Wealth: Don't Let It Become an Idol

Wealth and money can quickly become idols in our lives, and if we allow them to take a central place in our lives, they will try to take the place of God. Don't let that happen.  Make sure you're seeking to create wealth for good reasons, to take care of your family, to help others and give, and to help bring others to Christ.

"Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle" (Proverbs 23:4-5).

"For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs" (1 Timothy 6:10)

Establish Written Goals

Without written goals and knowing where you eventually want to go and do with your money, wealth-building will be meaningless. Write down your goals and revisit them regularly to stay on track.

"The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty" (Proverbs 21:5).

"But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded" (2 Chronicles 15:7)

"Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won't you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?" (Luke 14:28). 

Save and Invest First, Then Spend

The Bible discusses getting your fields in order before you build your house. In other words, think and act long-term before spending large amounts of money on things.  Don't be impulsive; spend first and then try to save later.  Save and invest first, and don't even consider that money to be there and considered for spending.

"Put your outdoor work in order and get your fields ready; after that, build your house" (Proverbs 24:27)

"Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones.  Learn from their ways and become wise!  Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter" (Proverbs 6:6-8).

Think Long Term

It's important to think long-term if you want to reach your goals and be successful in the long run. Plan ahead for a rainy day, not just for today.

"Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won't you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?" (Luke 14:28)

Think about your goals, and what those time horizons might mean for your saving and investing.  Saving for your kid's college costs, and have a 15 year time horizon? Plan accordingly.  Saving for retirement and have another 30 years?  Set your plan according to those long-term timelines, not on what you feel like spending that day.

"A wise man thinks ahead; a fool doesn't, and even brags about it!" (Proverbs 13:16 )

Diversify Your Holdings

The Bible stresses the importance of diversifying your holdings, and making sure you don't place too much risk in one basket.

"Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight; you do not know what disaster may come upon the land. Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well" (Ecclesiastes 11:2, 11:6).

Even in Biblical times it paid to diversify your holdings and your risk.  You don't always know what ventures will succeed, no matter how good they look on the surface.  While in our days we're not investing in ships and grain as the man in the verse, we still want to make sure to diversify our holdings, and minimize our risk were one of our investments to fail.

Risk: Know How Much You Can Afford

Be aware of just how much risk you can afford to take on in your situation, and be wary of something that seems too good to be true, because often it is.

"I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: wealth hoarded to the harm of its owners, or wealth lost through some misfortune, so that when they have children there is nothing left for them to inherit" (Ecclesiastes 5:13-14).

If you're close to retirement and you can't afford to lose any of your investments, you may want to think about moving into safer, but lower yield investments.  Have a longer time horizon and you can afford to risk more?  You can think about investing in some higher risk stocks, but never more than you can afford to lose.

Focus On Christ First, the Rest Will Follow

With all the focus on money in our lives, it's important to take a step back and remember where to keep the focus in the long run. Not on your money, but on God.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

Our true wealth lies in Christ, and in putting our hope in Him. In first Timothy it talks about how we are to rely on Him, and how we are to be rich in good deeds – and to be generous.

 "Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life" (1 Timothy 6:17-19).

Where Does Your Money Go?

Keeping a Spending Diary Worksheet It's often the seemingly small items that add up to large amounts over time. You probably have a pretty good idea of your major bills and expenses every month, as captured in your spending plan.

But what about the $40 cash you get at the ATM. on Saturday that's gone by Monday? Where does the money go, and are there any patterns to your spending? Becoming aware of your spending habits can help you plug spending leaks and that leads to greater savings over time.

To track where your pocket money is going, buy a small notebook and keep it with you all the time. For the next two weeks, write down every purchase you make during the day, no matter how small.

Once you've tracked your spending for two weeks, total up the items, and transfer your findings to a chart so you can see the effect of your choices over time. Then track spending for a month.

Wants vs. Needs Worksheet

Knowing the difference between "wants" and "needs" is an important part of learning to manage money, especially in tough economic times. It's easy to spend money. What's not so easy is spending money wisely.

One way to help you spend wisely is to separate your needs from your wants and spend money primarily on your needs. Wants are nice to have but are not essentials: eating out, going to movies, text messaging, or getting the newest cell phone and ring tones.

Needs are the essentials, the basics of life that you must have to survive: food, housing, clothing. Some expenses that relate to your job (that is, your ability to pay for the basics) also are needs, such as transportation to and from work, and health care coverage to keep you well enough to go to work.

Before you buy something, ask yourself, "Do I need this item, or do I just want it?"

You may be surprised at how many things are actually "wants."

List some of your needs in the spaces below. Try to think of needs that are immediate, as well as things you'll need in the next several months.

Then, write down some wants. Are you starting to see the difference? Are there things that you could do without?

Resources: Peter Anderson

Sisters Helping Sisters in Christ Ministry