In case you missed it last week, we’re in week 2 of a series on money. Now, for some of you, your worst fears are coming true. You came to church and we’re talking about money which rates on the same level as root canal and colonoscopy for most folks. I mean, you show up today, and we’re talking about what you knew we’d talk about. And you’re mad and cussing me out in your head. Or you’re worried I’m going to do what that pastor in Georgia did this past week. Did you hear about that on the news? A Pastor in Georgia refused to allow his parishoners to take communion unless they gave their tax refund to the church. Aparently, he didn’t think people were giving enough to support the church so he drew a line in the sand. Some of you are afraid I might do that.

So let me put you at ease a little bit. I’m not going to do that. In fact, I want to let you know that I’m not going to talk about giving money to the church today. That’s for next week. Today I’m actually going to talk about spending and saving money, which should be fun.

Also, I said this last week, but I want you to know that you don’t have to do or apply anything that I say today. You don’t. But what I would encourage you to do, as we talk about this issue of money that all of us deal with, is to take a look at your heart. Because remember what Jesus said about money in Matthew 6:21? For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. What we learned from this statement is that money isn’t a financial issue. It’s a spiritual issue,. In other words, how you handle, spend, give, manage, save money says something about your heart, so examine your heart. God is not after your money. God is after your heart.

Finally, to put you even more at ease, we’re going to substitute skittles for money. So instead of talking about money, I’m going to talk about skittles.

Well let me review last week for a minute because we talked about the big idea behind this whole series. It’s called the principle of stewardship.  And what that means is that we’re not owners, we are managers. We said that all the skittles belong to God, and that means we need to think like managers, not just owners.

Today, like I said, we’re going to have some fun, because I want us to talk about what to do with the skittles that we’ve been given. If you think about it, there are only three things you can do with the skittles that God’s given you. You can spend them, you can save them, and you can give them away. Today I want to talk about spending and saving. Next week I want to talk about giving them away.

Have you ever really thought about all of the crazy stuff we spend skittles on?

One of my favorite places to find useless and crazy stuff that I just have to buy is in the Sky Mall magazine that you find on airplanes. Anybody familiar with that? Well, since you’re trapped in a flying box with no leg room they good people at Sky Mall put out these magazines to distract you from your flight. And it’s filled with all kinds of stuff that all of us need. Let me show you a few.

Sky Mall crap.

Canine Geneology Kit – $59.95

BBQ Branding Iron – $59.95

Wrist Cell Phone Carrier $24.95

Peeing Boy Statue – $98.95

Electric Body Blanket – 59.95

Go Away Gray – $29.99

Let’s be honest. We spend so much money on useless stuff. Let me tell you about some of our other spending habits.

Americans spent a combined $154 Billion dollars on Christmas presents last year.  Every year in the US, we spend $18 Billion on make up, $15 Billion on perfume, and $17 Billion on pet food.

Just to put it in perspective, humanitarian organizations say that we could provide fresh, clean water to everybody on the planet for about $10 Billion.

The average American spends 6 hours a week shopping and 45 minutes playing with their kids.  We live in a spend-crazy culture. Our priorities are messed up.

Look at what Hebrews 13:5 says: Don’t be obsessed with getting more material things.  Be satisfied with what you have. If there was one verse that was the opposite of what we are as Americans it would be this verse, because we are obsessed with getting more and more material things and we’re never satisfied.

But that doesn’t mean that spending money is bad. Spending money isn’t bad. We need to spend money. But they key is to spend our skittles wisely. Look at Ephesians 5:15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise. We’ve said this before, but over and over and over again the Bible calls for us to live wisely. This means that we need to use wisdom in handling God’s skittles. So how do you spend skittles wisely? I think this involves two things: First, get rid of debt. Second, think before you buy.

Let’s talk about getting rid of debt. The best place in the Bible to go for wisdom is the book of Proverbs. We’re going to be looking at a number of verses from Proverbs this morning to learn how to spend and save wisely. Look at what Proverbs 22:7 says about debt, The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender. Debt enslaves us. If we want to spend wisely one of the first things we need to do is to get rid of debt. Let me give you a few suggestions:

  • Pay your house off early.
  1. 30 years vs. 15 years.  $110,000 mortgage at 7% interest will cost you $283,520 after 30 years.  A 15 year mortgage would end up costing you $197,840.  You’ll save nearly $100,000 and it will only cost you an extra $250 a month.
  2. Monthly payment vs. every-other-week payment.  If you have a 30 year mortgage, and pay every other week instead of monthly, you’ll knock approximately 7 years off the life of the loan.
  • Never walk into a title loan, rent to loan or a payday loan place.  You write a check for $225, they hold it and give you $200 back.  You’ve just paid 650% interest. I just think that this is an immoral business.
  • Pay off your high interest credit cards first. See, the thing is, we buy all this stuff that we don’t need with money that we don’t really have. The average American owes $8100 in credit card debt.

Remember what Proverbs 22:7 says, The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender. Debt is a form of slavery.  Part of handling God’s skittles wisely is for us to get out of debt.

The second way to make sure you’re spending wisely is to think before you buy. Think about it: How many times have you purchased something only to regret it after you got it home? Look at this verse out of Proverbs 21:5 – The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty. Plan out. Think before you buy. If you don’t it’s going to cost you in more ways than one. And here are some practical suggestions.

  1. Buy cars, don’t lease them.  Leasing is really renting.  Consumer Reports says it is one of the worse ways to buy a car because you’re not buying it.
  2. Also, it’s wise to buy a used car. The average new car depreciates 2-3 thousand dollars as soon as you drive it off the lot.
  3. Automate as much as you can. Our lives are so busy that we forget to pay our bills sometimes. When you automate it takes the remembering out of the equation.
  4. Only use credit when absolutely necessary. We can get ourselves into trouble quick. Some of you know that. It’s so easy to pull out the credit card and just charge stuff. It’s so easy to sign up for the “little or no interest for 90 days” program just to get that one thing that we have to have. We can get ourselves into trouble really quick. Some of you are experiencing that right now. Being wise means avoiding debt in the first place.

So we talked about spending money wisely. Now let’s talk about saving money. Proverbs 6:6-8 says: 6 Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! 7 It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, 8 yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. This is saying that we need to learn from ants. And what do we learn from ants? It is wise to save up. Let me give you some tips for saving.

  1. Start now.  Dave Ramsey recommends saving $1,000 for an emergency fund as a starting point.
  2. Work towards saving at least 5% of your income. When you save you are paying your future self. This allows your money to work for you making more money. Look at this chart:

For example: $5 a day invested at 12% over time:

5 years          $12,250

10 years          $34,505

20 years          $148,388

30 years          $524,244

40 years          $1,764,716

50 years          $5,858,750

  1. Automate as much as you can. Send money directly from your checking account to a savings or investment account. I do that every month. I don’t even have to think of it. Every paycheck, 5% gets transferred to savings, and every month I automatically put money into retirement.

So think about your own spending and saving habits: How do you save God’s money? How do you spend God’s money? How do you use God’s money?

And I want to bring us back to the key principles that we’re basing this series on: Money is not a financial issue, it’s a spiritual issue. And we are not owners, we are managers. There’s something spiritual at work in the way you spend and save money.  And the key to managing God’s money is to use wisdom.