We’ve all been guilty of falling into financial traps at one time or another. In my counseling, I have financial planners come to me who have fallen prey to obvious pitfalls inadvertently or even gone in knowing it was a wrong move but couldn’t help themselves. These traps impact our ability to save, give and experience true financial freedom. Being aware and on guard can save us a ton of financial pain.
Get Rich Quick Mentality
“Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.” – Proverbs 13:11
It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to get rich quick. Many people take shortcuts in business or in their personal finances to try to get rich, thinking money will solve all their problems. Consider many movie stars who have all the money you could imagine, but once wealthy, find themselves empty. The problem with chasing after money is that it becomes your focus or idol and ruins relationships with loved ones and impacts your relationship with God. There is no short cut when it comes to earning money. We need to always make sure we perform our work with integrity.
Keeping Up with the Joneses
“One man pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.” – Proverbs 13:7
Everything on TV and in our culture will tell you need to have the nicest car, house, clothes, gadgets and more to feel good about yourself and “fit in” with society. It’s easy to fall into this trap. We find ourselves sometimes wanting things our friends have and we’ve even made purchases because of these wants in the past. It’s important to not let what others have influence our spending decisions. We have to learn to be content with what we have. As with the pursuit of money to get rich quick, pursuing material items leaves you empty. It can be an exhausting pursuit that never ends.
Worldly View of Retirement
I think a worldly view of retirement can be a financial trap too. Such a view is the one you see on the cover of many retirement and investing books. You know the picture…the happy couple sitting on a perfect beach in front of the beautiful ocean. It leads you to believe that you should retire wealthy, happy and young to spend the rest of your life relaxing on the beach with your spouse. This is not the biblical picture of our lives God has for us. Retirement isn’t really talked about in the bible. Rather, God speaks of work and fulfilling the purpose He has for our lives.
Too Much Debt
I already mentioned debt as a financial trap and provided you the quote that helps us gain perspective on debt in society today. Debt is really one of those traps that can sneak up on us. While debt isn’t a sin, it’s definitely something that can impact our ability to have financial peace. I think debt most often creeps into families by way of car loans, too much house and definitely, credit card spending. It’s very easy to obtain credit to buy something we can’t afford. Such credit is often used for consumer electronics and furniture. You can also become over leveraged when purchasing a new car every few years. Car payments and credit card payments use money that could otherwise be used for saving for college, tithing and other important family financial matters. Before you know it, you have too much to debt to manage each month and it absorbs a large portion of your monthly spending.
Budgets are for People with Money Problems
The last financial trap I’ll mention is to not have a plan for your money. You wouldn’t ever want your home builder to build a house without a plan. And we certainly wouldn’t want our school teachers to instruct our children without a plan to properly equip them for the next grade. Nor should we manage our finances without a spending plan each month and a larger plan to save money, give and spend wisely. But society will tell you that a budget or spending plan is bad, or only for people with money problems. It means you have a problem with your money. Not true! A plan actually provides a great foundation to communicate about money and the ability to grow closer to your spouse as you plan your financial future. We’ve found having a plan keeps my wife and I on the same page and it allows both of us to take part in managing our finances.
What do you think about these financial issues or traps? Have they impacted your financial peace before?