Friday, February 22, 2013

Almost Amish - Chapter 3 Finances
Saving More and Spending Less Bring Financial Peace
Here are some questions from the chapter that I'll start out with as they were very helpful to me and hope they can do the same for you...
1. Do you wish your home were less cluttered?
2. Do you have to many clothes in your closet?
3. Do you have recreational or sports equipment sitting in your basement or garage that is rarely used?
4. Do you own more high-tech gadgets than you need?
5. Are you renting a storage unit?
1. If you use credit cards, have you ever paid less than the full balance?
2. Have you ever bought something on credit that will be worth less in a year?
3. Do you give away at least 10% of your earnings (tithe)?
4. Are you depending exclusively on Social Security to provide for your old age?
1. Does anyone in your household shop recreationally-for example, go to the mall with no specific purchase in mind?
2. Do you ever buy gifts out of guilt or obligation?
3. Do you make major purchases without waiting a month to determine if you really need them?
4. Do you ever feel that you spent more than you should have at Christmas?
5. Have you ever hidden a purchase from your spouse or bought something to get back at him or her?
If you answered "yes" to more than a few of these questions, you are not alone; so does our nation as  whole."

There is definitely much to learn from our Amish friends on this topic. They are just as responsible income, sales taxes and property taxes as the rest of the country. The only difference is Social Security as they don't depend on the government to take care of their elderly.
Three things that jumped out at me while reading this chapter were the "Hallmarks" of Amish finances: thrift, delayed gratification and self-control.
How did the Amish become so financially intelligent? They learned from the Bible, the best-selling financial book of all time! There are more than 800 Scriptures regarding money and how it should play out in our lives.
Here are a few Scriptures that help the Amish be accountable with their money:
1. WORK HARD - "Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper." Proverbs 13:4
2. Give God your FIRSTFRUITS - "Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce." Proverbs 3:9
3. SPEND WISELY - "The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get." Proverbs 21:20
4. BE HONEST in all dealings - "The Lord detests the use of dishonest scales, but he delights in accurate weights." Proverbs 11:1
5. GUARD AGAINST GREED - "[Jesus] said, 'Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life in not measured by how much you own." Luke 12:15
6. BE PRUDENT - "Don't begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it?" Luke 14:28
7. Don't become a SLAVE TO DEBT - "Just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender." Proverbs 22:7
8. Save for the LEAN TIMES - "Have them gather all the food produced in the good years that are just ahead and bring it to Pharaoh's storehouses. Store it away, and guard it so there will be food in the cities. That way there will be enough to eat when the seven years of famine come." Genesis 41:35-36 (Don't you just love the story of Joseph?!)
9. PROVIDE for your family, both young and old - "Those who won't care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers." I Timothy 5:8
10. GIVE GENEROUSLY - "God loves a person who gives cheerfully." II Corinthians 9:7
The Bible is chocked full of those who were led astray by money...King Belshazzar, the money changers at Solomon's Porch, Ananias and his wife and Judas (the ultimate money worshipper).

Here are some basic suggestions in maintaining our finances:
1. Don't buy things you don't need. This is difficult as sometimes we think we need things, but yet we could very well get along without certain things. We all fall into this trap at some level or another. You could get as deep as electricity, running water, etc. here I guess. I love reading about some families who have moved to areas where they use more of their God-given, natural resources and declare that they rarely miss their old modern luxuries (dishwasher, washer/dryer, hair dryer, etc.). These are some things that our family has definitely felt lead to administer in our own lives. We live in such a wasteful, government-dependent society. I'd be lying if I didn't say that I'm excited (and nervous) about gradual changes in our living circumstances and watching monthly bills diminish, as it effects our finances in a good way.
2. Stay out of debt. This country is full of spenders addicted to debt. "Some 40 percent of Americans spend more than they earn each year. The average credit card debt is nearly $16,000 per household." That's scary. Do what you can to stay out of debt even if it costs some rice and bean months/years. Make a commitment and stick with it as a family. Remind your children why you can't eat out whenever you want, buy that toy that Junior so desperately wants, get annual passes to the zoo this year like you have other years. Your children will come to appreciate the special times when you can splurge and you'll enjoy those times more as they're so much more meaningful.
3. Save (a lot) more. Even if you've worked hard to get out of debt completely, start saving. The Amish "avoid expensive meals out and high-tech entertainment centers, steer clear of automobiles and gas-guzzling farm equipment, and are generally known for a frugal and simple approach to life." The Amish do business "the old-fashioned way". They save for the times when they have to use money, but don't necessarily have it.
4. Give generously. Jesus teaches us how important it is to care for widows, orphans and the poor. The story of the 10 lepers is a great example in Luke 17. I once heard a story about a man who didn't make a fortune for his living, but felt in his heart the need to give. He kept writing checks to those in need and when asked how he was able to still sustain himself after giving away so much money, he replied that he just keeps writing checks and God keeps providing the money to give. I love hearing testimonies of families who have made big decisions for the Lord on complete FAITH and the Lord has blessed them in ways they never dreamed. So exciting to watch God provide in specific ways and in such amazing timing.
5. Make investments that reflect your values. The parable of the three servants (Matthew 25:14-30) is a great example of a wise person who invests and how he is praised. God wants to make sure we can be trusted with the small things and then He can entrust us with bigger things.
"Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. WHEREVER YOUR TREASURE IS, THERE THE DESIRES OF YOUR HEART WILL ALSO BE."
Matthew 6:20-21


Melissa Dobson said...

Loved this book....

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Rachel E. said...

This was beautiful. Thanks for sharing. It is so important, especially today, to be wise with money. I think it is more difficult when the spouse isn't on the same page. I have always been a window shopper - I like to look, but I don't want it. With internet and credit, it makes it hard not to buy. It changes the whole realm of window shopping. Lately, I feel I have bought a lot. However, the things I have purchased are bulk orders of organic and all natural food that I can't get from stores. I also buy herbs for making things myself. So, in the long run, I think I'm doing okay. The money is there to do it. The good thing about it is that I know when to stop. :) I wouldn't do it if I couldn't.