One of things that I have realized over my life is that the same truths keep being recycled in each generation. They may be packaged differently, but the basic underlying principles remain.
At first, I thought “How boring. Everyone knows that! There is no need to repeat that.”
But the truth is, everyone doesn’t know that. It takes repeating and remembering for a known truth to be perpetuated. The Bible talks about this repeatedly. It is the foundational premise behind building altars and sustaining markers.
“Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:7-9)
One of those biblical truths for me has been this: Live on less than you earn.
Let me be clear. This does not include the credit available on charge cards or the minimum payments allowable. It means that if you are not able to pay off the balances each month on a charge card, you are not living on less than you earn.
It also goes for most loans (home mortgage excepted). I have bought beater cars to stay within budget, used and donated furniture to stay within budget and many other strategies so that I did not have to take out a loan. I have not always done this – I have learned by experience, meaning I have made mistakes. I have taken out car and appliance loans (even a boat loan) and not paid off credit card balances – and I really wish I had all that interest in my bank account instead of in the loan company’s coffers.
In this culture you will have many opposing voices to this basic, sound and time-tested advice. You will hear about leveraging this and strategizing that. But each one of those concepts will take away from your peace and freedom. King Solomon gives us his wisdom in the Bible.
- “Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows over time.” (Proverbs 13:11)
- “The trustworthy person will get a rich reward, but a person who wants quick riches will get into trouble.” (Proverbs 28:20)
- “Greedy people try to get rich quick but don’t realize they’re headed for poverty.” (Proverbs 28:22)
- “Just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender.” (Proverbs 22:7)
Following the ‘live on less than you earn” strategy will often feel harsh because it means embracing delayed gratification as a way of life, at least for a while. And it is definitely not the message of the greater Western culture. It is not the message of entitlement and “you deserve” thinking. Rather, it is the voice of contentment and stability.
Every new generation needs to hear this message. Smart parents will make sure that they follow this and pass it on.