How I’m Creating and Maintaining Margin with My Finances

The only people who don’t like to talk money are those that don’t give. 

We talk about money a lot in our home. We do this because we want our kids to succeed in life when they are out from under our care and on their own. We also do this because money can ruin you. Without a proper respect for finances, you will never balance your checkbook (wow, that was antiquated). Without a budget in place, you will be overdrawn. And without financial margins, you will never be able to do what you want to do.

It’s OK to have money.

I did not grow up in the church. But when I began to follow Jesus, I always assumed money was bad because that was how the people on stage approached scripture. But it just isn’t accurate. After pastoring for 16 years, building out Catalyst to work with pastors for four years, and growing up in the venture capitalist world, I can tell you that is totally off base.

The church needs wealthy people to give big. But it needs everyone to remain faithful.

I wrote a while ago that the tithe is the minimum standard. For real. It’s not difficult to raise to that bar. Start at something, and get to 10%. But there is space for more than that here. There is space for those who want to give over and over the minimum standard. And it’s not a bad thing (despite what preachers have said over the years).

  • If you are faithful with little, you will be faithful with much.
  • The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.

There is a dynamic at play that to the casual observer seems diametrically opposed. However, what the Bible is really saying is that those who can be trusted with a little can be trusted with more. If you can manage a small agency, you can manage a large agency. It’s proofing along the way. same with the second verse: the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. It doesn’t say money is evil, just that the love of it can lead to all sorts of evil.

I have never seen a poor person be generous with their finances.

I live in California where it is difficult for a lot of people to get by. With housing prices the way they are, your family unit needs to make more than $70k to live the minimum standard here in San Diego. Honestly, that number is low. If your housing is $3500 for the basic 3 bedroom house in our neighborhood, you need to make no less than $140k a year to keep the 30% housing standard ($105k for 40% of income).

These metrics work wherever you live. Sometimes it sucks to adult, right? But no matter where you live, if you cannot live with margin, then you cannot do the things you want to do and be generous in the ways you want to give. The math doesn’t add up, and that’s something you just can’t argue with.

How do I keep margin in my finances? 

  • I value my time and my services.
  • I live a minimalist life (still learning this).

What this does is communicate to myself and others that I know what I am doing and should be compensated appropriately. That was a hard lesson to learn over the years, but my brand is better positioned than it ever has been before and people respect me for communicating it clearly. Living minimalist is tough. I am not there at all (our garage is a mess) – it’s a process. One thing I am learning through it is that I only need to buy and keep that which is highly valued. I don’t need to have everything, and I don’t need to have nothing; I need to have what I value, and the rest is just extra. As I practice this in my life and with my family, we are buying less and valuing more. We have higher quality items because we buy less of the things that will not last. We value more and live freer.

If you want to live the life you’ve always wanted to live and lead the church you have always wanted to lead, then you need to do the hard work of cutting back and valuing higher. It’s the only way to be where you want to be in ten years, and it’s the only way to get there tomorrow.