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Faith-guided financial advice has some merits |

Faith-guided financial advice has some merits

Gregory Karp
| Sunday, July 26, 2009 12:00 a.m

Discussing money and religion can be dicey, even as it’s more common.

As people turn to a faith-based view of personal finance, the number of sources speaking to them is growing. Among the most popular might be get-out-of-debt guru Dave Ramsey, who dispenses advice on radio and TV via Fox Business News. He ends each radio show saying: “There’s ultimately only one way to financial peace and that’s to walk daily with the prince of peace, Christ Jesus.”

Crown Financial Ministries and Good $ense offer Bible-based financial advice at church seminars.

A new book, ” Money Strategies for Tough Times ” by Matt Bell, relates his advice the Bible and its more than 2,000 verses on money and possessions. “You could say it’s the best-selling personal finance book of all time,” Bell said.

Whether you’re religious or not, biblical notions about money and spending might provide guidance.

Get the order right: “Once you have money, there are only a handful of things you can do with it — you can spend it, you can save it or you can give it away,” Bell said. A more biblical order is giving, saving and then building a lifestyle on what remains, he said. “But it flips the cultural teaching on its head,” he said.

Giving first: The Bible talks about giving in many ways, including a tithe, defined in the Old Testament as 10 percent of earnings. “Ultimately it’s a heart issue,” Bell said. “Giving is not about God’s need for money. It’s a training tool to remind us God is No. 1 in our lives.”

Saving and planning: The Bible repeatedly says you should save and plan for the future and lean times. In Proverbs 6:6-8, it uses an ant’s storage habits to admonish nonsavers.

Spending and debt: “Spend less than you make” is a constant refrain of personal finance experts, and it harkens to the Bible. “I think sometimes biblical money management gets cast as this obsessive, frugal life — to save a nickel on every can of tuna we buy,” Bell said. “It’s not that; it’s about being wise.”

Money is not evil: One of the most misquoted Bible verses is “money is the root of all evil,” when it really says, “the love of money is the root of all evil.”

The Bible “gives so much practical advice, it’s clear God knew we would need help in this area,” Bell said.

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