Whether you’re in the military and just achieved a new rank, you finally paid off an educational loan or the mortgage on your home, or you simply received a cost-of-living increase from your employer, your natural tendency—and that of all of us in this gotta-have-it society in which we live—is to make greater strides toward “livin’ the dream.” But is that really the best response?
More Money Can Bring More Stress
Even if you do have more money to work with, if you’re like me, you always have more dreams than finances. So now you have to choose: Will you save up so you can finally update the bathroom or buy a boat? Or maybe you just have enough extra to go out to eat one or two more times each month. Whichever you choose, that choice will come with more choices, requiring you increase the time and energy spent. Since a pay raise often accompanies a higher level of responsibility, anyway, the added pressure of spending the extra money can add to your already increasing stress levels. Even once you make your decisions, you may have increased frustrations in trying to live through a remodel or maintaining an extra vehicle or home.
More Money Can Bring Much-Needed Relief
Perhaps your increase doesn’t allow you to live your dreams, but to simply have some wiggle room, some relief, from current stressors. You can finally replace that car that’s been limping along and requiring frequent jump starts or trips to the service station. Or maybe you can now afford to pay for a service such as cleaning or lawn care instead of always doing it yourself, freeing up your valuable time and energy so you can focus on or minister to others more effectively. But did you notice that “so that” part? The aim is outward, not inward. It’s serving God through serving others, not simply feeding our own covetousness.
More Money Can Bring Greater Freedom
Instead of increasing our budget in any area, you can do what this Christian military blogger recommends and make your raise invisible: “Try to adjust your budget so that you never ‘see’ your ‘extra’ money. Each time you receive a pay raise consider increasing your charitable giving and savings to a point that you ‘see’ little or none of your raise.” He goes on to describe the financial freedom that comes from releasing yourself from the captivity of constantly upgrading your possessions or lifestyle with each pay increase. “Remember, our goal on this earth is not the accumulation of wealth or the presence of a wealthy lifestyle. While money is not evil in itself, it is a means to an end, not an end in itself.”
As you enjoy some extra “blow money” and increase your long-term savings, you can also delight in the joy God gives when we generously give toward His Kingdom—instead of merely focusing on building our own.