Life Lesson #24: It’s not how much you make, it’s how much you keep
Today’s lesson is the third part of our series about King Solomon’s Tips for Money Management. If you have not yet read Part 1 or Part 2 be sure to do so now. In today’s lesson we’ll talk about some of the king’s wisdom on how to SAVE more of that money you’ve worked so hard to earn.
Did You Know?
When it comes to money, countless experts have long echoed the words of King Solomon about the following piece of wisdom: it’s not how much you make, it’s how much you keep. (Granted, one part of the ‘how to keep more’ puzzle has to do with using efficient tax minimization strategies and unfortunately Solomon can’t help us much there so get yourself a good accountant). Where the king can help us though is by dispelling a number of money myths – take a look and see how many of these you need some help with.
King Solomon – Myth Buster?
Here are 5 common myths about money that, if you don’t know the truth, will cause you to spend your way to the poor house. How many of these are you guilty of? (BTW – I’ve been guilty of believing ALL of these myths at one point or another of my life – oops!)
Myth #1: If I’ve got money, it’s time to make it rain!
King Solomon said, “It’s better to be a nobody and yet have a servant then pretend to be somebody and have no food.” (Prov 12:9). On top of that he added,“One man pretends to be rich but has nothing, another pretends to be poor yet has great wealth” (Prov 13:7) and “He who loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and oil will never be rich.” (Prov 21:17). He also said, “In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.” (Prov 21:20)
My take: When I was younger, as soon as I got some money in my pocket, I felt an intense desire to spend it. I wanted to live like a king and let everybody know it. That’s not smart. And while it’s true that as a ‘king,’ Solomon had plenty of money and thus was able to acquire lots of nice things, the key is that he didn’t spend like a fool and just throw his money away. Over the years I’ve learned that there’s nothing wrong with buying yourself something nice if it will give you pleasure, however it’s important to live beneath your means and save for the long-term (using the tips from Part 2 of this series). Do that and you’ll make your life easier in the long run. A great book to read on this topic would be “The Millionaire Next Door” by Thomas Stanley.
Myth #2: Once I make $(xx salary) I’ll be happy.
King Solomon said, “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income – it’s all meaningless.” (Eccl 5:10)
My take: I’ve been guilty of this for a long time. When I first started working I remember wanting to make $30k, then 50k, then I was sure $100k was going to solve all my problems; it didn’t so I set my sights on $150k, then 200k, etc — but a high salary alone has never been enough to satisfy me. Instead I’ve learned that while it’s great to increase your salary and earn more money, it’s just foolish to believe that a higher salary will make you happier. The fact is that there is no amount of money that will make you happy; only you can make yourself happy.
Myth #3: If I want something AND I can afford it, then it’s a good buy.
King Solomon said, “As goods increase so do those who consume them, and what benefit are they to the owner except to feast his eyes on them?” (Eccl 5:11)
My take: Here’s another one of my past mistakes. Once I started to get some money built up in my savings account I figured I could buy whatever I wanted “because I can afford it.” That’s not smart. I had to learn the difference between a want vs. a need. I hope you do as well because if you keep buying things you want but don’t really need and you’ll eventually have a house filled with useless things and no money – that’s a bad combination.
Myth #4: If I make more money, then my family will love me more.
King Solomon said, “Better a meal of vegetables where there is love, than a fattened calf with hatred.” (Prov 15:17). He also said, “A greedy man brings trouble to his family.” (Prov 15:27). And he added, “Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.” (Prov 17:1)
My take: Obviously it’s important to make enough money to provide for the things your family needs, however it’s also important to understand that just like money can’t buy you happiness, it also can’t make your family love you more. YOU have to do that by spending time with them. Know this – where you spend your time is where your heart is. If you spend all your time at a high-paying job because it gives you money to buy a lot of nice things for your family, but you don’t actually spend time with your family, you’re missing out on life. How can your family love you when you are never around? Is all that money really worth it?
Myth #5: Buy now, pay later – I can get everything I want by using OPM.
King Solomon was not a fan of borrowing money. He advised,“If you have borrowed money….free yourself… Allow no sleep to your eyes…[until you] free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter or the bird from the snare of the fowler.” (Prov 6:1-6). He also said,“He who borrows money will surely suffer, but whoever refuses to strike hands in pledge is safe.” (Prov 11:15). And he warned, “Do not be a man who strikes hands in pledge or puts up security for debts; for if you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you.” (Prov 22:26-27)
My take: I’m not going to sit here and tell you that you can’t make money using credit or borrowing OPM (Other People’s Money) – it’s a proven fact that by leveraging other people’s money on top of your own you really can make a lot of money. But that route is both high reward (possibly) and high risk (definitely). You need a lot of education and advice before you go down that path because if you borrow money and can’t pay back what you owe, then you’re going to have problems. As King Solomon says “your very bed will be snatched from under you.” Is using OPM worth the risk? I’d be very cautious here. Be sure you have a good plan – one that includes what to do if/when things go wrong. Personally I’m a fan of the ‘slow and steady’ wins the race — as Solomon said (Prov 13:11) “he who gathers money little by little makes it grow” – and that route offers you peace of mind as well.
After completing all three parts of this series, you’ve learned some tips from King Solomon on how to make money, save money, and invest money to make it grow. So now that you have all this money, what can you do with it? Consider the following suggestions from Solomon:
1) Help others:
(Prov 11:25) “A generous man will prosper and he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”
(Prov 22:9) “A generous man finds himself blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.”
2) Leave something for your kids:
(Prov 13:22) “A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children.”
(Eccl 7:11-12) “Wisdom along with an inheritance is good…for wisdom is protection just as money is protection, but the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the lives of its possessors.”
3) Teach what you’ve learned to others:
(Prov 20:15) “Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel.”
Thanks for joining us for these wisdom tips. We hope you’ve enjoyed King Solomon’s Tips on Money Management and that they will help you to improve your life. If YOU have a tip to share, please let us know in the comments below.