by mike on November 17, 2009

The last two articles we have looked at two fundamental principles of a sound, Christian financial plan: understanding that God owns everything and saving your money.  The third principle I teach my clients is living on less than you make.  I know that sounds very simple, but unfortunately many in our country do not do this.  That is why the average American household has about $30,000 in consumer debt.

Living on less than you make is a matter of being content with what you have.  I Timothy 6: 6-10 tells us that “Godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment.”  In other words, striving to live a God-like life can actually be a way for you to have financial success.  However, this only occurs when contentment accompanies our Godliness.  Contentment means not trying to keep up with the Jones’s.  The Jones’s are probably broke anyway.  If you are obsessed with getting a newer car, a bigger house or the newest gadget, then consider if contentment is a part of your life.  Buying these things is not inherently bad, but be careful about where your heart is.

Let’s look at an example of two couples.  Couple 1 has $15,000 in a savings account.  They have no credit car debt.  They own two vehicles: one car is six years old and another car is four years old; both are paid for.  They have $150,000 in a Roth IRA for retirement and each of their two children have a college fund started.  They only have three years left to pay their $110,000 house off.  Their income: $40,000 a year.  Couple 2 is not doing as good.  They have $50 in a savings account.  They have $45,000 in credit car debt.  They drive two, really nice cars that they lease for $600 per month each.  They have $30,000 in a 401k, but they took out a loan against it in order to do some “much needed” remodels to their kitchen.  They wish they could scrap together some money to start a college fund for their kids, but they just cannot afford it.  They still have 20 years left to pay their mortgage on their $250,000 home.  The balance is $180,000.  Their income: $90,000 a year.

The question is: who do you think has more contentment in their lives?  Which couple sleeps peacefully at night and has never gotten a call from a creditor in their lives?  Which couple is most able to give to their church now and especially five years from now?  The answer is obvious.  How can it be that couple 1 has so much more with less than half the household income?  The simple answer is contentment.  That is why contentment and living on less than you make can be the single most powerful wealth building tool in your arsenal.

There are many danger signs to look for that indicate you are not in the land of contentment anymore.  However, there is one in particular sign that is extremely dangerous and you must keep your eye out for it.  This single statement can wreak havoc in your finances, in your marriage, in your friendships, and in your spiritual life.  The statement: “We’ll be happy when…”.   Think about it.  How many times have you said “We’ll be happy when you get that raise.”   “We’ll be happy when we finally get out of this house and find our dream house.” “We’ll be happy when we don’t have to drive this piece of junk anymore”.  Now be honest.  I believe all of us are guilty of this at times.  If you’ve seen the car I drive, you can bet I’ve said the car one a few times.  Once we can get past this and have the emotional maturity to be thankful for what we do have, then we can experience true contentment and start truly winning with money.

“Godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment.” – I Timothy 6:6-10.

Arguably the single most important principle of gaining wealth is to be content and live on less than you make.  If you live on less than you make, you will not accrue debt, you will save, and you won’t be so obsessed with getting more stuff that you forget God is the owner of everything.  The challenge for you and I is to strive towards being more content with everything in our lives.  The rest will fall into place.

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