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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

All that you can

In my undergrad and graduate programs I studied philosophy and theology. One of the theologians I studied was John Wesley. He was one of the founders of the Methodist movement in England. He worked primarily among the poor who had a terrible time in that day and age. They had no rights, awful working and living conditions and little hope for upward mobility. They lacked education, training and skills of all levels. The government persecuted them and ran them from the cities. The laws of the time were so focused against the poor and "debtors" that they could and did lock you away for the most trivial of infractions and repeat offenders would be hung at the gallows. This was the time of indentured servitude to make it to the "New World." England was on the verge of revolt. In stepped the Methodist movement which centered around social causes. They established food closets, homeless shelters, worship centers, training facilities, educational centers and helped to change a nation. Some researchers even go so far as to say that the Methodist movement may have prevented a civil war in England. And I say all that as a preface to this:
One of John Wesley's maxims was:
Earn all that you can, save all that you can, give all that you can.

Now in America today it seems that maxim should still apply. But the maxim that seems to be in operation is Earn all that you can, spend all that you can and then find a creditor to help you spend more.

Look at the Wesley maxim:
Earn all that you can.
Earning gives one potential and opportunity. Not only does it better your own life but it also benefits the life of your family. Everyone is pulled up when you increase earning. But increased earning does not mean increased spending.

Save all that you can.
Earning allows you to live a better life. But some of that earning should (must) go to savings. Things happen and if a bad thing happens and you lose your ability to earn, then you need to have a safety net. It is advised to keep a few months of savings on hand. That would give you a lead time to find new work. Plus, one needs to save for retirement, save for vacation, save for kids' education, save to buy a house... save all that you can. Then you are prepared and ahead of the game when bad things happen. Or you are prepared and not needing credit when you wish to take a vacation or return to school or buy that car. The bank doesn't take part of your hard earned money in interest and fees. Saving money has the benefit of preparing for hard times, getting more for your money when you do spend it, and provides a certain peace of mind.

Give all that you can.
When is the last time you dug deep to give all that you can? We will take the most crazy opportunities to earn all that we can; sacrifice family, friends, and health to earn the big bucks. And if we want something bad enough, then we will scrimp and save to get it. But when do we really give ALL that we can? How does giving help? Why give? Giving creates solid communities. If the giving is going to help others who truly need the help to make it through a hard time then it builds a strong community. If the giving goes to programs that builds education, training, community programs, etc. then it creates a stronger society. And that is good for you because we all benefit from a strong society. Not only does it feel good to see the fruit of giving through better educational facilities, or better parks, or families being fed, but it also is good for them and for you. There may be a time when you need a little help and if the program is not in place because no one ever gave to it, then it won't be there for you either. How deep can you dig to give all that you can?

I hope that this does not sound too preachy, but it seems that a lot of today's financial and economic problems are due to people's misperception of money and its role in life. Money serves us, we should not serve it. If you don't control your money then it will control you. Be wise with the penny and you will always have an extra dollar.


Mitch said...

I like the idea of, "plan on living from half your paycheck."

Anonymous said...

This sentiment is all so true and could be an excellent philosophy to live by. Every area: earn, spend, and give does not necessarily need to be in the form of money. Earning could be in the form of respect and friendship. Spending could be in the form of time with family and friends. When addressing all of these areas, especially "giving," it's important to recognize where your passion is. If you have a garden, you can give from this. You can give of your time and energy to work projects or visiting those in need. This philosophy could be projected throughout many areas of one's life and ultimately bring much fulfillment.

Daav Corbet said...

Hey Mitch, the government takes almost half my paycheck. Oh do you mean after that. It would be amazing if one could budget to live on half of ones income and use the rest to save or give away.

I also like anonymous' response about how this philosophy can expand past earning and into everyday living and actions. Time, energy and money are all equally important. Our houses are full of time saving devices, so what do we do with all that extra time? We have better food and vitamins and so have more energy to expand throughout the day... where do we direct it? Do we live consciously of our actions, our impacts on others and the earth, and our futures.

Anonymous said...

It is amazing how much gets returned to you when you give and not just financially but emotionally. I become so involved with my own busy life that at times I forget to look around and see a need. This is a good reminder.

Mitch said...

Hi Dave. Yes I meant after taxes. I think it’s very possible to live on half one’s income. One would have to live differently, generally speaking. The living situation would also depend on what one would be willing to sacrifices from the luxuries we are accustomed.

Mitch said...

Yes, I meant after. One can live on half of their income with ease. Even after the wonderful government kindly withdraws money from their paycheck. The lifestyle would certainly be different. Many of us are accustomed to the numerous privileges that are available to us. For example, having matching plates, cups, and/or silverware. Or living in a house without your parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Owning a vehicle, wifi, cable tv, soy milk, etc. .