Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:
Scroll down to read it as a blog post!
As my life has taken some pretty big turns recently, I find I’ve had to overhaul my budget a few times. As I sit down and stare at my Google Docs spreadsheet of numbers, I try to think of something else we can cut back on. Where can we spend less? How can we save more? As the fate of my husband’s job situation remains up in the air, it is my responsibility to do what I can to be a good steward of what we have.
I believe everyone should have a budget. It’s important we know where our money is going because where we put our money, shows what we value. And it’s important that we look at our finances as a whole, because tithing 20% of your income when you can’t pay your electricity bill is not wise. Nor is it right to have new cars, iPhones, cable television, exotic cheese from New Seasons, and then say that you can’t afford to give money to the church.
Most of us live somewhere in between. We’re trying to figure out what we really need and balance that with what we want. As I’m trying to tighten up our spending, I’m keeping my iPhone, but I’m trying to eat all the food in our cupboards to minimize our grocery bill. My kids are eating a lot less meat, and eating a lot more rice and beans. I’m giving them more bananas and apples instead of berries unless berries are on sale. I’m also making sure everyone is drinking more water so we’re not confusing hunger for thirst and snacking all day.
We lowered the temperature in our house to decrease or air conditioning bill. I’ve been looking for things around the house that I could sell for $20 to $50 on Craigslist. And most of all I just decided that we really do have enough right now. The kids don’t need new clothes, we have plenty of books and we certainly don’t need any toys.
I won’t be buying any expensive coffees out of the house. My husband and I are going to go for walks for a date instead of eating at a restaurant. Are these huge sacrifices? Of course not. It would be naïve of me to act like this is a big deal when hundreds of thousands of people don’t have clean water.
But I grew up in an entitled generation; a generation who feels like they NEED all the things. We buy stuff we can’t afford and then we are shocked that we’ve lost freedom. Giving these things up does feel like a sacrifice but I also know it is my responsibility to do so.
Many people don’t even have a budget so they don’t know how much they can afford to spend for fun. Many Americans have no idea where their money is going. This is not what God asks of us.
God asks us to be good stewards of everything he’s given us, no matter how big or small. He’s asked us to be responsible. It’s not responsible to “accidentally” spend a few hundred dollars at Target or Costco and put your family in bad place. There have been times in my life where I could afford to spend money like that, and there are times in my life when I can’t. My job, as a good steward of what God has given me is, to know the difference.
I’m not trying to make you feel bad but I think too few of us dwell on eternal life. We can’t take money with us when we die. And when we stand in front of Jesus to be judged, he is either going to say, “I never knew you; depart from me,” or he will say, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”
Why do we spend so much time thinking about how we’re going to decorate our houses and not consider whether we will be worthy of Heaven with our father?
In the Bible, there are countless quotes about how few people will actually be saved And yet, I almost never hear people talking about this. We sit comfortably in are Catholics pews or the millions of our Protestant brothers and sisters in their own church and we all feel so safe, so sure we’ve made it.
We show what we value when we spend our money and most of us are saying that we value comfort, popularity, trendiness, and fun more than Jesus and more than charity. God does not call most us to give away all their possessions and become a missionary. But he does ask us to pay attention to him. He wants to be involved in every dollar that you spend. He wants to give you peace when you don’t have enough, and he wants to help you discern what to do with your money when you are blessed with more.
How involved is Jesus and every dollar you spend?
What are you valuing with your dollars?
If you are compulsively spending to make yourself feel better, what fears do you have deep down that you’re not giving over to Jesus?
When my husband and I go into what we call “rice and beans” mode which means, for some reason, we’ve had to really lock down our finances and spend very little, I am always surprised to find how very little we need. Perhaps it helps that we both grew up in poor families and so many of the luxury that we enjoy, are ones I can easily give up.
I don’t want you to feel guilty, I want you to feel great hope. We were not meant for this world, we were meant to spend eternity with our father in Heaven which is the most amazing place you could ever imagine. Our brains can’t even imagine it. It is so much better than anything you could buy here on Earth. Do not let the shiny things of this world distract you.
Few people will make it to heaven. I want it to be me and you and everyone we love. I want it to be everyone in the whole world but the only way that’s going to happen is if we’re walking with our Lord, every day. Let us turn our eyes toward Christ, surrender our whole life to him, pray to him and ask him what he wants us to be doing. Make sure you are one of the few.
And I’m so excited that my book Catholic Mom Challenge will be out on September 18th. Look for more details about that in the coming weeks!
Thank you for all your support! Coffee & Pearls has a five star rating on iTunes! I really appreciate all you ladies who took the time to comment there, it means so much to me.