Maximizing your income means more than just making a dollar stretch. It means to not lose money as well. When we consider managing our financial resources properly, we automatically think of budgeting and debt reduction. Rarely do we consider not losing money as part of the picture.
The "Me Generation" has really been a hindrance to productivity in many ways. We all want to do what we want, rather than what we should do, because that's our right, right? We could learn a great deal from our grandparents: Work for it. Don't complain. "Make hay while the sun shines."
It's important that you not be one of those people who are only willing to put out minimum effort in order to "just get by". People who do this, and I've seen it often in young adults, are doing less than their best. Lazy employees are not using the abilities they've been given to their full extent. This is true in any situation: as an at-home mom, a volunteer, a ministry leader. In balancing your checkbook. In keeping your house clean or your car in good condition. Just keeping your things in good repair is a great way to avoid losing money in the long run!
The Book of Proverbs sums it up:
"The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied." Prov. 13:4
"One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys." Prov. 18:9
"Laziness brings on deep sleep, and the shiftless (or idle) man goes hungry." Prov. 19:15
"The sluggard does not plow in season, so at harvest time he looks but finds nothing." Prov. 20:4
I once knew someone who made a pretty good salary, but was always in financial straits because of carelessness. She didn't balance her checkbook and never really knew how much she actually had. And because it was easier to use plastic than writing a check, she very quickly got into debt without even realizing it. She simply wasn't paying attention to her finances. She could easily have done quite well, but it was her negligence that put her on a financial downward spiral.
The Scriptures warn us to "know the condition of our flocks" (see Proverbs 27:23-27). In Biblical times, a person's wealth was often completely determined by the animals they owned. Know the condition of your finances. Balance your checkbook. Understand where your money goes. Watch out for fees that whittle away at your resources without you even knowing it. Know how much money you have, and don't spend money you don't have. That's a sure-fire way to stop losing money!
Impulsive spending can be a tricky subject. It can go much deeper than just being a self-discipline problem, in which case it would be beyond the scope of this website. Just understand that, if your impulsive behavior is more than just hastiness, you need to get help to get to the root of the problem from a psychological standpoint. Only once you deal with the underlying cause will you be able to get a grip on your impulsiveness. You have to know from your heart that buying stuff does not equal happiness.
But many times, impulsive spending is merely buying without thinking things through. We've all done that! It's easy to talk ourselves into "needing" that thing that's on sale, even though we didn't know we "needed" it before we walked into the store! Make a rule: Don't buy it if it's not what you came into the store for. Leave it there, and sleep on the decision. If you still believe the next day (or week) it would be a good purchase, then go back and buy it. Most of the time you'll find that once you walked away from it, you realized it simply wasn't that important after all. It also helps to have someone you can be accountable to about your purchases. Call that person and get their perspective on whether or not you "need" that item. Being talked out of it is probably what you actually "need".
I'm not an impulsive spender, but once in a while I find a sweater or a purse that I just "fall in love" with. I purposefully don't make a decision about it, and may even carry it around the store with me while I continue shopping. More often than not, if I carry it around long enough, I realize that I really didn't need it and I put it back.
Another way to lose money through impulsiveness is jumping into an investment opportunity without thoroughly researching it and knowing what it involves. That's why get-rich-quick schemes are so prevalent: those scheisters know they can hook you, making you think it's easy, anyone can do it. Hurry up and get in on it!
Before making any sort of business or investment decision, STOP! Do your research. Consider all the angles. Talk to people you trust. The opportunity will not pass you by if you take your time. If it's truly worth it, it will still be there when you're ready. You'll only be kicking yourself if you lose money because you were in a hurry!
Remember what Proverbs 21:5 says: "The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty."
Excessive consumption is a blight on our American culture. It can be easy to rationalize an indulgent lifestyle when you live in a society where most people overindulge.
It's a crying shame that, while we're busy concerning ourselves with whether or not we should buy that iPad or that flatscreen TV, half the world's children are starving and living in filthy conditions. How have we gotten so full of ourselves?
People who never deny their indulgences and desires will always be in bondage. There's a deep-seated frustration that comes with indulgence: the goal is never reached, and they only lose money. Those chains must be broken!
Proverbs 21:17 says, "He who loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and oil will never be rich."
Keep in mind that it's not the amount of money that's spent, but how useful the purchase is. Is it useful, or is it indulgent? Be aware of the difference between the two.
The answer is simple: Do the opposite. In most cases, it requires discipline to not lose money. Set up your boundaries and guidelines, and stick to them. For a better understanding on how to do this, see "How To Make Money"
THE OLD SAYING IS TRUE:
Make it your life goal to never be that fool.
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How To Spend Money