Decision #6 - Financial Resources
October 6, 2020
We have been thinking over the last few weeks about the five to seven priority decisions we make that determine the direction of our lives, and the rest of our decisions are simply managing the ramifications of the big decisions. Today let’s consider our decision about our attitude toward money and material resources.
Jesus told us that this was a priority decision when He said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). We decide whether or not finances will be just a valuable gift in our lives, something we can draw from, or our SOURCE, something that becomes our focus and obsession. Or maybe we ignore them, to our own peril and eventual disappointment.
God gives us the opportunity to have resources, as He is the Source, and we have the opportunity to steward them well through giving to His kingdom, meeting our needs, saving for the future responsibly, helping others, and enjoying life. How well we do that depends on several factors, according to financial and psychological experts. (Special thanks to Kathryn Hanna, financial manager, for some shaping thoughts.)
1. YOUR PERSONALITY AND EMOTIONS
Whether you are naturally a spender or a saver will have a big impact on your finances and how well you make this decision. There’s one of each in most relationships, and that can make it challenging for either partner to learn to deal with combining finances when you don’t have complete control over the money. A natural saver may have an easier time making good financial choices. However, there’s still hope even if you tend to be a spender.
Flexible budgeting and setting clear financial goals can help you to keep the right perspective, while still enjoying life.
Some personality traits, including procrastination, stubbornness, pessimism, and a predisposition for addictions, will all have a negative impact on your finances. Emotions cause you to make bad decisions, such as when you’re angry, frustrated, or bored. When you’re happy, it may be easier to be more content with your life and not feel that you need to buy things to improve it. Your level of discipline in all areas of your life can help you to conquer your finances and create a life you love, even despite your weaknesses—and we all have them.
2. PAST EXPERIENCES AND EXAMPLES
All of our life experiences shape our views of the world and directly affect our thoughts and actions. Each generation has faced their own unique challenges, from baby boomers to millennials. For instance, millennials graduated from college around the time of the great recession in 2008-2009 and were faced with large student loans but minimal employment prospects. Older people are currently faced with having to delay their retirement.
All of your past experiences working, investing, and even budgeting influence your current decisions. The example your parents or caregivers set financially is one of the biggest factors affecting your financial decisions. The good news is that parents who provide good examples of frugality and saving money for the future are more likely to have kids who are also good with money. The bad news is that those who live paycheck-to-paycheck and fund their lifestyle with credit cards are more likely to have kids who are financially unstable.
3. YOUR PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH
Maslow’s hierarchy says that your most basic needs must be met before you will be motivated to other needs and wants.
- Basic Needs: These are the absolute basic human needs for air, water, food, clothing, and shelter. Except for air (and for most Americans water), all of these things cost money and will be the first thing people prioritize in their finances.
- Safety: Safety needs stem from a person’s innate desire to live without physical and emotional pain. We all seek safety from war, natural disaster, and violence, but on the financial side, this will also include job security, emergency funds, and insurance policies.
- Love and Belonging: Everyone has the desire to find their place in the world and build relationships of some sort. The lack of feeling love and belonging can lead to depression and anxiety, which can have serious detrimental effects on your finances.
- Esteem: Next is the need for respect and acceptance. The need to fit into society and keep up with the Joneses can sometimes lead people to get into significant debt to impress or please others or engage in overspending instead of saving for the future. Alternately, others can find a great deal of esteem in getting promotions and opportunities that help financially.
- Self-Actualization: Only after all other needs are conquered can one realize their opportunity to reach their full potential. Imagine that you have more money than you need for your basic needs and wants. What would you do with your life if money was no object?
In addition to the way your needs impact your finances, it is obvious that significant physical or mental problems can hinder or help your ability to both earn resources and manage them.
4. YOUR CULTURE AND SOCIETY
Americans become easily oblivious to the way others live. The “American dream” doesn’t translate to every other country. Not everyone has a big home, fancy cars, and toys as their ultimate goal in life. Even here, culture makes us live very differently. We have different “esteem” symbols we are willing to spend for. Social media has had a significant impact on people’s finances. Facebook and Instagram will show you the amazing homes, vacations, cars, and other experiences of those in your network and make you feel like a failure unless you have something to show.
It’s not only okay to be different and go outside social and cultural norms where you live, that’s the way to real success! It does require knowing what you really want and making a major decision at the beginning that supports it.
5. YOUR FINANCIAL KNOWLEDGE
Ignorance isn’t bliss when it comes to your finances. Not tracking your expenses and net worth will ensure that you never achieve financial independence. Not knowing how the tax system works will definitely result in thousands of dollars more in taxes in the future.
Knowledge is power. The more you learn, the better off you will be.
The best practice I have learned, which has allowed me to live without worrying about finances, is the 10-10-80 principle. Patty and I have trained our children in this knowing that money plays such a huge part in their lives spiritually, emotionally, as well as materially. First, 10% to God; second, 10% to savings; third, live on 80%.
Bottom line, folks: The big decision you make about how you view money and material things will either simplify or complicate your life. Take everything you’ve been given, and create a life you love from it; one that God is pleased with, one decision at a time.