brown on green, A Regular column about finances
People need margins. A friend taught me this many years ago. We all prefer driving on roads with wide lanes rather than narrow ones because we have a greater margin of safety if something happens. The same is true in life. No one can go full speed 24/7 without doing severe damage to himself.
We all should be busy working in the Kingdom, but need to realize we can’t do everything in the church. Many times others will step in and share the load if we are wise enough to allow them an opportunity to serve. Creating margins in our Christian service is not an excuse to do nothing, but rather an acknowledgement that we all have limits. As Will Rogers once quipped, “Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save.”
Family life needs margins. First of all, family time should not be left in the margins—time when you are not doing anything else. We should also help guard our children’s margins. Many children today have schedules busier than an adult. Every waking hour is filled with some type of activity.
Everyone, including our kids, needs a time when he or she is doing nothing. Family vacations can sometimes be so meticulously planned that there is no down time.
You also need margins in the way you handle finances. If every dime is spent every month, you have no financial margins. When establishing a budget, you must save a portion of your income. If you are considering buying a car that will require payments, you must not allow your savings margin to be used to make the payment. Inevitably, some emergency will arise beyond your budget, and those bills must be paid. The washer breaks, a water pump goes out on your car, or a child has a playground accident resulting in a medical bill. If you don’t have emergency savings, these expenses may end up on a credit card. That will cost you even more in interest. Every family needs to have a budget with a margin for unexpected expenses.
Proverbs 6 exhorts us to look to the ant for wisdom. He works diligently to make sure he has enough food for the winter. The passage does not specifically say so, but it is likely that even the ant gathers more than enough to provide a margin. And, as early 20th century actress Marie Dressler once joked, “Ants are such busy workers, but they always find time to go to all those picnics!”
Thanks, Tommy, for teaching me to create margins in my life.
About the Writer: David Brown, CPA, became director of the Free Will Baptist Foundation in 2007. Send your questions to David at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn how the Foundation can help you become a more effective giver, call 877-336-7575.