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Simple Advice is an Ignored Secret

We often don’t want to hear the truth. We avoid it. We deny it. We look for odd ways to work around it. But often, the truth is amazingly simple. But simplicity evokes neither conformity nor success. Simple truth must be put into practice for it to express its power.

Two experiences led me to share this with you.  First, on the final weekend of September, I walked through a store that was brimming with Christmas decorations and toys.  For a moment I had to check my calendar.  The enticing onslaught is already upon us and the more opportunity we have, the more we consumers tend to buy. 

The second experience was an easily overlooked newspaper article.  Scott Burns has been writing an investing column for decades and he revealed a secret that’s worth its weight in gold.  He was talking about the “take off point” for workers.  It is that point when a person’s savings begins to grow.  Growing savings is crucial for financial stability, for managing emergencies, and for preparing for the future.  It’s the point that makes college education possible without massive debt.  It’s the point that allows a person to be in better shape than 59% of all U.S. workers (100 million working-age adults) who have ZERO savings for retirement.  

Burns shared the secret strategy that eludes most people–a strategy so profound that I feel a need to share that today before the Christmas Craze begins, before we end another year in a strategy that dreads the January credit card bills. This incredible secret is summarized with 5 words:

Spend less than you earn.

I know, I know.  It’s radical.  But it’s biblical.  Proverbs is chocked full of repetitions like this, warnings against debt, surety, unwise habits, and greed.  The eyewitnesses of Jesus remind us of the dangers of the same vices.  We just don’t want to hear it.

Usually, this is the topic of January musings.  But I thought of something novel this year.  I thought it would be a great reminder BEFORE we spend, not AFTER we spend, especially in the economy that’s staring us in the face right now.  The Texas Legislature will meet soon and the number 1 issue they will face is how to deal with a financial shortfall.  We’re preparing to elect a president and you’ll consider many economic issues as you prepare to vote.  Many of you have adjusted to a new way to work and parent at the same time and it hasn’t been very successful.  If we EVER needed to learn this simple lesson, it’s now.

Dave Ramsey, Crown Financial, and a host of others all offer tools to help you make the change.  But none of those will help until you decide that this simple advice is the only way to face the future.  We have to decide that we are not entitled to whatever we want, whatever it costs.  Tithing is one of the disciplines that reminds me of that every month.  It’s not what I make that defines my solvency.  It’s my spending.  And today, this last day of the ninth month, you can embrace 5 simple words that will define yours.  Spend less than you earn. 

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