We’ve always heard knowledge is power, but is this really true? For we have also been told there are street smarts and book smarts. Is one better than the other? Clearly, knowledge is better than ignorance, but I submit that even those with the most knowledge, aren’t very powerful until they begin to apply what they know. We see this all the time at New Years when resolutions are made. Inevitably, the top of all resolutions is losing weight. Yet, even though we know to lose weight we must eat better and exercise, momentum eventually slows and many resolutions are put off another year.
Unfortunately, this is also true with financial stewardship. For most of us know financial empowerment doesn’t come from taking the easy road, and that’s why we innately don’t like what’s involved. For instead of being easy, it most often comes in the form of hard work and discipline in three key areas:
Saving: It can be difficult to save and this challenge affects every income level. For example, I have attended several meetings where various professionals share just how little they have saved and worry about ever being able to retire, or make it if an emergency were to strike. Thankfully, there is hope and saving is possible, but only when we make it a priority. Therefore, the key is to place enough pain and motivation to the benefits of saving, and awareness to the dangers of not saving so that we no longer neglect doing it. So, let’s begin with the two vital areas of saving largely underfunded – emergency and retirement savings. The first step always begins with committing to put aside a set amount on a regular basis to both. Then, make it as automatic of a process as possible so that you never see the money and tempt yourself to spend it elsewhere. In short, begin the habit of paying your savings before your splurges (Proverbs 10:5).
Giving: Generosity is an important foundation in accomplishing our financial goals that is rarely talked about. However, if we never learn to be generous, we can quickly become greedy hoarders seeking to accumulate all we can. This happens when we get trapped by adages such as the one with the most toys wins, or even worse, money eventually grows to be our master. Not good places to be for our overall well-being. Therefore, do not neglect giving to charities, tithing to the church you attend, and surprising others with gifts they never know came from you. For generosity breeds rewards beyond anything money can ever buy (2 Corinthians 9:7).
Living: Living beneath our means is probably one of the most neglected, yet powerful ways we can begin saving and giving. This is especially true in America where we have grown accustomed to faster is better and find it difficult to wait. However, this is also where we can learn much from nature. For example, I recently read where mushrooms take six hours to grow and oak trees sixty years. So, what do we want our financial future to look like – an oak, or a mushroom? If we desire strong long-term financial foundations, living beneath our means is a vital part of the equation.
Application: “Wisdom Applies Knowledge” – Matthew 7:24
So, is knowledge power? Only if it is applied – then it blossoms into wisdom. So, the next question is really simple, are we willing to be wise enough to make the changes and sacrifices necessary to help secure fruitful financial futures? If so, track where your money is going. Are there cuts to be made, luxuries to be sacrificed and lifestyle choices to be downsized? Again, knowing this information does no good unless it is applied, but it can be done. You can begin changing your financial future today – it’s not easy, but nothing worthwhile truly ever is. So, choose to commit and not to quit