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Christian Living

Finance

A Dollar Here ... a Dollar There

In God We Trust, Dollar Bill

It was the late Senator Everett Dirksen in the 1960s who said, “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.”

That was then. This is now. Today Dirksen would have to rephrase his comment and insert the word “trillion.” As we all watch the Wizards of the Potomac spend money they don’t have on projects we don’t understand our collectively mouths widen more and more.

While I certainly don’t begrudge Christians owning nice things and having property, there comes a point when we must collectively rise up and take our stand in an evil and self-indulgent culture. Maybe we need to be less about acquiring and more about stewarding the blessings God has already given us.

I’m not a vegetarian, a “green” fanatic, or a tree hugger. But I do believe that a clear grasp of God and His scriptures will lead us to understand the importance of preserving the gifts we have been given. Who knows, maybe if Christians led “quiet and peaceful lives” in this self-actualized and self-gratifying society, others might take note. They might see that we live to a higher (and more tranquil) standard. And, if things continue to worsen, possibly the lights of our lifestyles will shine brightly enough to be seen. Maybe, through the little things we do to cope, our friends will be more open to the Big Picture of the Christ we serve.

Since you and I don’t have the luxury of living in the Beltway Bubble, let’s talk about some practical things we can do right now to make the most with what we have. Here are some thought sparklers on how to pick up a few extra bucks and cut our cost of living.

1. Get a short term job. If your vacation is coming up, consider not taking the credit card on a two week sabbatical this year. For many of us, paying down some debt will bring a lot more peace of mind than lying under a palm tree giving our credit cards a tan while we get burned! “But,” you complain, “how am I going to get a two week job?” Glad you asked. Why not clean yards? (Note: Never sell your time by the hour—charge for the job. If you figure it’ll take 3 hours, tell the owner that you’ll do a bang-up job for $90. That’ll be an easier sell than asking for $30/hour.) Or, check a website like CraigsList.com that lists short term jobs. Maybe you’ll find someone willing to pay $250 for you to drive their car from point A to point B.

2. Reduce your cost of living. Make it a family game to see who can take the shortest shower. Opt for the small TV instead of the big flat panel. (Flat panels suck up a lot more juice.) Unplug your unused second refrigerator. At restaurants order the large meal. It usually is only 20-40% more—and you can take the extra home for tomorrow’s lunch. Tilt the hose into the car at the gas station when you stop the pump—that can be good for a few extra miles of fuel.

3. Be a saver. When you stay at a hotel—grab the extra soap and free amenities. (This doesn’t include the towels and the TV set.) I’ve tried it. Hotel soap works just fine at home. When you’re through shaving dry the blade. Leaving razor blades wet is what dulls them the fastest. A constantly dried blade will last forever!

Be creative. Make saving money and earning money a family sport. You’ll be surprised at how much you’ll save during these hard times—and how much discipline you’ll have when things improve. You may also find that your lifestyle is appealing to friends who haven’t met your best friend yet.

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