A Solution to Your Money Woes: Acceptance
This is not another one of those hum-drum articles that is spouting lousy news. The point today is to help you recognize your money problems and fix them. Regardless of how much money you make, if you struggle with your finances, the reason may not be what you think. Your struggles may be because of the way you view acceptance. The way that you accept and understand your life can have a significant effect on you every day. A lack of acceptance can lead to a perpetual cycle of unhappiness and depression. Acceptance is a characteristic that some people see as a sign of weakness, and some people find noble. An emotionally balanced person learns to let go of the things that they cannot control, and they work diligently to manage things that have meaning in their life now. They learn acceptance. Here is how learning about acceptance can help you be a happier person and have a better life.
Certain things in life are just a given that we all accept. No rational person questions that the sun will rise in the east. And yet, there are many people led to believe that they can spend money that they do not have. It might seem like a silly concept. However, it is all too true.
A medical doctor and his wife once came to me for financial advice. When I asked how I could help them, the wife said they needed help managing their money. She went on to tell me that she knew they needed help because their bank account was frequently overdrawn. Her husband, the doctor added, “I don’t know how we continue to be overdrawn, I’m billing $50,000 per month! And we still don’t have enough money to pay our bills.” Their problem was that they did not understand and accept the limits of their income. You may be saying to yourself, that guy was just stupid!
Have you ever heard the saying, he who lives in a glass house should not throw stones? Answer these self-reflection questions, and you will see what I mean. Do you carry a balance on your credit card and why? Could your interest rate be lower? What type of issues are affecting your credit score? What I am getting at is that we all have areas of our finances that could stand improvement. I’ll include myself in that fray of self reflectors too. The problem of understanding and accepting personal financial limits, affects doctors making hundreds of thousands of dollars and people making an average income also. A lack of acceptance of financial limits is why so many people are deep in debt.
God can help people like the doctor and his wife. God can help you too. Before you dismiss the remainder of this post as religious mumbo-jumbo, look at your financial dilemma through the eyes of a Christian. You may find that God is not just for your financial predicament, but He is there to help with all of your life.
An essential aspect of looking to God for His guidance in your financial life is that all of your plans and actions must be God-honoring. Consider what Jesus told followers about planning and worry. His words on planning were spoken about calculating the cost of discipleship. All are invited to follow His teachings, and all are encouraged to consider carefully what it takes to follow Jesus. He tells His followers, “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” (Luke 14:28, ESV) The doctor and his wife in the previous example knew how much money was coming in. However, they did not count their expenses because they did not accept that even with a high income, there are limits to how much money they could spend. Accepting where you are in your life today will allow you to better plan where you want to go and whom you want to be.
A mistake that some people make when considering Christianity as an answer to the questions in their life is that they are enticed to think that God is here to make everything in their life turn out perfect. Not true, faith in God is not about everything in your life turning out okay. Faith in God is about you being okay no matter how things turn out.
Finding the solution to any problem in your life begins with you taking all of your plans, hopes, dreams, successes, failures, disappointments, illnesses, good times and bad times to God in prayer. If you are not sure how to pray, look to the Lord’s Prayer that Jesus taught to the disciples(Matthew 6:9-14). Moreover, then follow Jesus teaching as he taught his disciples “always to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1, ESV).
Knowing Your Values
Before you begin looking at some of the solutions to financial problems, take a moment and think about your values. You should be very clear on what you value because the quest to have less financial stress in your life will be challenged. Dishonesty, cheating, stealing and lying go on every day in the world. Christians strive to avoid the wiles of the secular world. Values are an essential part of being a Christian. Below are fifty-two values that people confront every day in life. Which five are most important to you? After you have chosen the five values that mean the most to you, include them in your prayer. Ask God to help you live these values in all that you say and do.
As we go further into understanding how to solve your financial problems, keep your values in mind. With whatever plan you choose to improve your financial situation, continually ask yourself if your solutions are in line with your values.
If you are worried about your financial situation, take an inventory of where you are today. If you have never written down your income and expenses, do it today. If your expenses are greater than your income, something in your life must change. You must find out where you are financially, write it down and if you are married, make it a joint effort. Writing is a vital part of the process of helping you better manage your financial life. Writing helps you more clearly understand your situation. If you are not sure where to start or how to proceed, find a financial advisor that can help you. Financial advisors are not necessarily smarter than anyone else; their job is to understand more solutions to life’s financial challenges.
If you are married, both of you writing down your finances helps you both realize what you have and to whom you owe money. If you are married, make a point of discussing what your values are with your spouse and listen to them talk about their values. Regardless if you have been married one day or fifty years, talk to your spouse about their values. Please do not assume that you know what they are thinking and ask he or she to do the same for you.
Creating a written inventory of what you own and to whom you owe money helps you to accept your financial situation. Now that you have made a written assessment, you are ready to consider what you should change. You may need to spend less money, sell some assets, drive a more reasonably priced car, live in a more modestly priced home, or cut back on all expenses that you can. If you can make more money, then explore greater money-making opportunities. If you are retired or retiring, do not assume that all of your expenses should decrease. You may not use two cars as much after retirement. However, your medical costs will more than likely increase. Knowing where you are financially is very important. Married couples need to work as one, and both of you need to know your financial situation. At one point in the future, one of you is destined to pre-decease the other. One of the most loving things a married couple can do for each other is making sure the surviving spouse understands their financial situation and is not left wondering where to turn concerning their finances.
If you have online accounts, it is critical that you share your usernames and passwords with your spouse. If you physically write your usernames and passwords down, keep them in a safe place that your spouse can find in an emergency. You should consider using a password vault and using a unique password that is only used for the vault. Share that important password with your spouse. Over the years I have created dozens and dozens of passwords for dozens and dozens of online accounts. I have found Splash ID to be a critical part of my online activity. It has a smartphone app and allows access through your desktop computer. One drawback to Splash ID is that the Android app does not function well. If you do not have a password vault, you should create an account with one and remember to use one password that is unique to that account. Share it with your spouse or a loved one to access in an emergency.
Finding Guidance in the Word of God
Learning to accept your financial situation does not mean you agree to stay at the same level all of your life. However, learning to accept your current financial position will help you control any anxiety that money or the lack of it can bring. In the sixth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus told his followers not to worry about the food that they would eat or the clothes that they wear. He compared the material concerns of people to the “birds of the air” and the “lilies of the field.” He stated that God cares for these beautiful things and He cares for us much more. Jesus told his followers that God knows that people need food, clothing, and shelter. The Gospel of Matthew has been left to us today to help us understand that God’s promises made by Jesus at the Sermon on the Mount still apply today. Our needs in this life will be met, “but seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Jesus concludes by saying, “therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:25-33, ESV).
If you are not happy with your financial circumstances in life and you feel like you cannot change, that may leave you feeling hopeless. If you feel like your income is not enough to give you everything you want, it may be time to assess your situation and say no to some of the things that you are struggling to acquire.
Jesus taught about caring too much about the material things of this world. He said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21, ESV).
Inspiration from a Preacher and a Poet
Financially, it is vital for every person to know what their level of income will reasonably provide for them and their family. Acceptance of your current financial situation is critical to living within the limits of your income. That does not mean that you should not aspire to have a better life. Making plans and having goals are important too.
Acceptance has been a challenge for people throughout history. American theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr wrote and preached about acceptance at the beginning of the 20th century. His Serenity Prayer has inspired many to have a thankful attitude and continue to improve their circumstances where they can and accept things that they cannot change.
Here are the first two phrases that have gained popularity:
GOD, grant me the serenity
to accept the things
I cannot change,
Courage to change the
things I can, and the
wisdom to know the difference
On the other hand, some would argue that acceptance is giving-in or accepting mediocre or poor living conditions. American society strives for better, bigger or faster accomplishments in life. Dylan Thomas portrayed not accepting the status quo in one of his poems, “Do not go gentle into that good night.” Thomas was a Welsh poet who was very popular in America during the mid-20th century. The first stanza of his poem tells the reader that you should never give up, not even at the end of life. Struggle to live, fight back against aging and death.
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light
Acceptance in your personal finances begins by acknowledging your circumstances, then identifying what you can and cannot control. Have faith that the promises made by God will be fulfilled. It does not matter if you are a student learning to accept the challenging circumstances of school or a person coming to the end of their life and accepting the inevitable. Do not settle for mediocre circumstances in life. Go to God with all your plans, hopes, dreams, successes, failures, disappointments, illnesses, good times and bad times. Be thankful and accept what God gives you. No matter how stressed you are, remember you are blessed.
By Van Richards
Niebuhr, R. (2015). Major works on religion and politics. New York, NY: Library of America.
Thomas, D. (1952). In country sleep and other poems. New York, NY: New Directions Publishing.