As we approach the end of 2018, you may be thinking of making a New Year’s resolution to have a more successful financial year than this one. If so, I have some advice for you.
Now, I am not a certified accountant or a professional investment adviser, but what if I could introduce you to a man who was known as the wisest and wealthiest man of his era – perhaps one of the wisest, wealthiest people of all time? He could offer you the advice you need to have a financially successful 2019.
His name is Solomon, and his counsel is known as the book of Proverbs. Here are three money lessons we can learn from his wisdom:
EARN YOUR MONEY HONESTLY
The book of Proverbs was written thousands of years ago, but at times it seems as if it could’ve been written yesterday. For example: “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man” (Prov. 24:33-34). I bet some drowsy college students could use this advice!
Even before the advent of get-rich-quick schemes, Solomon knew that true wealth is best earned honestly and diligently. “Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow,” wrote the wiseman (Prov. 13:11).
We all have heard stories of people who got themselves into fishy money schemes and ended up in big trouble – maybe even losing their homes or their marriages in the process. And even if the scheme somehow worked out, whatever money they made soon disappeared underneath a mountain of debt.
“Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the life of those who get it,” warns Solomon (Prov. 1:19). When you make accumulating wealth your ultimate goal in life, you become its slave; and money can be a cruel master.
So, whatever you are doing – whether you are the CEO of a billion-dollar company or a janitor – earn your money honestly. There’s dignity in all work, and those who work diligently will reap the reward of their patience and persistence.
MANAGE YOUR MONEY WISELY
There’s an old Dean Martin song that says “money burns a hole in my pocket.” Despite the song’s jovial tone, there’s a somber truth behind its lyrics.
Did you know 78 percent of full-time working American adults live paycheck-to-paycheck? According to a report by the online employment hub CareerBuilder, 7 out of 10 working Americans are in debt. Even some people who make six figures say they struggle to make ends meet!
It has been said that you make a budget to tell your money where to go, instead of wondering where it went. Solomon understood this, too. “Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle,” he wrote (Prov. 23:5).
Nowadays, you can get approved for a credit card in the blink of an eye, and just as quickly find yourself buried under debt. It’s so easy to just swipe the card and see the transaction approved “magically.” But there’s nothing magical about it. Somebody is keeping track of your spending and will one day ask for their money back with interest.
“Do not be one who shakes hands in pledge or puts up security for debts; if you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you,” Solomon warns (Prov. 22:26-27).
So how do you avoid falling into this financial booby trap? Start by teaching yourself the most important word in our consumerist culture: No.
GIVE YOUR MONEY GENEROUSLY
As counterintuitive as it may sound, generosity is always a good business decision. When we open our hand to satisfy the desire of the needy, we release ourselves from the grip of greed and materialism. Generosity reminds us there are things in life more important than money, such as family, friends and our faith.
“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed,” Solomon writes (Prov. 11:25). In the end, we are the ones who end up receiving the true blessing.
A GOOD NAME IS BETTER THAN GOLD
There are some things in life money cannot buy, and one of them is our reputation. Your character is the greatest asset you will ever have. It will follow you from job to job, town to town and community to community. “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold,” Solomon wrote (Prov. 22:1).
From all the New Year resolutions you may have, building a good reputation for yourself as a person of integrity, diligence, generosity and passion should be at the top of the list.