The Bible’s Viewpoint
How Can I Manage Money Wisely?
“As my paycheck shrinks, my bills continue to grow. I often lie awake at night wondering how to provide for my family.”—James.
“It’s as if the walls were closing in on me and I had no way out.”—Sheri.
DURING periods of economic instability, such observations are not rare. Commenting on the recent global economic downturn, Juan Somavia, director-general of the International Labour Office, observed: “This is not simply a crisis on Wall Street,” adding: “This is a crisis on all streets.”
The sudden loss of employment or the lack of funds for the basic needs of one’s family can lead to deep anxiety and even feelings of hopelessness. At one stage in his life, the Bible writer David felt that way. He prayed: “Distresses of my heart have multiplied; from the stresses upon me O bring me out.” (Psalm 25:17) What does the Bible say about our times, and can its inspired wisdom enhance our security and give us more peace?
Wisdom for Critical Times
The Bible foretold that “the last days” of the present world would be marked by “pangs of distress” and “critical times hard to deal with.” (2 Timothy 3:1; Matthew 24:8) Those words are certainly proving to be true! Still, we are not without hope, for God, by means of the Holy Bible, has made available to us the very wisdom we need for coping with times of economic uncertainty.
For instance, the Bible helps us to have the right view of money. Ecclesiastes 7:12 reads: “Wisdom is for a protection the same as money is for a protection; but the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom itself preserves alive its owners.” Yes, money can provide some protection, but only godly wisdom, as found in the pages of the Bible, can offer genuine security at all times. Consider some examples.
Coping With Hard Economic Times
Be diligent. “The lazy one is showing himself desirous, but his soul has nothing. However, the very soul of the diligent ones will be made fat.” (Proverbs 13:4) The lesson? Develop the reputation of being an honest, hard worker. Good workers are greatly valued by employers and may be more likely to be the first ones hired and the last ones fired.—Ephesians 4:28.
Consider the cost before buying. Jesus said: “Who of you that wants to build a tower does not first sit down and calculate the expense, to see if he has enough to complete it?” (Luke 14:28) Although Jesus was illustrating the need to count the cost of becoming one of his followers, his words are obviously true in a literal sense. So prepare a budget, listing your real needs and the costs.
Avoid “the love of money.” (Hebrews 13:5) Money lovers are bound to suffer unhappiness and disillusionment, in effect, ‘stabbing themselves all over with many pains.’ (1 Timothy 6:9, 10) What is more, they become slaves to an insatiable appetite, for no matter how much they have, it is never enough.—Ecclesiastes 5:10.
Learn contentment. “We have brought nothing into the world, and neither can we carry anything out. So, having sustenance and covering, we shall be content with these things.” (1 Timothy 6:7, 8) People who are content with less may be able to avoid becoming overly anxious when the economy takes a downturn. So learn to live contentedly within your means.—See the box at the right.
None of us know what tomorrow holds. “Time and unforeseen occurrence befall [us] all,” says Ecclesiastes 9:11. The wise, therefore, “rest their hope, not on uncertain riches, but on God,” who has promised his loyal ones: “I will by no means leave you nor by any means forsake you.”—1 Timothy 6:17; Hebrews 13:5.
HAVE YOU WONDERED?
● How does the Bible describe our times?—2 Timothy 3:1-5.
● Where can trustworthy guidance be found today?—Psalm 19:7.
● How can I provide a secure future for my family?—Ecclesiastes 7:12.
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WAYS TO SAVE
Shopping: Make a list. Avoid impulse buying. Look for the best prices. Make use of coupons and rebates. Purchase needed items on sale and off season. When possible, buy in bulk.
Home finances: Pay bills on time to avoid extra charges. Prepare meals and beverages at home, and be moderate in food and alcohol consumption. Turn off lights and appliances when they are not in use. If possible, use energy-efficient devices. Insulate your home. Consider downsizing.
Transportation: If you need a personal vehicle, buy a reliable, fuel-efficient one. It need not be new. Combine errands, and carpool when possible. Otherwise, use public transportation, walk, or ride a bike. Vacation off season and perhaps closer to home.
Phones and entertainment: Do you need a home phone as well as a cell phone? If your children have cell phones, can they use them more sparingly or even manage without them? If you subscribe to a TV service, can you cut costs by reducing the number of channels?* Borrow books and movies from the library instead of buying them.
For additional suggestions, see the articles “Manage Your Money Wisely,” in the March 2009 issue of Awake! and “Young People Ask . . . How Can I Control My Spending?” in the June 2006 issue of Awake!