Paths to Financial Freedom

The Diligent Earner: Attitude

The end of the year has come and gone, and for many of us, that means we received (or didn’t receive) our annual raises and/or bonuses at work.  Did your rewards meet your expectations?  How is your outlook at work affected?

All of us work best in environments where we know we’re appreciated and valued, and monetary rewards like raises and bonuses are one way that companies and bosses communicate their appreciation and sense of our value.  Additionally, we work in order to provide for our families, and how we’re treated monetarily at work is a significant factor in how well we can provide.

While compensation is obviously important, and while we all need to feel valued, being a Diligent Earner is about more than the amount on our paychecks.  Paul tells us to work at whatever we do with all our heart, as working for the Lord, not for men (Colossians 3:23-24).  Working as for the Lord means, among other things, that we carry a grace-filled attitude regardless of circumstances.

Jesus pointed out that there’s no special merit in loving those who love you; even tax collectors and pagans loved those who loved them (Matthew 5:46-48).  He called his followers to a higher standard.  Similarly, any well-compensated worker whose career is everything he wanted it to be can devote himself to work.  But what separates the Christ-follower is the attitude we carry when things aren’t going as well – when that raise didn’t materialize or the promotion didn’t come through.

Even if God calls us on to a different place of work, he expects us to “finish strong” – to leave behind us the aroma of grace.  Our work can reflect his glory; our speech can flow from his grace, and our attitudes can testify to his goodness.  Let’s make 2015 a year where working with all our hearts as for the Lord takes center stage at the workplace!

Who You Are When No One’s Looking

Truths That Transform: Who You Are When No One’s Looking

Several years ago Bill Hybels, Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, wrote a book called “Who You Are When No One’s Looking”.  The premise of the book was that Christian character is important at all times, not just when people are watching but also (and maybe even most importantly) when no one is looking.

Hypocrisy is being something different when people are looking than when they’re not.  Jesus warned his disciples against hypocrisy (Matthew 23) and then pronounced woes on the Pharisees and teachers of the law for their hypocritical practices and attitudes.  In verses 25-28, Jesus specifically called the religious leaders out for being different on the outside than on the inside.

Who we are when no one is looking is a better test of character than who we are in public.  And how we handle our finances when there are no earthly ramifications is a great indicator of who we are when no one is looking.

Tucked away in one of the grand stories of the Old Testament is a verse that reflects the kind of character that God is looking for in his people when it comes to managing finances.  Famine had ravaged the Middle East, as predicted by Joseph in Egypt, and Jacob had sent his sons to Egypt to buy grain. On their return from Egypt, they had found their money returned to them in their sacks along with the grain.

Now the grain had run out, and Jacob sent his sons back to Egypt to buy more, this time accompanied by their brother Benjamin.  Among his instructions to his sons, Jacob told them to take double the amount of silver for the grain: “Take double the amount of silver with you, for you must return the silver that was put back into the mouths of your sacks. Perhaps it was a mistake.”  (Genesis 43:12)

Amid the epic narrative of the famine, God’s hand on Joseph’s life, and how he orchestrated events for the preservation of the Israelite’s and formation of them into a great nation, this verse doesn’t receive much attention.  But it’s a perfect illustration of the type of attitude that God expects of us in managing our finances when no one is looking.

We know that how we handle our finances is an indicator of our relationship with God.  How do we respond when we realize that the cashier has given us too much change or has missed charging us for an item?  How do we approach tax reporting when there’s no way to trace the income?  Who are we when no one is looking?

Good Sense Movement Team
Good Sense Movement
Transforming Finances! Transforming Lives!

A Taxing Decision

News You Can Use: A Taxing Decision

This time of year, most of us turn our thoughts to taxes.  We’ve gotten most of the information we’re supposed to receive (most of it is due to us by law by January 31).  Whether we like to file right away to get a refund as soon as possible, or whether we procrastinate to the last minute (or even beyond by getting an extension!), one question we all face is whether to handle our taxes on our own or whether to consult a tax professional.  The fact that an entire industry exists to fill out these forms is an indication of the complexity of our tax code.

If you’re wondering which way to go this year, here are a couple of tips from Dave Ramsey.  Doing it yourself using tax software or an online site makes sense if you are single, have one source of income (not a small business), and don’t own property.  Indications that you may be better off with a tax preparer include: you’re married, have kids, own a small business, own a home, plan to itemize deductions, give to charities, or have sources of income other than a job.

Whichever way you decide to go, be sure to pay attention to “who you are when no one’s looking!”

Fulfilling your New Year’s Resolutions

According to an article on, the percentage of people making financial New Year’s resolutions for 2015 is down from last year.  A survey of people who did and didn’t make a financial resolution last year suggests that there are benefits to a New Year’s commitment to improve one’s financial situation.

If you’re thinking about improving your financial situation in 2015, here are a few thoughts about how you might get started.

Know where you are.

  • What did you spend in 2014?
  • What are your account balances – savings, checking, credit cards, investments?
  • What are you currently saving for retirement (eg, 401(k), IRA, etc.)?
  • What insurance coverage do you currently have?
  • What does your credit report look like?

Determine where you need to be.

  • How much do you need for retirement, and will your current plan get you there?
  • Do you have the right amount of insurance?
  • Are your savings sufficient?  Consider emergency, replacement, and long-term savings (college, etc.)
  • Do you have any major events coming this year that will have a financial impact?  Are you ready for them?

Make a plan to get where you need to be from where you are.

  • If you don’t have a budget, create one based on your 2014 expenses.  If you don’t know those expenses, you may need a few iterations to get to a budget that works.
  • If you have credit card debt, put together a plan to pay off that debt.
  • If you aren’t where you need to be with savings, incorporate in your budget a savings plan that will move you in the right direction.

Two keys to success

  1. Keep good records.  No one plans to get into bad financial situations.  These situations generally occur either because of unexpected emergencies that we have not prepared for or because of incomplete planning and tracking.
  2. Get some help.  If you need to make some significant changes financially, like getting out of debt, don’t go it alone.  Check out some of Good $ense’s Freed-Up Resources or, better yet, be a part of a financial class at your church for support, encouragement, and accountability.

For further thoughts on getting organized and getting a plan together, see

Stories of Transformation