A few friends and I are reading this book together. Each week we are reading one chapter. On Fridays, I am posting my comments, then giving them the opportunity to add their thoughts as well. If you would like to join us or simply find out more about the book, you can read about it here.)
Chapter 10: "Margin in Finances"
- Of these last four chapters, I would say this is the one most of us probably have the best hold on, because none of us have tons of money, and we all have already had to be careful with our money. Maybe we don't have a lot of margin or wiggle room, but we do handle it well.
- I think it is so telling of human sinful nature that in America, where we enjoy some of the greatest affluence and comfort in the history of the world, we have a whole range of serious financial problems.
- "Student borrowing has skyrocketed." (Page 133) Some of you know that I enjoy listening to Dave Ramsey. He says that our parents' generation got into debt because of mortgages and credit cards. He also says that the biggest current problem is student loan debt.
- He gave a warning against credit cards, and I believe rightfully so. However, I realize that there is a very small percentage of people who use them to their advantage and who do not abuse them (pay off every month, use rewards, etc.) However, I would venture that the percentage of people who do that is less than 5%. I have no problem with someone using a credit card that way, but I think they need to have the conviction that they will cut it up before they would abuse it. An open line of credit is an ever-present "temptation" when financial difficulties come. I am curious as to your thoughts on credit cards.
- I felt like he didn't give a clear answer on some of the questions about financial margin. In one place, he would say one thing, but something else in another. This is what I mean:
"When we encounter money along the path of life, we are encouraged to do one of three things with it: turn and walk in the other direction; pick it up and give it away; or use it for the necessities of daily living." (Page 136)
"If, for example, you currently have no savings and pay expenses from a checking account that is monthly drained dry, what happens if there are emergency medical expenses? You would need to take out a loan and enter into debt. But if you sustained a savings, you would have margin against such emergencies" (Page 144) If I am to do the three things above, how can I ever have any kind of savings? Savings is not part of necessities of daily living.
"Some advisors recommend setting aside a contingency fund equal to three to six months of your usual spending for unexpected emergencies. I personally do not follow this rule, preferring to live closer to the edge of faith." (Page 144) So, what does he recommend? Is not having margin living even closer to faith? Is he saying he has more faith than a person who has three to six months of expenses? He said savings is good but hoarding is not- how do we know where one ends and the other begins?
I'm fine with him believing whatever he wants to believe. I just think if a person is going to write a book on margin, he should clearly lay out his thoughts, and I feel like he has not done so in this chapter. I think preachers often do the same thing- they make definitive statements about money that if you take to their logical end, we should sell everything extraneous that is not necessary for living, and always spend all our money by the end of the day. It is easier to say these type of things than to wrestle with the tough questions. Am I the only one who felt this way?
- He said that he was unwilling to be wealthy and quoted the apostle Paul where he said, "They that will be rich fall into temptation." He equated being willing to be wealthy to being in temptation, but it seems to me that Paul was talking about those who desired to be rich. I believe a person can become wealthy, even if his focus is not on wealth.
- He said our list of "needs" is greater today than in 1900, which was greater than in the time of Christ. However, couldn't we add, that the list then might have been greater than in the days of David, or Moses, or Adam? My point is that the culture around Jesus doesn't define our needs.
- We all need to seek God's wisdom as we make decisions about how to use the money He has provided. Even if we all are doing that, we will still need understanding with one another because we all will spend money differently on discretionary items- things above our basic needs. I must be willing to respect your families' right to decide on some things, and you should be willing to give us that liberty as well. Too often, we think we are doing everything perfectly, and anyone who spends money on something we wouldn't is in sin.
- I thought this quote was very good- "The cultivation and expansion of needs is ... the antithesis of freedom." (Page 141) Remind you of anywhere?
I've had my say, what say you?
Discussion on Chapter 9
Discussion on Chapter 11