Does it surprise you that when most people get a raise, they end up spending just as much, or more so they never really get ahead? How many times have you told yourself “if I just made $5,000 or $10,000 more a year, we’d be set””? My church recently did a message series on Margin and one of the topics was Finding Margin in your Finances. If you are interested in listening to that message, you can find it here.
I was so struck by this message because it is so true in our culture today. Most people do not have a financial margin. In 2004, when credit was easy, savings was the last thing on most American’s minds. Looking back, we should have used that time of high income to put something aside for a rainy day. Yet most of us didn’t. Fast forward to present day when a lot of people are out of a job, have been out of a job or underemployed. Those things that we just had to have don’t seem as important anymore.
If you’ve been thinking that getting a raise or making more money will solve your financial problems, think again. As Pastor Mike said in the message series, if we went back in time 10 years to find out what we were making today, we would have thought we’d be set. But now here we are in present day and still struggling even though we are likely making more. Why is that? It’s because we don’t have any margin in our finances. One disaster like a medical emergency or a job loss is enough to put most people in serious financial despair.
Getting a raise doesn’t mean your financial problems will suddenly be solved. Financial margin comes from learning to decrease your lifestyle below your income level. Let’s face it, it’s stressful to try to fit in all the things we feel we “have” to buy only to realize later we didn’t “need” most of the things we bought. Yet we are still faced with the credit card bill that comes in the mail a month later.
I fully believe getting our finances in order isn’t always about making more. It’s learning what we can cut out so we aren’t always pushing ourselves to the limits financially. How wonderful would it be to live on the flipside of the “one paycheck away from bankruptcy” lifestyle?
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