financial freedom

Control Your Spending

by | Jan 26, 2017 | Maximum Generosity

There is never a time in my life where I have felt more out of control than many years ago in Costa Rica. Our family was there for a year studying Spanish in preparation for our missionary career in Peru. One of the fun aspects of that time was our frequent “paseos.” These were short trips out to the lovely countryside to experience all the beauty and nature that Costa Rica has to offer. On one of these trips a missionary colleague from Mexico accompanied us. One of the opportunities we were offered was the chance to ride “work horses” that were not accustomed to wearing a saddle or a bridle, even though the owners of the horses allowed us the luxury of both. There is never a point at which I was controlling the horse. He decided when he would intermittently walk, trot and gallop. This went on for an extended time and all I could do was try to hold on until it was possible to safely dismount. I have not been on a horse since, and have no plans to do so again anytime soon.

Feeling that we are in control of anything is usually a good vibe. Feeling like we are out of control in life situations is not a desirable state. For many people, controlling their spending habits is one of their most significant challenges. It can produce a sensation like that of a hamster on the spinning wheel in its cage that makes endless circles. There is a lot of movement going on but very little control. At some point the hamster has to make its way off the wheel or else it will drop dead from exhaustion.

Television, radio, internet and other media constantly bombard us with the latest and greatest products that are “must haves.” Guess what? Most are definitely not. Advertising appeals to all of our senses from what we see when we walk into a store, while surfing the internet for the best buys, right down to those baked delights we smell when walking through the shopping mall. The concept of “90-days-same-as-cash” or “pay over extended periods of time with no interest” are simply traps to move merchandise to people who generally do not have the cash to pay now.

God would never desire that his people live in a debt trap that robs them of their ability to give faithfully and liberally to his work. There are two ways to make a dollar. One is to earn it. The other is to not spend it once you have it. Think about that. We would have so much more resources at our fingertips to bless others and spread the Gospel if we could only master this second way. Anytime that we are in a mode to make a spending decision, it is appropriate to ask ourselves if the proposed purchase is a need or a want. At the same time, ask yourself if you have current cash to make the expenditure. If the answer is that it is a want and not a need or that you do not have the current cash to pay, perhaps it would be best to just say NO right now. Making sound choices are crucial in order to control our spending.

  1. Where do you consider yourself to be on the spending scale of 1-10, with 1 being fully under control and 10 being fully out of control?
  2. How do you distinguish between a want and a need?
  3. How much could you free up for giving to God’s work by making better spending choices?

Gary L. Crowell, CPA, CCA, ACC
Chief Financial Officer
Tarrant Baptist Association

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