Can I Borrow That?

Think of a time when you borrowed something from someone else. Maybe it was a power tool, a vehicle to move or even money. Did you use those items differently than if they were your own? Were you more careful not to damage the tool, or returned the vehicle washed and with a full tank, or did you pay back the money with interest, or a sincere thank you, after you of course used it for its borrowed purpose, instead of using it for something else?

Why do we handle things that are not our own so much better than our own possessions? Is it the accountability of knowing we have to give them back? Is it because we would have to explain our carelessness or deceit if we did not use the item properly? Or is it because the item is not our own to be mistreated? I think it could very well be all of these reasons and more.

Now think about how much longer some of our things would last if we treated them the same way. As if they were not our own, as if we had to give an account for how they were used, either how effectively or how wasteful we were with them.

As Christians are we not called to do so already?

“For everything comes from him [God] and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen. (Romans 11:36 NLT)”

If your mindset with all you have is “intended for his glory”, how would that change your habits or purchases?  The average cost of a wedding ring in 2012 was over $26,000, Is God more glorified by the greater cost of a ring?

By running our purchases and choices surrounding our possessions, time and money through the test of “Is this intended for his glory?” we may find ourselves rethinking and modifying our decisions.

Why do you want to skydive? Is sky diving glorifying God? It could be. If it were to raise funds or share the gospel skydiving could very well glorify God. If it is to say you did it, to bring up at the next cocktail party, your stewardship may be called into question.  Nothing is inherently good or bad, but how it is used that determines if we are being faithful stewards or making decisions based on pride. Money is not the root of all evil, the LOVE of money is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10).

Notice this stands to mean it is your intentions that determine whether your act or purchase glorifies God.  Your intentions are strongly linked to your mindset towards them, and having the outlook that all you have is God’s and is to be used for his glory will drastically effect not only how something is used, but if something is even worth doing or having.  Why am I buying a new car, a large house, or expensive ring? Again, all of these purchases could very well glorify God, but with heavy cultural influence, we make many decisions based off of how others will perceive us because of them, not how culture will perceive God.

Let’s help others perceive God the way he intended. Let our actions and purchases be made with the forethought that its intended use at the end of the day is to glorify God.

Modes of Money-Credit card

And now on to my favorite mode of money, the credit card.  In general, a credit card is a revolving line of credit that you can use to make purchases with. You are then sent a statement invoicing you for your purchases, and you are required to make a minimum payment towards your outstanding balance, but anything less than  the full balance will then be subject to the interest rate that will be added to your balance due.

Credit cards offer many benefits over most other modes of money. Mainly these benefits are rewards or incentives offered by the credit card company to entice you to use the card. If used properly, you can save hundreds, earn hundreds, and offer some protection other types of payment do not.

Advantages- There are many. Most credit cards offer reward points to be redeemed, or a sign up bonus. Credit cards are basically loaning you their money for a very short time, about a month, without spending your own. If you pay your card off in full each month, you are using their money for all of your purchases you make on the card, not using your own money(called a float), which can then sit in investments or savings longer gaining interest longer than if it were slowly taken out for each little purchase (Credit card companies call people that pay their balance off in full deadbeats, since they do not make any money off of them). Since you are using their money, if anything happens to your card, meaning it’s lost or stolen and used without your authorization, they are generally very good at not holding you accountable for those purchases.  Along those same lines, many purchases you make, especially electronics, will have a warranty on it offered by the credit card, meaning you don’t have to worry about purchasing the stores or manufactures warranty plan, it’s already a part of your card for using it. Credit cards also offer help booking travel, a concierge service, and many other perks you may not know about that are yours to use by being a cardholder. Credit cards can also help your credit score if used properly. Not many other modes of money can offer that perk. There are many more, but those are some of the high points and maybe some of the lesser known perks of having and using a credit card.

Disadvantages- If not used properly, and responsibly, a credit card can dig you into a deep hole that is hard to get out from under. Credit cards can change their terms at any time. Meaning their interest rates, the date’s payments are due and other terms that can affect you if you are tied down with the card by having a large unpaid balance. Credit cards can create a sense of inflated purchasing power, which again if not kept in check can lead to frivolous spending and a ton of money paid just for the privilege of spending their money (interest).

My recommendation- Have a credit card if you can. If you need to build your credit, start with a store card. Pay it off in full each month. Make all the purchases you want and can with it. I often pay bills with it to rack up reward points. Keep your credit card utilization to around 25%. This means only put as much on the card that will equal about 25% of the credit limit, this will help your credit score. Accept any credit line increases that are offered to you, as this will lower your utilization and not require a hard credit pull. Set up the auto payment feature on your credit card so you are protected from missing a payment. I have yet to pay a single penny in interest on our credit cards, and we just used the reward points to pay for half of our vacation. Never make a purchase on your card that you do not intend to pay off in full on your next statement. The only exception I would give this is if you have a 0% introduction rate on a card for 12 months or so. Then you can exercise e a little flexibility, but try to maintain that 25% credit utilization ratio, and have the cash on had to pay it off in full at anytime. The bottom line to remember when using a credit card is to treat it like it is your money, and only use it in line with the money that you have available in cash to spend. This way you reap all the benefits of the credit card, and none of the downside, mainly paying interest.

Grab Bag 1/17/14

The Rule of 752: Which Small Expenses Might Be Killing Your Budget

Wisdom From Charles Spurgeon– Cool picture, and great quotes.

Money: An Instrument for Blessing, Not an Indicator of It “Here’s one way to summarize the larger pattern: Money and stuff and outward things generally were treated as an indication of God’s blessing. They weren’t treated as an instrument for blessing others and doing gospel work. So we spent it on ourselves. Cash came into our cul-de-sac and didn’t leave.”

A Calvinist and a Fundamentalist Walk Into a Bar…

Dear ‘Daddy’ in Seat 16C– Read for a good cry.

Modes of Money-Debit card

Next up is the debit card. I am not going to spend a ton of time on this mode, as its rather self explanatory. I will focus more on some of the advantages and disadvantages that are less known.  In case you don’t know, a debit card is usually linked to a checking account. Rather than carrying cash, you can swipe your card to make a purchase that is then drawn from your account much like a check.

Advantages– You can have access to your cash without having to carry it around. Unlike cash, if you lose your debit card, it can be cancelled, and you have the ability to dispute charges that you did not make should it fall into the wrong hands. It also limits your spending. Many cards have a default spending limit for a day, and a default withdrawal limit if you use it at an ATM. This could also be seen as a disadvantage. Some debit cards have reward programs similar to credit cards. The more you use your card, the more points are accumulated that can be redeemed.

Disadvantages– The card use is ultimately limited by your account balance. If you have overdraft protection, you could use a little more, but at a cost. As mentioned above, there are limits to the daily use. So if you plan on making large purchases with it, call your bank to change the limit either temporarily or permanently. Debit cards are over all rather limiting in their scope and use. They are not as flashy as credit cards with all the bells and whistles, and they are not as widely accepted as cash, and not all stores accept all credit companies, such as MasterCard or Visa.

My recommendation– If you have a checking account, you might as well carry the debit card with you. To optimize your debit card use, have two that are from different credit card companies, such as one with visa and one backed by MasterCard. This usually means banking at two separate establishments.  A debit card is like a digital check, and offers some protection against theft and misuse. It is commonplace in today’s world, so feel free to use it liberally. I use mine as a back up to my credit cards, and to have when I make withdrawals or deposits at an ATM, other than that they( I carry two, a visa and MasterCard debit card linked to separate accounts) pretty much just sits in my wallet.

Grab Bag 1/10/14

3 Critical Truths About Our Money“Steward the temporal with gratitude. Invest in the eternal with abandon.”

To be a follower of Jesus, you must renounce comfort as the ultimate value of your life. —Mike Ayers

A Few Helpful Budget Worksheets and Downloads You Can Use

The 25% Rule to Budgeting– as simple approach to a rule of thumb on how much of your income should be divvied up into different categories.

Top 25 @JohnPiper Tweets– a lot of good one line quotes here.

DR 013: The One-N-Done Method of Saving Serious Dough

100+ Google Tricks That Will Save You Time in School

How to Read the Whole Bible in 2014