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Once you’ve educated yourself to the point of having a marketable skill that you either work a job or run your own business, then it comes down to managing your money. Even if you’re not out to help the poor right now, it makes your life easier if you’re smart with your money.
What are ways of managing your money that are smart? I think the first place to cut down is entertainment and eating out. There is a lot of cheap entertainment to be experienced watching old movies and playing old video games where you don’t need to pay. A subscription to Netflix isn’t a bad idea since they’re in the ballpark of $8.99/month. But going out to a movie and buying concessions for a family can be up there at $25-$100 depending upon the size of your family and the amount of concessions. Perhaps a healthy compromise could be getting only drinks, or making sure to have a meal before the movie, that way price gouged concessions aren’t eating up your entertainment budget. If going to movies is a significant thing to you, I’m not insisting you need to make a sacrifice. I’m just saying, start out by handling your money intelligently.
Eating out in most situations is more expensive than buying food at a grocery store and eating at home. I recommend smaller, neighborhood grocery stores (ie: Aldi’s, Sedanos, etc…) because they typically have better deals than major grocery stores. I know it is many people’s human nature to want variety in their meals, but if you make sure to eat your leftovers without throwing them out, you save money. Money you don’t spend on food could be donated to the poor, which may empower them to eat!
Speaking of helping the poor, there is something positive to be said when buying stuff. Think, “Would it be better for me to have this stuff, or could this money be better spent being donated to the poor? The poor are dying for what $1/day could save a life.” http://thepioneerwoman.com/homeschooling/2013/11/documentary-review-living-on-one-dollar/ I know a lot of people are uncomfortable thinking of money as anything a self-centered commodity to flit away as you see fit.
“And Jesus went on to say, “And so I tell you: make friends for yourselves with worldly wealth, so that when it gives out, you will be welcomed in the eternal home.” Luke 16:9 (GNT).
In other words, have an eternal mindset with your investments. Don’t just think of the temporal, think of what the money you utilize today to build God’s kingdom can do in the scope of forever. In stark contrast, some people think we’re not not be concerned with money at all because of:
“You cannot be a slave of two masters; you will hate one and love the other; you will be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Matthew 6:24 (GNT).
Yet, I think interpreting right, we should work diligently for money, then give it away. In this way you’re hating money and loving God because when you give away money to the poor, it is like giving to God. [Matthew 25].
Again, it is uncomfortable to think of stuff, “If I buy this luxury item I don’t need, but want, I’m almost taking food out of a starving kid’s mouth”, but we should think that way. We should carefully inspect our lives. Now that being said, lets examine things worth buying.
The first thing always worth buying is tools you’ll personally use that can help you gain more wealth.
“If your ax is dull and you don’t sharpen it, you have to work harder to use it. It is smarter to plan ahead.” Ecclesiastes 10:10 (GNT).
Tools many people use today that can be practical investments are economical cars and trucks, computer equipment, and books for school. Even if it’s not the best investment in a strict monetary sense, it yields utility, production, or knowledge to its owners. And whatever you need to buy to start a business is a potential good use of your money. Of course, a sound business plan needs to be executed, as God’s grace would guide you. One shouldn’t blindly enter binding business ventures, they need to be prayed about and God’s will needs to be sought first and foremost.
“33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33 (NKJV).
Tools go further than you think too. A young child’s brain needs to be engaged, interested, and challenged to learn. So you should expose them to a variety of entertainment, education, hobbies, and skills. They are worthy of prudent investing, in order to equip the children for the future. In fact if you’re raising a family, I don’t expect you to massively donate to the poor since your first ministry starts at home, but if God blesses you with the capacity to do both, by all means follow His guidance on the matter. Again, I think kids should be exposed to lots of different hobbies and skills to see which one they like. Even video games can be educational and build skills such as puzzle solving, reflex reaction time, and stimulate their cognition. This is particularly crucial during key developmental years, in their early childhood and entering their teenage years while a lot of their developmental capacities are growing rapidly. Reference: http://www.theguardian.com/science/2012/oct/14/childhood-stimulation-key-brain-development
In addition to tools, money should be a consistent contribution to issues of essentials and personal care. Some examples are food, water, shelter, internet, electricity, and gasoline. You can save a lot of gas by not driving around needlessly. You can save on food by buying non-perishable items while keeping a steady rotation of canned and frozen goods as staples. It is healthy to eat all your perishables on a timely basis to go that route. Shelter can be saved on by living with your parents. Right now, there’s almost an injustice going on in rent levels since wealthy groups bought up so much land to jack up the prices all around. Thankfully our kingdom is in Heaven where God has a mansion for each of us, and we don’t need a house in this life if we can’t afford one. Some of us elect not to buy a house because the money can be better used on the poor.
Luke 18: 27 Jesus answered, “What is humanly impossible is possible for God.” 28 Then Peter said, “Look! We have left our homes to follow you.” 29 “Yes,” Jesus said to them, “and I assure you that anyone who leaves home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the Kingdom of God 30 will receive much more in this present age and eternal life in the age to come.” Luke 18:27-30 (GNT).
So do what you can to cut down on expenses. This money you save then can be invested in moral companies or given directly to the poor. Check out www.reddit.com/r/frugal if you haven’t. Subscribe and ponder different ideas in the community. Being frugal is a lifestyle, and the more you save, the more it can help you live an easier life later. It isn’t all sacrifice and loss. It can be sacrifice and gain, you just need to figure if you want to gain by helping God, or taking things easy. I say,”It’s hard work being lazy”. Working a moral job and living a frugal life can give you hours of ease long-term depending on your future endeavors.