Secret for Staying on Top of Your Finances
In this article, I'm going to use two different approaches: One that is spiritual, and one that is practical. For the spiritual, I don't think it matters what your religious preference is, because I believe there are universal truths that apply to all believers in either God, or in personal spiritual powers.
The word "tithes" or "tithing" or its equivalent can be found not only in Christianity, but in Buddhism, Mohammedanism, and in many other religions. Often, a promise of some type is associated with the invitation to pay these tithes. My religion invites its member to pay tithes, and lavishes promises on the faithful who do such.
Once I began to pay my tithes, I have enjoyed the blessings promised: Mainly, I have never lacked, and my needs have always been met, even when my income was cut in half, or even in quarters.
For those of us who believe in God, we believe that He created the world and everything therein. He therefore knows where all the gold is, and doesn't really need us to pay tithes. He could just direct us toward the gold if it were necessary, like Jesus did in Matthew 17:27: "Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee."
So there has to be another reason for why we're invited to pay tithes. Well, in Christianity, we are told that if we believe and have faith, we will be saved. Tithing is a way to help us develop faith. Paying tithing, even when it appears that it will break us, shows our faith in Jesus Christ. It shows that we trust he will compensate for our sacrifice. To reward us for showing such faith and trust, he will reward us with all we need. This is shown in Malachi 3:8-11: "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts."
Sometimes, the way the Lord helps you is not necessarily in miracles: He will teach you how to save, will show you opportunities that will bring you monetary rewards, and so on. It won't necessarily be direct revelation from him, but will come in the form of ideas and suggestions from other people. You are about to receive some of those suggestions now, which constitutes the second part of my approach: Practical ways to save money.
One of the most important things you will learn (if you don't already know it), is to say "No." When you swipe your debit card (and use a debit card, not a credit card), you usually get an invitation for "cash back." Say no to it, without fail. Getting additional cash after writing a check or swiping your card will eat away your extra money in a hurry. There is nothing in place that will check this, nor can you know just how much money is slipping between your fingers. And it goes a lot faster than you may think. To have cash on hand is a nice thing, but that cash should come through a pre-determined budgeted allowance. You decide how much cash per month you can afford, give yourself that cash, then STICK TO IT. Money that comes to you through easy cash-back schemes tends to turn "wants" into "pseudo-needs."
Also, say no to up-selling opportunities. An up-sell is when you buy something, and the salesman or clerk offers you an improved product, or a product that enhances or upgrades the effectiveness of the product you bought. Tell them you'll think about it.
The same goes for "time-limited" offers. Let's say you're looking for a car. You're just looking today, to assess the things available to you, weighed against your means. If you look, and then decide to think on it, the salesperson, knowing that you will likely not come back, will offer you a great deal, and will invent a "limited offer" that will end that day. Often, these offers are irrestible. But if you know that the next place of business will do the same thing, then it will be easier to walk away from that offer.
These last two schemes are designed to make you stop thinking about practicality, and to get you excited about giving the merchants your money. They know that if you think about it, things will come to mind that will give you good reason to not come back. When you are calm and your mind has cleared, you will realize things that would not have occurred to you during these "high-pressure" sales episodes.
So decide now to always walk away from up-sells and high-pressure deal-making. You will usually make a decision that is more benign to your pocket book afterwards.
Next, always try to avoid debt, unless it's for a house or your advanced education. To begin with, you only need a car that goes from point A to point B. Don't go for a car that also cooks your breakfast. Debt has this thing called "interest" associated with it. It is said that interest never rests, never sleeps, never forgets, never takes a vacation nor ever has a blackout. Such constancy has a way of adding up fast. Avoid debt like a plague, because it is, indeed a plague.
When you use toothpaste, use a half-dose from now on. This will make your toothpaste cost half of the purchase price. Think about it. Do this to all goods where a reduced dosage or helping can happen. Also, try to eat everything you purchase. Either cook just enough for one meal, or be willing to eat warmed-up leftovers the next day. This will prevent you from throwing out old food, and help cut your grocery bills.
A word about paying tithing: In my experience, the harder it is to pay 10% of your income, but you do it anyway, the more blessings you'll get. It seems that your reward comes because of making a sacrifice. If it's no sacrifice to pay tithing, you may not learn much or feel much. But making true sacrifices does great things for you, both inside you and around you. But be warned: One who pays tithing as an "investment" ploy may not get much results. Tithing is also designed to hone the spiritual side of a person. Be prepared to be more devoted to the concept of goodness and general benevolence. If you don't go that direction, you may not get much compensation. If you do turn more spiritual or more charitable in your attitude, you will be amazed at your progress in peace of mind, and in self-esteem, and in blessings.
One more thing: Always be grateful. And never resent the money you are giving to your neighbor. Gratitude is always appreciated by God, and he will reward you well for that. If you don't believe in God, then your gratitude will shine from you in the sight of others, and you will be more loved and appreciated.
If your church does not ask for tithing, they will probably at least pass around a basket. That will work just fine. Also, you can donate to good causes. Give and donate until you reach 10 percent of your income. Then, sit back and see what happens to your peace of mind regarding finances. For me, it is a simple formula: Pay your tithing equals getting your needs met. Let me know how it goes.