I’ve got this quirky belief that your boss shouldn’t determine how much money you spend.
Too often we decide to spend based on what our boss is willing to pay or our bank is willing to lend. Instead, I think Christians should intentionally decide how much is enough (in the spending category), and use the rest to bless their local church, mission efforts, and works involving the poor.
It’s not a very American notion, I know.
However, when I discuss the idea of frugal living with people, they often want to haggle over spending particulars.
- So, do you think it’s wrong to buy a Lexus?
- Do you think it’s wrong to take a cruise?
- Is it appropriate for Christians to buy boats?
The truth is that when you’re looking for a line in the sand, you’ll never find one.
My personal feeling on the subject is that we all have certain budget categories where we spend more than others. If you’re new here, you might not know that my family travels more than the average family. (In the last few months we’ve visited five continents). Even though I use points and miles for free hotels and free flights, we probably spend more than the average family on vacations.
Is that wrong? Isn’t spending money on vacations silly in light of the coming kingdom?
I think Weight Watchers can helps us answer this question and develop a foolproof guide for frugal living.
A few weeks ago, I was chatting with my wife’s aunt at a family reunion. She had clearly lost a lot of weight (which we’re so proud of her for doing), and we were asking her about it.
She said, “With Weight Watchers, we get a certain number of calories we can eat each day. It doesn’t really matter what you eat as long as you don’t go over your daily limit. For example, I really wanted to eat Brahms ice cream tonight, so I’m not having any dessert at lunch, and I had a lighter lunch.”
Essentially, what she was saying was that if there were areas where she wanted to indulge (ice cream), she’d need to cut back on other things to be sure she didn’t exceed her calorie limit.
I think we could all benefit by the same approach to our finances. See, I have a certain amount of my salary that I’ve prayerfully decided that I’ll live on. (I know many of you have as well.) There are certain types of spending that just don’t make sense for me. Driving a new car has no appeal to me – that’s why I drive a hail damaged PT Cruiser.
Do I have any right to look at the gal with a new car and say she’s spending too much of God’s money? Of course not. I’m assuming that there are other things in that person’s budget that she is skipping out on for the sake of the kingdom.
How to successfully apply the Weight Watchers approach to finances:
- Set a spending limit – Based on your experiences, faith, call, maturity, and cost of living, decide how much of your income you wish to spend on your immediate family wants, needs, and desires. Remember, you’re free to go out and earn as much as you like and you may even adjust your spending limit some as your income increases, but let your faith – not your salary – dictate how you’ll spend your money.
- Prioritize your spending – Determine what you consider to be a real waste of money, and pass over those events or expenses so you can use your money for things that truly add value to your life.
- Skimp on useless spending – Decide what you’d like to cut from your budget in order to make allowance for the things you really want.
- Use this approach not just to get out of debt, but as a way of living to glorify God. I get the impression that we think only folks in debt should limit their spending. I think it’s a Christ-like spiritual discipline for all of us to limit our spending for the sake of God’s glory and the kingdom.
If we try and say ‘yes’ to every spending urge and desire that we have, it will be to our spiritual detriment. Instead, we develop a system that helps us say yes at the right time and to say no at the right time.