How Much is Enough?
We got chinch bugs the other day – yikes! They destroyed some of our grass before I figured out what the problem was (I have been a DIY yard guy for the past few years – I know, I know, I need to hire someone – it’s on the list, okay). Anyways, I needed to get some sod to replace the destroyed spots in my yard. So, I used my foot (literally) to measure the area, and I used my head to add up how much sod I needed. I drove to the local hardware store, which had no sod. Then I drove to the big box hardware store, and they didn’t have any either! I learned and called before returning to the store the next time. A few days later, the big box store had some sod in stock. I drove there and got what I needed. When I got home, I laid the sod out, and you know what? It wasn’t enough! I was instantly reminded of my dad’s frequent admonitions to measure twice.
How much is enough is a question not only for my DIY project but it is a question top of mind for many when it comes to their finances.
Jesus said, “For which of you, wanting to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, after he has laid the foundation and cannot finish it, all the onlookers will begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man started to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ –” Luke 14:28-30 (CSB)
The challenge is, when building a house, we know what complete looks like. When it comes to money, the picture is not always so clear.
As such, we tend to go a few different ways.
One may say, I need to be prepared, so they save and save and save. Using the house analogy, building a “roof” that covers them no matter where they go. Jesus tells a story of a man who did this then God called him a fool and demanded his life the night he completed that work (paraphrasing Luke 12: 16-20).
Another might say it’s too complicated or I can’t worry about building the house, who knows what will happen, so I’ll enjoy my time now. Jesus tells the parable of the talents as a warning of squandering the gifts God has given (paraphrase of Matthew 25: 14-30).
So what should I do?
In that same story of the talents (Matthew 25: 14-30), one of the servants is commended for being faithful and is told well done!
The call to being a faithful steward of the resources our master has given us is clear.
Therefore, we must put in the effort to hear “well done.”
Practical tips and questions
Pray for God’s guidance on your current expenses, savings, investments, and future.
Ask yourself, where are you building treasures?
Here is a guide to think through how much is enough:
Giving strategies to consider if there is excess
Donate appreciated stocks, mutual funds, and even property: You can give investments typically to a charity, nonprofit, church, school, etc., without having to sell it first. You give the organization the investment, you get the deduction for the market value at the time of the gift, and you do not have realized capital gains taxes to pay.
Donate your required minimum distribution (RMD) if you’re over 70.5. You can give your RMD from your IRA (401k and other employer plans do not qualify) to a charity, nonprofit, church, school etc. and avoid the income tax completely on that (up to $100,000). It’s called a qualified charitable distribution. Even the the RMD now starts at 72, congress allows you to give from your IRA starting at 70.5.
Treasures in heaven and abundant life
Once you have figured out how much is enough, it allows you to fully pursue those treasures in heaven and feel that abundant life Christ calls us to. Not worrying about whether you have enough or getting more just in case. Rather, look at the gifts God has given you and how best to use them for His glory.
I’m Kyle Newell, and I have two boys at Foundation Academy. I have spent many years wrestling with this topic and have dedicated my life’s work to helping people be wise with their money. I am owner of Newell Wealth Management and am a fee only financial advisor with an office in Winter Garden on Dillard St.
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All written content on this site is for information purposes only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Opinions expressed herein are solely those of NWM, unless otherwise specifically cited. Kyle Newell and NWM are neither an attorney nor an accountant, and no portion of this website content should be interpreted as legal, accounting or tax advice. Material presented is believed to be from reliable sources, and no representations are made by our firm as to other parties’ informational accuracy or completeness. There is no assurance that the views or strategies discussed are suitable for all investors or will yield positive outcomes. Investment involves risks including possible loss of principal and, unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed. Any economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and are subject to change. All information or ideas provided should be discussed in detail with an advisor, accountant, or legal counsel before implementation.
Blessed by Giving
I’m Kyle Newell and I have two boys at Foundation Academy. I have spent many years wrestling with this topic and have dedicated my life’s work to helping people be wise with their money. I am owner of Newell Wealth Management and am a fee only financial advisor with an office in Winter Garden on Dillard St. I’d be happy to talk about this with you and pray with you about it as well. You can email me at email@example.com, text/call me at 407.337.7128, or set up an appointment.
Has your spouse ever asked you to do something, and you had no clue what he or she was talking about? Here is a quick story of one of those times.
“Hey honey, could you go and unscrew that?” Brooke said from the kitchen, pointing in my general direction as I came out of our bedroom. I stopped momentarily and tried to think about what she was asking me to do. Had we just had a conversation, and I completely blanked? Had I forgotten to do something I said I would do (something I do too many times)? So, at the risk of getting the dinner she was preparing thrown at me, I asked, “unscrew what?” In a flustered tone, she repeated, “Go unscrew that,” and motioned behind me. Still rather confused, I asked one more time, “Would you describe exactly what you want me to unscrew?” She laughed and said, “The hose outside on the trampoline.” At that moment, I remembered we had spoken about that earlier, but in that moment it had completely escaped me. We have something like this come up more often than we probably should, and Brooke is a good sport for letting me share that story.
Did you know that the Bible talks about money/possessions twice as many times as faith and prayer combined? Thankfully, God is very clear in his instructions to us, especially regarding money.
While that is over 2,300 verses, here are a few that come to mind that provides great clarity on what the Christians’ perspective should be when it comes to money:
- Luke 9:23: Then he said to them all, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.”
- Christ calls us to deny ourselves and follow Him
- Matthew 6: 21: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
- Christ challenges what our hearts long for
- Jesus tells several stories about how money/possessions are handled:
- Zacchaeus gives half his possessions to the poor after meeting Jesus – Luke 19:1-10
- The rich young ruler walked away from Jesus after Jesus asked him to give all he had to the poor – Mark 10:17-27
- The widow who gave her two coins is praised by Jesus – Mark 12: 41-44
- The parable of talents about being a good steward with what has been given from God – Matthew 25:14-30
So what is the point?
God cares deeply about how we handle money because it is an outworking of what we truly believe. I’m not trying to tell you to sell everything and give to the poor; I don’t think God wants that for everyone. For some, he might, but not everyone. Rather, evaluate your relationship with money in light of the faith you claim to believe.
Practical Application / Questions:
- If you look at your expenses the past several months (mint.com is a source to be able to easily track and manage this), where would you say your treasure lies?
- Decide to put money towards treasures in heaven
- Pray to God for help and forgiveness