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I write about what matters...to you---
women, wives and moms---
about your family, faith and future.
I write about what's hard, what helps and what heals.
I show you how it's done. And not done.
I hold your hand as you find what matters to the Savior.
And let go of those things that mattered to you, but not to Him.
I write about what matters...to Him.
               Sonya Contreras

What Do You Value? Your Money Talks.

Show me your bank statement and I’ll show you what you value.
How we spend our money tells what we think is important.
Maybe you can barely pay bills and don’t have money for any extras.
You think if you just made more money you would have more.
Studies show, winners of lotteries are destitute five years after their win.
Why?
It’s not how much you make, but how you spend what you have.

Write down for one month every time you buy anything, even that cup of coffee or candy bar.
After one month, place your expenses into categories: food, housing, transportation.
Calculate each category’s percentages.
[Take what you spent, divided by what you earned.
For example: if you spent $500 on groceries and earned $1,000 that month,
500 ÷ 1000 = 0.50 x 100 = 50%.]
Compare your percentages with what is suggested for each of those categories.
Here are two recommended charts for money distribution.

In our above example, if you spent 50% on food you’d be really lovin’ food!
Evaluate what you spend.

Don’t have any extra when emergencies come?
That debt category (listed in the first pie chart) is paying for things you wanted now but couldn’t wait.
Want more money and freedom to breathe a little?
Learn to wait.
Do without.
Skimp.
Eliminate all debt (even your house payment)---now you’ve earned freedom and have more money.
Use that extra money to save for those emergencies.

How? Is your car payment more than 15%? (Remember that 15% includes insurance, registration, gas, maintenance. It shouldn’t be maxed out on just the car payment.)
Is owning a new car worth paying more than what you should?
Consider other options.
You sacrifice what you must, to have what you value.
I could tell you stories of our adventures with junky cars growing up.
We could see the road between our feet in one of our cars. (For my CAL readers, salt is used on the roads to prevent/melt ice. Salt also eats holes in metal cars.)


When one of our cars suddenly caught fire, my sister parked it, walked home, vowing never to drive a junky car again.
When my family moved to Indianapolis, my mother worked a job she hated, so us girls could attend a Christian school, in spite of my dad’s continued unemployment. She valued protecting us. Her money went to school tuition.
When our vacuum cleaner stopped working, we brushed our carpets on our knees to collect the pet hair.
Mom made our clothes or found them at thrift stores. Keeping up with peer pressure was not an option.
While I worked at summer camp, my family moved to a smaller house in a much poorer neighborhood. When I returned, I slept on the coach and kept my belongings in the garage. (I had three more sisters who still were in grade-school.
I see the fruits of her sacrifice today.
What you value, you do. 
Today, those lean years taught me we can do without. We can survive on less.
But it also taught me money opens doors.
When you have money, you have choices.


Do you use a credit card?
The Bible says, “The borrower becomes the lender’s slave.” Proverbs 22:7.
When you owe someone anything, you are their slave.
You can’t do anything with your money, you must give it to your master.
What happens when a crisis comes?
You have nothing.
Your marriage suffers. (Stress and fighting over finances is one of the leading causes of divorce.)
Debt makes you stay at a job you hate.
You serve your master.
How do you get out of debt?
Spend less. Do without. Pay for what you can afford. Wait.
Pay off the lowest debt first. That gives you momentum and encouragement to continue.
Need help? Let Dave Ramsey, a Christian financial adviser, help you.
By eliminating debt, you can save for those emergencies. They aren’t crisis now because you’ve prepared for them.
You also have money to help others. You can now give.
Pay cash.
After several of our bank branches closed, I’ve been using my debit card more. It makes spending sooo much easier.
When you pay cash, it hurts. You must hand over your money. You see the value of that dollar.

Money is a gift.
Solomon, the wisest man, said of money, “Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is my portion, that I not be full and deny You and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or that I not be in want and steal, and profane the name of my God.” Proverbs 30:7-9.
Are you a spender or a saver?
Most couples have one of each. One can save for the long haul. In fact once they’ve saved for that big purchase, they have trouble handing the money to buy what they wanted.
Whereas the spender never sees his money. It passes from his hand to …gone, without effort, thought and struggle. He struggles with waiting for anything, after all, the sale is NOW.
Seek a balance. Waiting helps you evaluate what is essential, important, needed—not urgent, frivolous, and wanted. But waiting without reason can ruin opportunities.

Money is a tool.
Jesus didn't condemn money. The Scriptures say, "the love of money was the root of all evil." I Timothy 6:10. It is how we value money, not money itself that becomes evil. 

The man in the Bible who asked his neighbor for food when company came at night needed help now.
Be alert to others' needs.
A community church in our area often helps families when fire destroys everything. They enter the destroyed area with bulldozers, dump trucks and volunteers to clean up the victims’ land and house.
When I told them of one family’s loss, they asked twenty practical question about how to help… the children's ages (for clothes, shoes), if they had pets, where they were staying,…things I didn’t even think about.
I was overwhelmed with what I didn’t know.
Yet these people were burdened with what they didn’t have.

That’s where your values show. How can you help?

If you're in debt so much you can’t help another, what do you value?
Recently a couple attending our church had their house burn.
The church provided funds to help pay for the first month of an apartment. Our members donated dishes, food, furniture—what we had for what they needed.
It wasn’t time for us to say, “maybe tomorrow.” They needed help now.
That’s what the body of Christ does: help each other.
But we had the resources to help. We wouldn't if we were in debt because of our own wants.
We had money because of what we valued.

What do you value?
It shows by how you spend your money.



How would you change your spending to show what you value?
 

We never had much so I've always had to be so careful with our money, but I realize that now that I don't have to be Quite so careful, I'm not. Great idea to write down everything I spend money on to see where it's really going. Thanks for the reminder, I'm sure we all need it from time to time.

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Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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Tell of My Kingdom's Glory
Three Book Series