When we attend the seminar, the first thing that comes to mind is that it will give its participants tips and techniques on how to handle our money or manage our future business.
We were all wrong.
Our speaker Ms. Cech Escano believes that through managing our finances and business wisely, we can further our cause of bringing God close to many people through various ministry work. There is a common misconception that having money is a sin but as what Jesus said in the bible, it is the love of money that is a sin. Imagine this, you see someone on the street begging for alms and no matter how much you wanted to give any amount to this person, you find it difficult to spare him a change because you do not have enough for yourself. This is the exact reason why we are being taught to manage our finances wisely. It is only when we have enough or more than enough that we can give more to God and to our brethren.
During the talk, our speaker had asked us to focus on three important questions. First is what makes us blessed, second is how to become good stewards of God and last but not the least, is how we will manage our finances.
What Makes us Blessed?
It is a common misconception that being blessed means that you should always be in the receiving end; however, that belief has been debunked by our speaker. While it is true that by being blessed is to receive something from God, the true essence of it lies on our own giving. We share what we receive. A very good example of being blessed can be found in Mark 12:41-44, when Jesus and his disciples saw a widow threw-in two mites and Jesus said to his disciples “Assuredly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given in the treasury; for they all put in their abundance, but she out of poverty put in all she had, he whole livelihood.”
The woman in the Gospel is the blessed among all; because not only that the poor widow showed gratefulness but also her trust to God. Gratefulness because she showed love to God with all her heart, mind and strength, with the simple blessing (2 coins) that she offered; trust because, although this may be her last coin but still she gave it, for she knows that God is her provider.
“Being blessed doesn’t stop at receiving blessings; rather it ends by sharing it to others.” Yes! We should share it, for we know that it is constant, endless and comes from God; thus we must also bring it back to glorify God.
How to be good Stewards?
We have so many ways in glorifying God: using our time and talents etc., but sometimes we forget to share our financial blessings. We are not just talking on the alms or love offering that we give or the money that we give during the mass; but giving our regular and timely tithes.
The workshop defines tithe as the 10% of our net income (after tax is deducted), and is given to the immediate body of Christ of which one is a part & draws one’s Christian life. (in our case SFC and the parish). This is where the church/community gets its fund to support its activities.
For some of us, it is really difficult to give the 10% of our salary (and even our bonuses). There are various reasons why many of us do not tithe. First and foremost, not many of us are aware that it is our holy obligation. It is stated in the bible, specifically in the old testament that we should set aside at least 10% of our income and offer it to our God. Since not many of us knew this, we result to not honoring our obligations since other person does not engage into such practices either. Furthermore, we have our families back in our home country who depends on our income; and instead of setting aside the 10% of our income for God, we end up sending much of our income to our families.
But despite the realities of life, tithing is a holy obligation. As the bible mentions in Malachi 3:10 “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” God is our ultimate provider. The reason we have talents and resources at hand is because God gave these to us. It is only right to give back what is truly for God and in return God will bless us even more because we know how to be grateful to Him.
To show how important our tithe is, the speaker even puts it this way, “Say that a host (ostiya in Tagalog) would costs 0.10php; therefore a tithe 1php short will deprive 10 Christians in receiving the Holy Communion”. The workshop actually doesn’t want us to see tithe giving as a burden; rather it should be our motivation in striving to increase our income to bring back more glory to God.
How to manage our finances?
We may be stuck in our current lifestyle in enjoying our income fully. Often this is the reason why we find tithing to be difficult. In this part of the workshop we are taught how to glorify God (in giving tithes) and managing our finances.
Situation 1. “My money is not enough’’ - Living Simply (save first apply later)
Usually we define savings as:
SAVINGS = INCOME – TITHES (10%) – EXPENSES
But wrong we should ‘save first then apply later’ where:
EXPENSES = INCOME – TITHES (10%) – SAVINGS (20%)
There is a big difference in the two equations; the first one tells us that what is left from our expenses would be the savings. Yet the other one tells us to save 20% of our income and we should adjust our expenses/lifestyle on what is left.
Situation 2. “I still got some balance…” - Get to Zero “BAD DEBT” immediately
Not all debts are Bad. Bad debts are taking away money from our pockets (ex. Credit cards), while Good debts are those from house amortization or investments.
How to avoid bad debts?
-Credit cards only work if you can pay the Full amt. in one month (not only the minimum amt. due).
-If you don’t have the money to buy it now or pay in full the next month, do not buy it.
-Think in terms of effective interest rate rather than absolute peso amt.
How to eliminate current bad debt quickly?
1. Write a deadline when you will be debt-free.
Provided is the soft copy of the “My Financial Plan”. Using this you can monitor your expenses considering your tithe and your savings.
Income – Tithe(10%) – Savings (20%) – Expenses = Extra Savings
The Extra Savings and Savings (20%) can be used to pay the Bad debt (if Extra savings is zero, then use savings to pay). Remember you shouldn’t have a savings in other’s misery (you’re in debt with).
2. Live Simply!
3. Avoid buying new assets esp. consumer goods until you
have paid your debts
4. Contact your creditors regularly. Create schedule of
payment, defend payout.
5. Pay-off high interest loans first, low-interest loans
6. Transfer high-interest loans to low interest loans.
Situation 3. “I think I need to earn more..” - Create multiple income stream/Passive income
1. Increase income, reduce expenses = > Increase (Savings & Tithes)
2. Venture into passive income – earning while sleeping. (exploring other investment products)
3. Be entrepreneurial and innovative
Remember it is not wrong to be rich, if our ultimate goal of having money is to help others and support His works.
For all of these may our Great God be praised!