, and they can help you get on the road to financial freedom.
This article was originally published on The Christian Post on November 17, 2023.
My spouse is frustrated at work. I’m afraid he will get fired if he’s not careful. Can you give me some tips that I can share with him?
Worried about My Husband’s Job
Dear Worried about My Husband’s Job,
I have no idea of the age of your husband, but many workers are frustrated to the point of quitting their jobs. I know I have had a similar experience. The temptation is just to walk away, but that is not a good plan.
According to a 2022 survey, the majority of Americans were considering a job change. This trend is growing. More than half of U.S. workers—61%—considered leaving their jobs in 2023, a new report from LinkedIn has found, noting that a higher percentage of Gen Z (defined by LinkedIn as ages 18–25) and millennial (ages 26–41) workers are planning to call it quits more than any other generation.
How Not to Get Fired
Getting fired is a lose/lose event—not only is the income gone, but the likelihood of getting a good referral for the next job is also gone. I suggest you help him improve his attitude and guard his tongue carefully.
Over a nice meal with just the two of you, recommend that he guard against complaining, gossiping, or threatening to leave. Instead, encourage him to start giving thanks for the work he has that provides for your family! Yes, he may need to find a better job for numerous reasons, but there is a professional way to go about it.
Conduct an Objective Evaluation before Deciding to Leave
List the pros and cons of his job. You may discover that the pros actually outweigh the cons.
Dealing with Frustration
Managers do not like being caught off guard by employee problems. It is important that he communicates his frustrations in a respectful manner.
If the situation involves harassment or abuse, speak to an attorney first. Your church may be able to recommend someone he can talk to about it. No one should subject themselves to a job where morals are compromised or there is a fear for safety.
Work as Unto the Lord
Experts agree that threats to leave one’s position hurt an employee in the long run. Loyalty to the company and trust is immediately lost. One’s mental stability and professionalism may be questioned. If money is the only thing an employee wants, management knows that dedication to the company is missing. In fact, complainers who threaten to leave make it easy for a manager to accept a resignation.
Perhaps your husband just needs an attitude adjustment. Work can become worship when it’s done as an offering to God, not for our own benefit. All of our gifts and talents should be stewarded wisely to benefit others and glorify Christ.
As Colossians 3:17 says, “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Every project, task, and conversation we have at work should be done in the name of Jesus to honor Him.
I pray that you and your spouse get united and that this works out far better than you ever hoped or dreamed.
If thinking about a new career altogether, a Crown Career Direct Assessment could help him get to know himself. He’ll gain an understanding of his personality, skills, interests, and values. Crown has coaches to help him find a new direction should he desire one.
This article was originally published on The Christian Post on November 10, 2023.
My spouse recently confessed to secretly opening a credit card in our name. It is now maxed out. We are determined to pay it off together but could use some tips for the debt and rebuilding trust.
Crippled by Credit
Dear Crippled by Credit,
According to Julia Kagan at Investopedia, financial infidelity occurs “when couples with combined finances lie to each other about money. For example, one partner may hide significant debts in a separate account while the other partner is unaware. Another common example is when one partner makes large discretionary expenditures without discussing the matter with their partner.”
This is a breach of trust and will lead to the erosion of the very fabric of your marriage if not addressed and restored. I am encouraged by your description that your spouse has been honest and is seeking your help to eradicate the debt.
We will talk about paying off the debt, but my encouragement is to focus on the root cause of why your spouse felt the need to hide this and work on full transparency and mutual decision-making going forward. Your marriage is more important than the money.
Credit Card Debt Is Spiraling Out of Control
Credit card debt has reached an all-time high. The New York Federal Reserve reports that in the latest numbers, total consumer credit debt exceeded $1.03 trillion. Before Covid-19, record levels had reached $806 billion. The economic environment is different now: people face higher interest rates, inflation, tighter lenders, and the end to stimulus checks issued by the government during the pandemic. People carrying balances with a high APR (annual percentage rate) are in trouble.
Why Such High Credit Card Debt?
Interest Rates Are Rising!
According to The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Americans were charged $130 billion in credit card interest and fees in 2022. There is also a growing trend in credit card delinquencies. Last year, 3.35% of people were at least 90 days late on their bills; now, that has increased to over 5%. Bankrate’s annual Retail Cards Study reported on October 16th that the average retail credit card APR hit a new record high of 28.93%, up from 26.72% in 2022 and 24.35% in 2021.
These are store-issued cards which sometimes come with deferred interest promotions. If a balance is not paid in full by a certain date, interest is charged retroactively, even if minimum payments were made during the promotional period. So everyone should be leery of store offers as we approach the holiday season!
The target interest rate has been raised 11 times since March 2022. This increased payments for those who carry a balance. When minimum payments are missed, it can negatively impact one’s credit score. The average credit card balance now totals nearly $6,000. “This represents the highest average balance since the second quarter of 2008,” said Paul Siegfried, senior vice president and credit card business leader at TransUnion.
Defeating Your Credit Card Debt
Since you are determined to pay off your debt, start by agreeing with your spouse to make this a turning point in your lives. Pray together, forgive each other, unite your hearts, and make a plan to defeat this debt! Here are the steps I suggest:
Romans 13:8 says, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” I suggest you both memorize this and say it to one another each day. It covers the heart of the issue.
Christian Credit Counselors is an excellent and trusted source of help for credit card debt. Contact them, and they can help you get on the road to financial freedom.
This article was originally published on The Christian Post on November 3, 2023
Inflation is hitting our family hard. We keep hearing it is coming down, but it does not seem that way when I go to the grocery store! When do you think we might see it return to normal?
Irritated Over Inflation
Dear Irritated Over Inflation,
You’re not the only one. Before the Israel-Gaza war, the April Pew Research Center report showed that a large majority of Americans are dissatisfied with the economy and the overall condition of our nation. In addition, confidence in the future has fallen from a year ago. You are right to be concerned about inflation. Some call it the “invisible tax” or the “silent thief.” No doubt, it robs families of the purchasing power of their income.
The Silent Thief
The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland reported in a paper titled “The Long-Run Costs of Higher Inflation” by Jean-Paul L’Huillier Bowles and Martin DeLuca, “Inflation imposes significant costs on society.” These costs appear in skewed markets and loss of purchasing power. Higher prices force consumers to invest less in order to have more cash on hand. In addition, inflation’s effect on taxes alters investing practices. When wages don’t rise along with prices, fewer goods and services are purchased, which negatively impacts business. Consumers negotiate wages more frequently and devote time and energy to coping with rapidly rising prices, and banks often decrease lending. (More here.)
How Long Will It Last?
Bankrate’s Third Quarter Economic Indicator Poll reports that many experts don’t expect inflation to settle in at the Federal Reserve’s 2% goal until some point near the end of 2025. 29% expect inflation will cool by the end of 2024, and 29% say 2026 or later. No economists expect it to reach the Fed’s target by the end of this year. Yelena Maleyev, senior economist at KPMG, says, “The concern is rising food and energy prices which could have inflationary effects on other areas of the economy.”
The International Monetary Fund warns of stubborn inflation and weaker global growth in 2024. It increased the pace of consumer price increases across the world to 5.8%, up from 5.2% just three months ago.
Consumer Sentiment Is Turning Negative
“Nearly all demographic groups posted setbacks in sentiment, reflecting the continued weight of high prices,” reported Joanne Hsu, director of the university’s Surveys of Consumers. The index fell 7% from September to October, influenced by the war between Israel and Hamas, a spike in bond yields, and political dysfunction. Bill Adams, chief economist at Comerica Bank, wrote, “The impasse over the next House Speaker could be adding to fears of a government shutdown in November; the UAW strike; the restart of student loan payments; and the recent uptick in long-term interest rates could be affecting sentiment, too.”
The Consumer Price Index rose 3.7% in September from over a year ago. Higher oil prices pushed up gasoline prices, although there is easing in parts of the country. The cost of rent remains elevated. Gregory Daco, chief economist at EY-Parthenon, told CNN, “The tremendous degree of uncertainty around the Israel-Hamas war means it’s very difficult to predict the potential economic fallout.”
Personal Savings Rates Are Increasing in Europe
The Federal Statistical Office found that the savings rate in Italy registered at 2.1%, the United States at 3.7%, Japan at 5.4%, Austria at 8.8%, and Germany at 11.1%. Only the Netherlands at 12.7% and Switzerland at 18.4% surpassed Germany. It is a paradox because German consumer sentiment was -26.7% in October and is expected to fall in November. This has pushed saving to its highest level in over a decade. Unlike many Americans, Germans have a cautious approach to money; they emphasize financial stability and long-term planning. Covid-19 and the uncertainty it caused in the economy pushed them to save more instead of spending. The population’s high level of financial literacy makes saving for emergencies, retirement, and major purchases a priority. This results in long-term economic growth but negatively impacts businesses and overall economic activity with decreased spending on goods and services.
How People Are Coping in America
Adjust Your Budget and Perspective
Financial experts suggest cutting back on groceries, eating out, gas, self-care, entertainment, and travel to gain margin in your budget. It also helps to keep it all in perspective. Economic conditions can change quickly. Adjust what you can while continuing to give generously and save for the future. Our real treasures are not here; they are being laid up in Heaven where inflation cannot steal them.
If credit card debt is a financial burden for you or someone you know, reach out to Christian Credit Counselors. They are a trusted source of help toward financial freedom.
This article was originally published on The Christian Post on October 27, 2023.
My car rental company did not have a vehicle available, even though I made a reservation weeks in advance. With a shortage at the airport, the agency with a car tried to rip me off on the price. The entire experience left me frustrated and wanting to learn how to avoid problems in the future. What advice do you have?
Rental Car Frustrations
Dear Rental Car Frustrations,
I was just with a friend for a meeting over coffee who told me a similar story of a nightmare at our local airport trying to rent a car. This exact problem has happened to me twice in Atlanta. Friends attending our Crown conference this week were frustrated in the Charlotte airport. Many had to stand in long lines due to overbooking, and some had no vehicles, even though the reservations were made long ago.
Watch Out For These!
Making a reservation to pick up a car at the airport normally works well, except in situations like these:
Since your car reservation is not guaranteed by a non-refundable deposit, the rental agencies prefer to have the guaranteed customer who is standing at the desk vs. the one who may or may not arrive.
General Tips for Renting Cars
Assuming cars are available, other factors will impact what you pay: the type of vehicle, the location, and the age of the driver. Rent from a trusted company. Zipcar, a subsidiary of Avis Budget Group, was recently fined $300,000 for renting out vehicles with unrepaired recall issues.
Check out this source for rankings of rental companies.
Common rip-offs, as seen below, can be avoided by spending a little extra time in preparation.
Prepaying at Booking
If you have to cancel, you can get stuck with some major costs—book when you know your schedule and have done some research. If you have some flexibility, you can potentially save a lot of money. For example, booking a different time and location for pick-up can offer major savings.
Changing the drop-off location from the pick-up location can add extra charges.
If you want the convenience of driving through a toll booth, you will pay for it. Otherwise, skip the add-on fee, and pay for tolls on your own. Car seats, additional drivers, and GPS cost more.
Check before Signing and Driving
Always inspect the rented vehicle carefully before signing any paperwork. Walk around the vehicle, take photos, and document the condition upon pick up. Bend down to see things below eye level. How are the tires? Save photos and videos for several months to avoid any future claims. Does it have a full tank of gas? Knowing the VIN (vehicle identification number) will reveal any special features and recalls. If you have problems while driving the rental, a recall could indicate that it is not your fault. Always save your paperwork in case there is a claim filed against you.
Car Rental Insurance
Millions of dollars are made off customers who decide to pay for insurance at the rental counter.
Customers get ripped off thinking they get a normal per-gallon rate. However, the price is for an entire tank. If not returned empty, you overpay, along with high rental-car taxes, which can add 30% to the cost.
If you decline to pre-pay, just refill the tank before returning. Keep the receipt in case the company tries to charge you later. If you forget or run out of time to refill, you will be charged up to three times the local price for every gallon needed to fill the rental. So, make sure you allow time to fill up before returning. Plus, you will get the credit card rewards!
Most companies offer a grace period of around 30 minutes. After that, extra fees kick in. After 90 minutes, a full-day’s charge and taxes may apply.
Demand, availability, and promotions can cause prices to fluctuate. Flexibility with travel dates can yield savings. There’s more info here.
Check for Private Options
A friend of mine loves to use Turo.com. Although I have never used it, he reports that he has had no issues whatsoever after more than 25 rental experiences.
Driving your own car has a depreciation cost. A road trip with lots of miles could accelerate your need to replace tires or make future repairs. If you decide to drive your own car, have a trusted mechanic check it out. A friend recently had to spend an extra week on a trip out of state waiting for a part for his older model vehicle.
Christian Credit Counselors is a trusted source of help for a debt management plan out of credit card debt. Contact them if you need help getting on the road to financial freedom.
This article was originally published on The Christian Post on October 20, 2023.
My elderly parents enjoy staying connected to family via email, text, and social media, but I’m concerned they will fall for a scam. My Dad recently said he is interested in a high-yield investment he read about on Facebook. Can you write something that I can give to them?
Protecting My Parents
Dear Protecting My Parents,
This is a serious issue, and I understand your concern. You should be concerned for your younger relatives too. Apparently, they are falling for social media fraud more than older people, or at least, they are the ones reporting it.
The Federal Trade Commission recently published a scam report. It revealed that Americans lost $2.7 billion in social media scams since 2021. That is in just the past two years! It is assumed that this number is a fraction of the actual loss since most cases are not reported.
Top Three Most Frequent Scams
Tips to Protect Your Family and Yourself
The FTC recommends that you limit who has access to your posts. Use your privacy settings to protect yourself. Convince loved ones of the need, and help set privacy features for them. Emma Fletcher, senior data researcher for the FTC, reports that criminals “can easily manufacture a fake persona or hack into your profile, pretend to be you, and con your friends. They can learn to tailor their approach by what you share on social media.”
Scammers use AI (artificial intelligence) to gather information put out on social media, including names and numbers of friends and family. Chat GPT is being used to write convincing emails that trick countless people.
If a friend or relative asks you for money, call them directly to verify their identity. Even if the message looks like them, their account may have been hacked. My neighbor lost hundreds of dollars in this scheme. Never buy something before you check out the company. Search its name and the word “scam” or “complaint.”
Be extra guarded with political fundraisers and charitable year-end giving. If someone calls you, resist donating on the spot, listen, ask questions, write down their answers, and then do some careful research. What’s the name of the charity, the address, and a contact number? How much of each dollar goes to support specific programs? Are donations tax-deductible? Tell them you will do some research, talk to your spouse, etc., and get back to them if interested. You may have to be uncomfortably forceful, but do not give without due diligence.
Sham charities often use names that sound like legitimate organizations. So make sure you write it down correctly. Then search the name, address, and phone number. See how they are rated by these organizations: BBB, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, Wise Giving Alliance, or Candid.
If you feel led to donate, verify that the webpage has an https in the web address. Unfortunately, scammers know how to encrypt too—another reason why thorough research is vital. Paying with a credit card is safest. Be extra suspicious if they insist you give with cryptocurrency or within an emergency time frame. After donating, check your credit card account to see if you were charged correctly. Make sure it is not a recurring donation unless you meant to do so. Keep a record of all donations. You will need them for tax purposes anyway.
Here are a few extra articles to share with your parents, children, and friends:
The Crown God Is Faithful devotional offers inspiring and practical Biblical wisdom. Subscribe to receive daily devotionals that will help transform your finances and provide much-needed encouragement. May it be a blessing to your family, friends, and you!
This article was originally published on The Christian Post on October 13, 2023.
I know I need to save, but I just can’t. I make good money but find that I’m barely scraping by every month. My lifestyle is comfortable but fragile. What should I do, even though I don’t really want to change?
Comfortable but Concerned
Dear Comfortable but Concerned,
Thanks for your honesty. Most people will never admit that they don’t really want to change when they are comfortable. I am pleased to see you also acknowledge that living without any savings makes your situation very “fragile.”
Benjamin Franklin knew that what you save is just as important as what you earn. He said, “If you would be wealthy, think of saving as well as getting.” The Bible teaches that!
“Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.”
(Proverbs 6:6–8 ESV)
So, like the wise ant, Christians should practice saving money on a regular basis, even those who are in debt.
Small $5 Purchases May Be the Giant Problem
Perhaps you fall into the category of consumers who think, “It’s only $5, no big deal… why not buy it?” This mentality of being carefree with small purchases is normally what prevents many from saving. It propels others into a dependency on perpetual credit card debt.
Why do we spend on what we do not need?
Discipline is required when it comes to managing money. Otherwise, we spend all that we have—and more— on ourselves! Discipline means saying “No” to things that we don’t need today so we can say “Yes” to things we will need tomorrow. God requires that stewards have a faithful heart and disciplined hands. This is pleasing to Him and gives us the capacity to be generous.
“The wise man saves for the future, but the foolish man spends whatever he gets.”
(Proverbs 21:20 TLB)
Saving and Dependency
We need a financial surplus to meet unplanned expenses and to share with those in need. However, perceived financial “independence” can be a hidden form of financial dependence, relying on money instead of the Lord. Hebrews 13:5 should govern our attitude: “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” The implication is that money will leave you and forsake you. God never will. Never rely on money as a substitute for total dependence on the Lord.
To save, you have to plan. Make some sacrifices to meet your goals, and the savings earned will far outweigh whatever pleasure you forfeit. Sometimes, all that is required is time to plan meals, shop sales, find free entertainment, and have some creativity for gifts and vacations. Other times, extra income is needed. The easiest way to save money is to simply spend less:
Wealthy Yet Fragile
Chad Johnson “Ochocinco,” a former NFL wide receiver, saved 83% of his salary by living frugally throughout his playing career. Despite the fact that he earned more than $48 million, he flew coach and bought fake jewelry at Claire’s. He claims to have lived a while in the Cincinnati Bengals’ stadium rather than spend money to purchase or rent a home. He said, “The more you make, the more you spend, if you have no discipline and no structure.”
Other NFL players did not fare as well. They invested in bad business ventures, trusted unscrupulous money managers, had failed marriages ending in divorce and child support, or spent wildly when succumbing to peer pressure. Dan Marino, Vince Young, and Luther Elliss are among those who lost millions. The “It’s only $5” mentality became “It’s only $5,000, why not buy it?” Your finances will always be fragile, no matter how much you earn, if you spend all that you have month after month.
Spenders can become savers by intentionally changing their mindset. They know, “If I save $5 a day, I’ll have $6,465 in just one year!” They can ignore the pull of the world because they find greater security, power, impact, and joy in living and saving God’s way.
Do you want more tools and tips regarding financial freedom and purpose? Are you interested in receiving ministry updates from around the world? Sign up to receive the Crown Newsletter emails by using the form on the homepage at Crown.org.
This article was originally published on The Christian Post on October 6, 2023.
Can you explain what you mean by financial freedom? Are you using the term in place of the prosperity gospel?
Prosperity vs. Financial Freedom
Dear Prosperity vs. Financial Freedom,
A dictionary definition of freedom is 1) The condition of not being in prison or captivity, 2) The condition of being free of restraints, especially the ability to act without control or interference by another or by circumstance, and 3)The condition of not being controlled by another.
Financial freedom manifests itself in every aspect of our lives—from relief from worry to a clear conscience before God and others to the peace of knowing that God is in control of our finances. It is freedom from the bondage of debt, freedom from the oppression of others, freedom from envy, covetousness, and greed, and freedom from resentfulness.
This does not mean we will get rich or avoid all difficulties in the area of finances. Often, God will allow the consequences of earlier actions to remain in order to reinforce the lesson. He does not promise to remove every difficulty. But no matter what circumstances we encounter, God promises His peace or shalom. We are human beings and subject to making mistakes. Even when we understand God’s principles, it is possible to step out of His will. But as soon as we admit the error and submit to God’s leadership again, we are back under His guidance.
However, we have an enemy who wants to put us and keep us in financial bondage. In John 10, Jesus described him as a thief who “comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” I’ve experienced that. I’ve felt the burden, worry, and tension of overdue bills, self-consciousness before God and others, and the mistaken belief that I was in control of my finances. Not until I learned God’s financial principles was I able to experience finances and life differently.
Financial Freedom Found
Like many, I misunderstood financial freedom. I had it confused with financial independence—the reaching of a financial goal or milestone. I had no clue how to live as a steward of God’s resources. I thought they were mine. The world had convinced me that I could use money however I wanted. My eyes were opened when I went through a Crown Bible Study and transferred ownership of everything to God—and I mean everything! I gave God complete control of my life and promised that I would never let money be in control of my decisions again. I believed that He would keep His promise to provide everything we needed according to His perfect plan. It was then that I became free. So, I am no longer an owner. I am God’s temporary manager who desires to be faithful to His purposes.
Financial Freedom Practiced
Biblical Truth about Financial Freedom
Financial freedom is the result of trusting God with everything.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30 ESV)
As a steward, you will find contentment in living for Christ.
“Godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. (1 Timothy 6:6–8 ESV)
Therefore, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” (Hebrews 13:5 ESV)
I hope this helps you understand and experience freedom from the love and control of money. It has allowed God to use me far beyond anything I could have dreamed or imagined!
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This article was originally published on The Christian Post on September 29, 2023.
I’m a single Mom. I struggle with money and time management. My children, now teenagers, don’t have basic financial skills. How can I get them ready for real life?
Worried Single Mom
Dear Worried Single Mom,
Take heart; you are not the only one! Married and single parents alike struggle to get their children ready for the financial realities of life.
Let me encourage you. Do not beat yourself up. You have probably taught them more than you can see in their lives right now. It took me years to learn and apply Biblical financial principles. I can only imagine how I made my parents suffer. Thankfully, a basic foundation was laid in me, for Dad taught me the value of hard work, the priority of giving, consistency in saving, and the importance of living with integrity.
Investopedia defines financial literacy as “…the ability to understand and effectively use various financial skills.” Biblically financially literate people know how to create a budget, manage debt, give, save, invest, and plan for the future. Armed with the confidence to make wise decisions, they can:
WalletHub conducted a nationally representative survey of current college students, with questions ranging from opinions of their financial future to how they would grade their personal finances. Here are some of their findings:
Your children may know more than you think. It is easy for us to observe their mistakes, but we need to encourage their wise use of money. I have learned that they respond better to praise than correction. Proverbs 16:24 says, “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”
Cover the Basics
Here are some basics to help anyone on their journey to Biblical financial literacy.
I cannot emphasize this enough. A dear friend who is in his 80s has finally come to grips with this concept. It is so contrary to the way the world teaches but has changed the way he looks at everything. It should impact the financial decisions we make every day.
This reveals where money goes (in addition to giving and debt reduction) and provides motivation to save and invest.
Use a budget. It is an effective way to reach short and long-term goals. Exercising discipline and self-control will develop good habits. Accountability with a trusted individual will strengthen resolve. Learn to give first.
Eliminate bad debt (credit cards, payday loans, money owed to friends and family), and wisely limit good debt that will improve your financial position (like a mortgage).
Pain is a great teacher. Give them the opportunity to experience lack and the need to be disciplined with money.
Adjust the budget as needed, and verify that short-term goals are realistic.
Crown.org has numerous opportunities for people to learn to effectively steward the resources God has given. Biblical financial literacy can be gained through our classes, Bible studies, coaches, radio programs, and articles. Check out the options here. For help teaching children of all ages, see here.
As you wait to see progress, do not lose hope. Pray fervently, and trust God to do His work.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6–7 ESV)
The Crown God Is Faithful devotional offers inspiring and practical Biblical wisdom. Subscribe to receive daily devotionals that will help transform your finances and provide much-needed encouragement. May it be a blessing to your family, friends, and you!
This article was originally published on The Christian Post on September 22, 2023