Clearing Up the Financial Jumble

Confession: I’m not good with money.

I don’t feel like I have a good grasp of money or finances, or an appropriate attitude towards them. Budgeting is a skill I’ve never learned; when I asked my parents if they budget and why it wasn’t transparent to us kids my dad told me that his “budget is to always make more than I spent.” I’ve spent several years trying to figure out what a healthy attitude towards money is, and I haven’t reached it. This is further complicated (though not badly so) from my perception that everything I have really does not belong to me, and that Jesus talks very specifically about money. Some of his teachings (or my reading of the teachings) have me undulating between seeing money as a useful tool, and wanting to simply give it all away and live meagerly.

“We do need to be born again, since Jesus said that to a guy named Nicodemus. But if you tell me I have to be born again to enter the Kingdom of God, I can tell you that you have to sell everything you have and give it to the poor, because Jesus said that to one guy, too. But I guess that’s why God invented highlighers, so we can highlight the parts we like and ignore the rest.”  Shane Claiborne, The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical. 

“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 money.” Luke 16:13 

I also spent time last semester reading:

The discussion group that accompanied the book was helpful, but I feel like I didn’t really change. Ultimately, the conclusion we all came to was that in intentional community, our attitudes towards money would change. If we love people and not ideas, and people are in need, we will help those people with the resources we have.

But here’s my problem: I’m not involved in community with a range of people in different socio-economic statuses. My friends are all pretty similar to myself, and spending money goes hand in hand with our social outings. Hopefully this summer working with a ministry in our downtown will help change some of this. I have a lot to learn about money, its role, and my handling of it. Because I’m in school without a job, I sometimes feel like I don’t control the money I have, but I do.

This week’s Pit Stop (which is occurring on a Tuesday) involves a re-evaluation of my finances, the creation of a budget, and decisions about what and where I will spend. I typically don’t even look at my balances in different accounts, and I opened an investment account months ago and have never used it. Now, let me know:

Do you budget? 

Do you ever struggle about the role of money in your life? 

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5 thoughts on “Clearing Up the Financial Jumble

  1. I budget for each year and then within each month I update my forecast. It makes planning for life much easier, and it is how I can travel out of the country affordably. It is all about planning, but of course I am a Financial Analyst so this is what I do for a living. LOL. I don’t struggle with the role of money in my life because I do for others and I appreciated what I have. The key is not to revolve your life around money.

  2. Awesome post!

    Regarding your questions…I work at a bank and see the emotional issues surrounding money every day. Just this week a grown man, a local Sherrif, broke down in tears over money stress. That being said, I budget regularly and have “budget dates” with my wife on a semi-monthly basis. This keeps us both informed on where we are and makes sure our money is working for us. The general idea about our budget is giving each dollar a name and a purpose (even if it is “money to blow on soda and candy or whatever”). Although I don’t agree with everything he says, Dave Ramsey, ( http://www.daveramsey.com ) has the most practical view of finances/building wealth (with the goal of giving a lot of it away) of anyone I have read.

    I have struggled with my own attitudes toward money and continue to seek truth in this realm. I have spent time in impoverished areas (Brazil, Kenya) and have dealt with guilt and pride surrounding my American dream. I am sure I will visit that topic as a blog post in the near future…

    Thanks for sharing your journey

    • We watched a lot of Dave Ramsay videos in my HS economics class. Initially when I watched his stuff (without having a proper background or context) I was originally really encouraged, then realized that some of his investment projections…aren’t all that realistic.

      I have also spent time in very impoverished places, and realizing that it is possible to be VERY content and happy without much material wealth made me rethink our consumeristic drive for everything.

      Back in the states, it’s hard however because this IS the culture. I look forward to your post!

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