By Kori Yates
Flourishing in Finances
We were newlyweds.
I was a new Marine. He a young Soldier. We were rich, receiving our first paychecks in active duty life and actually having a combined income. You remember, right? My car was pretty new and his truck was as well. With housing difficult to come by in Clarksville, Tennessee at the time, we decided to buy a house. It was his duty station while I was still living in Virginia. Contemplating ways to save was not important at the time.
We had a lovely two-day honeymoon and then I headed back to Virginia. Just over a year later we had one child, two pretty new vehicles, and a house – and one income. I had gotten out of the Marine Corps and had yet to find another job as a new Army wife. Pulling on the reins of our spending and starting to work through a budget brought some serious marital counseling with it.
Look for Ways to Save
We had some retirement and a bit in the bank, but only by grace. Looking for ways to save was still not part of our conversation. And with only two of us, eating out was a common occurrence. Looking through our budget the first month, we could not believe how much we spent on that area alone. We learned A LOT about our spending those first few months. For real.
Seek the Lord
Seeking the Lord in this area, we found that we had been given a gift in our income and our stewardship of that gift was not-so-good. God had a plan for our lives that did not include living beyond our means, yet that’s exactly where we were. With His help, we refocused.
We found that in seeking Him, our priorities changed. We found that having an emergency fund and saving for retirement were more important than eating out. And we’ve never been the same.
Jesus said, in His Sermon on the Mount, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21 ESV). Our treasure in the beginning was going right to the restaurant down the street. We didn’t like the picture it was of us. In the following years, we got that emergency fund, paid off debt, and started saving for later. It is amazing how much freedom that money in the bank has given us. The time my husband’s grandfather passed away and we went to spend the week with my Mother-in-law. The time we needed new tires on the car. These are the moments that I am thankful we sought the Lord in the use of our resources. Our treasure is truly in Him and not in the stuff we obtain nor “the things” we get to do.
Where is Your Treasure?
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21 ESV).
Matthew Henry’s commentary says, “One researcher suggests that professed followers of Christ take in 68 percent of the world’s income, yet only 3 percent of that goes to the church and a tiny percentage to world missions.” It calls to question this very issue of finances. Living within our means allows us to save for crazy things that might happen. Government shutdown? Surely not. Mandatory retirement? Never! Family illnesses when we are thousands of miles away? Who would have ever thought?
Saving and being as prepared as we can for these things is great, but it also gives us the margin to give. Truly, this is the goal – to find ways to save in order to give both of time and money. It is in the saving that we can rest in God’s provision and contentment with what we have while being free to give as our hearts long to do. The opportunities to give are such a tremendous blessing in our walk with the Lord.
Looking for Ways to Save Showed Us Where We Find Our Treasure
The Lord has taught us over the years about our “treasure.” Years ago, we invested in eating out and buying stuff. As the Lord has changed us, we invest in our future and also in others. We are learning to buy less stuff, enjoy meals at home, give to others, and have a plan for “after the Army.” Our hope is we are not so strapped to an income that we don’t have the freedom to follow the Lord in any way He sees fit.
4 Ways to Save that God has Taught Us:
- Budget – in order to save, we need to plan to spend. Knowing where our money goes and having a plan for it all is a first step to saving.
- Do it together – if you are married, these decisions need to be a two-person endeavor. I know not all marriages are in a place where that works, but it is certainly best this way. Not married? Accountability from someone you trust, who is wise with their money, is a great investment of your time.
- Have a goal – to get where you’re going it helps to have an idea of where that might be. Spend some time seeking the Lord. This end goal might just change as the Lord guides you, but having a goal is vital.
- Professional help – as we have grown in this area of both investing for long-term and saving for short-term, we have sought out professionals who can walk us through understanding our options and opportunities. We use Dave Ramsey’s ELP (Endorsed Local Provider) service to find folks. But however you go about finding them, take the time to make sure they are teachers at heart. We usually interview a few of them before choosing one.
God gives so much grace in this and has truly blessed our efforts to honor Him with our finances. No doubt He will do the same with you.
Verses to Ponder:
“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money.
Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’
He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’
But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance.
But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’ (Matthew 25:14-30 ESV).
The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty (Proverbs 21:5 ESV).
Precious treasure and oil are in a man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it (Proverbs 21:20 ESV).
Lord, we desire to be good stewards of all you have given including our finances. Help us to have wisdom, to be content, to seek you, and to plan for the future. Lord, may our diligence in this today allow us to give like never before later.
Dave Ramsey – Military Edition (https://www.daveramsey.com/military)
Military Money Matters (http://www.military-money-matters.com)