Today’s post is from a devotional by Larry Burkett in the book God is Faithful.
“There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.”
- Deuteronomy 15:11 (NIV)
Is Welfare Scriptural?
by Larry Burkett
The issue of welfare is very clear biblically: We are to help those in need. There may be disagreements about how much help is necessary and who should receive it, but there should be no disagreement about the necessity to feed, clothe, and shelter the poor.
Welfare for the poor is biblical and necessary. The fact that the government has assumed that function of caring for the poor does not negate our responsibility.
No one can realistically deny that the church is no longer the prime source for meeting the needs of the poor; the government is.
Nor can there be any doubt that from this base of government welfare the great society has grown. From this society developed many families in permanent poverty. Because of this, many Christians have developed resentment and indifference to those who really are poor.
God’s Word says there will always be needs in the world around us. The purpose is twofold: to test our commitment to obedience and to create an attitude of interdependence.
We are given clear and absolute direction about welfare in God’s Word. Fortunately, the standards for welfare also are given.
Indiscriminate welfare traps the recipients by making them dependent. Biblical welfare meets needs and always looks toward restoring individuals to positions of productivity.
How do you feel about the poor? What are you doing about it?
As April 15 quickly approaches, many people are finishing up their income tax returns. This year, I will owe the government money when I file, and that is okay with me.
In fact, my preference is to owe the government a little bit come tax time each year. If that doesn’t happen, my second preference is to get back a tiny bit back as a refund.
I know lot of people that look forward to getting a tax refund each year. In my opinion, that is poor money management.
Understand what it means to get a refund. The Free Dictionary defines refund as “to give back, especially money.” In order to “give back,” it must have started out as yours. And in fact, it did.
When you have taxes withheld from your paycheck each pay period, those monies are your money that is being pre-paid in anticipation of taxes that will be due at the end of the year. Rather than trying to come up with several thousand dollars all at once at the end of the year, the government has your employer take a little bit each time. But it starts out as your money.
If you paid too much during the year, then the government will give it back, true, but could you have have used it during the year? By giving it to the government early, you have essentially given them a loan. When they send you your refund, they send you back exactly what you over-sent them. Usually when we lend people money (or people lend us money), the expectation is to pay it back with some interest. Except the government didn’t pay you any interest for the use of your money over the last year.
Last year (2011), the average refund was $2913. On a PER DAY basis, this represents almost $8. Compound that to $56 per week ($112 per pay if paid bi-weekly) or $242.75 per month.
The sad thing is, the White House asked people what $40 meant to them in regards to reinstating the Social Security tax that had been cut. The website got a whole lot of feedback saying people need that $40.
So here we are saying, “Please don’t take back the mandatory 2% to put towards Social Security (which is quickly running out of money). Instead, I want to voluntarily give up $112 dollars so I can have a tax refund.”
Through better planning (and a new W-4 form), the average person could get back $112 dollars on each paycheck. That would more than cover the $40 (or 2%) that the FICA tax was reduced by. And I’m sure these same people needing the $40 now will also be wanting their full social security check when they retire as well.
Not only that, we tend to treat money received as a refund differently than money received as part of our paycheck. Many people use their refund to splurge on themselves, when those same people often should not do so. Remember, the goal of this blog is to help you get rich. Poor money management is not the way to get there. Plan your spending. If you want to take a vacation, then you save a little each pay so at the end of the year, you have almost $3000 for your vacation. Don’t let Uncle Sam do the saving for you.
Have you filed your taxes yet? Are you getting a refund? What will you do with it? I look forward to hearing what you have to say in the comments.
I want to encourage you to plan ahead and make sure you bring your own snacks with you. There are many indirect benefits from doing so. There are also many direct benefits.
Hopefully, it is obvious to you that vending machines are designed to make a profit for the vending machine operators. Certainly they deserve to earn a living and their hard work should be rewarded, but not by me.
The other day, I was in a hotel and they had a soda machine on my floor. For a 20 ounce soda, they were asking $2. Granted, hotel vending machines tend to be on the pricier side of all vending machines, I have seen other machines asking $1.25 or $1 for the same product.
Buying a 20 ounce bottle (or keeping an old bottle from a previous purchase) and refilling it yourself can save money while providing a health benefit. You can trade the soda for 100% juice. Our local Aldi’s is currently selling a 64 ounce bottle for $1.50 of $2 depending on what kind of juice you buy. 64 ounces would fill your bottle 3 times. Purchasing 3 bottles from a vending machine would cost $3 to $6 depending on the location of the vending machine. Minimum savings = $1. Fill your bottle with water for even greater savings. Even purchasing the soda from the store would be cheaper than a vending machine.
Even solid snacks are less expensive purchasing them ahead of time. Our vending machine at work just raised their prices on 1 ounce bags of snacks (like pretzels or chips) to $0.65. Again, looking at our local Aldi’s, they are selling individually packaged cheese crackers for $2.20. That is for 6 packs, making the cost for each pack roughly $0.37 each - about half of what the vending machine charges.
Or I could buy reusable bags or containers and buy in bulk. A pretzel tub of “butter twists” costs $4 for 32 ounces. If I make my own 1 ounce package, That is 12.5 cents each package. Even if I splurge and get the peanut butter pretzels (8 ounces for $2.80), that is 35 cents per ounce. Pita chips are $2 for 9 ounces, or 22.2 cents for a one ounce serving.
A vending machine candy bar costs $0.85, or I can buy a 10 pack of granola bars for $1.60, making each granola bar 16 cents. Eight cereal bars are $1.90, making them 23.8 cents each.
Notice that in each case, I tried to replace each snack item with a healthier alternative. However, even purchasing the same item from the store will be cheaper than from vending machines. That doesn’t even include the potential savings from a warehouse store like Sam’s Club, which is often times where vending machine operators obtain their product. You can buy it for the same cost they do and bring it with you wherever you go instead of paying their markup.
What are some choices you have made to bring your own snacks with you? I look forward to hearing in the comments section.
Normally, I only post on Mondays. I have made one exception prior to today, so this will be my second exception.
Today, March 21, is World Down Syndrome Day, and the first WDSD recognized by the United Nations. The most common form of Down syndrome is a person having three copies of Chromosome 21. Usually we only have two copies of each of our 23 chromosomes. This extra chromosome gives them some common physical traits of Down syndrome such as are low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes, and a single deep crease across the center of the palm, but these are not indicative of the many strengths and talents that each individual possesses!
In the united States, there are over 400,000 individuals living with Down syndrome. The life expectancy for people with Down syndrome was 25 in 1983 and is 60 today. I would encourage you to join me in celebrating these individuals today.
There is a dedicated website for World Down Syndrome Day. The National Down Syndrome Society also has a lot of great resources at their website covering all aspects of Down Syndrome. I would encourage you to watch their Milestones video. In addition, be sure to read their Myths and Truths page.
The third Monday of the month is reserved to talk about Mental Riches. In my opinion, the best way to become mentally rich is to learn something. Past weeks, we have talked about reading and taking classes. Hopefully I will be able to teach you about something new: the Pittsburgh Left.
Pittsburgh is a very old city, so the streets and buildings were designed before cars were even thought about. Due to cars parked along the curb, many streets are only wide enough for a single lane of traffic in each direction.
If a car pulls up to an intersection and needs to turn left, it is often difficult to do so because of opposing traffic. Of course, the cars behind the turning car have no place to go, so they must also wait until that front car is able to turn and get out of their way. At a traffic signaled intersection, the vehicle turning left often has to wait through an entire cycle from green to amber before finally being able to turn as the opposing traffic comes to a stop for the red light. This means that all the cars behind that first car also had to wait through a cycle for the first car to turn, and then another cycle until they actually get to move. If there are several cars in a row that need to turn left and only one can turn at the end of each cycle, traffic can crawl to a standstill very quickly.
Enter the Pittsburgh Left. At a red light, the first two cars in each direction are facing each other. One of the cars wants to turn left and has used their turn signal to indicate their desire. The opposite car has no turn signal on and is intending to go straight. As the light turns green, the vehicle turning left does so first, then the opposite vehicle going straight proceeds through the intersection. By allowing the first vehicle to turn left first, the cars behind don’t have to wait through multiple cycles to go straight.
Lets look at this scenario through the eyes of both front drivers.
For the driver that needs to turn left, if he or she waits until the cycle almost finishes and finally gets to turn on the yellow, that driver gets delayed by the light and has a line of upset people behind them trying to go straight. Instead, they anticipate the light turning green and floor it in order to make the left before the opposing traffic starts into the intersection. This is very dangerous and illegal in Pennsylvania (turning traffic always has to yield to traffic going straight). I do not recommend initiating this at all for any reason. Wait it out. Upset the people behind you. They will survive, and so will you.
The other driver is first in line, has the intention of going straight, has the right of way when the light turns green, and sees the opposing driver’s turn signal indicating that they want to turn left. Although this driver has the right of way, he or she could certainly yield the right of way to the other driver (usually by flashing their headlights or using hand signals to the other driver). By yielding the right of way, they are delaying themselves and the people behind, but only by a few seconds. In addition, they are allowing the vehicles behind the left-hand turner to progress in a timely manner by not making them wait an additional cycle.
Although I do not live in Pittsburgh, I try to yield to the Pittsburgh Left as the situation arises. There are really only two cases where I won’t yield in that scenario. If I am going straight and the first opposing vehicle is turning left, I will not yield if there is more than one lane of traffic in my direction. If I yield, but the driver next to me does not, now I am really impeding traffic. The other case would be when there are no vehicles behind me, so the driver can easily turn left after I has passed through the intersection (although I still yield in this situation on occasion).
In my opinion, a two second delay for myself is a price I am willing to pay to help out a fellow human being. And the riches I receive from helping others are priceless.
Have you ever yielded (or considered yielding) to a Pittsburgh Left? What are other acts you do—random acts of kindness, so to speak—to help others? I look forward to hearing your ideas in the comments.
Larry Burkett wrote,
We have become terribly imbalanced. We give a myriad of useless gifts at Christmas because it’s expected of us, and we feel guilty if we don’t. The commercialized world now makes a $100 toy seem perfectly normal.
It’s easy to observe the stress that our imbalanced society places on family members. Christian parents who can’t provide the latest indulgences to their children are often depressed and distraught. Obviously, no one person purposely makes them feel unworthy or insignificant, but the overwhelming emphasis we place on giving at Christmas certainly does.
So great is this social pressure that the closer we get toward Christmas Day, the more depressed and unworthy those who can’t indulge feel. Unfortunately, the pressures don’t end after Christmas is past either.
We must develop a plan for our families without the pressure from the commercial world. To do so, we must first believe that God’s plan is different from the world’s and is more, not less, fulfilling. More emphasis must be placed on the values taught in God’s Word.
The key is balance, which comes from following God’s wisdom.
“The Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores up sound wisdom for the upright… and He preserves the way of His godly ones” (Proverbs 2:6-8 NASB).
That probably means someone won’t get the gift they want; others may not get a gift at all. And that’s okay.
So on the first Monday of the month, I talk about Financial Riches. More specifically, how to get rich from a cash perspective.
So it may seem odd that I want to encourage you to buy food for breaks and bring it with you instead of buying on location from a vending machine.
I mean, shouldn’t “buying” be on the “Material Riches” Monday? Perhaps directly, but I want to focus on the indirect benefit (and we may look at the direct benefit on a different Monday).
By bringing your own break food (or snacks), you can control not only the health quality of the snack, but also the portion size.
This will help increase energy, making your more productive at work (with the potential to earn more money for doing more work).
This will help decrease health issues, causing less spent at doctor’s offices and hospitals (and less time away from work, causing a loss in wages).
What do you snack on? Are you addicted to vending machines? I’m eager to hear your thoughts in the comments.
So I was listening to a podcast the other day and the speaker mentioned sitting at home on Thanksgiving Day eating dinner… and all of a sudden realizing that this year, Christmas was next month! Like they change the date! But it always seems to have a way of sneaking up on us.
Oh, and Valentine’s day was a few weeks ago.
So how do those two topics relate, and why am I writing about Christmas in February?
When my wife and I got engaged, we set our wedding day almost a year away. The greatest part about having a year to plan a wedding was that every holiday happened between our engagement and our wedding. After every holiday, we would go shopping and get really great clearance items from the holiday that just passed. For example, right after Valentine’s Day, we got a bunch of heart shaped decorations for 50% off saving us a bunch of money.
I would encourage you to start saving for Chirstmas now. Open up a new savings account at your bank and have a certain dollar amount scheduled to transfer automatically on payday to that account. Figure out how much you spent last year (or how much you plan to send this year), how many pay periods between now and mid-November, and divide the two to determine how much to set aside.
By starting now, if you see a good clearance sale (like end of season or holiday sales) or a great deal, you will already have cash set aside for gifts to take advantage of the savings. (You will just need to find a good place to hide the gifts—and remember where they are come December).
By saving through mid-November, you will still have about a month to find the gifts you weren’t able to get deals on during the rest of the year before Christmas arrives.
When you do find good deals, you really have two options on what to do with the savings. For example, suppose you had planned to spend $20 on your young niece.
You get a great deal and find a $30 gift for only $20. Her gift upgraded without spending additional money.
Or you get a great deal and find a $20 gift for $15. With the $5 saved, you can put it towards your own savings or buy a second smaller gift for the remaining amount.
What are you doing to prepare for Christmas? Have you started saving money early? Do you buy gifts early? Let me know what you are doing in the comments.
I am a huge fan of learning new things. When I graduated from college, I learned how to ride a motorcycle. Like last month’s post, not only have I learned how to ride, but now I am also teaching those skills to others.
Although there are many curriculums and places that will teach you to ride a motorcycle, The curriculum I use was developed by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF). Although the MSF is headquartered in California, they have training sites all over the United States. Specifically, I teach for the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program (PAMSP).
The MSF offers many different classes for may different kinds of people. Some classes are done in a classroom setting only. The class called Intersection was designed for people who have no intentions on riding a motorcycle, but want to be more aware of motorcyclists on the road.
The class they are probably best known for is the Basic RiderCourse (BRC). Currently, the BRC runs 15 hours, of which 5 are in a classroom setting and the other 10 are practicing on a motorcycle in a low-speed, controlled environment. (Note that the motorcycle and helmet can be provided, so you can take the class without fully committing to riding.)
The BRC is designed for beginners (people who have never been on a motorcycle before or have limited riding time), but I have taught people who have been riding for decades who told me after the class that they still learned a lot and were glad they took the course. Other people, after taking the class, decided that motorcycle riding was not for them, but they can use many of the skills they learned when driving a car.
In some states (including Pennsylvania), successful completion of the BRC will automatically earn you your motorcycle license if you don’t already have it. The cost varies from state to state and location to location. In Pennsylvania, there is no additional cost to residents (the cost is paid through obtaining your permit and renewing your license, so “free” when you sign up). Out-of-state residents currently pay $250 to take it in PA (and we cannot license out-of-state residents).
Pennsylvania and the MSF also offer more advanced courses. For example, the Basic RiderCourse 2 is a 6 hour training done on your own bike. Cost is free to PA residents, $150 for out-of-state residents, and successful completion can earn you your motorcycle license.
For people who ride motorcycles, I recommend taking the BRC at least once in your lifetime, and to take the BRC2 at least once a year and whenever you get a new motorcycle. Research has shown that we tend to use the knowledge from safety courses for about 6 months after the course. Taking the BRC2 once a year keeps that information fresh in our mind. Also, since the BRC2 is taken on your own motorcycle, taking it when you get a new motorcycle will help you learn its control and operation is a low-speed, controlled environment. If you ride with a passenger, or if you are a passenger, the two of you can take the BRC2 together so the rider can feel and learn the differences of riding with a passenger and the passenger can better learn what they can do to maintain safety on the motorcycle.
Do you ride? If so, what do you ride? Have you taken any safety course for riding?Do you want to learn how to ride? Tell me in the comments.
Let me start out by saying that this site will NEVER talk about getting rich quickly.
Most people who come into a lot of money quickly cannot handle the responsibility and are worse off because of it. Feel free to ask Stanley Kirk Burrell, Bud Post, Kenny Anderson, and the list is endless.
When discussing Get Rich Quick opportunities, Larry Burkett said, “Most of the time this leads to ‘get-poor-quicker’ instead of get-rich-quick.”
Larry went on to say:
You can avoid falling into a get-rich-quick snare if you will set a minimum time to pray and seek God’s direction, never risk money you can’t afford to lose, never become involved with things you don’t understand, demand enough information for a thorough evaluation, and seek counsel from knowledgeable and impartial Christians.
Wise words indeed.