Monday, January 10, 2011

Moolah Monday - The Perception of Wealth

Moolah Monday - An opportunity to discuss money matters for frugal living.

It's interesting to consider the impact money has on our worldview.  We all have different perspectives on the importance of money and its purpose primarily influenced by the way we were raised, our belief system, the people around us, and frankly the amount of resources we have available.  This in turn influences your actions: how you earn, save, and spend money (and, how you judge the actions of those around you in regard to financial matters). 

Anyone who really knows me is well aware I am extremely frugal.  It is yet another one of those control things I hold dear to.  I grew up in a "self-made" home from parents born to financially poor families.  I watched my parents work hard to combine their talents, work-ethic, and luck to climb out of a social history of poverty.  And this taught me that with my own (God given) talent, work-ethic, and luck (aka God's provision) we could be sure that our needs would be taken care of. 

Someone recently visited our new house, which is quite large and in a great neighborhood, and was apparently shocked that I was a coupon mom.  It didn't fit within her worldview that I, living in that home would be someone who avidly clips coupons and looks for deals.   Upon hearing this I wanted to say "How do you think I got here", but that comment assumes I believe I did it on my own and that I have "arrived" somewhere which isn't really the case. And it made me think of how that person's worldview compares to my own.  Not that I have much information on how she thinks about money, but it did give me a clue that she may believe a common fallacy - wealthy people don't worry about money like poor people do.  Now, I wouldn't put myself in the column of "wealthy" (ahem...I'm not quite convinced I'll have enough money in my account at the end of the week to pay the mortgage this month), but I know that we are extremely blessed and are much closer to that side of the fence than some other people are.  What I will say is this - worrying about money has nothing to do with how much you have or don't have.  We're all familiar with stories of extremely wealthy folks who lack security in their financial position and folks who have nothing who live daily in peace and joy.  So it's not the amount of money one has that brings financial security but something else.   Here are a few things that shape our financial worldview:
  • Financial resources are a tool provided by God to further his kingdom - We didn't create what we have but are entrusted with it to help provide for God's people.  That means we try to be good stewards, giving generously, spending wisely, and saving for a rainy day but not with the false hope that we will be providing our own security.  Everything we have belongs to God and should be kept in that proper perspective. 
  • Wealth does not bring joy, security, or peace - All of these things come from knowing a loving God and being secure in your salvation.  Period.  When we first got married we bought a 30+ year old mobile home in a trailer park.  There were times our annualized debt to income ratio was extremely negative.  Extremely - and then we faced a layoff.  We know what it's like to not have money to pay the bills.  But we were happy.  We made the best of what we had.  I remember during those days I had the thought at some point that if we could just make $5K per month we'd be rolling in the dough.  We passed that mark quite some time ago and I assure you that we can easily spend that amount and still be left wanting more no matter how much you make.  We know that (though it wouldn't be easy) if we lost everything and ended up on the street we would still be ok.
  • This life isn't meant for our comfort - Though we have more than plenty, the second we start using it for our own comfort or start thinking about how life should be easier (I wish I could just sleep in....why can't the cars stay running!...seriously, another medical bill?) things start falling apart.  Trusting God for our our needs is key.  The rest is just part of the plan.  What plan?  I don't know.  Not ours!  We aren't owed anything, in fact, we deserve death for our sins so the grace we receive above and beyond that is generous.
So, with these truths (based on scripture...I should have spent the time to add that in!) we live frugally.  That means store brands and coupons.  That means sharing with others everything we have.  That means finding ways to teach our kids these lessons and appreciate what they have and where it comes from - God not us. 

This is a bit more rambly than I care for but it's meant to be a foundation for future lessons on money matters from our household to yours.

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