Answers To Frequently Asked Questions
What does the Bible say about money?
We hear this question often. Notably, people in debt want to know if there is a specific approach for a Christian to get out of debt. Typically, they ask: What does the Bible say about getting out of debt God's way?
But the most asked question refers to tithing.
What does the Bible say about tithing today? Many Christians hear and become confused by the coercive health and wealth tithing-guilt-giving message from wealthy TV evangelists marketing the name-it-claim-it gospel for profit.
You will learn that God's word about tithing and giving today is clear. That's why we deal with this topic extensively on a specific page of the website (you will see the link below). Another question we hear regularly is, what does the Bible say about bankruptcy? Should a Christian declare bankruptcy?
Based on the above and other comments we get regularly, we prepared questions and answers below. Primarily, questions deal with God's ownership and our stewardship of His money; mainly how to handle money God's way. It's God's money, and we are His stewards. These questions and answers are not comprehensive, and some items like tithing, and getting out of debt God's way, we deal with on separate pages on this site.
We are happy to answer additional questions, but please, before contacting us, glance through documents in this section,
and these free resources.
After, if you still have a question or questions, please contact us.
Each person's financial affairs is different, so these general answers may not fit your circumstance. Always get independent advice that considers your position exactly before implementing any change.
Managing God's Money
- God's Ownership: Since God owns everything and He will provide for me, why should I budget?
- Whose debt, mine or God's: Since God Owns Everything, does He own my debt?
- Truth about tithing: Does tithing apply today?
- Baby steps to managing God's money: What simple, practical steps can I start today to get my finances in order?
- Michel A Bell's seminars: Would Michel custom design a seminar to present to our group?
- Stop pay-check-to-pay-check: How can I stop living paycheck-to-paycheck on my low income?
- I need more time: How can I do what I need to do daily with so many unplanned events and interruptions?
- Debt free lifestyle: Is a debt free lifestyle feasible today?
Christian Financial Advice
- Choosing a Financial Advisor: How do I choose a financial advisor to help me with my financial affairs?
- Bible and Bankruptcy: Is filing for bankruptcy an acceptable alternative for a Christ follower?
- Getting out of Debt God's Way: How do I prepare a debt repayment schedule?
- When to sell investments: Should I sell my investments (such as RRSPs) to repay debt?
Managing God's Money
1. God's Ownership:
Since God owns everything and He will provide for me, why should I budget?
- To be sure, God owns everything, and He has promised to supply believers' needs. However, read Matthew chapter 6 carefully to see the context in which He promised to take care of us and the definition of needs.
- Regarding budgeting, there is a significant difference between budgeting under God's direction and budgeting in your strength. In the second, you will worry because you will be continually guessing about the availability of time, talent, and money in the future. Further, when you decide to set goals, plans, and budgets on your own, later you will run to Jesus to get you out of difficulties. So, why not start by listening, obeying, and following Jesus: Listen for His goals and plans and ask Him to help you work out the detailed budget. He will. When you do this, you won't have to deal with the effects of your own poor decisions.
- When we start to carry out the budget, we must listen to God and do what He says. He knows the future and may tell us to act differently than what we expected: We must follow Him, not the budget.
- Budgeting merely is a systematic division of time, skills, and money needed in a future period. Every organization should do it to get a signal of likely skills or money gaps or opportunities in a future period. Budgeting doesn't provide for needs. It merely signals today what might exist if conditions remain as we expect. Jesus tells us to budget in Luke 14:28 that deals with the cost of discipleship. The average Canadian household will spend almost one million dollars over 15 years, yet it does not have a budget (spending plan).
2. Whose debt, mine or God's: Since God Owns Everything, does He own my debt?
- God, the Owner of everything, never needs to borrow; He owes no debts. He paid for our sins, our debts, in full. Strive to be debt free. And when in financial debt, though Jesus will be with you on the journey to repay them, understand that you own those debts, and you must bear their repercussions.
- This document explains.
3. Truth about tithing: Does tithing apply today?
- I'm often asked, "Should I tithe out of my gross, or from the net?" My answer, Neither; when you tithe you give God 10% (a tithe is one tenth) then spend 90% on you, as you decide. Yet 100% is His! There is no biblical basis to tithe today. Tithing was not practiced and taught after Jesus' death and resurrection.
- Please read this page about Tithing.
4. Baby steps to managing God's money: What simple, practical steps can I start today to get my finances in order?
Here are five practical steps. But there is a precondition: You need to accept God's ownership and your stewardship of 100% of the funds you get. After, learn about your attitude to money, and then become accountable to a trusted brother or sister.
- Step one is to start recording your spending. Get a notebook or use a spreadsheet and record every cent you spend using cash, debit or credit cards (show, date, name of the store, amount, the reason you spent). Yes, I mean every cent. Do this for at least three months. What you see will shock you. I know folks who found $400 waste in the first month. Your spending record will show why you spend, when you spend, and on what you spend. Today, if you are like most folks I counsel, you don’t know this information, but you think you do. You will learn about leakages - where funds go "unnoticed." And you will find out about your spending pattern. Do you spend more on Fridays? Or on Mondays? Evenly during the week? Do you spend to lift your spirits?
- Second, start a spending fast in month two. During a spending fast, spend only for items legally, morally and ethically needed. When the urge to spend comes, wait at least 24 hours. Meantime, pray and seek God’s help. Record spending while on the fast and compare it with spending in the first month. You will notice you spend loose change without thinking; it adds up. So, stop spending coins you get as change and put them in a special Piggy Bank.
During these two months, record difficulties you meet. Especially, note spending on credit that could and should have waited until you got funds, and spending you didn’t plan.
- Third, in month three, start recording the procedure you follow before you spend. Do you pray? Do you follow a plan? How do you decide to buy an item in a mall? At a fast-food store? Do you buy because you have cash, funds in the bank, or because the merchant entices you to buy? Note your reasons.
I assure you, if you choose to spend cash and not use a credit card, you will spend less; so be alert to spending because you have a credit card.
Husbands and wives, note your individual procedures. Do you consult each other? Do you think you should?
- Fourth, during this journey, pray about your living standard. Ask the Lord to help you to live in your income. Ask Him to show you a living standard to uphold. This could be your current or future income level. And then, limit regular spending to the level the Lord tells you. Give away all income beyond that level.
Do not borrow for items other than to buy a home. And then, before you decide to buy a home, listen to God. Unless He tells you otherwise, ensure you have a financial plan that shows you can live in your income and afford the mortgage you choose.
- Fifth, start an accountability program. Ask God to bring a strong Christian brother (if you are male) or sister (if you are female) to encourage your walk with Him and to help you stay with these quick start items. And remember, Jesus loves you so much, He died for you. Ask Him to help you be the person He wants you to be.
5. Michel A Bell's seminars: Would Michel custom design a seminar to present to our group?
- Michel would be happy to evaluate that request. Michel presents topical seminars and workshops to small groups, home churches, and churches generally. As well, he offers his regular seminars to these groups as the Lord leads.
- Refer to the contact form for details.
1. Stop pay-check-to-check: How can I stop living pay-check-to-pay-check on my low income?
- We are working with three variables: you, your income, and your expenses. At least one or more needs to change. Before we do anything, we must understand your situation precisely, you must understand the challenge. We want to proceed based on facts: no assumptions or wishing things were different—they aren't. We must deal with the facts.
- For a short-term fix, you could try to change income or expenses. But for the long-term, first, you should accept the principle to live on no more than current income. If this is impossible, you need help. Ask the Lord to lead you "there." Meanwhile, look at ways to lower expenses, starting with a review your attitude toward money—what you believe about money.
- Your attitude decides your behaviour that flows from your choices. Besides, attitude drives behaviour that leads to consequences. You might think your income is low, but that's relative. The critical issue is to accept who you are, where you are, and what you have (Hebrews 13:5, 2 Kings 4:1-7) as the basis to build and move on. We can learn much from Oseola McCarty. I encourage you to take a moment to read about Oseola McCarty. Her story will inspire and bless you.
- Sometimes we are so preoccupied trying to change our circumstances that we miss many opportunities God brings to us (2 Kings 6:17). Then again, what we think is essential to life may not be necessary, and we may have to forgo it for a while. This situation is difficult to accept because often it could mean a temporary lowering of our standard of living.
- Reflect on these matters about your attitude toward money:
How do you view a credit card? Do you believe it is an income supplement? It's not! Use it only when you have funds to pay the balance in full. Otherwise, get rid of it.
- Have you reviewed each expense element to determine which items to lower or eliminate to allow you to spend no more than your current income? Lowering expenses usually means changing your lifestyle. Look at these items for opportunities to lower expenses: Eating out, telephone extras, Internet, cable TV, satellite, transport, housing, entertainment, vacation, consumer items.
- Do you believe God owns everything (Psalm 24:1-2) and you are His manager charged with maximizing what He keeps in His Kingdom, and minimizing what you spend?
- Only by spending less than you earn, and keeping your level of spending constant when income rises, will you be able to generate savings to allow you to buy items for cash and not on credit. Buying items using your credit card and paying interest on outstanding balances will keep you living pay-check-to-pay-check.
- I realize that sometimes, unexpected medical bills and other significant expenses confront you. These are tough times. If you follow Jesus, these are times when you turn to Him. These are times you can grow closer to Him. Don't turn to the credit card. Lean on Him, ask Him to show you how to deal with these matters. Talk with your pastor. Ask Him and your congregation to pray with you. The Lord has promised that when you seek His Kingdom and His righteousness, He will take care of your needs. So, examine your life, and ask Him to show you where you need to change. Meanwhile, talk with your creditors and tell them about your journey. The Lord will never leave you or forsake you (Matthew 28:18-20, Matthew 11:28).
After reflecting on your attitude, answer these questions:
- Do your expenses include credit card debt payments?
- Are you spending more than 70% of your expenses on food, clothing, transport, shelter, and taxes?
- Are you spending more than 35% of your expenses on housing expenses?
- If you got more money now, do you think you will increase monthly spending?
- If you answered yes to any of the above four questions, typically there is scope to lower expenses.
- Some folks will suggest you get more income, but while this may be an attractive short-term alternative, it's essential you go through the above procedure and learn to live within present income; otherwise, your mindset will look to borrowing to maintain a standard of living you cannot afford.
- If you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, I assure you from Scripture (Matthew 6:33), Jesus will provide for your needs. But it's essential you understand needs from Jesus' perspective. Jesus calls us to love Him with all our hearts, souls, and minds. Thus, we should seek to know His will, and our spending should reflect it. Often, we doubt He will provide, so we confuse our wants and needs, and borrow funds and so plunge deep into debt. If you don't know Jesus, I encourage you to go to the Special Invitation From the Shepherd section of this site now.
- Many folks do not use a spending plan, and they get "lost" just as if they tried to travel to an unknown destination without a road map! Use a GPS Money Guide! Start by tracking how, when, why, and for what you spend. Decide on a spending decision procedure. Before spending, check your spending plan and follow your spending decision procedure. For major items such as a car or furniture, use the Capital Fund.
- Go on a spending fast for at least one month to help you decide between wants and needs. If needed, extend this to three months. During a spending fast you spend only on items legally, morally, and ethically needed, and on food to maintain life. You would not spend on discretionary items such as movies or eating out. During this time, you should question why you spend every dollar. Cling to the Lord; He will never leave you.
2. I need more time: How can I do what I need to do daily with so many unplanned events and interruptions?
- I believe the underlying pattern in our 24-hour day is predictable: Interruptions, unplanned tasks, unrealistic expectations, happen often. Accept this fact and hunt for the pearl God prepares daily! Be flexible, do your best; that’s good enough!
- Our fast-paced society traps many folks. Events lead them rather than the reverse. They juggle family, work, relationships, other activities, and they hurry constantly. They survive today but look to next week, next month, next year, for relief from busyness, which, they don't find. Few realize the issue isn’t work, but attitude to work. Many brag they multi-task, which merely sub optimizes each task! President of South West Airlines, Colleen C. Barrett, says, “Work is either fun or drudgery. It depends on your attitude.” Chuck Swindoll says it well too: “... we spend more of our time concentrating and fretting over the things that can’t be changed in life than we do giving attention to the one thing that can, our choice of attitude.”
- Your attitude, your world-view, decides your behaviour. Continue reading.
3. Debt free lifestyle: Is a debt free lifestyle feasible today?
- Indeed, how do we stay debt free in this consumer-driven society where it seems we need debt to survive? To be sure, after repaying consumer loans, we have barely enough to get by!
I want to assure you it is feasible to live debt free. But we must accept that our lifestyles decide our spending and so we must adjust our lifestyles to live Jesus-centered lives within our incomes. As Christians, we must remember that God has promised to provide for our needs. Prayerfully, read Matthew chapter six. Meditate on the frequency Jesus tells you not to worry. Mull over verse 33, where He tells you to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. And most of all, tune out the wealthy evangelists and other name-it-claim-it preachers who feed on our greed nature to maintain their lifestyles.
- Christians face a significant belief challenge. Do we believe God will supply our needs? Do we understand how to separate needs from wants? Do we want to separate them? Will we live totally committed to Christ with 100% of His funds. Will we listen to Him, and not get caught up in the attractive, seductive world of debt? Will we ignore our neighbours' nice cars, nice houses, and understand they have "nice" debts to pay for those "nice" luxuries? Read on.
Christian Financial Advice
1. Choosing a financial advosor: How do I choose a financial advisor to help me with my financial affairs?
- First, we must distinguish between an advisor and a salesperson. An advisor is a person who gives professional advice objectively, free of bias, and in your best interest. She doesn’t get income beyond a fee for that advice. On the other hand, a salesperson sells products or
services and get paid when you buy products. If someone explains products and services’ benefits as part of a presentation to you, that's not independent advice, merely part of the selling process; it doesn’t change the sales person’s role to an advisory one.
- What can you expect from your financial advisor? First, don’t confuse your need for counseling to fix bad attitudes, with a need for financial
planning advice. Riddled with debt, first you need counseling that addresses your attitude and behaviour. And you should expect to pay for this counsel.
- A financial advisor can help you interpret and understand your financial affairs. As well, he can assist you to do specific plans, financial statements, and analyses. Click here for more about financial advisors.
2. What the Bible Says About Bankruptcy: Is filing for bankruptcy an option for a follower of Christ?
- Psalm 37:21 (NIV) states, "the wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously." So, if you borrow you must repay. Usually, folks get into deep debt because of poor choices motivated by greed, pride, or other self-centred decision, never by responding to Jesus' call.
- The best way to learn from past blunders and prevent a recurrence is to take responsibility for them, accept where we are, and then depend on Jesus to lead us through, as He promised. Although we must bear the effects of our poor choices, Jesus will be with His children always, and guide us through our difficulties (Psalm 23). But we need to be patient and be open to adjusting our lives as we learn from Him.
- It's important we shun quick fix offers because they won't last. Only through a personal relationship with Jesus will we find lasting solutions (John 3:1-21).
3. Getting out of debt God's way: How do I prepare a debt repayment schedule?
4. When to sell investments: Should I sell my investments (such as RRSPs) to repay debt?
- A debt repayment schedule is a listing of your debts showing for each debt, amount, interest rate, monthly repayment, and estimated repayment date. Use the debt calculator to calculate the repayment date. An important reason to prepare a debt repayment schedule is to learn when you might be debt free at current repayment. You prepare the schedule iteratively, more than once, because when you see each result, you might wish to adjust repayment amounts to advance repayment dates.
- This document shows a debt schedule and explains potential tradeoffs between savings, investing, and debt repayment, among other things. Review it before you finalize your debt repayment schedule, which is a critical start in the journey to get out of debt. Use the debt repayment schedule to guide you to discuss with credit card companies and others, possible interest rate reductions. The schedule is important too as part of your overall financial plan.
- This decision has two parts: Numbers and emotions—both can be significant. Do the “sleep test.” Ask, will the decision cause loss of sleep? But first, distinguish “registered” from “non-registered” investments—the difference is the tax treatment. In Canada, you can withdraw Registered Retirement Savings Plan investments (RRSP) anytime and pay taxes at your marginal or highest tax rate. Financial institutions "withhold" an amount from withdrawals⎯this is the withholding tax, which is temporary. So, before withdrawing RRSP investments, estimate current year’s taxes to get your highest or marginal tax rate for that year⎯that's the relevant tax rate. It’s essential for withdrawals, to distinguish "withholding taxes" from final taxes⎯the applicable tax you calculate in your tax return.
- If you are deciding between keeping investments such as RRSPs, or repaying your mortgage, look at mortgage rate, which, in Canada, is after tax, compared with RRSP income, which is before taxes. If you decide to repay the mortgage or other loans, what will you do with current monthly mortgage and loan payments?
- Usually, without specific attention, expenses rise with income. Next, look at your debt and prepare a debt repayment schedule. For more on this topic, click here to continue reading.