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August 09, 2009


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What is God's stimulus plan for those living on a poverty-level income? Living below your means is pretty difficult when you are living at or below the poverty level, especially if you do not own your home.

I second Terry.

Of course Terry is correct. It is hard to live on a poverty-level income, particularly if you don't own a home and can't grow food. At that point, its good to do whatever you can to increase your income.

This is one of the complications of preaching-I have a congregation that ranges from a man living on SSDI at 500$ a month to executives of major corporations, and the 'proper' financial and religious advice is very different. Obviously, individualized counseling is part of what I as a pastor need to offer, but preaching to such very different contexts is always an interesting experience. The advice 'be wise with your money, spend less than you make, and be generous is pretty generic.

There is also taxes that take 15 to 20% of your income so I think people need to live on at most 50% of their income. This is why I think basing debt to income ration on gross income is quite ludicrous.

My wife and I have been paying down debt for the last three years mostly on one income of 50M per year. All of our vehicles are paid off (3)and we have a zero credit card balance. We have a Next is the big school loan of 25M, then the house (40M). We have been sponsering a boy and his family in Rwanda through since March.

"What is God's stimulus plan for those living on a poverty-level income?"

The answer is the same as for someone who isn't.

Mark 12:41-44 talks about this. It doesn't imply that the poor need to give everything they own, but instead illustrates that God does take (good) notice when people give, even though they don't have much.

I've had close friends everywhere on the income scale from $564/month SSDI to seven figure incomes. Some of them at every level use the same excuse that it's "hard" to live beneath their means. Others don't make excuses. The ones who don't make excuses (and who, therefore, listened to good advice) have generally found their position improving over time, even if their base income hasn't changed much if at all.

StL Pastor is right that the advice is generic, but it's also widely applicable. Someone at poverty level won't be able to apply it exactly the same as the CEO of a major corporation, but they can still look for ways to keep their spending down and create an emergency fund. And it's certainly applicable to those above the poverty level!


You give away 1/3 of your after tax income? That's pretty impressive.

I give away 35% of my gross income to Chairman Maobama like a good American, Another 5% of the gross goes to the wife for her allowance / personal spending money. Another 10% for basic living - food, utilities (place is fully paid). Donate some to charity but that's just under 9% of the gross or so. The remaining 40% goes into savings with some amount into the stock market - short or long...

Living on 90% of your earnings really means you should consider not working and changing your lifestyle to dramatically trim down expenses. Isn't this what college was supposed to teach you? How to live with 3 people and survive on mac 'n cheese and ramen? Keep up those habits while working and you can save a bundle.


I know its tongue in cheek, but surely you reap some rewards from the 35% you contribute to the common good in taxes. I am pretty unhappy with the amount this foolish country spends on the military, but I'm quite fond of roads, public transportation, and law enforcement. I wonder about vilifying the president for current tax rates, which have gone down for basically everyone (95% of the population-see

LotharBot, you definitely have a point-and I do try to preach the good generic advice. I just notice that it is easier for me for example to encourage explicit advice like downsizing houses for people living in McMansions.

Around the time I started working, I read a book with advice to get ahead financially. It said "save 10% from your (net) paycheck as a start; you won't notice the difference." If you're promoted, use 50% to reward yourself and save the other 50%. I liked the principle, and decided to go 50% all the way. From that day on, for every dollar (euro) I spent, I also saved one. It took a bit of creativity given the 40% taxes on my humble graduate salary, but today everything is in place and I'm living well. I plan to continue doing this as my salary increases.

StL Pastor,

Sorry if I sound a bit harsh but I stand by my earlier comment.

I live overseas so I don't get any of the benefits of roads, public transportation and law enforcement. I am in the US less than 30 days per year for the last 3 years but I must still file and pay the greater of the two- US taxes or overseas taxes. So I do have a right to gripe, it's taxation without representation at it's finest.

Let's dissect your comment a bit... roads are actually paid for mostly by gas (usage) taxes, public transportation is paid by local taxes usually, and law enforcement is paid for by state and local.

My vilifaction of Obama is that he talks about sacrifice and blames this mess on what he inherited without doing one thing to reduce spending, in fact he's put the spending into overdrive. We are 2 trillion in deficit, that's 6 billion a day or 250 million an hour or basically 20 million in the time I'm typing this message. And yet we need to spend more on additional programs like universal healthcare... which increases costs by another 1 trillion over 10 years...? WTF? Shouldn't we stop passing the buck at this point. We are the ones who are going to have to pay for this huge debt burden, not the Chinese, not the Arabs- it will come down on our back and our children's back. Doesn't that get your blood pressure elevated?

My big disappointment with Obama is that I believed his message about change and had high hopes but am very disappointed when he turned out to be another puppet for Goldman Sachs & JP Morgan. I guess I'm upset with myself for getting my hopes up. Now I'm a bit annoyed at the media who still gives him a free pass hence my sarcasm. We need to call it out when we can smell a rat... and something is stinking big time in Washington DC.


No matter how low your income is, you still have to live on less than you earn. Even if it's only to save $10 per month.

Why? Because as your income increases your lifestyle (spending) will also increase, and you'll be trapped in the "it's not enough" mentality. However, if you live on less than you earn, your savings (wealth) will increase as your income increases.

There's no excuse.

For those who want to learn to live below their means, consider reading "The Richest Man in Babylon."

Does this apply to people with one or more medical illness? My Dad's medicines as one point was running around $600 a month. My medicine for my seizure disorder & diabetes (type 2) runs around $350. I would like to apply this practice to me, but there seems to be very little "wiggle room" if any at all.

this all made sense to me.

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