Why YOU may be your biggest financial problem

post-mirrorPersonal finance is 80 percent behavior. How you act with or feel about money is your biggest issue, not money itself.

I am not discounting the fact that we need money to operate in society, but simply having more money does not solve your financial issues long term. Multiple studies of lottery winners will tell you that. As an article in the Huffington Post states, “five years down the line, there were almost no meaningful differences between the big lottery winners and the small…they had gone bankrupt for the simple reason that they had consumed their winnings.”

It may seem incredible that no matter how much people earn (or win, inherit, etc.), they can still dig themselves into a financial pit. But the bottom line is this: no amount of money can save us from bad habits, poor choices and our flawed character. We are usually our biggest financial issue.

I believe most money problems stem from two major areas of our lives:

1. IGNORANCE. You just don’t know any better. Ignorance is not bliss; ignorance is a shovel helping you dig yourself deeper into the pit you have fallen into. You cannot dig your way out—you must climb. My hope in these articles is to hand you a ladder.

2. A CHARACTER or SPIRITUAL shortfall.This requires you to take a look in the mirror and get real about where you stand. The best mirror I know is the word of God. The book of Proverbs calls out and describes these shortfalls. Read through and consider whether the author of Proverbs is describing you.

UNDISCIPLINED (Proverbs 13:18)
Thus far you have been unwilling to listen to or follow advice that is intended to change your behavior, or advice that requires discipline. You are unwilling to use God’s resources God’s way—”It’s my money and I can do what I choose.” You have been unwilling to commit to giving, saving and living on a budget. You have conceded to living the debtor’s lifestyle—the perceived easier route. This character shortfall has to be broken for you to win in finances and life. Unlike ignorance, you know better, but you refuse to do better.

STINGY (Proverbs 11:24)
“My money, my way.” Holding on to your money with an iron fist, you rationalize your behavior as being “thrifty” or a saver, virtually squeezing all the options out of your income to help you live a fulfilled life. You are at your worst in family interaction as it relates to finances. “My bills, her bills.” “He’s not good with finances, so I cannot allow him access to the ‘other’ account.” You’re not usually giving, but if you do, you analyze the recipient of your giving (whether a church, nonprofit or other organization) and deem them only worthy based on your review of how your money is used.

CHILDISH (Proverbs 28:19)
If you have this character shortfall, you’re easy to spot—you have the nicest clothes and jewelry, the coolest car, the phone that comes out tomorrow, a wallet full of credit cards and other gadgets and trinkets. Your bank account is probably empty—with no savings, life insurance or retirement plan to speak of. You have equated the look of success as success itself. You’re in hot pursuit of the “Joneses,” hoping to one day be one, or at least thought of as one.

Then finally, the strongest of all shortfalls…

HOPELESS (Proverbs 13:12a)
It’s hard to “count it all joy” when there is still month left after all the money is gone. When the light at the end of the tunnel feels like a train, you want to lie down and let it run you over.

Unfortunately, you have chosen to adopt this way of life as your reality. You’re a “rough side of the mountain” Christian. You believe the game is set up for the little man not to win. It’s OK, just do what you can and be comfortable—get a nice car with a reasonable note. You have to have a cell phone, so you might as well commit to a five-year contract. This is not OK! God tells us in His word (Matthew 21:21) we can be Mountain Movers! Stop worrying about the rough side—you can overcome!

I am convinced the same God I serve that desires to free you from the bondage of sin does not want you to be in bondage to anything that can steal your hope.

You have to believe you can send your children to college without loans. Believe you can purchase reliable cars for cash. Believe your value is not tied to a credit score. How do you fix these shortfalls? Drop by next week and I’ll show you…

In the meantime BE ENCOURAGED! There is a way to get out of this mess. All hope is not gone. Do not let the things of this world rob you of the things that only God can give—peace, joy and HOPE.

Start dreaming now! Leave a comment that finishes this sentence: “If I were debt free I could…”

Be Blessed, Be Free!

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