Financial Peace Week 9: The Great Misunderstanding

This is my 9th and final week reviewing the Financial Peace Flex online course.

Week 1 covers the starter emergency fund and budgeting.

Week 2 teaches how to pay off debt using the Debt Snowball method.

Week 3 talks about how to build up a fully-funded 3 to 6-month emergency fund.

Week 4 focuses on the topic of building wealth.

Week 5 is all about spending wisely and protecting your wealth.

Week 6 covers the role that insurance plays in our defensive strategy.

Week 7 takes a deep dive into Baby Step 4 and teaches more about saving for retirement and building wealth.

In the eighth session last week, Dave took an extensive look at Baby Step 6, which is paying off the mortgage.

Each week I learned so much about managing our finances the right way.  This stuff isn’t easy, especially since we’ve been stuck in the paycheck-to-paycheck loop for the entire 23 years of our marriage.  But I take great hope in knowing that these steps have helped thousands before me, and they work.  We just have to stay focused and committed.

In this ninth and final week of the series, Dave goes deeper into Baby Step 7, which is to build wealth and give.

Dave uses this lesson to connect all the baby steps to his Christian faith.  As a follower of Christ, all of his teachings point to one purpose:  to glorify God with our finances.

We do that by managing it responsibly and being good stewards of what we’re given.  This means staying out of debt, investing wisely, taking care of our family, and blessing others.

Of course, if you’re not a Christian, you can still use Financial Peace to guide you to a stable financial future.  All the steps still work!

But whoever (or whatever) you put your faith in, I still strongly believe that giving is the key to having true financial peace.

 

Don’t Miss The Whole Point

You followed the program.

You’ve paid off all your debt.  You no longer have a mortgage.  You’ve helped your kids through college and you’ve saved enough to live like no one else.

You worked hard and it paid off.  All those years of sacrifice led to this season of prosperity.

Now what?

For some, there may be a temptation to keep making every dollar work for you.  Keep adding to the savings accounts, keep maximizing those investments.  Maybe there’s a fear of losing this newfound wealth and so you do whatever it takes to ensure that doesn’t happen.

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And that’s why Dave leaves the most important step for the last.

Because even if you reached financial success, you still may not have attained financial peace.

At the end of the journey, if all you have to show for your hard work is a fat savings account, then you’ve missed the whole purpose of it.

And, what is that purpose?

To bless others.

That’s right!  It’s not to buy a larger home, a third car, or take extravagant vacations.

The most important purpose is not even to have a bigger savings account or invest more in the stock market.

In other words, – after you have worked so hard to pay off your debt, accounted for every single dollar, made sacrifices and cut expenses and got a second job and saved for the future – you need to find ways to give it away.

Crazy, right??!

But actually, it’s the only way to experience financial peace.

Dave says the great misunderstanding is the mistaken belief that in order to have more, you must hold on tightly.

But the tighter your grasp, the greater your fear of letting go.  If your fist is clenched, nothing can get out – but nothing can get in as well.

The answer lies in keeping our hands open.  When our hands are open and we give freely, then our spirits are open to what God wants to do through us.

A fundamental teaching of Financial Peace University is to give of the financial resources you’ve been blessed with.

There is a difference between giving of and giving from.

If I’m satisfied giving from my wealth, then I could put $2 in the offering plate with good conscience.

But God tells us to give of our wealth, which means our giving should be proportional to our income.  The more our hands receive, the more our hands should give.

 

Tithing versus Offering

In the Bible, God instructs His people to tithe.  “Tithe” means a tenth, and it applies to the first 10% of your income.  So before you pay bills or go to the movies or buy that cute sweater, you give 10%.  It’s one practical way of putting God first and putting faith in Him to meet all your needs.

This is definitely my heart, but I’ve struggled with it in my actions.  Before we got on a budget I didn’t see any way to do this and still have enough left for everything else.  My husband’s weekly paychecks are variable and depend on how much overtime he clocked the week before.  I never knew how much would be in his check until it went into our bank account.  So, I just gave what I thought we could without running out before the next check.

Related Post:  Financial Peace Review Week 1: Baby Step 1 & Budgeting

But since we’ve started budgeting off of last month’s income, it’s a lot easier to tithe.  I know where every dollar is going for the month so I know we have enough to cover everything.  It was never about 10% being too much.  It was about not managing our finances well.

It’s important to both my husband and me to be faithful in tithing, so I definitely have a sense of peace about it that I haven’t had in a long time.

Dave teaches to tithe regardless of your financial situation or where you’re at in the baby steps.

However, offerings are over and above your tithe.  They’re one way of giving out of your abundance.  When you’re out of debt and you’ve built up your wealth, offerings are a way to bless other people.

The bible makes it clear to take care of your own household first. But once you’ve secured your family’s financial future, it’s time to find ways to give beyond your own.

Examples of offerings could be:

  • donating to your favorite charitable causes
  • giving to a friend or neighbor in need
  • sponsoring mission trips and youth camps
  • supporting overseas missionaries

As long as your hands remain open, God will guide you to the people and opportunities he wants you to impact.

My dad was a generous giver, and I’ve always wished I had the wealth to give like he did.  This is definitely the step I’m looking forward to the most!

 

Keeping Perspective

The bible tells us that God loves a cheerful giver.  This means we shouldn’t give out of obligation or duty, like it’s a business transaction.

And he doesn’t want us to have to pry our fingers open in order to let go of the money.

He wants us to give out of obedience, out of love for him and his church, and out of pure joy.

This can be really difficult when things are tight and you’re not sure the remaining 90% is going to last as long as it needs to.

Related Post:  Financial Peace Week 5: Buyer Beware!

But Dave reminds us it’s not about the money, it’s about the mindset.

You see, the longer we hold onto our money, the more ownership we tend to feel over it.  This leads us to believe that the income we’re blessed with is ours, and we should be able to do whatever we want to with it.

It’s this attitude that makes it hard to let go.

However, if we remember that we are merely stewards of our income – meaning, we just manage it for someone else (God) – then it’s easier to keep our hearts in the right place.

In other words, it was never our money in the first place.  He blesses each with a portion to meet needs, fulfill some desires, bless others, and give back.

But why do we need to give any back in the first place?

I mean, really, God doesn’t need our money.

Jesus talked more about money than He did about love and grace in the New Testament.  So, what’s the big deal?

You can almost bet that when God gives instruction, it extends beyond practical reasons.  Our giving is definitely useful to our churches and charities, but it’s our hearts that God is most interested in.

Giving doesn’t just bless others.  It also changes us.

We move from selfish to selfless.

We rely less on ourselves and more on God.

We experience a greater passion in life.

We reconcile broken relationships.

And most importantly, our hearts are reshaped to look a little more like God’s.

God is a giver, and the bible tells us we were made in his image.  So, when we give, we get a little closer to who we were born to be.

And this offers the greatest fulfillment we could ever experience this side of heaven.

 

What’s Next

This is the end of the Financial Peace series, but if you apply what you’ve learned in the last 9 weeks then this can be the beginning of a new path.

One that is purposeful and prosperous.

One with new hope and a fresh start.

One that will change your family’s legacy.

You don’t need to keep doing what you’ve always done.  You can break the cycle and start living differently.

It’s never too late!

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