Transformed: Financial Health

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose. – Missionary Jim Elliott

The best financial decision I ever made was marrying a CPA. Tax forms? Never filled one out. Ever. Score!

But the second best financial decision I ever made was following a simple formula I learned from a financial planner called the 10-10-80 rule. The rule says that no matter how much or how little you make, give away 10%, save 10% and live on the remaining 80%. The impact of following this simple rule has been profoundly powerful and positive in my life. Here are some of the reasons why.

  • It taught me the discipline of tithing, giving the first 10% of my paycheck to support God’s work in the world. Giving our “first fruits” to God reinforces that God is our first priority. And by giving this first, I never miss it because I never have in my hands to spend!
  • Saving 10% first provided an emergency fund for the unexpected, so that I didn’t have to put those emergencies on a credit card with high interest rates. It also taught me the power of compounding, the way that money grow over time. Because we were disciplined about saving we were able to put three boys through college and feel confident about retirement.
  • By putting tithing and saving first, I’ve been “forced” to live below our means. My “want” list is always bigger than my paycheck, and without the discipline of the 10-10-80 rule I probably would have purchased a lot of things with money I didn’t have, resulting in debt.

Not only is the 10-10-80 rule simple, it’s also based on biblical wisdom. The Bible teaches tithing (Malachi 3:8-10) and generosity (2 Corinthians 9:8), the value of saving (Proverbs 21:20) and the practice of living below your means to avoid the trap of debt (Proverbs 22:7). Does it guarantee financial “success?” No, but it sure increases your chances compared to crazy “get-rich-quick” schemes or the lure of “buy now and pay later.”

As Christians we believe that God owns everything and we “steward” or manage what God has placed in our care. So, it just makes sense to manage God’s money according to God’s wisdom. No matter what your age or financial position, it’s never to late to live wisely.

Short of marrying a CPA, I can’t think of anything that will more effectively transform your financial health.

Jeff Marian serves as lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN

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