Money, it’s a gas–Pink Floyd

I ran way too long on the blogs regarding marriage advice and advice on raising children, so I’ll make that up by keeping this one pretty short and simple.  I only have six simple pieces of advice regarding money.  They are important, but simple.

A Penny Saved is A Penny YOU GET TO KEEP!

1.  Eat at home.  Most people who are in financial trouble spend too much of their monthly income at fast food restaurants.  Learn to cook at home, from scratch, with better and cheaper ingredients.  It costs the average family of 4 about $25 or more to eat at a fast food restaurant.  For about $10 I can cook that family of 4 a delicious meal and have leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch.  Besides, homemade always tastes better anyway.

2.  Get this through your skull–the BANK is not your friend.  Your bank exists to make money off of people like you and it does so by exploiting your bad habits and your impatience.  Credit card commercials are funny.  The interest they charge and the pain they dole out is not funny.  Learn the difference.

3.  Give money away.  Until you show money who is the boss, it will demand to be the boss.  The only way to show money that you are the boss is prove you don’t need the money, so give it away.  I advocate for 10% tithe to a local church as as starter, but give away more than that.  If you don’t believe in tithing or have an aversion to church (we should talk maybe, if you do) then I suggest giving it way to someplace else like a veterans organization or the American Cancer Society or any charitable organization you agree with.  What you will find is that not only does it feel good, it gives you spiritual and emotional control of your money.

4.  Be thrifty.  Most of the things in life we need can be bought cheaper than new.  Cars, books, tools and clothes are the big ticket items, but there are more things like cookware or furniture.  I think God smiles upon the thrifty because it demonstrates responsibility and humility and he really digs both of those attributes.  Thrifty is not just shopping for a used car or buying books at the used book store, it is about eating leftovers for lunch, turning off lights, and not indulging in things you don’t really need.

5.  Don’t smoke cigarettes.  I know of some very wealthy people who smoke cigarettes, but almost every ‘poor’ person I know smokes.  Most smokers can’t afford it.  They can’t afford it because of their health but they can’t afford it because of the price of cigarettes.  Those things are very spendy and they literally go up in smoke and hold no value!  Check this chart out on the price of a pack of cigarettes per state.  In Texas, where I live, a 2 pack a day habit costs you $14.48 a day, or $434 a month.  Yet, even the poorest of poor find a way to get their cigarettes.  Life is about choices, and if you choose to smoke you are likely choosing to drain your life of wealth and financial security.

6.  Get married before you have children.  Child rearing is difficult, but it is also expensive.  Single parents can make it, but it is extremely hard and it will hit your pocketbook pretty hard.  God intended families to have a mommy and a daddy, and the financial obligations is one of the reasons why.

7.  BONUS ADVICE:  Read a book or two about finances.  I suggest anything by Dave Ramsey, but especially Total Money Makeover.  I made my oldest child listen to it on audio.  I think every high school and college student should.  Of course, I recommend buying it the thrift store or check it out at the library.


I spent all day today—from about 8:30am until 9:00pm tonight—at Mariner’s Church here in California.  I skipped the labs yesterday because, well, I don’t do labs.  I’m sure they were wonderful, but, no.  It has been a great day.  Here are some highlights.

  1. Andy Stanley—Andy kicked off the conference with a wonderful sermon.  To be honest he started off a little shaky with some questionable historical references, but I’ll forgive that easily for what might be one of the most inspiring messages I’ve heard in a while.  He displayed some sweet Stanley Zen and said that there are three aspects of being courageous (the theme of the conference).  Number one is staying when it would be easier to leave.  Number two is leaving when it would be easier to stay.  Number three was about the need to bravely face your secrets and get help with them.  All three spoke to me.
  2. Dave Ramsey—Dave was good, but following Zen Meister Andy must have been tough.  Ramsey’s presentation was heavy on cliché’s and low on actual stuff that might help.  He told the story of the Tortoise and the Hare and reminded us that the Tortoise—slow and steady, always wins.  I did appreciate that reminder.
  3. Soledad O’Brien—She had a good batch of stories.  Honestly, the best part of her presentation was her just being there.  It was nice to hear stories about life and our world, a world in need, that were not from a heavily Christianized perspective. 
  4. John Perkins—The Civil Rights activist and author was highlighted in an ‘interview’ format.  I found myself enraptured by his testimony of fighting racial injustice and his hope in this current generation.  I believe he is onto something when he says this current generation—and he is not talking about my age but the 20 somethings—might be the first generation to fulfill the great American creed. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal.”  I hope he is right.
  5. Eugene Peterson—this may have been the professional high for me.  Peterson was formatted in the same interview style as Perkins and it was fantastic.  Peterson talked about his life as pastor and how he once exclaimed in a leadership meeting at his church that he didn’t have time to be a pastor because he was too busy “running the damn church.”  That made me laugh.  I bought his new book.  I wish he’d been signing today.  That is one signature I would have wanted.
  6. Judah Smith—I had never really heard of him before; which is odd because he ministers in Seattle.  I can only say that he brought it.  Judah’s sermon was a sermon—in the classic style of actually using the Bible as a text.  He was the only preacher who asked us to read the Bible and then deliver solid exegesis.  His message was accurate and moving.  He spoke eloquently about disappointment in God’s apparent unfulfilled promises from 2 Kings 4.  It was something every pastor in that audience of 3,500 people could identify with.  I hope to hear him again.


The music was really good as well, but I don’t come for the music.  The facilities were nice.  Mariner’s church has a beautiful campus.  The food was kind of lousy, I must say, but all the free coffee was nice.

I am looking forward to tomorrow and the flight home.