Do you get the uneasy feeling that things in our economy are not so great? The stock market has been acting more like a roller coaster at Six Flags rather than a place to put your savings. Economic reports have not been positive and there is talk of a Recession--or worse, a Depression. To top it off, our leaders in Washington have been behaving only slightly better than my children. And my kids have been particularly trying this week!
What are families to do in an uncertain economic environment? We remember the Financial Crisis of 2008-09. However, the Coronavirus Crisis will have a much larger impact on our economy despite the tremendous amount of stimulus poured out by our government. Unemployment is anticipated to soar in the 2nd Quarter. This month we want to talk about some things that we need to do in any economy but more so when things are uncertain. Here is what you can do:
Pray for our nation
Our founding fathers had a vision some 244 years ago of a nation free from tyranny; where we could worship, or not worship, in relative freedom; and pursue our dreams of a more prosperous life. I believe that vision is in jeopardy and has been for some time. We need to act now.
We need to pray for our leaders; that they may have wisdom and seek God’s will for our nation. We need to pray for our economy; that companies will prosper so that they may employ more workers and invest more capital. Pray for our families; that God will not only provide for those in need but to pour his blessings out upon us. And finally, pray that our global economic situation will not only stabilize but prosper such that there will be less suffering and grief in this world. I believe that only God can provide such things and He will provide if we will ask. Pray.
Save for the inevitable emergency
Many Americans still live paycheck to paycheck. If you are blessed to still have your job, now is the time to build that emergency fund. You need at least 3-6 months of living expenses set aside for emergencies such as losing a job. A $1200 check will not be enough to weather a long-term crisis where business continue to be shuttered by the government. However, you can start with those funds and build from there. Use your stimulus check wisely.
As a follower of Christ, giving is an expected part of life. If you have read any scripture in the New Testament about giving, you will see that Jesus talks about “when we give” not “if you give”. Jesus also talked about giving as an act to glorify God. Giving needs to be the first thing we do when we get paid. It helps us remember from where all our blessings come.
I am reminded by one of the first verses children learn in Sunday School; John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he GAVE his one and only son…”. I am confident that giving as an act of worship will bless you beyond imagination. I hope that you will give God a chance to show you.
Save for the future
Want to have a plan that will weather any economic situation? Start saving now. Proverbs 21:20 says that “The wise will have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get.” Yet you do not have to be King Solomon to understand that saving is a wise thing to do. Life happens. The car will break down, the A/C unit will wear out, you will need money for things you did not expect. You will need to retire some day. God instructed us to save for a reason….we are going to need it. Make sure the second thing you do after giving is to pay yourself by saving and investing. You can accomplish this by adding to your 401(k), depositing it into the bank or burying a can in the back yard but do it now.
Live within your means
What am I saying here? Spend less than you make. Plain and simple. When we spend more than we make, we go into debt. Take time at the beginning of the month to determine how each and every dollar you earn will be spent (after giving and saving of course!). You control your money. Don’t let your money control you; have a spending plan.
Get out of debt
So many families know firsthand the effects of debt when a spouse loses a job. It will crush you. Debt is a burden you must kick to the curb. The Bible does not say it is wrong to use debt but it does issue a clear warning about debt. Proverbs 22:7 states, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.” We need to be careful when using debt that it is for the right reasons not for the purpose of funding our lifestyle. If you must use debt, a good rule of thumb would be to use it only for things that increase in value.
The good news here is that God has a plan for you. In 1 Timothy 6, Paul shared with us about how to deal with uncertainty: “to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” Neither government nor the global economy environment can dictate your family’s success and prosperity. Our Lord is much bigger than that.