We are continuing today on our “It’s Only Money” trek. In each of our Wisdom Notes, we are exploring a different trail on our trek to true wealth. As we work hard and follow sound principles to acquire wealth, it is very important that we know which trails not to hike. Those are the dangerous trails that would cause us to lose everything that we have gained.
During the first four weeks on our money trek, we looked at the Book of Proverbs as we focused on a proper attitude toward money and the acquisition of money. Now we will concentrate on what Proverbs tells us about how not to lose money.
How NOT to Lose Money
As well as teaching us how to acquire money, Proverbs warns us of the many ways in which we can quickly lose money. The following are some of the most commonly mentioned pitfalls.
1. Don’t be lazy.
A lazy person not only fails to obtain wealth because of his laziness, but he also neglects the resources he has.
Proverbs 24:31-31, “I walked by the field of a lazy person, the vineyard of one with no common sense. I saw that it was overgrown with nettles. It was covered with weeds, and its walls were broken down.”
“If you are too lazy to take care of what you already have, it will soon come to ruins.”
Proverbs 27:23-27, “Know the state of your flocks, and put your heart into caring for your herds, for riches don’t last forever, and the crown might not be passed to the next generation. After the hay is harvested and the new crop appears and the mountain grasses are gathered in, your sheep will provide wool for clothing, and your goats will provide the price of a field. And you will have enough goats’ milk for yourself, your family, and your servant girls.”
2. Don’t be greedy.
Strangely enough, if you are greedy it will often contribute to being in poverty.
Proverbs 11:6, “The godliness of good people rescues them; the ambition of treacherous people traps them.”
Proverbs 28:22, “Greedy people try to get rich quick but don’t realize they’re headed for poverty.”
Many company advertisements appeal to greed and pride. The companies have just the answer for us – a “limited time opportunity” that will fulfill our “needs.” We see it so often in our society today because most people want instant everything, including wealth.
Proverbs 13:11, “Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows over time.”
Proverbs 26:16, “Lazy people consider themselves smarter than seven wise counselors.”
Proverbs 24:30, “I walked by the field of a lazy person, the vineyard of one with no common sense.”
3. Don’t be impulsive.
If you are an impulse buyer, whether it is with things small or large, you will soon see any wealth accumulated quickly slip through your fingers. Worse yet is when you use credit to make impulsive purchases. Proverbs warns that being greedy and impulsive brings about poverty.
Proverbs 21:5, “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.”
Marketers of all kinds of products and services entice all of us with sales through deadlines and scarcity. A good practice for you to follow is to ask yourself these questions before buying something on sale.
- Is it a need?
- Do I have money available for it that is not already allocated for something else?
- Would I buy it if it were not on sale or there was not a limited time or allocation?(If your answer is no to this one, then it is not a need.)
- Can this purchased be delayed? (There will always be another sale.)
4. Don’t associate with the wrong people.
Proverbs 5:7-10, “So now, my sons, listen to me. Never stray from what I am about to say: Stay away from her! Don’t go near the door of her house! If you do, you will lose your honor and will lose to merciless people all you have achieved. Strangers will consume your wealth, and someone else will enjoy the fruit of your labor.”
Proverbs 23:20-21, “Do not carouse with drunkards or feast with gluttons, for they are on their way to poverty, and too much sleep clothes them in rags.”
I know what the world thinks about “wine, women, and song,” but Proverbs warns us that it will be a pretty sad song when you are seduced by sex and alcohol.
5. Don’t waste money on extravagant living.
It is not wise when you consume too much while saving too little. Most financial problems stem from buying stuff you don’t really need with money that you don’t really have. Learn to live simply and be satisfied with what you can afford without borrowing. If you are not satisfied when you have a little, you will never be satisfied when you have more.
Proverbs 21:20, “The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get.”
Do not live extravagantly. This can be compared to…
Proverbs 25:16, “Do you like honey? Don’t eat too much, or it will make you sick!”
Living frugally is the habit and practice of the wealthiest people in the world.
“Practicing frugality is good discipline.”
6. Don’t borrow money for non-essential items.
Consumerism in America has become a great problem because we have become accustomed to being able to buy what we cannot afford on a little piece of plastic called the credit card. As I grow older, and hopefully wiser, the more I realize that borrowing money should be reserved only for extreme emergencies, or for items that actually increase in value, such as a modest home. It is foolish to borrow money for stuff you don’t absolutely need. Learn to enjoy a life of simplicity without all of the trappings.
“Anytime you owe money to someone else, you have become their servant.”
Proverbs 22:7, “Just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender.”
Another area that Proverbs warns us many times is the danger of guaranteeing someone else’s debt. If another person cannot afford to make the purchase, then it is a strong indicator of their ability to pay. Maybe we would do them a bigger favor if they were forced to wait on the purchase until they can afford it themselves.
Proverbs 6:1-5, “My child, if you have put up security for a friend’s debt or agreed to guarantee the debt of a stranger — if you have trapped yourself by your agreement and are caught by what you said — follow my advice and save yourself, for you have placed yourself at your friend’s mercy. Now swallow your pride; go and beg to have your name erased. Don’t put it off; do it now! Don’t rest until you do. Save yourself like a gazelle escaping from a hunter, like a bird fleeing from a net.”
Proverbs 17:18, “It’s poor judgment to guarantee another person’s debt or put up security for a friend.”
Proverbs 22:26-27, “Don’t agree to guarantee another person’s debt or put up security for someone else. If you can’t pay it, even your bed will be snatched from under you.”
While in reality there may be some circumstance that it is necessary to guarantee the debt of a family member, you should only do so if you are fully prepared and capable of paying off the debt if it is not paid by that person.
On a personal note, in the last few years, Paula and I have made it a policy to not guarantee or co-sign debt of anyone. If a family member is truly in need, we have decided to give the money to the person, with no real expectation that it will be paid back. If it is paid back, then great. But if not, then that is between that person and their creator. We have seen and heard of too many families splitting over finances, and we all need to realize that it’s only money!
In our next Wisdom Note, we will explore the Biblical priorities for the use of money.