What are you spending?

If I gave you a thousand dollars (I’m not going to but let’s pretend for a moment) what would you spend it on?

You might have something in mind and as soon as the cash passed from my hand to yours you’d be out the door, ready to spend. However, if you’re anything like me, you’d consider a few possibilities before deciding who you’d hand my hard earned money to in exchange for a product or service. Of course, a thousand dollars would only go so far and you certainly wouldn’t be able to spend that money more than once.

That all might seem fairly obvious and it’s the kind of thing we try to teach our children but do we apply the same kind of logic in other areas of our lives?

We try to teach children the skills of weighing up options and making the best decisions with money but what about with our time, emotions, thoughts and activities?

You want more?

Have you decided you want more of the good stuff in 2018? Have you made resolutions that involve enjoying more of the best that life can offer?

I spotted this image online a day or so ago. It was posted as a checklist of things that would make the new year better.

I appreciate the intent but once all those ‘more’ items are added to our daily lives, I begin to wonder what we might put on the ‘less’ list.

For most of us, our lives are already full so if we decide to spend more time on the things we think will make our lives better or more livable, common sense tells us we need to have a list of things we’ll subtract.

What are we prepared to let go so that we can enjoy more laughter, more long walks, more sleep and more road trips? If I want more music, books, and sunsets in 2018, what do I need to do to make room for them in my busy schedule? How do we balance the responsibilities of life with those things that make us feel more alive?

Maybe 2018 won’t be known so much as the year for ‘more’ but as the year for ‘less’. It’s not until we are spending less time on the things that occupy our minutes, hours, days, weeks, and months that we’ll be able to accommodate some of the ‘more’ that we seek.

Will it be less social media, less television, less time wasted in worry?

Check your spending habits.

How we spend our money says a lot about who we are and what we value. In the same way, how we spend our time is a clear indication of our true values. In both cases, we need to make very real choices.

If we simply keep adding all the extra ‘good stuff’ we’ll just end up burning ourselves out. We need to accept the fact that time, just like money, is finite. We don’t get to spend it more than once so we’d better work out a spending plan that brings the return we’re seeking.

We also need to realise that simply finding time to do more of the stuff we love won’t satisfy the bigger needs within. We need to ditch the frantic busyness of our lives and find time to connect with the one who gave us life in the first place.

There are times that we feel that the pace of life is a modern issue, and to some degree, the pace of life and what is expected of us does continue to increase, but there have been pressures and expectations from the beginning of time. Here’s what Jesus said to those who felt the pressures of life around 2000 years ago.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
– Matthew 11:28-30 ESV

Author Eugene Petersen has tried to capture the essence of those verses by paraphrasing them in the following way.

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
– Matthew 11:28-30 The Message

Rest for your souls.

That simple phrase, rest for your souls, causes me to slow down and exhale. It’s what we were designed to experience.

Even when we begin to spend our time well there can still be a kind of rest that we’re missing, rest for our souls. I wonder if 2018 might be the year you truly experience that kind of rest.

When Jesus brings us that kind of rest for our souls it touches every area of our lives and makes a difference in how we spend our time, our money, our emotions, and our thoughts.

Are you prepared to ignore the voices of frantic activity that call for your time so that you can more clearly hear the voice of the one who offers rest for your soul?

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How much is enough?

Australian-Money

It’s very likely that you feel that you could do with a few more dollars … then a few more … and several more after that. Having a few more dollars in our pockets and a few less unpaid bills piling up seems to be a very attractive idea.

But how much is enough?

John D. Rockefeller (1839 – 1937) is said to have had a fortune of around nine hundred million dollars. Measured in today’s dollars, his wealth would make him the richest person in the history of mankind. He was once asked how much money is enough, to which he answered, “one more dollar”. All he had still wasn’t enough. It wasn’t able to satisfy him. He always wanted more.

I found it quite a contrast to hear Dick Smith’s point of view in a recent interview on ABC TV. He said he didn’t have a desire to keep earning more and more money. Of course he has made a lot of money through a variety of businesses but he has come to the point of realising that continuing to chase the next dollar is a hollow pursuit.

It’s amazing how people don’t understand that. They think if you’re a successful businessman you must want to make more money.

I don’t want to make any more money. If I did, I would have stuck to electronics.

I could’ve become a billionaire, but no, I wanted to spend time with my family, to go adventuring, to put something back in, which I learnt from the scouts, and all of those things I’ve been so lucky to do. – Dick Smith

I remember research from about a decade back which said that only 1 in 20 Australian millionaires considered themselves prosperous. They said they couldn’t afford the things they needed and felt they had to make more and more money. Unfortunately, that attitude is likely to mean that they’ll never be satisfied with what they have, no matter how much their income rises.

I don’t always agree with Dick Smith but I reckon he’s got it right this time. Yes, he does have significant wealth already but he has identified those things that he wants to spend his life on like family, adventuring and putting something back. More than identifying them, he’s taken steps to prioritise those things over simply accumulating more wealth. He’s realised that one more dollar won’t be enough if he loses touch with what really matters to him.

I’ve heard people who chase after money say that it’s only for a season. They say they just want to get enough money for this or that and then they can slow things down a little and enjoy life. I’ve seen those ‘seasons’ extended time and time again while the things that should matter are pushed further and further into the background, often disappearing altogether.

Can I encourage you to decide what it is that you consider to be really important and then order your life accordingly. Not plan to make time for things that really matter further down the track but live like they matter today. Because if you don’t live like they really matter today, you might need to face the reality that they don’t actually matter to you at all.

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Who is our newest millionaire?

money

This week we heard that someone in Western Australia has won 50 million dollars. The Lotto winners have yet to claim their prize and so the search is on to discover who has become an instant multi-millionaire. It’s the largest amount ever to be won in Western Australia and Lotterywest tells us it wasn’t a syndicate but a single ticket, meaning that one person is the winner. I reckon people all over WA should be a little nicer to those around them in case they’re talking to a new millionaire without knowing it.

I can assure you that it wasn’t me who won. The fact that I’ve never bought a ticket in my life kind of guarantees that.

Obviously there are winners in all kinds of lotteries but the odds of winning a big prize aren’t all that good. I’ve done a little research and you’ve got a much better chance of being killed by lightning, being blackmailed or seriously injuring yourself while shaving. While I’d prefer to have 50 million dollars in my pocket than the other three options, I know that the chances aren’t all that great so I don’t bother buying tickets.

Mind you, that doesn’t stop me from thinking of what I would do with the 50 million if someone gave it to me. I’d be able to secure my financial future, help out some friends, and give some substantial funding to a number of causes I’m passionate about.

What would you do if you were suddenly 50 million dollars richer?

I know that most people would spend their money in the same way, whether they had a lot or very little. If you are generous when you don’t have much you’re likely to be generous if a large sum ever comes your way. If you’re the kind of person who only spends on themselves, you’re unlikely to become generous to others if you suddenly become rich. All the talk of giving to good causes if people ever get the money to do so generally comes to nothing unless we’ve set the pattern with the little or much that we already have.

I don’t have a lot of money but I do try to support causes that I believe in as much as possible. I’m very unlikely to ever find myself swimming in cash but if that ever happened, I hope that I would be generous with my money.

So, dream a little. How would you use $50 000 000?

UPDATE:The winners, a family in Perth’s southern suburbs, have now claimed their prize.

One of the winners, whose names have not been revealed, said she started “seriously shaking” seeing all the numbers line up.

“I thought I must have been seeing things,” she said in a statement.

“We’re just a hard battling family and we don’t want this win to change us.

“This never happens to people like us!”

The family will use the money to undertake home renovations and pay down their debt.

“Now we can pay off debt, take care of our family and do some much needed home renovations,” they said.

“We also want to donate to charity and we can with this amount.” – ABC News

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The price of happiness is less than $125 000

In a study which surveyed almost 3000 Australians between 2002 and 2011 it was discovered that money can buy happiness, as long as you don’t have too much of the stuff. Once you hit $125 000 your satisfaction with life starts to slide. I guess that I should be pleased that I’m a long way from reaching the peak of that slippery slope of dissatisfaction.

Research from psychometric testing company Onetest found people who earn between $100,000 and $124,999 a year are the happiest, with 86 per cent of those earners saying they are satisfied with life.

But the satisfaction rate starts to drop for those who earn more than $125,000, and again for those who earn more than $150,000. – News.com.au

I can understand that people are feeling a little less anxious if they’re earning reasonably well and aren’t one emergency away from total financial ruin. I know that having certain knowledge that you’re able to put food on your family’s table would ease the stress levels. I also acknowledge that being able to buy a few extras for yourself and even have enough to give to good causes would make life comfortable but can money really buy happiness?

I suppose the other question is whether life is really about the pursuit of our own happiness. Even if money could make us happy, which I doubt it can do in any deep and lasting way, is that really what we’re aiming for in life?

Obviously, happiness is a good alternative to feeling miserable all the time but deep joy is something that can sit inside us during the good and bad times.

What do you think? We spend a lot of our time chasing a few extra dollars but will we be any happier or better off if we attain that extra cash? Will extra money add extra meaning to our lives?

I am not complaining about having too little. I have learned to be satisfied with whatever I have. I know what it is to be poor or to have plenty, and I have lived under all kinds of conditions. I know what it means to be full or to be hungry, to have too much or too little. Christ gives me the strength to face anything. – Philippians 4:11-13

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A Surprise Pay Day

I read this morning about a 71 year old lady who sat down for a meal and unravelled a serviette in her own home only to find a Target employee’s pay packet from 1993, along with four one hundred dollar bills and a couple of fifties.

The $500 was in an envelope hidden inside a second-hand napkin her sister bought for $2 from an op shop.

The sisters managed to track down the owner and returned the money. The lady who got her money back held a morning tea for the sisters when they returned the money, giving them flowers and a reward.

“I couldn’t believe it when I found all that money. I was even more surprised to find it had been rolled up for almost 20 years,” Ms Hansch told the Frankston Standard Leader.

“I definitely wanted to return it to its rightful owner and never once thought about hanging on to it.”

Ms Hansch called her sister, Clare Fisher, 67, from Seaford, and the pair began their hunt. After trying Target, they turned to the phone book and found Margaret Dorothy Fife living in Bonbeach. Sceptical of their strange phone call at first, Mrs Fife, 74, confirmed she had worked at Chadstone and Frankston Targets two decades ago. – News.com.au

So, what would you have done if you’d found the $500? Would you have taken the time to track down the original owner or would you consider the money was now yours?

I often find things on the side of the road when I’m out cycling. I’ve found phones, wallets, and other bits and pieces. If there’s any way of identifying an owner I try to track them down and return the item.

Have you made an effort to find the owner of something you’ve found or have you had something returned that you never thought you’d see again?

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