I ran across a blog post the other day in which Seth Godin talks about money and opportunity cost. His point is essentially that every dollar you spend on one “dream” rules out a different dream. If you spend $200,000 on college, you eliminate other options in your life.
When you and I purchase a car or a house or even a burrito, we’re making decisions based on our value systems. If having the fanciest car on the block is my highest priority, then I might not be able to eat out often or buy new clothes. If I highly value summer vacations in Italy, I might have to live in a smaller house or drive a cheaper car to make that happen.
How does all of this relate to the Christian life?
It relates in a number of ways, but the biggest mistake I see college graduates make is trying to immediately match their parents’ lifestyle. Doing so requires an enormous investment of time and energy. It often requires working long hours or taking multiple jobs. As a result, church involvement or community service becomes impossible.
In addition, many young adults max out their budget buying the biggest house or most expensive car that the bank will allow them to purchase. Then they have little left over to give to missionaries or to their local church.
If you are about to graduate from college, here are a few suggestions regarding money. First, live well below your means if at all possible. Don’t base your spending on what your friends are buying or what your parents own. Your friends might be up to their eyeballs in debt. Your parents have been building their wealth for 30 years or more. Second, recognize that your seemingly enormous salary won’t go as far as you think. Living on your own in a big city is quite different financially from living in a 2-bedroom apartment with 16 of your college friends. Third (and most importantly), determine your values early. Do you want to have enough money to be generous? If you have kids, do you want one spouse to stay home with them? Do you plan to buy a house or save for retirement? Create your budget accordingly.
Most of all, never forget that your money is a delegated resource. You’re intended to use what you have to further God’s kingdom. Do your spending priorities reflect that?
What are your thoughts regarding money and the Christian life? What challenges do you face?
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