Walk Worthy with Thrift & Generosity

Ephesians 4:28b – “…let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth”

Being thrifty often gets thought of as being miserly, cheap, or stingy with the use of money, but these ideas steal the thunder and wisdom of the word.  So what does being thrifty really mean to a Trailman or a Christian? [note:  you don’t have to be “Christian” to be a youth member at Trail Life USA; however, since TLUSA operates with a Christian perspective, we may look at how ideals and skills are reflected or supported with wisdom from the Bible].

I first learned about thriftiness from being involved in the Boy Scouts of America.  Their first edition handbook from 1911 offered the following guidance:

A SCOUT is THRIFTY. He does not wantonly destroy property. He works faithfully, wastes nothing, and makes the best use of his opportunities. He saves his money so that he may pay his own way, be generous to those in need, and helpful to worthy objects. He may work for pay but must not receive tips for courtesies or good turns.

I think the message shows us that we can use money as a resource to accomplish things, and that we ought to protect our assets/property since repairing them or replacing them because of our initial neglect wastes resources that could have been better applied in some other way.

As a tool, we should be careful how we use money:

  • A person who hordes money or relies on it to give them security can’t really be satisfied with “enough” money.  There will always be a perceived need to have more and that kills true thrift through the abandonment (or severe restriction) of generosity. 
  • Conversely, hard work, savings and generous giving can help us develop healthy, productive attitudes towards money.

What does the Bible say about money?  Quite a lot, actually!  One Christian financial counselor has a web site where he states that there are more than 800 scripture verses about money (or it’s affects on people).  Here are a few of them:

  • Proverbs 6:6–8  “Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise, which, having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest.” (hard work)
  • Proverbs 21:20 “In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.” (wisely planning and saving)
  • Proverbs 21:5 “The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.” (wisely planning and saving)
  • Proverbs 13:11 “Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.” (steady work not “get rich quick”)
  • Luke 14:28–30 “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’?” (wisely planning and saving)
  • Proverbs 3:27–28 “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so. Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it.’ When you have it with you.”  (Be generous)
  • 2 Corinthians 9:7 “…for God loves a cheerful giver.” (Be generous out of sincerity, not compulsion)
  • 1 Corinthians 13:3 “If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (Be generous out of sincerity, not compulsion)
  • Luke 8:14  “…but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures…”  (building your life’s security in money will generate stress and frustration)
  • Matthew 6:24  ”No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”
  • Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (place your faith in God, not money)

So being a faithful steward of the resources that God gives us makes a lot of sense.  We can learn a lot about managing finances, and there are many professions that deal with helping people save for their future needs.  Some of these professionals author articles to teach us how to wisely use our resources, too.

In a recent article by “Business Insider” (click HERE for the whole article) the author explains how important it can be to make saving a priority while you are young and to maintain that discipline throughout your life.  Why?  To have more money than everyone else?  Not really, but to make sure that you can pay your expenses when you retire and have enough to care for your extended family, support your church and missions, etc.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

If you want to have a comfortable retirement, it is very important to begin saving early. It’s a point that can’t be reiterated enough.

Here is another example why.

Consider two hypothetical savers, Emily and Dave. Emily puts $200 per month into a retirement account with an estimated 6% rate of return starting at 25. Dave starts saving $200 per month at 35, just 10 years after Emily.

Both continue to add $200 each month until they retire at 65.

By the time they are 65, Emily has contributed $96,000, while Dave has contributed $72,000.

Here’s the trajectory of both of those accounts:

Retirement savings trajectory from BI magazine

While in this example, Emily put in more money (about a third more) than Dave by starting ten years sooner, she really outclassed Dave’s savings upon retirement – by about double!  In fact, she ended up with slightly more than $400,000 but Dave ended up with slightly more than $200,000.

This is the power of compounding interest which is more fully described in another “Business Insider” article (click HERE) which examines how to end up with a MILLION dollars at age 65 by simply stashing some cash on a monthly basis when you get your first job.

In that article, they make an assumption that the rate of return on savings or investments is fixed at 6% regardless of when you start your saving for retirement (which isn’t a terrible way to illustrate the advantage of starting early since market rates can fluctuate from highs to lows throughout a person’s life).

From the article:

Here is how much you would need to save each month at a 6% annual rate of return, starting at different ages. So if you’re 20, and you want to retire a millionaire, you should be socking away $361 per month. If you’re starting at 25, that jumps to $499. You can see how as you get older, you need to be saving much, much more:

monthly savings chart new

Bottom line: It is much better to start saving young. Two things are happening here. First, by starting to save at 20 instead of 40, you have many more individual monthly payments, and can spread out your total principal investment over a longer period of time. Second, and much more importantly, by saving earlier, you can better take advantage of compound interest.

I know there are smart Trailmen out there who will say; “But wait a minute!  If I can get a better average interest rate over time, I don’t have to contribute as much each month”  That’s true.  The article included a chart showing how interest rate would affect your monthly payment depending on when you started your savings adventure:

monthly savings table good

So, when you get your first job, you’ll be amazed by two things:

  1. How much money gets taken out of your check for taxes
  2. How much you could spend on eating out, getting a cool car, impressing your friends or generally wasting money without a budget.

Be wise and develop a healthy perspective about money as a resource.  This way money won’t control your emotions and you can give generously throughout your lifetime to worthwhile charitable causes.   This is a discipline best learned while young — that putting money away each month and learning how to invest wisely can build an appropriate reserve without “hoarding” money.  That way you won’t be surprised when you cash your final paycheck and wonder how you’ll be able to live on “what’s left” of your savings.

  • Proverbs 6:6–8  “Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise, which, having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest.” 
  • Proverbs 21:20 “In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.” 
  • Proverbs 21:5 “The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.” 
  • Luke 14:28–30 “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’?” 

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