Read an Excerpt
Your Money Map
A Proven 7-Step Guide to True Financial Freedom
By Howard Dayton
Moody Publishers Copyright © 2006 Howard Dayton
All rights reserved.
It was finally time. My wife, Bev, and I had decided years ago to drive our car until the wheels were ready to fall off. After 185,000 miles, it was time to trade in the "blue bomber."
We drove to a dealership that had a good reputation for selling low-mileage used cars. As we pulled up, a salesman approached us. "Hi. Name is Matt Mitchell. Can I help you?"
Matt was young and likeable, with a smile that lit up his face. We chose a car, agreed on a price, and he invited us into his office.
"Let's fill out the paperwork and the car will be yours," he said, reaching into his desk for a stack of forms. After we completed them he said, "Next stop is the finance department. You've got to pay for this beauty, you know."
"Oh, we don't need to meet with the finance department. We'll just pay cash for it," Bev said. "We've been saving for this for several years."
"What? You've got to be kidding!" Matt responded with a look of disbelief. "I'm really curious. How'd you do it?"
"A number of years ago we learned what God says about money, and it completely changed how we handle our finances," I responded.
"God says something about money?" Matt interrupted. "He says something about saving up to buy a car for cash?"
"Well," I chuckled, "He didn't mention anything about buying cars, but the Bible contains 2,350 verses on how to handle money and possessions. You might be surprised to learn that 15 percent of everything Jesus Christ said had to do with it. In fact, He talked more about money than almost any other subject. He knew money would be a challenge for all of us, and He cared enough to show us how to handle it wisely."
The expression on Matt's face changed from skepticism to sincere interest. "Look, I wonder if my wife and I could talk with you. We're, well, we're in real financial trouble," he stammered. "Not to mention that Jennifer is expecting our second child in about three months.
"And most of our friends are also struggling financially. It doesn't seem to matter their age, or if they're single or married—or even how much they earn. Some of them are making good money, too. They all have too much debt and not enough savings. Job security doesn't seem to exist anymore, and I don't know many seriously planning for retirement.
"On top of everything else, Jennifer and I have a gnawing feeling there are serious problems in our country's economy—problems that could affect us someday. We don't know what to do next. We don't know where to turn for help. Frankly, we're a little scared."
"Matt, you're right to be concerned," I said. "There are huge problems facing our economy. Global competition from emerging powerhouses like China and India, losing jobs to outsourcing overseas, a Social Security system that is projected to run out of money, the skyrocketing cost of health care and gasoline, the threat of terrorism, and mind-boggling federal debt and trade deficits—well, the list just goes on and on.
"Hey ... here's an idea. Bev and I could meet with you and Jennifer and talk about your finances," I said. "We'd love to get together. Give me your address, and I'll send you a form to complete that will help us better understand your situation. It's called a financial statement, and on it you'll list everything you own and everything you owe."
As we drove home, Bev said what I had been thinking about during our first meeting with the Mitchells. "Don't forget to send that financial statement you promised Matt. I really want to meet Jennifer and help them get turned around."
How we handle money is simply an outside indicator of our internal spiritual condition. — Larry Burkett
Cofounder of Crown Financial MinistriesCHAPTER 2
A week later, Bev and I met with Matt and Jennifer.
"How did the two of you first meet?" Bev asked.
"Well, I met Matt just the way you did," Jennifer replied. "I needed to buy a car, and Matt was the salesman. After we'd spent just a few minutes together, I knew he was something special."
"And I felt the same way," Matt chimed in, smiling. "It was amazing—two people so different from each other falling in love.
"I'm a salesman; Jennifer teaches the fourth grade. I always look at the big picture; Jennifer is great with details. And ..." he added sheepishly, "I'm a spender; she's a saver."
"Some of our differences are because of our family backgrounds," Jennifer explained. "After my parents divorced, I was raised by my mom, and we had to watch every penny. Matt's parents spent whatever they wanted, but money became a huge source of conflict between them. They ended up fighting about it a lot."
"That's right," Matt acknowledged. "And when Jennifer and I were filling out the financial statement you gave us, we ended up in an argument."
I saw color creeping into Jennifer's face as she added, "It was bad news. We had no idea how much trouble we were in. The reality of owing a lot more than we owned triggered a lot of emotion, and we didn't handle it well."
"But the good news is that you now know the facts," I responded. "The Bible says, 'Any enterprise is built by wise planning, becomes strong through common sense, and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts.' It's nearly impossible to make wise financial decisions without facing the facts."
Been There—Done That
When the Mitchells shared their situation, I understood how they felt. Before learning God's way of handling money, Bev and I had been on the hook for a ton of debt and had little savings.
However, once we learned and applied God's financial principles, everything changed. And I mean everything! It didn't happen overnight, but within ten years we were financially free. We were completely debt-free—including our home—had savings in the bank, and had become much more generous. We had come from financial bondage to financial freedom. Words cannot describe how good it felt. Now I want you to experience this same freedom.
Someone once told me that God often allows a person to teach a subject because the teacher desperately needs it! That is true for me. I have never met anyone who had more wrong attitudes about money or who handled it more contrary to the Bible than I did.
Some of you reading this book are in deep financial difficulty. You may feel as if you are suffocating under a load of bills and debts. Others of you fear you can't make fast enough progress with your finances. But with God's help you can make real progress. Crown Financial Ministries has worked with literally millions of people. I know from experience there is hope for you. I have repeatedly seen God bless the efforts of those who apply His financial principles. The Bible says, "Nothing is impossible with God." It is true. You can do it.
Of course, it will require effort on your part. You will need to be serious about learning God's way of handing money. You may need to become more disciplined in your spending. But I promise you, it will be worth it! Oh, will it be worth it!
Let me acquaint you with Crown Financial Ministries. Crown is a nonprofit organization that exists to help you. In 2005, Crown taught about ten million people worldwide what you are going to learn in this book. Our radio programs are broadcast on more than one thousand stations in the United States. Crown also works with tens of thousands of churches to help their members learn God's way of handling money.
Since starting Crown in 1985, I've served as a full-time volunteer receiving no salary or book royalties. The reason I have given my life to this work and am passionate about you learning what the Bible says about money is simple: I want you to enjoy true financial freedom.
Let me encourage you. We've all made mistakes with money in the past—I certainly have made more than my share! Do not let a sense of guilt paralyze or overwhelm you; rather, learn from the experience. The apostle Paul said it this way, "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal." I want you to press on toward the goal of true financial freedom.
Increasingly, people wonder where they can turn for financial advice. There are two basic choices: the Bible and the answers people come up with. The way most people handle money is completely contrary to God's financial principles. The Lord tells us, "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways."
This book will use the Crown Money Map to provide you a simple, proven way to navigate your own journey to true financial freedom—freedom that comes from getting out of debt, increasing your giving and savings, and most importantly, drawing closer to Christ. Remember, the principles you will be learning are a gift from a loving God—a gift intended to benefit you.
A Question from Matt
Matt interrupted me, "But what about the problems in our economy? How are they going to impact us in the future?"
"That's right," Jennifer added. "Too many people we know have lost their jobs to cheap labor overseas. Prices seem to be going up on everything, and salaries just aren't keeping up with inflation. From what I hear, the government is going deeper and deeper in debt. Something's gotta give, and I'm afraid it's going to hurt."
I looked across the table at the Mitchells and said, "Your concerns are justified. Most people sense there are giant problems in our economy that could affect us all. This is another reason why you need to be really serious about applying God's principles now. Don't wait until things get worse. Although God's way of handling money works regardless of what's happening in the economy, it's much easier to make progress on your financial journey when the economy is in good shape.
"Well, let's take a look at your financial statement," I said.
Matt glanced at Jennifer and reluctantly slid the paper across the table. My eyes went to the bottom line and saw a negative net worth of $21,720.
After glancing at the statement, I said, "Let's get together in about a week. I'll study this. Now I'd like you to do three things before we meet."
"One of the reasons I wanted you to complete a financial statement is to determine if there's anything you don't really need that might be sold to help you make faster progress on your journey. Ask yourselves this hard question about everything you have: Do we really need it? If not, consider selling it. You can use the money to pay off debt and build up your savings.
"Second," I continued, "keep track of every penny you both spend for the next thirty days. Carry some paper with you and write down everything you spend to give you an accurate idea of what you're actually spending. This is the first step in developing a Spending Plan, which you'll start at Destination 1.
"Then get together each day to review what you spent and record it. Begin each of these meetings by praying for each other. As you might have guessed, this can be an emotional time. I want you to love and encourage each other through it.
"Third, study the Crown Money Map," I said, handing it to them. "This is the map you'll follow on your journey to true financial freedom.
"Bev and I will coach you every step of the way. And never forget: The Lord will be with you through the entire journey."
The assignment I gave to Matt and Jennifer is your assignment, too. You need to get a firm grip on the reality of your situation. There is a blank Financial Statement on page 28. If you haven't already completed a similar one, please complete it.
Also, begin writing down everything you spend for thirty days. Then you'll be ready to complete your own Spending Plan and make some real progress on the journey to true financial freedom.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. — AnonymousCHAPTER 3
Your Money Map
We invited the Mitchells to our home for dinner. Over the meal, Matt and Jennifer told us they were feeling financial hope for the first time in a long time. They realized the journey they were about to begin was one of the most important steps of their married life, and they could feel their relationship improving. The stress and hopelessness of financial bondage were gradually being replaced by the hope of financial freedom.
Matt recognized that Jennifer had a need for financial stability, that she felt more secure in their marriage when their finances were in good shape. And Jennifer told how she had started to think of ways to cut expenses instead of spending and complaining.
After the meal, Matt spread a copy of the Crown Money Map on the table. "We're finding it easier to discuss our finances without fighting. And now that we have the Money Map, we have a clear picture of what to do next."
"It's the journey Bev and I have been on for more than thirty years," I responded. "As I mentioned in our last meeting, we started with a mountain of debt, little savings, and we weren't generous givers. How we each thought about money and spent it strained our marriage terribly. We had no clue that the Bible said so much about it.
"Once we learned God's way of handling money, we wanted to work toward true financial freedom. In other words, we wanted to get in a position where we didn't need to earn a salary to meet our needs. We wanted to be able to volunteer part or all of our time to serve our church or a ministry without having to receive a wage if that's where the Lord wanted us to work.
"As great as that goal sounded, it seemed totally unrealistic, and we had all kinds of questions. Where should we start? What should we do next? How could we stay motivated for so long? These challenges were amplified because our finances were in such poor shape.
"We also knew this would take a loooong time and require a lot of effort, but that by God's grace it was possible."
I explained that eventually I stumbled across the "steady plodding" principle. The Bible says, "Steady plodding brings prosperity." The original Hebrew words for steady plodding pictures a person filling a large barrel one handful at a time. Little by little the barrel is filled to overflowing.
"This was the way we could reach true financial freedom" I told Matt and Jennifer. "We needed to have a plan with a series of small, achievable steps along the way. And we always needed to focus on accomplishing the next step on the journey no matter what challenges we faced. We lived what has become the Crown Money Map. And it works!"
The Crown Money Map
Crown Financial Ministries developed the Money Map to help people on their journey toward true financial freedom. It is easy to understand and follow, and is a proven, step-by-step guide that works for everyone regardless of your financial situation. You may not reach the final destination, but you can make progress. And I have good news for you: Each destination along the way brings you greater freedom, peace, stability, and even joy.
The Journey to True Financial Freedom
Find your destination.
A color foldout containing the seven destinations is attached to the inside back cover. Open the foldout and look at the seven destinations on the journey, also shown on the next two pages.
Excerpted from Your Money Map by Howard Dayton. Copyright © 2006 Howard Dayton. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
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