Part 5 of a six part series.
In part 4 of this series, we encouraged you to lose the heavy burden of debt in order to be financially it enough to flourish in troubling times. Many economic advisors agree that the most important indicator for financial health in uncertain and tough times, both in business and personal finance, is available cash. Having cash available to meet obligations and to buy necessities is so important because the future is so uncertain. Companies downsize, cars break down, medical emergencies occur, two-income families could be reduced to one and so on. Having ready cash available is a key aspect of financial fitness. Then you will have enough to meet emergencies and be generous to help others. Having cash means you don’t have to borrow for necessary consumer items with the accompanying crippling interest rates.
Building reserves of cash will help you deal with the uncertainties of life. Consider the wisdom of the ants, described in Proverbs 6:6-8. “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores it’s provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” Wisdom means gathering provision while it is still possible to use when availability becomes scarce.
When saving money for the future, in order to build a fund for future uncertainties, we should first of all, set aside three to six months living expenses. This is your emergency fund, and is in effect, your own bank! This will enable you to cover a major purchase or expense. If you have such an emergency account, you can borrow from yourself and not from lending institution with interest ranging from 6 up to 25% and above. If you tap into this account, replenish it as soon as possible.
The Bible tells us it’s smart to save. “The wise man saves for the future, but the foolish man spends whatever he gets” (Proverbs 21:20, TLB).
Another example is Joseph, who saved during the seven years of plenty to ensure that there would be enough food for seven years. The famine would be so severe that everyone would forget about the prosperity of the seven good years. Action was needed immediately, Joseph tells Pharaoh, in order for the nation to survive. “Let Pharaoh select a discerning and wise man and set him over the land of Egypt…and let him…collect one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt in the seven plentiful years. And let them gather all the food of those good years that are coming, and store up grain under the authority of Pharaoh…Then that food shall be as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine…that the land may not perish…” (Genesis 41:33-36) Seven years later when the crisis hit and the famine enveloped the region, Egypt was ready. They not only survived as a nation but grew in power as everyone flocked to them for supplies. The reserves gave the financial muscle to be a blessing to many.
Saving involves forgoing an expenditure today so you will have something to spend in the future. Perhaps this is why most people never save; it requires a denial of something that you want today, and our culture isn’t a culture of denial. When we want something, we want it now. Saving means discipline and self-control to limit our expenditure and that does not come easy!
The most effective way to save is to make it automatic and regular. When you receive income, the first payment should be a gift to the Lord, and the second payment should go to savings. An automatic bank transfer is a great way to save. Some people save their bonuses or a proportion of their overtime. Remember this: if you save immediately, you’ll save more. My rule of thumb is; give 10%, save at least 10% and learn to live off the rest.
Start to build ‘financial muscle’, one step at a time. “Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.” (Proverbs 13:11) Financial muscle is needed to stay financially strong in tough times.
This is part 5 of a Series: Financial Fitness for Uncertain Times
1. Get ready to change
2. Take a physical
3. Get financially fit
4. Loose fat
5. Build muscle
6. Build endurance