COLUMN: Managing money should hurt a little

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By Jon Rohr

The other day I was balancing my checkbook, and I was reminded about how dangerous those little plastic ATM cards are. Before you know it, you can spend a lot of money on a little bit of nothing. Now don’t get me wrong I like the convenience, but that convenience carries a risk.
Remember when we used to pay cash at our favorite burger joint? Now we pull out the plastic. And while we are pulling out the plastic we are upsizing, adding a piece of pie, or ordering a salad as well. Those companies figured out that if they let us use plastic, we’d spend more. A recent Dunn and Bradstreet report showed that the average cash transaction at one of these places is $4.50, but it rises to $7 with the card.
MRI scanners show that a part of the brain associated with pain activates when we spend cash. It is less likely to activate when we use a card (Everyday Money, 11-8-2010). Apparently spending cash hurts, using cards doesn’t. So, with a card, we get the joy of a new gadget, or bigger lunch without the pain of paying for it.
Did you know that the Lord tells us to avoid debt and be careful with our money? Paul says, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another… (Romans 13:8 NIV). In another place we read, “A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children…” (Proverbs 13:22 NIV). He is telling us to plan ahead with our money and not just to give in to every little impulse.
God cares about us and about our families, so he wants us to handle our money wisely. He knows that money keeps a roof over our heads. It puts food on the table and clothes on the kids backs. The Lord wants us to hang on to our money, so that we have what we need, so that we leave an inheritance for our children.
There are plenty of folks out there with a plan to take your money, what is your plan to keep it? Do you have a savings plan? Do you keep a budget? How do you control your own impulse buying? This week ask the Lord to help you make wise plans for your money. Invest in yourself, not just in your Visa card. And maybe the pain of using cash for lunch might help the waistline, too.