The Association Forum

The problem of personal finance.

By J.K. Jones

By H.W. Cottrell

By G.W. Wells

The Minister and His Income

By J.K. Jones

The Divine Plan: " The Levites shall do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation: . . it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they have no inheritance." Num. 18: 23.

" Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel." 1 Cor. 9: 13, 14.

It is very clear that in the divine plan, the minister is required to de­vote his entire time to his sacred call­ing, and is not to become entangled with business pursuits or anything of a commercial character which might tend to divide his time and interests. The divine plan requires that the min­ister burn all commercial bridges be­hind him, and become absolutely de­pendent upon the Lord's treasury, sus­tained by the tithe of the people, for the support of himself and his family.

The problem facing the minister, therefore, is not how to increase the income, but how to adjust personal re­quirements so as to keep within the allotted income. In exceptional cases a sum of money has been on hand when the minister entered upon his sacred calling, which has proved a re­serve fund upon which to draw in case of apparent need. But in the majority of cases this is not the situation, and every Seventh-day Adventist minister should give serious thought to adjust­ing his financial obligations so as to keep within the income allowed by the conference. The minister who fails to keep his expenses within his income must sooner or later find himself con­fronted by embarrassing situations which react in detriment to the Lord's work.

1. Debts are incurred, and thus the impression is given that either Sev­enth-day Adventist ministers do not receive a sufficient wage, or that the minister is extravagant. Both of these impressions, especially if noted by people of the world, are decidedly detrimental to the minister and the work which he is endeavoring to do.

2. By exceeding his income, the min­ister is forced to borrow, either from worldly friends or from brethren in the church. A minister soon weakens his influence when he follows the policy of borrowing money.

3. Living beyond one's income, pre­vents the minister from being the leader of the, church in sacrifice and gifts to God's cause. By pleading pov­erty, he draws attention to his own needs, rather than to the Lord's work; and while a few may sympathize with him, the majority of the church mem­bers will condemn him for not being a better financier in his own home.

4. Living beyond the income brings discouragement to the minister, and keeps him in a state of worry and anxiety; and no minister can bring cheer and hope to others while labor­ing under discouragement.

Personal Plans and Suggestions

Personally, I have faithfully and consistently followed the plan of " pay­as-you-go-or-don't-go," ever since I entered the ministry. It is sheer finan­cial suicide for a preacher to launch out into the deep with his living ex­penses, purchasing this or that, when he does not know where the money is to come from to pay for such things. To go ahead and buy furniture, cloth­ing, etc., without the necessary funds on hand or in sight, is surely an un­wise policy. I fear that far too many of our ministers place in their homes many things which they could just as well do without, knowing when they do it that they are not able to handle the financial end of the prop­osition.

I believe that we should cut down our expense so that it comes within our income. This, of course, involves denying ourselves some things; but after all, that is the life every min­ister is supposed to live. If we ad­vise the people to cut down expenses and live within their means, surely we, as preachers, should set them an example. Seventh-day Adventist min­isters are paid better wages than ever before, and it does seem that there is little excuse for creating debts.

I also believe that workers, espe­cially those having children, should plan to lay by a little from time to time, in order to be prepared for a sudden emergency, which is likely to arise in the life of any worker in this cause. Under normal conditions, where no sickness prevails, this can be done without decreasing our gifts to God's cause.

When it comes to the cutting down of expenses to keep within the income, there should not be any decrease in our offerings for the Lord's work, for that would surely work injury to the minister and weaken his influence with the people. By carefully study­ing economy in the home,— simplicity in diet, discarding luxuries, and cau­tion in selecting furniture, clothing, etc.,— the minister and the members of his family will be better off physically and financially, for there will be at least a small sum left each month to be laid aside for emergency.

Each preacher decides his own finan­cial destiny. It is not always the man that lives beyond his income who is the most liberal in giving to God's cause. The man who carefully budgets his expenses so as to keep them within his income, is in far better position to be of real financial help to the cause of God.

Union Springs, N. Y.

Go! But Pay as You Go

By H.W. Cottrell

There is but one place in this world, so far as temporal things are con­cerned, where a person can live and be happy, and that place is within, his income. A family living beyond the family income is operating a losing business, and will ultimately reach financial and spiritual collapse. The amount consumed above the personal or family income must be extracted from well-disposed relatives or unsus­pecting friends, and sooner or later will result in disaster. The normal man, who has learned the principle of financial economy, can provide for individual or household needs and keep within his income.

Young men in the gospel ministry, God has called you to a sacred work. His summons is, " Go ye," but in all reverence we add the admonition, " pay as you go." Your weekly salary may be meager, comparatively speak­ing, but determine to live within its boundary, and thus escape the peril which lurks beyond. There may oft-times come the temptation to invest money " on the side " in some get-rich­quick scheme. But do not yield to this insidious suggestion. Take this coun­sel from a minister who has lived more than his " threescore years and ten " and has kept out of that snare. When one has placed his hand to the gospel plow, he should never bring discredit to this sacred calling by look­ing back into the monetary realm with a view to personal gain.

Those who sincerely desire to solve this difficult problem of keeping within financial bounds, should look the situation straight in the face. By this, I mean that the minister and his wife should place the month's salary on the table, and from it set apart, first of all, the tithe to the Lord, and then deduct from the wage check the amount to be contributed to home and foreign missions. As the minister and his wife are partners, they should together decide on the pro­portionate amounts to be set aside: First, so much for joint expense,—house and housekeeping; second, so much for personal expense of each; and third, so much to be saved each month. If the amount of the check is inadequate to cover the needs as first worked out, then re-invoice the needs. Remember, you cannot "short " the Lord in His portion, nor can you afford to deduct from the amount you must save; therefore, the economizing must come on personal or general ex­penses.

When subjected to this process of expansion, possibly the salary check will not provide delicacies in food and superfluities in dress, as may seem desirable. At this point, it is well to recall conditions during the World War, and remember the loyal attitude of the thousands who made every possible sacrifice in order to conserve supplies for the needs of the boys in the trenches. From this standpoint it becomes comparatively easy to learn the needed lesson of economy, and achieve financial success in the realm of the minister's meager salary. It is true that there are many things which one cannot do without; yet it is nearly always possible to postpone the getting of them until he has mastered the art of living within his income.

Husband and wife should make it a fixed rule to pay cash for all pur­chases. My personal policy has been, never to contract any bills; and the reason is that there will come a day of settlement, and it may find me un­prepared. The man who asks for credit at a store, or borrows money of another, is operating on an unsafe financial basis.

You may say, " But I am obliged to get a month's credit at the grocery, until I receive my month's salary, as I have no cash on hand." In such a case, it is essential to employ the pre­ventive measure which will obviate such a situation. By adopting World War period rations, both in quantity and quality, for two or three months, the grocer's bill will grow smaller, and the household purse fill up, making it possible henceforth to pay cash for purchases.

I knew a young couple, more than forty years ago, who started their mar­ried life without any financial help. It is true that they had saved a few hundred dollars with which to estab­lish a home, but they decided to loan this money until it was needed, and as so often happens, the one who ob­tained the loan from them was living beyond his income and was never able to meet his obligations. Soon after marriage, this young couple connected with the cause of present truth, and have now been actively engaged in the Lord's work for nearly half a century. They have always paid an honest tithe, and given liberally from the remain­ing nine tenths of their income. Never have they been on the " credit list " at any store, and have made it a rule of life to secure, of things needed only such as they could pay cash for, and never to purchase any­thing on the installment plan or to contract a debt. During all these years, this man and his wife have received the denominational wage. They are still living, and are able to say that they " owe no man anything " but love.

From the platform of candid con­viction backed by long experience, I can freely say that if the principles herein suggested are adhered to, with due safeguard against becoming pos­sessed with the spirit of wild finan­cial adventure, those who are engaged in the work of the gospel ministry can tithe, and give, and save, and live within their weekly salary.

National City, Calif.

Results of Thirty-five Years'  Experience

By A Departmental Secretary of the General Conference*

As to the handling of personal funds, I pass on the experiences of our thirty-five years of married life, as follows:

1. Ledger Account.— For the first few years we merely kept an account of receipts and expenditures, but later began posting the items to regular headings, such as Clothing, Donations, Light, Fuel, Food, Household Ex­penses, Literature, Laundry, Rent, Sickness and Health, Sundries, Tithe, Taxes, Travel, Wages, and Savings. We purchased a cap-size 200-page cash­book and a 300-page ledger, wrote in our ledger headings, and began keep­ing permanent records. A ten-cent manila daybook was used to put down the- original entries, and they were written up monthly. (I now prefer the " Personal Cash Record and Budget " published by the Southern Publishing Association, which com­bines the Cash Book and Ledger idea). Many an ice cream sundae have I re­frained from buying because I disliked to add another item to the food col­umn of that telltale ledger. My wife was even more careful than I in the matter of expenditure; and I find that this is usually the case when there is close partnership in the business man­agement of the home.

2. The Budget.—As years went by, and comparisons of totals became more and more interesting, we found that we had a budget on our hands. We began to set limitations to differ­ent expenditures, and monthly cumu­lative totals kept us informed as to-how nearly we were approaching our estimates, while the grand totals of expenditures gave us a comprehensive view of our standing. While this budget, if it may be called such, did not absolutely govern such expendi­ture, it was made to govern the grand total.

3. Buying.— With the exception of very few items which in the fall can profitably be bought in bulk, we found that it did not pay us to buy in quan­tities. Bargains, except standard goods which can be depended on and which we know we need, tempt us no more. Cheap goods are too expensive for us. For example, while my suits are all tailor-made, the average yearly cost of this item, during the past seven years, has been $82. Once we made a purchase on the installment plan. Never again! Such a plan en­courages buying beyond actual needs., This, however, does not apply to the purchase of a home. We have never run an account, except for a short time at a grocery store. We bank our income, and pay all possible bills by check, placing the bank account in the name of both. Thus far, we have suc­cessfully withstood the enticement of the annual automobile display.

4. Housing.— Having lived in both rented and owned homes, we consider the chief advantages in owning a home to be, first, the encouragement to save, and second, the satisfaction of ownership. The costs of owned properties, stripped of all details, have run about as follows: Interest value of investment, 5 per cent; improve­ment, upkeep, insurance, and taxes, 21/2 per cent; depreciation, 1% per cent; or a total of 9 per cent. There­fore, a home costing $5,000 would rep­resent a yearly outgo of $450 or the equivalent of $37.50 per month. We have reached the conclusion that, un­less we buy a property so well located, and which can be beautified by our united efforts so as to be readily sold, there is but little advantage in owning a house rather than renting.

5. Savings.We early determined to save something from our annual in­come. In connection with an increase in wage, as came from time to time, we endeavored to maintain the same standard of living expense as for­merly, and thus save the increase, or at least a portion of it. Our policy of keeping a ledger account proved of great value in this endeavor, for from these records we were enabled to de­cide intelligently just which expendi­ture it would be best to increase, and which items could safely be held to the present operating basis. Thus the ledger record helped us to plan for our savings as well as our expendi­tures, and we felt that these savings represented too much effort and sacri­fice to be lightly invested. Oil stock or mining share inducements, or ap­peals for loans at a high rate of in­terest, were resolutely resisted. Our savings were placed with one of our institutions, even though the interest rate was low.

6. Donations.Our first plan was to make a second tithe the basis for meeting the various donations we de­sired to make during the year; but from time to time this second tithe has been increased, until today we are giving 20 per cent of our income to missions and other worthy enterprises. By paying this sum each month, it becomes a regular part of our financial program.

* Name withheld by request

A Tribute to the No-Debt Policy

By G.W. Wells

"We should shun debt as we would shun the leprosy." "Shun the in­curring of debt as you would shun disease."—" Testimonies," Vol. VI, pp. 217, 211.

Leprosy is a terrible malady, which for centuries was considered incur­able. I once read of a rich man who offered one million dollars to any one who would cure him of leprosy. The warning against debt, and the com­parison of results to the disease of leprosy, was given years ago for the admonition of God's workmen.

When just a young man, I accepted at full value this instruction as the high standard to be maintained, and through the years have faithfully ad­hered to the no-debt policy. Having been asked to give a brief account of my experience, I do so in the hope that it may be a help to others.

My conception of God's instruction led me to believe that if I were to suc­ceed and meet the standard set, I must exercise the greatest care to refrain from all needless expenditure of money to gratify pride, selfish desire, or love of display, eliminate every ex­travagance, and bind about my wants. And this I determined to do.

In the year 1891 I finished the nurses' course, and later in the year I was married. My wife was also a nurse, and together we started out barehanded to meet the stern realities of life. Happily for me, my wife was in accord with right principles, and was willing, if need be, to forego the pleasure of having many things which we might desire, until we could pay cash for them. We were never drawn into the snare of purchasing the or­dinary things of life on the install­ment plan.

Three years after we were married, feeling the need of better preparation for the Lord's work, my wife and I went to Battle Creek, Mich., where I took a special course in the college. When I had completed the course, Elder G. A. Irwin, a man who was al­ways especially interested in young people, informed me that the General Conference Committee had voted for me to enter the ministry " to prove my gift," as he expressed the matter. Of course I was happy, thanked God, and took courage. In the meantime Elder Irwin, in his wise and tactful way, had learned that my funds were prac­tically exhausted, and he very gra­ciously placed in my hands $25, not exactly as a loan, but " just to help along," he said, This was the first, and also the last, time in my life that I became obligated to any man for a dollar. In those days, young men chosen for the ministry were not sent out with a stipulated amount of salary, but we were happy to be given a chance to make a start, even though we did not know just what wage we were to receive. I am glad to be able to say, however, that from the humble allowance given me as a licensed worker, we were able, in a few months' time, to save a sufficient sum whereby to return the amount so kindly ex­tended to me in a special time of need.

When we connected with the Lord's work, we believed that, through the regular and organized channels, God would provide for our necessities. We have not had an inheritance, gifts, side lines, or any other funds coming to us other than the ordinary confer­ence salary; but during the thirty-eight years of our married life, to the present time, we have yet to borrow the first dollar, and we have never run a grocery bill or contracted a debt of any kind.

We reared three girls, and educated them in our own schools; but with their help, whether in church school, academy, or college, all bills were paid each month as they came due. I may add, however, that this was not made possible except through much thought, careful planning, earnest prayer, a determined purpose, self-denial, and sympathetic co-operation by each member of the family. Credit can hardly be attributed to favorable locations, for we have lived in the North, South, West, and East, labored in eight con­ferences, and lived in ten different cities. The no-debt plan has been found to work successfully, whether I was engaged as nurse, tentmaster, evangelist, pastor, or conference pres­ident.

The co-operative policy has been a fundamental principle in our home. We always counseled together regard­ing our needs, purchases, and ability to meet the expense to be incurred. We never bought anything simply be­cause it was cheap or appeared on the bargain counter. It was a settled question that we could not afford to be governed by sentiment, or influenced by others to purchase anything that we did not need nor have funds in hand to pay for. When certain ar­ticles were desired, which were beyond our financial ability to obtain, it was agreed to wait and save until we had sufficient money to pay for them. We bought our automobile, piano, phono­graph, and all our household comforts in this way. In a few instances we ex­perienced some embarrassment by not having the changes in raiment we de­sired; but we felt that the embarrass­ment of debt would be worse. The " pay-as-you-go " or " no-debt " policy is a good one. We commend it to all. It can be done. " Where there's a will, there's a way."

" The natural turn of youth in this age is to neglect and despise economy and to confound it with stinginess and narrowness. But economy is consist­ent with the most broad and liberal views and feelings. There can be no true generosity where it is not prac­ticed. No one should think it beneath him to study economy."—" Gospel Workers" (old edition), p. 346.

God's way is best. Let us heed it. The plain instruction given us on this important matter is worthy of earnest study. In this hour of stress and careless extravagance, workers for God are called to definite economy, generous action, resolute purpose, and clear vision.

Takoma Park, D. C.

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By J.K. Jones

By H.W. Cottrell

By G.W. Wells

October 1929

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