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Bible Money Matters Interview With Peter Anderson

06/15/2009

This is an interview with Peter Anderson from Bible Money Matters. Peter blogs about personal finance from a Christian perspective. This is an interview about his views in general about Bible teachings and money. I would also urge you to check out his blog and subscribe to his feeds.

About 2 years ago, you said that you became debt free (ex mortgage). Could you tell us about your debt, how you got into it, how much etc. And how you paid it off?

My wife and I never had a ton of debt. At our low point we probably had $12,000 in student loans, $6,000 in auto loans and about $1500 in credit card debt. I know for a lot of people that doesn’t seem like much, but it still felt like it was weighing us down. We paid all of our debts off over a couple of years just by spending less than we made, making some small sacrifices, and by not creating any new debts.

You once mentioned that you and Maria faced up to $250,000 in medical bills and if you did not have medical insurance and an emergency fund, you would have gotten into debt. Can you tell us what happened (cos 250k is a HUGE number)?

My wife, who is a healthy 27 year old woman, started having pain in her leg one day. It just kept getting worse until she finally went into the emergency room. At first they didn’t find anything, but after insisting something was wrong they did an MRI. They found that her entire left leg was clotted over. Several of the doctors told us it was the worst leg blood clot they had ever seen. After being in the hospital for about a month, and 4-5 surgeries later, we received a statement in the mail showing we had amassed over $250,000 in medical bills. Thankfully we had good health insurance coverage, so we ended up only paying about $3000. So if anyone is considering getting health insurance, my advice would be to just do it! You only need one major event like this to make it worth your while.

In the bible, the story of jacob and the 7 year famine in Eqypt kind of tells us of the importance of having an emergency fund. But when you read about a famine lasting for 7 years, you tell yourself, man, that is a long emergency. What is your emergency fund policy?

My wife and I have planned ahead for emergencies in a variety of ways. I did a series on this recently called “In The Event Of An Emergency” where I talk about building up an emergency fund of at least 3-6 months of expenses, what types of insurance you should have, things you should keep in a fire safe or safe deposit box and having a good financial plan set up. You really do need to think about a lot of things when planning ahead for the future, and things that may happen.

One of the factors that causes people to have credit card debt is that we tend to be bombarded by TV about material things and what we should have to have a “complete” lifestyle. What does the bible teach us about being materialistic and how can we avoid their trappings?

One guest poster on my site cited a quote from C.S Lewis that fits well here, “All that is not of eternal use, is eternally useless.”. I believe that material things that we strive to obtain are in reality of little use to us in an eternal mindset. Can things give us some fun times? Sure. Can they make us happy? I don’t think so. The only way to true happiness is through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Remember:

For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. – 1 Timothy 6:7

In your blog, you mentioned this phrase from Proverbs 16:8 – Better is a little with righteousness than great income with injustice – I think this is such an appropriate verse given what has happened in the financial industry recently and especially shady credit card practices. In your opinion, can ethics really be taught in an MBA school? How do you teach someone to be ethical?

I think ethics can and should be taught in schools, however, I think whether or not people are ethical in practice really comes down to their heart, and where they are. If they are just a bad person with little regard for others, they won’t give a second thought to doing things that are unethical. If they have a sound moral foundation, and a faith in Christ, I think it makes them much less likely to act unethically, but even Christians fall, and do things that are unethical. I think we need to guard against these types of things, and constantly rely on God, otherwise we can all fall into that trap.

To me, a mortgage is a debt. What are your views about it?

Yup, mortgage is a debt. I agree. It is one of the few kinds of debt I would say it is ok to incur. I’d prefer if people save up at least a 10-20% down payment, and something that is no more than 25% of their income. Because so many people didn’t follow these guidelines, the real estate market has really taken a huge hit.

You mentioned in one of your post that easy money is never actually easy and you cited “Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow. Proverbs 13:11”. In our society, getting things done quick seems to be our mentality – losing weight with magical pills without exercising, getting rich instantly if you someone’s manual? How do you personally try not to get tempted by these “quickie schemes”?

People always want to get something for nothing, and I think today more than ever people are relying on others to do things for them. They want the government to take care of them, and support them when times are hard. Along with that people want the easy money. Because of their greed they fall prey to scam artists out there offering easy money. As the verse talks about, the best way to make money is through hard work, and by making it grow bit by bit. I’ve been taught that from an early age, and because of it I have an extremely skeptical eye when it comes to get rich quick schemes.

If someone has debt, can they or should they still tithe and donate to charity? What are your personal giving philosophy?

Personally I always believe in tithing right off the top. I know there is some debate as to whether the tithe is mandatory or not, but I believe that we should tithe as it is meant for our own good. God doesn’t need our money, he wants us to give in order to make us more caring, unselfish people. At the same time, I believe that we should take care of our own families first – after the tithe. 1st Timothy says:

“If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

So my personal opinion is tithe first, then your family obligations (food, shelter, clothing, transportation), debt obligations, saving and extra giving.

Thank You for taking the time for this interview

Thanks for the opportunity to talk with you, and God bless!

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3 Comments
June 15, 2009 @ 11:10 am

Thanks for the opportunity to talk about my blog, and my beliefs. I appreciate it!

Reply
June 16, 2009 @ 9:52 am

Hoping that tithing was meant for our own good is a big gamble. Wouldn’t getting in debt be the reason why we had been uncaring, selfish people? So wouldn’t getting out of debt have the opposite meaning? So why do we need to tithe while in debt in order to to relinquish selfishness? Limiting your lifestyle, and buying less things is already a good sign that you are being unselfish.

– jared

Reply
Andrew
June 22, 2009 @ 9:21 am

Tithing is an act of faith and does not necessarily need to be 10%. You should give what you feel called to give. This may be more and or less than the 10%. I have heard it said that it should hurt to tithe, making it an ultimate unselfish act. The idea of tithing is lost in the secular world, just as until recently was living within your means. Having faith makes you do things, such as tithing, that seem implausible to the secular world.

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