Archive for the 'MoneyLife' Category

Where does it all go?

“I just don’t know where it all goes. The month is not finished and we’re shot already.” This seems to be a common phenomenon, affecting people with all sizes of income. However much money we earn, there always seems to be more month than money! It is a well-known saying that “money talks”, but all mine seems to say is ‘Goodbye’!

Managing money is not just a matter of adding and subtracting all working with percentages, that is easy; managing money is more of spiritual discipline, because it has to do with our character, priorities, and values.

It seems to be a problem in the old Testament Times. The prophet Haggai passed on Gods words.” Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts; you that your ways. You have sown that much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but never have your Phil. You close yourselves but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.” (Haggai 1:6)

 I must confess I am spender rather than a saver. I like buying  things. Fortunately, I have a wife who is very frugal  and always looking for bargains. I have learnt that spending without a plan is a recipe for disaster. I have experienced first-hand what the wise Solomon so graphically describes. “In the blink of an eye wealth disappears, for it will sprout wings and fly away like an eagle.” (Proverbs 23:5)

God is asking us to consider our ways. He is inviting us to adjust our lives to his ways. Haggai’s picture of bags with holes is a powerful image. In a recession, or financially difficult times, we will probably begin to spend less-reining in our use of credit and so on. But I think the message of Haggai runs deeper. God does not want us to just patch up our bags and wait for things to get back to normal. Instead we must find a new way of living as faithful stewards of all that God has given to us. Don’t patch the bags; get new bags!

Secret to financial success is very easy. Spent less than you are over a long period of time and you will be financially successful. To do this we need to setup a spending plan, together with God who is the owner of our money, to plan our finances so that each month so that we are spending less than is coming in. This requires discipline, the ability to say no to purchasing items we have not budgeted for, to stick to our plan.

Here is a spending plan tool.

Lessons from Scrooge!

An excellent presentation on money! Make full screen to read!

[slideshare id=10627303&doc=10lessonschristmascarol-111218015630-phpapp01]

MIndfulness? The secret

“In a society which is predominantly concerned with possessions, fear of nat having enough is prevalent.”  Prof. Goto-Jones of Leiden University explains that mindfulness is a widespread social movement. He continued, “these days, most problems are in our head. This brings long-lasting stress which cannot be aliened by traditional flight or fight reactions. Mindfulness brings relief.”

Accepting current circumstances and being aware of the present is a part of mindfulness and thoroughly Christian. Paul wrote concerning his material circumstances, ” Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.”

Living in the present, thanking God for my circumstances sets me free and paves the way for an experience with God. Paul goes on to say “I can do all things through him (Jesus) who strengthens me.”  Experiencing the presence of Jesus at this  moment, right now, is the key to mindful living.

In his same letter to believers in Philippi, Paul writes, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

That is true mindfulness!

Household debt costs 11 billion euros in Holland!

One in six of the 1,1 million households in The Netherlands has problematic debt!  This costs the nation 11 billion euros according to a recent survey by the Netherlands Institute for Budget Information (NIBUD – October 2014).  debt-management-plans

The costs comprise of not only unpaid invoices, but also for government support and absence from work.  It has been shown that people with debt are on average 9 days longer sick off work than other employees!  According to researcher Tamara Madern, “People with debt problems are much to consumed in their heads with the stress of  financially related problems and have therefore less time to look for work or to invest in their future in other areas. ”

In a 2011 independent report, it was concluded that for every euro spent on coaching people to get out of debt using our Debt Aid Companion programme, that this yielded three euros in ‘social-economic return.’  This was calculated using parameters such as less evictions, energy facility cut-off, less work done by local government etc.

Strengthening household balance sheets is a firm priority for the EU. It should be a priority for us all!

The Bible is very clear that ‘the borrower become slave to the lender.”   (Proverbs 22:7)

Borrowing is not prohibited by the Biblical wisdom, but the dangers are that we will lose our freedom to choose.  The apostle Paul was also very clear when he stated, “everything is lawful, but not all things are helpful. Everything is permissible but I will not allow myself to be enslaved by anything!”  (1 Corinthianss 6:12).



Pope Francis slams our economic system

I am not a Roman Catholic but I just love Pope Francis! His humility, humour and insights are so refreshing!  This past week, I had the privilege of being asked to address a number of Members of the European Parliament in Brussels, who were asking for input on a new paradigm for our economy. I spoke on the economics of the Kingdom as our new paradigm.

In a  speech this past week, Pope Francis called for a global economic system that puts people and not “an idol called money”.  Jesus introduced a power behind money – a fallen power and he told us it’s name …’mammon.’  This is a destructive power seeking to destroy relationships – between people, and also between people and God. “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon.”  (Matthew 6:24).

Mammon must be overcome by choosing well-being of people above money, by banning the purpose of profit maximisation from our businesses and by encouraging generosity which breaks mammon’s power.

Here is an extract of the section of his  first big, written text of his papacy. The full text of his powerful denouncement of our current financial system, the obsession with consumption, inequality, and the tyranny of capitalism can be found here.

Continue reading ‘Pope Francis slams our economic system’

An ingenious substitute for the chain and whip of the slave-driver.

“An ingenious substitute for the chain and whip of the slave-driver.”  This is quote from the “Devil’s Dictionary” by Ambrose Bierce, 1911, describing debt.

I read this in conjunction with commentary about pay-day loans. Right now, a very successful Muslim footballer, playing for my club Newcastle United is in talks with the club after refusing to wear the club shirt which has the name of the sponsor on the front. This sponsor is Wonga, a pay-day loans company. I wonder how far he will take this Muslim principle of not promoting lending against (excessive)  interest or if pragmatism will prevail. Interestingly enough, he did wear the shirt with the logo of the previous sponsor which is a bank (…).

Recently, the Office of Fair Trading in the UK said that over 2 million people tale out these loans to cover a cash crisis until pay-day, which carry interest rates of typically 25% per month.  Continue reading ‘An ingenious substitute for the chain and whip of the slave-driver.’

7 Characteristics of Debt-Free People

Family #1 manages to pay off $40,000 in debt in two years on a $35,000 annual income. Family #2 makes $100,000 a year but can’t seem to make the slightest dent in the same amount of debt.

Why is that?

Obviously, the second family has a spending problem. They make plenty of money—more than enough to pay off that debt in two years. But they have so much money going out, they can’t keep their head above water. Whether it’s in the form of an overbearing mortgage, credit cards, a hefty car payment or just making poor choices like eating out every night, their debt keeps them from making progress.

So all of their income gets sucked up by other stuff, which leaves them making minimum payments on their debts and never gathering any momentum. It’s a difficult, stressful way to live.

At some point, people who become debt-free decide that enough is enough. Their old lifestyle wasn’t working, and they’re ready to make some serious changes. It’s like they have a personality change, but that’s not what really happens. All they are doing is rediscovering aspects of their personality that have always been there.

So what are some of these traits of people who get debt-free? Continue reading ‘7 Characteristics of Debt-Free People’

A mother’s wisdom on investing!

“As investors, we chase financial gains with zeal. We are believers in the old axiom that time is money and that even if money can’t buy happiness, it’s a pretty good start. There is certainly truth in that. Money provides us with the ability to experience many things: education, travel, security and activities that should be enjoyed.

The danger of this incessant pursuit of returns is that for many of us it doesn’t enhance life, it becomes life—and not a terribly enjoyable one. There can be a lot of heartache along with the occasional thrill. We see it with the minute-to-minute fretting over the market’s ebbs and flows.”

David Weidner wrote a great blog in the Wall Stree Journal on May 8 about his mother, Carol Craig Weidner,  who wasn’t a great investor by traditional standards, never played the stock market,  never put money into a venture, but made different investments. She worked, went to school, started a career, pursued her interests, made friendships and spent an enormous time nurturing her family. And at the time of her death last week, it was clear how much this paid off.

Read the full blog here. It is worth your time!

Wesley’s lifestyle …

He was one of the great evangelists of the 18th Century, born in 1703.
In 1731 he began to limit his expenses so that he would have more money to give to the poor. In the first year his income was 30 pounds and he found he could live on 28 and so gave away two. In the second year his income doubled but he held his expenses even, and so he had 32 pounds to give away (a comfortable year’s income). In the third year his income jumped to 90 pounds and gave away 62 pounds. In his long life Wesley’s income advanced to as high as 1,400 pounds in a year. But he rarely let his expenses rise above 30 pounds.

Continue reading ‘Wesley’s lifestyle …’

Rick Warren’s retirement plans!

You might wonder how much the Pastor of a mega-church with more than 20,000 attendees pockets from the weekly offering basket. 
Do those funds translate into homes, cars, personal aircraft, yachts, or even a luxury brand of wristwatch?  Not that a Pastor shouldn’t enjoy a little of the American dream, especially if he’s the man who founded Saddleback church in 1980 and built up his worldwide following one family at a time …

Read more at Forbes Magazine