4—That’s the number of credit cards I maxed out by the time I turned thirty.
18—That’s the average annual percentage rate I never bothered to check when I applied for credit.
441—That’s the number of payments it would take to pay off what I owe in unsecured debt.
36—Believe it or not—is 441 months translated into years.
And 26,615.17—That’s the total additional interest I’d owe at the end of that time, assuming I wasn’t already in jail for credit fraud, hiding as a fugitive in France or on the streets panhandling for money to make my minimum payments! Oh, I believed my money was my money alright. And so was my debt—I had only myself to blame.
As a pharmaceutical sales rep, I was amazed when I received my first commission check. After a few more checks rolled in, I signed a lease on a fully loaded SUV. I don’t know why. My husband earns a good living as an engineer, so my money became the family’s play-money. We took a trip to Hawaii for the honeymoon we’d never had. The kids enjoyed the best Christmas ever. I’d never had so much fun spending money—in fact, I’d never had so much money to spend. Eventually, however, the money I was spending was no longer my money. It actually belonged to creditors.
Soon, every penny that came through my hands was going out the door to keep the bills at bay. At one point, I was tossing the credit bills in the air each month—whichever ones landed face-up got paid. I ignored the rest and used Caller ID to block calls from creditors threatening to sue. I didn’t tell my husband how bad it really was. I wanted him to think I could handle it. I believed if I manipulated, juggled and plotted enough, eventually I could.
This isn’t just another reminder that “it’s all God’s money.” Of course, money does originate from God’s hand. However, practically speaking, he has put you in charge of a certain amount of it. In that sense, your money is your money to manage. And God expects you to use it well and not to abuse your responsibilities.
The Old Testament tells how the Israelites gave offerings to God out of the abundance he’d given them. In one of Jesus’ parables in the New Testament, he likened spiritual faithfulness to being a responsible manager or steward of funds (see Matthew 25:14–30). In this story, only two of three managers graduated from God’s Business School with their MBAs. (The other flunked out.)
One of the prerequisite “courses” in this prestigious university underlines the principle that money is for managing first and spending second. The difference between the two is the difference between the financially foolish and financially confident woman.
So, she lives beyond her means.
She confuses desires with needs.
She loses sleep over unpaid debts.
She wonders where all the fun associated with having her own money has gone.
She has a sound plan for the amount divinely allotted to her.
She knows she cannot afford to keep all her money, so she gives generously.
Out of what is left, she pays herself first, saving aggressively.
Then, she is free to spend her money within the boundaries she has established.
She knows the secret to enjoying life’s pleasures is not living on credit, paycheck to paycheck. Rather, she is in control of her money, not the other way around. The financially confident woman foregoes temptations to spend her money today, and by doing so she manages to be good to herself tomorrow.
When we graduate from God’s Business School, we will have our MBA in Biblical financial principles—rules to live by that honor us as intelligent women who are respected managers of God’s money.
Approximately two-thirds of Jesus’ parables are about money and financial management.
“So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.”