Does God want you to be wealthy?
I'm not sure I have the answer. It's a pretty deep question and I may need a few years of seminary to get even close to an answer.
What I do know is that the Bible contains a wealth (no pun intended) of financial guidance which, if applied, can't help but make you prosperous. Today I'd like to share five of these principles, along with scripture that highlights them, that will grow anyone's net worth.
To warn you, many of these will sound like “Money 101” tips. But just because they are basic doesn't mean they don't work. Actually the reason they are so effective is that they are the foundational, biblical tenets for money management.
With that said, let's get started…
Principle 1: Grow Your Earnings
Do you see any truly competent workers? They will serve kings rather than working for ordinary people. Proverbs 22:29 (NLT)
For most of us, our careers are our most valuable financial asset. Over the course of a 45-year working career, most jobs these days are worth at least $2 million.
Better yet, with a little work those $2 million assets can be worth much more.
We make the most of our careers by becoming competent workers. As we do, we move up in both responsibility and pay. We rise until we serve the “kings” of today — vice presidents, presidents, CEOs, etc.
What does it take to become a competent worker? Here are my seven steps to making the most of your career:
- Over-perform. Establish what is required from your position and then deliver more than that.
- Be likable. If you simply do unto others as you would have them do unto you, you'll be liked by most people. And your career will thrive as a result.
- Network. Create relationships that can help you in your current job and in future ones (and, of course, where you'll help others with the same).
- Be attractive. You don't have to be Brad Pitt or a super-model, but cover the basics: dress well, groom yourself properly, and get in shape. (By the way, I'm not saying that people should judge others by how they look, just recognizing that they do — and there are many studies that verify this.)
- Continue learning and developing skills. Those who keep learning and growing become more valuable to their employers and thus get paid more.
- Know how to manage yourself. Learn how to navigate the working world and have a process for getting things done.
- Know how to market yourself. At some point you'll probably need a new job. Those who know how to market themselves generally make a move to a much higher salary.
There are thousands (millions?) of books written on career planning and growth, but if you simply implement these seven your career will achieve heights unseen by those who simply “go with the flow” at work.
Principle 2: Spend Less than You Earn
In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has. Proverbs 21:20 (NIV, 1984)
Here's my paraphrase of this passage:
Wise people have plenty left over because they don't spend all they make. On the other hand, fools spend all they get (and maybe even more).
Once you have an income, you MUST spend less than that income to make financial progress.
Doing so will give you a surplus that you can save and invest — and thus grow your net worth.
Conversely, if you spend all your income and then some, your finances are doomed. Whether you're making $50,000 a year and spending $51,000 or making $5,000,000 a year and spending $5,100,000, you're going backwards financially.
By spending less than you earn you save money, a key part of financial success.
Proverbs 6:6-8 says:
Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.
The ant saves in a time of plenty for a time when there will be lack or need. If we're wise, we'll do the same thing — save now for future expenses that we can be pretty sure will occur. Things like retirement, a home, cars, college for the kids, and the like.
My recommendation is to save a part of every paycheck you receive. A good rule-of-thumb is to start by saving at least 10% of your income, and from there the amount should increase over time, perhaps 1-2% annually.
Principle 3: Invest to Make Your Money Grow
Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow. Proverbs 13:11 (NIV)
We'll save the dishonest money portion for another post. For now, let's discuss how people become wealthy by making their money grow over time.
Once you've ramped up your savings, then it's time to invest. Find a reasonable investment that fits your goals. I prefer index funds initially for growth and then real estate as you transition to retirement and need more income. Whatever your choice, put your money into it then sit back and watch it grow.
The magic happens as compounding works. Your money increases over time, growing on itself over and over again. Eventually the money you've earned from your investments will be worth more than what you initially put in.
This is why time is the best way to maximize your investment return. It multiplies what you've invested.
Then you simply keep repeating the process — you gather little by little, invest it, and it grows. Then you look up 20 years later and your net worth has skyrocketed.
Principle 4: Avoid Debt
The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. Proverbs 22:7 (NET)
And that's about the best thing the Bible says about debt! In fact, the Bible discourages the use of debt EVERY TIME it mentions the subject.
I know it's a fact of life that most people need to use some debt now and then (like for a home or college). But I would suggest the following guidelines to respect the Bible's advice above:
- Only borrow for things that increase or hold their value, such as homes or college.
- Even then, borrow only what you really need. Most people don't take the steps they could to save on college and buy way too big of a house.
- Do not borrow for depreciating assets like cars, furniture, and the like.
- NEVER let your credit card balance roll over and charge you interest.
The bottom line: debt can cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of your lifetime. As a result, it can be a very large drag on your net worth.
The best option for your finances is to avoid it as much as possible and not make yourself a slave to the lender.
Principle 5: Give
Be generous: Invest in acts of charity. Charity yields high returns. Ecclesiastes 11:1 (The Message)
Be generous, and someday you will be rewarded. Ecclesiastes 11:1 (CEV)
It seems counter-intuitive (which describes the Kingdom of God in many areas) that by giving away money you can become wealthier.
But study after study shows that givers become wealthier, are happier, and live better, longer, more-fulfilled lives.
It's hard to top those, right?
And this doesn't just mean give money. Give of your time as well by volunteering at the charity of your choice.
I'll leave the decision to you on how much to give, but I would suggest that 1) you put giving into your budget so it actually happens (simply giving from what's left over rarely results in much giving) and 2) it's true that you can't out-give God. It seems every time we give more, our lives become more blessed.
That's it! Pretty simple, right?
Because you've read this, the Bible says you are blessed:
Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding. Proverbs 3:13
Now to reap the benefits of the steps above you simply need to implement these five into your life (James 1:22).
If you do, you could become the millionaire in the next pew.
This post is by ESI from ESI Money, a blog about achieving financial independence through earning, saving, and investing (ESI). It’s written by an early 50’s retiree who achieved financial independence, shares what’s worked for him, and details how others can implement those successes in their lives. He is also the author of a free ebook titled Three Steps to Financial Independence and spends a lot of his time interviewing millionaires.