He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward. (Hebrews 11:26)
Relate: What amount of money does it take to live? To answer that question, we really need to take a step back and evaluate what our wants are and what our needs are. Our needs will all fall into six basic categories: 1) shelter 2) nourishment 3) clothing 4) health care 5) income provision 6) tithe. I need a roof over my head, appropriate clothing, enough food to maintain, deodorant/toothbrush etc, and I need to tithe.
For me, here in Gaziantep, having a metrocard and regularly feeding it more money is necessary to get to and from work using public transit. That is a need. Getting myself a car so I will not be dependant on public transit and it’s… afterwork smells is not truly necessary. It is a want. The same was true when I was in Binghamton, NY. Buying groceries is a need. Buying McDonalds every other meal is a want. OK, so it is a want of convenience, certainly not of desire, but still. Having clothes and keeping them clean is a need. Spending three times more for the name brand or latest fashion is a want. Having a roof over my head is a need. Spending twice as much for a nice location and twice that again for a bigger place is a want. Owning a bed is a need. Owning a TV is a want.
Feel free to grab yourself a sheet of paper, see if you can’t figure out what your needs are, and then figure out what each costs you every month. Be as thorough as you can but before tallying it up look through that list again. I am sure at least twenty percent of your list needs to be cut. You don’t need netflix. Your grocery estimate is probably much higher than it should be because you don’t need the salmon/sushi/precooked meals/ice cream/etc you keep buying. Also, “Joe’s fruit crisps” tastes exactly the same as Kellog’s fruity pebbles even though it is more than a dollar cheaper per box.
Now, what can you live on? When I was living in Broome County, I was living comfortably on just under $18,000 a year and could have easily cut a couple thousand off that just from my Starbucks/Barnes habit alone, but I am also debt free. I had no credit cards, school, house, or car loans to worry about. Taking care of those as quick as possible (or never taking them on) allowed me to live far more frugally.
React: My next question, what are you doing with everything you make above and beyond that minimum standard? Please, I don’t mean to condemn here. Like I said, I was visiting Barnes and Nobles almost daily, I’d eat out a couple times a week, I had an MLB pass that allowed me to watch my Yankees, I… you get the picture. This isn’t evil unless some of those luxuries put us beyond our means or stand in the way of what God has called us to spend our money and time on. God doesn’t call us all to live like monks. He does, however, call us to be wise and obedient. A wise mentor once said, “If you want to know what the idols are in your life, look at your bank statement and look at your calendar.” Where I spend my money and how I spend my time defines my true values. So what are they? Moses rejected the luxury of Pharaoh’s palace to live among slaves. Are we willing to sacrifice the American dream to live up to God’s vision for our lives? This is an either/or, we can’t have both.
God, forgive me for the carelessness with which I waste what You have given me. Forgive me for sinning so often in not doing what I could have done. Forgive me for squandering the many blessings You have given me to the point that when I do see a need, I am no longer able to meet it. Help me to become more Kingdom minded in both my budget and my time. Help me to be a conduit for Your blessings and not just a recipient.