Today I am continuing with some practical advice on surviving an Economic Meltdown. Before I do, as an FYI, I did get some feedback from some anti-tithing kooks (and not everyone who doesn’t believe that tithing is a discipline for New Testament believers is a kook, but those who make a profession fighting tithing are, in my book.) I have not posted their rants, links and so on as that isn’t what these articles are about nor is this the place/time for the debate. Their stuff is all over the internet so those interested can hit the google site and knock themselves out.
Now back to our regularly scheduled blog post….
6. Get a job — a second one.
Again…we have two options when we are in financial trouble. Decrease the expenditure or Increase the income. Getting a second job is not the end of the world. One leadership guru said, “You earn your living from 8-5; you get ahead from 5-8.” Being in the ministry with a personal commitment to having my wife be able to stay home with our children has generally required me to look for alternative income streams over the years and that has been very effective for us in being able to take care of emergency needs, prepare for retirement, minimize debt and take the occasional vacation. Over the years, I’ve taught piano lessons, tutored, written, spoken, served as a consultant, been an adjunct professor, etc… I once made nearly $1,000 a month reselling old postcards on Ebay and did so for several years. With today’s access to the world via the internet, there are loads of ways to gain a second stream of income.
7. Save, Save, Save
People who live at the edge of their income rarely have the foresight and discipline to save. Experts tell us that every one should have 3-6 months (or more) squirreled away for savings. Saving for the future is not unbiblical as some have suggested. Indeed, we are challenged to provide an inheritance for our children and grandchildren in the Proverbs. We are counseled to avoid debt in Scripture which requires us to save in advance. We aren’t to be enslaved to savings or even confident in our savings, but life happens and we lose jobs, face illnesses and have emergencies. That’s why we are to save.
The wise person saves second after his or her tithe. I’ve always recommended an instant payroll deduction into a difficult-to-access account. (If you put it in an account connected to your ATM, you are likely to frequently “dip” into it.) 10% is a good goal for savings. If you can tithe and save and then live on the remaining 80%, you will have acquired a level of discipline that will serve you well in the future.
Invariable, folks who don’t save will face an emergency and what do they have to do? Go into debt and then they are in bondage. If you can’t save right now, wait until the next time you get a raise and then immediately assign 50% of the raise to savings and keep doing that until you hit the 10% threshold.
8. Don’t overbuy your house.
Silly me — I recently did this and now I’m paying a price for it. Seriously, do we need a living room and a family room? How about one great room? (We NEVER use our formal living room. It’s a waste of space.) Kids won’t die if they don’t have their own bedroom their entire lives. Yes, it can get “tense” at times, but hey — when they get married they aren’t going to have separate bedrooms are they (let’s hope not) and they can learn some pretty important life skills now if they have to share a room. Besides, bedrooms are for sleeping, not living. The living room is for “living” — so don’t let your kids spend all their time in the bedrooms. Are garages nice? Sure! But remember this, the vast majority of Americans use their garages to store $200 worth of future garage sale items and park $50,000 worth of cars out in the elements. Not real smart, eh? Try to keep your total housing cost (mortgage, taxes and insurance) to no more than 30% of your gross monthly income.
9. Do it yourself
You can save hundreds of dollars a year by doing things that you might otherwise pay others to do. Car wash at home? 10 cents worth of dishwashing soap; car wash down the road $5-10 bucks. Fingernails getting painted? A couple of bucks at the Wal-Mart fingernail paint aisle; I-have-no-idea-but-I’m-guessing-it-ain’t-2-bucks at the professional manicurist. Mowing your grass? $200 for the mower and $2 for the gas; paying the landscape company $25-50 a cut. Nice dinner? At home — $10-15; at fast food $20; at middle class restaurant — $40; at a high end restaurant — $80-100. This doesn’t mean that you will never get to enjoy these niceties again — it just means we put them on hold until things get better. Tell yourself “no” for right now and “maybe” for later. It’s good for us to wait until the time is right — it’s builds discipline and character. Instant gratification has paved many the road to insolvency.
10. Do something NOW.
Don’t wait to see how things are going. Do it now. If you don’t have a job right now because you’ve been laid-off, you DO have a job. Your job is to find a job. Spend as many hours a week trying to find a job as you would normally work at a job and I guarantee you that you’ll find a job sooner than you will sitting at home stewing in juices of bitterness and frustration. Slash — SLASH — your budget today. This isn’t going to be a 3-month downturn. I truly believe we are talking 3-5 YEARS. And when we come out of it, we’re going to see stunning inflation (we are pumping WAY too much cash into the economy for there to be anything but inflation in our future) which is why if I have any extra cash in the future, I’ll be looking at precious metals as a hedge against the future inflation and loss of money value that is bound to come. Start saving NOW even if you are doing OK. Cut back on expenses even if you can’t afford to sell your house. Look for extra income TODAY. Start tithing THIS week. Tell yourself “no” IMMEDIATELY. Procrastination will make your position shakier in the future. Acting now will help you weather the storm better.
That’s all the time for today, but no…I’ve got some more I’ll share with you soon.