by Willie Thomas Butler
If you are like most Americans who make resolutions each year, you’ve probably made one involving your finances. If so, then perhaps now is a time to reevaluate your strategy…
Have You Considered All The Cost?
You may have committed to save more and spend less, or better yet, give even more to charity than you have done in the past. On the other hand, if you made no such resolutions, how do you determine your financial priorities? At the top of any list should be those financial obligations for which you have little to no control. These consist of your federal, state and local income taxes, additional payroll withholding's (such as Social Security and Medicare, healthcare premiums and retirement contributions) or varying local property, excise or special utility taxes. Of course, some individuals will also have to consider estate taxes, sales taxes and other revenue taxes incurred for other specific reasons throughout the past year.
Combined, these can diminish as much as 40% off some taxpayers’ annual income, leaving them with only 60% to actually budget for the year. Add to this your average gasoline, food and other retail spending activity for the year coupled with additional taxes and fees for annual memberships, online shopping, and a myriad of other activity, and another 10%-15% of your income could easily be consumed in taxes.
How Have You Fared So Far?
Sobering news, I hope. Imagine having more than 50% of your annual income redirected towards taxes, and having little to no control over the choice to pay it. And, to the charitable-minded, particularly the Christian, just how much might this impact your giving to your church or to others in need?
Statistically speaking, the median income of Americans in 2011 still hovers around $49,000 annually. In that range, the average (single) American may end up paying anywhere from 0% - 30% in just federal and state income taxes this year. Fortunately, with most of our legislated tax deductions and credits still in place, a good percentage of taxpayers—especially married and head of households may not incur more than a 10% - 14% adjusted income tax liability.
However, remember that there are many ways that taxes are incurred. A heavy-spending consumer type will still incur significant tax obligations on just about all of their regular and daily purchases, including food, restaurant dining, entertainment, phone service contracts, and clothing and appliance purchases.
A Better Planning Method For Kingdom Representatives
Because of these facts, I have a suggestion. Why not try this simple yet powerful formula: I call it I + P = V.™ In short, this formula will enable anyone using it to quickly assess the best way to manage their personal finances more purposefully. The acronym stands for Imposed Monetary Obligations + Pursuit-of-Purpose = Voluntary Obligations, or I+P=V™. Though simple to remember, this financial concept will help you immensely in learning how and why you should set goals that truly matter.
Your Plans and Priorities Are Important For Many Reasons
This financial planning formula provides a guaranteed way for a truly committed Christians to become an effective steward and to strategically exercise control over the spending-craze encouraged through the world’s economic system. Why is this important? Because in the eyes of God, you are His earthly steward with whom He has deposited certain of His treasure.
“The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it…” (Psalm 24:1) NIV. Because of this truth, the Lord expects that believer’s will acknowledge His ownership and our possession of the many good treasures, which include our time, our talent and our finances; and that we should manage what has been entrusted to us according to His expectation. This principle is best reflected in the story Jesus shared with His disciples in the Parable of the Talents, found in Matthew 25:14-30.
You can learn more about this formula in my book The Kingdom Life Approach: A Purpose-Driven Strategy for Living Your Best Life Ever. You can read free excerpts online via GoogleBooks, AmazonBooks, or BarnesandNoble.com, and through my publisher Xulon Press. Or, you can also visit the LifePlanning Institute’s website at http://www.MyLPI.org to obtain additional information about our programs, courses and other books and materials.
Consider Adopting A Kingdom Living Strategy
In the Kingdom of God—which, as a believer you are a citizen—the principle of love as expressed through giving is at the core of God’s, therefore, our true nature. Keep in mind that we were made in His image and likeness. This is what we read in John 3:16: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” Sound familiar? Well, has giving been at the top of your priorities in 2013?
The Bible also teaches us that God has a plan for each of us. Therefore, will knowing this have any effect on your plans for giving, spending and saving in the remainder of the year? In Jeremiah 29, the prophet wrote as God declared to him, “For I know the plans I have for you…, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. “
Sounds to me that the wise steward would benefit from first knowing Gods’ plan before venturing out to spend or even save what is within their possession to manage. If so, then it leads to one last question? Are you going to serve God as one of His wise and faithful stewards in 2013?
If your answer is yes and you’d like help to accomplish this, the LifePlanning Institute is here to assist you. Try http://www.MyLPI.org. If you have a different point of view, please take a moment and share it with us. In fact, please help us to collect even more views by sharing this article with others.