Spend Less, Save More

Do you want to know how to save more and consume less?

This post is a summary of a three part series by Andy Stanley called Crazy Like Us.

Did you know that the term most associated with money  is “worry”?

For most of us we think our money problems would be eliminated by having more money.

Question: How much more money would you need, to stop spending everything you make?
Answer: Spending isn’t solved by earning more because it’s a self control issue.

Question: How much money would you need to make to get out of and stay out of debt?
Answer: Way more money than you are ever going to get at one time. Debt is a contentment issue.

Question: How much money would you have to earn to create a financial buffer?
Answer:  It doesn’t matter, because this is a discipline issue.

Question: How much more money would you need to make to stop worrying about money?
Answer:  Money is a spiritual issue. You have placed your trust in riches not in the One who richly provides.

More money does not generate more self control, more discipline or more contentment.  More money does not eradicate money problems.

Using a circle diagram with arrows, Andy Stanley illustrates that when people worry about money, it leads them to spend pretty much everything that comes their way. If you spend more than you make, this leads to debt. As a consequence, this leads to having no financial buffer, which leads to worrying about having no money for future consumption. This leads to more consuming than we can afford which leads to consumer debt, which leads to no margin for future consumption, which leads to worry. Andy calls this kind of living, “crazy”.

So how do we get off the crazy cycle and move from worry to peace?
Answer: Be generous. Andy says that when we are generous in a premeditated, calculated and designated way, we will as a result of our giving, spend less and save more.

So what does he mean?

Premeditated – you have a plan to be generous. You decide ahead of time that you are going to be generous. This kind of giving is different and better than the one-off kind of giving you do when someone tells you a sad story (spontaneous giving). It moves giving from the bottom of your list to the top of your list, ahead of spending.

Calculated – requires a specific amount or percentage (a percentage is better because you give according to what you earn). The most important part is that you give it before you consume it, which means setting up an automatic payment from your bank account that goes out when you get paid so that your giving happens as a priority (i.e. not relegated to being something that happens if there is any money left at the end of the month).

Designated – choosing ahead of time where it’s going.  When choosing who to give to, Andy says you should be ruled by “giving from a grateful heart and a broken heart”. Ask yourself what are you grateful for? What are you heart-broken over? So for example, you may belong to a great church and be grateful for the teaching and community you have there. You may be heart-broken about environmental issues and donate to organisations fighting that cause. When you choose organisations and/or causes that are close to your heart they have real meaning to you and your continued contribution makes a difference to them.

When you do this kind of premeditated, calculated and designated giving you move away from the crazy, “worry–spend–debt” cycle to a better model based on the principles of “give-save–live”.  Giving first, saving second, living on the rest.

Generous people have an easier time saying “no” to the things that undermine their own financial future because they don’t think and live like a consumer, they see things from a much broader context.

Andy Stanley challenges us to sit down with a piece of paper, and ask ourselves the following questions:

If I wanted to be generous, what would my plan be?
How much and how often?
Where would my giving go to – what am I grateful for and what breaks my heart?

Andy Stanley says that if we re-organize and re-prioritize our financial lives to be generous, we will not only break out of the “crazy” but we will also be happier and we will find that we give more, save more and consume less.

Sounds great to me.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21 NIV)

… Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” (Acts 20:35 NIV)


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