I've been thinking a lot recently about my 'financial capability'. Not a phrase you tend to use in everyday conversation, or even a term that rolls off the tongue particularly well, but it's something I’ve been thinking about... mainly because of my lack of it. To the extent I took one of those highly scientific surveys on social media to determine my financial personality. Apparently, I’m a generous indulger. Hah!
Financial capability, (also known as financial literacy or financial education), focuses on the knowledge and skills required to make effective and informed money management decisions. And whilst pondering this it's caused me to think about how I seem to have got to adulthood without understanding how to properly handle my finances. And this question is something I’ve been asking friends and colleagues, with pretty much the same answer as mine.
But though my financial education has been limited, there are a number of lessons that I can look back on that have helped shape my approach to, and my priorities, about money.
Tithing - ok this is going to be a bit controversial, this is the practice of giving a tenth of your income back to God. It is often dismissed as outdated or 'under the law', but for me, it sets the priority for how I steward the salary I receive. I’m fascinated that the Bible has so much to say about money and how we handle it, and it kind of makes sense to me that if the Bible and my relationship with God is central to my life, then that should include my money as well. So, committing that 10% of my salary back to God via the church, is probably the first thing I do with my salary each month.
A second thing I’ve done is to try and learn from people who have good money habits. I'm grateful to those who have chided and cajoled me into making sure I have pensions and savings in place, which I’ve appreciated when the occasional financial crisis, that inevitably hits all of us, comes a-knocking.
But you know what? I also think it’s OK to give lots of money away. Let's face it I'm never going to be one of those people with a huge nest egg, and will probably be working well into my dotage, but I’m happy with that if it means I’ve been able to bring help, support, relief and frankly pleasure to people's lives along the way because of how I’ve used my resource. A Bible heroine of mine is the widow who gave her last two coins (Luke 21:1-4). And as a charity fundraiser for Church Urban Fund, maybe that's why I'm greatly moved when we receive gifts of a few coins taped to an envelope (of course we are extremely grateful for the large cheques as well!). Because just like that widow who gave everything she had into the offering bowl, these gifts have been given sacrificially, and that caught Jesus' attention, and ultimately that's the sort of financial personality I desire to have.