At each stage of life, we have different goals and pleasures that capture our attention. When we were children, it was probably that toy we really wanted to have (or ice cream!). As we grow older, we might start wanting a new car or house or latest technological gadget.
Usually, we (subconsciously) apply some basic economic principles in order to achieve that goal. For example, when saving up for the car that we want, we might eat out less or go on less holidays in order to quickly achieve our savings target.
For me, I enjoy a good baked egg when I go to a café for brunch on Saturday morning. However, to maintain this lifestyle (especially if this is a weekly habit), I am not likely going to be able to save up for a house as quickly as I would like. It has been recommended by commentaries that I stop my “smashed avocado” frivolous spending in order to get to that goal quicker.
What have been some difficult choices you have had to make recently in relation to money and achieving your goals? How can the Bible and its principles provide us with the wisdom to make wiser choices for the day to day aspect of our lives?
Right mindset, right goals
What are our financial goals? For many, we do not even know what we want when it comes down to defining it exactly. We are interested in the general idea of “financial independence” or “passive income” or “high yield investments” but do we really know what that entails, or if that even is a good idea?
The Bible challenges us not to put our hope on money. Instead we are to focus on God, His kingdom and telling others about Him (1 Timothy chapter 6, verses 17 to 19). For us, it could mean when thinking about our financial goals, we need to have the right mindset – focus on God—remembering that money is only a tool used to achieve certain goals, and not something that we should hope and trust in.
It is only from a correct mindset, and in turn setting up correct goals, that we can then effectively think through the different choices we make in life and the trade-offs for them.
An example of this is the need for people to buy a home to live in. Growing up, I was taught by peers and adults around me that I needed to own a home and to “get a foot on the property ladder” in order to not miss out. This is something that is probably more prevalent in Sydney and Melbourne where housing prices have increased significantly in the last few years.
What if, for my own personal circumstances, buying a home is not the best thing I should be doing? For example, if I were planning to move overseas in the next 2-3 years, it might not make sense to buy a home in Sydney today. Or if the nature of my job was transient (such as the rural mining towns), it might not make sense to buy a home.
In addition, buying a home may inevitably tie up a lot of money that, in the short or medium term, minimises your ability to donate, be generous with your wealth or meet other financial commitments. It might mean then that a ministry or charity you have been supporting might receive less funds as a result of your decision to buy a home.
Of course, these are just some examples of trade-offs and considerations we might have to make when buying a home.
Mindfulness and intention in our choices
Interestingly, this level of thinking can also be applied to smaller decisions such as choosing to go on a holiday or even changing our work situation (eg. moving from full time to part time).
Perhaps to help us frame things better, we should try and view income as a means to enable us to donate and conduct ministry, and view savings as a means to either leverage for investment (for ministry) and/or to assist in emergency situations (such as a ministry building fund or emergency work relief).
With this in mind, any decision that affects our income and savings should be considered carefully as there are positive or negative consequences that we might not be aware of. Bigger decisions, such as buying a house, needs a lot of thought and care from us and we should not go into those decisions lightly.
A lot of effort? We can keep referring to and thinking about the decision Christians made when choosing follow Jesus as that too has trade-offs as we seek to put away sin in our lives and live for Christ. We do not treat decisions that affect our godliness lightly, so in the same way, for our financial decisions, we need to also consider them carefully.
Brandon Tsang is a Sydney-based writer currently working in IT. He studied Marketing and Economics at UNSW and loves to spend his spare time hiking, playing volleyball or watching Netflix.
Brandon Tsang’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/brandon-tsang.html