Every now and then I get people saying ‘Gee, you guys must be rich to do what you do.’ While we have been blessed with lots, financial freedom has been not one of them. Of course, if we decided not to travel every year to serve communities in Africa we certainly would’ve had the house, great dental work and the most up to date fashion.
I decided in this blog to let people know that you can actually do what we do, and probably even better by doing it sooner than us.
1. Decide where you want to spend your money.
For one week keep a notebook of everything you spend cash on. It will shock you when you realise how much goes onto things that you can’t show for.
I added up how much money Pete was spending on buying one coffee a day, over a year and it added up to around $1,500 a year. He could buy a really good cappuccino machine for that!
For us, we decided that we wanted to spend money on travel. We wanted to give our kids a global world view and let them see that the whole world isn’t white, English speaking and in the mid to high economic sector of life.
2. Incidental Saving
When we came back from Africa in 2011 Pete had broken his leg, was self employed, no income protection and had plenty of work to complete. It meant that for 8 weeks we had no income besides what I brought in and the few jobs of his I could do (but nowhere as good as him). Thankfully we have very little debt (highly recommended) but Pete wasn’t even entitled to the sickness benefit because we were 2 months short of being here for 10 years (Govt requirement).
Even though cash was in short supply we spent $5 and bought one of those metal money tins and made a decision that ANY coins that entered the house had to go into that tin. It didn’t matter if it was $2 or 20 cents, it all went in. We decided that the money would go towards our setup costs in Kenya.
The first tin had just over $500 in it. The second tin, which is bigger, is just over half full now. It’s Incidental saving, but it’s worth it.
We’re actually going to the States for 2 weeks before we head to Nairobi. We’ve always wanted to go to Disneyland so I’ve worked it out how we can get there for not much more than going directly to Kenya. How do we get there? Save Lizzies board money, all of it of course! We have always paid for our travel with cash, never putting it on a credit card. No point in going then spending forever to pay it off.
3. God is our provider
The last 2 years have been financially challenging that’s for sure. I turned down going into the corporate sector where I could’ve made 5 times the amount of money so I could set up BeyondWater and help with Afri-Lift. Last year we had no income for 4 months, 2012 hasn’t been fantastic. The bottom line is we can never bring in enough for what we want or need to do, that’s God’s job. Our role is to work hard, seek Him (Matt 6:33) and be good stewards with what we’ve been given.
While you can have most things in your life most of the time, you can’t have everything all the time. For us that meant for two years in a row there was no going to the movies, buying CD’s, clothes shopping or buying anything that wasn’t related to a trip to Africa. It was the whole family sacrificing, not just us as parents. Any board money has gone into trips, we’ve cancelled our Foxtel (painful during the Olympics) and although we desperately need a new car, the old one will have to do for now. In fact, we’ve only ever had one car, public transport has been great in Sydney.
5. Be happy
Giving up, sacrificing and saving is a great thing, don’t treat it like it’s a burden to bear. The most important thing is to satisfied no matter what the situation looks like. While sacrifice is considered a swear word these days, it’s a good value to have in your life. We are in an instant world and if we don’t get it now, put it on credit and then spend years paying it back, then it isn’t considered worthy. We need to get a bigger vision, one that is worth sacrificing for.
Phil 4:11 states ‘for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances’.
‘If you are worried about something be happy because if you keep going it will be double worry’ that’s what Bobby McFerrin said in 1988
I prefer Guy Sebastian’s version – HERE
Our situation in the Western World is financially miles ahead of that of Developing Countries, yet most of us are in debt that is like sinking sand in our lives. I highly suggest freeing ourselves up to be able to do the things God wants us to do.