By David Carlson

Money isn’t inherently a bad thing, but making the accumulation of money your sole purpose in life is a bad thing.

Is accumulating money your top priority?

That’s a question I was forced to ask myself last Sunday. My wife and I went to a different church than we usually go to because our friend’s baby was being baptized. The sermon message was by a pastor I never heard preach. Money was the topic, which I know is a huge issue in the Christian church because there is a wide array of viewpoints. I was pleasantly surprised by the message I heard, though, and there were a ton of valuable (and timely) takeaways whether you are a Christian or not.

After thinking about money and priorities, I came up with the below key points that I think are applicable to most people when it comes to money and life.

Making the most of what you have right now

Making the most of what you have right now, whether it’s a $20k/year or $150k/year income, is probably the most important thing anyone can do with their own finances. When it comes to personal finances (and for Christians, how to honor God through your finances) it’s less about how much you make and more about making the best of what you have right now.

This somewhat flies in the face of how I have approached finances, but it also doesn’t. I am all about having an end goal of passive income streams, getting out of debt, and ultimately having more time and freedom to dedicate towards my family, volunteering, and blessing others. I have been blessed by others in many ways, and I don’t think you need to be wealthy to bless others but it definitely would free up your time and opportunities.

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Tithing and Charitable Giving

Tithing, which traditionally has meant giving of 10% of your income to the church, can be a really misleading practice. Honestly, if you are donating to a religious organization you shouldn’t be stuck on a flat percentage of your income. If you can’t afford to give 10%, then give less. If you can afford to give more, then give more.

I’m sure many would agree that giving to a variety of organizations is the best approach to charitable giving. I give a small amount each paycheck to three different organizations and we recently became a monthly sponsor our friend who is a missionary. Donating to nonprofits is extremely important to me and I believe nonprofits can be huge drivers of change in society, but they need the monetary support to expand their efforts.

Money is a means, not an end

It’s easy for money to become an ends in itself because it can justify spending nearly all your waking hours pursuing it. What most people really want is happiness and security. Money can certainly pay the bills, open up opportunities, and give you comfort, but in the end I think relationships and experiences are what people desire. Health is another priceless commodity that money ultimately can’t buy (yes it can help fund care in many situations, but as of today money can’t buy total health and well-being).

It’s important to remember that money can help with many things but should be treated as a means of reaching goals and not an end in itself.

Reflection on Life and Money

Recently I have been going on near-burnout mode trying to manage the website on top of my full-time job. Additionally, our renter recently moved out and coordinating all the upgrades to the rental unit has been a huge time commitment. Between coordinating different contractors and all the DIY projects, it has been exhausting. I didn’t realize until recently just how little free time I had, and how little time I had made for my wife, friends, family, etc.

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I know I can make a lot of money if I want to. The question is, what am I willing to sacrifice? Do I want to be the guy who is on his phone at his groom’s dinner trying to close a big real estate deal (if you watch Million Dollar Listing: New York you know exactly what I’m talking about!) or whose kids end up despising their Dad because he never made time for them?

I think it’s important to know what you’re working for, as well as the fact that nothing in the future is guaranteed. By all means, plan for the future, work hard and do a good job at what you do, but realize that there will never be enough money, accomplishments, or job titles to make you truly happy.

 

Culled from Young Adult Money