Book Summaries

The Shrewd Christian

The Shrewd Christian will enable you to conquer money, not merely solve money problems. When you change your thinking, you’ll see your lifestyle change. And when your lifestyle changes, you’ll experience true wealth. If you want to get a grip on your finances, you’ve got to let go of your misconceptions about what it means to be shrewd.

  • Quote: “Money is the chief competition of Jesus. In other words, money can lead us away from God. We will either serve money or we will serve Jesus” (14)
  • Note: Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth”. People that serve money will often fall spiritually because their hearts are no focused on God.
  • Quote: “Apart from medical problems, accidents, or disasters, most financial trouble is the result of small, incremental lifestyle choices that have caused financial claustrophobia” (17)
  • Note: The chapter is a reflection about the author’s journey to becoming wealthy. He told about how he and his wife became shrewd in their finances, and how God blessed them as a result. God will provide for those who are faithful and responsible.
  • Quote: “The way to serve God is to go through money, conquer it, put it in its proper place, and catch up to the Lord’s plan for us” (34).
  • Quote: “When we identified that core within us, the scripture would come alive. As hard as it is for us to believe, William R. Graves is a part of you and me. In smaller ways we can identify with him just as we can identify with the man in Jesus’ parable.” (31)
  • Note: William Graves let money become his sole motivation; he was jealous that his boss was getting more money than he was and felt he deserved more. Greed was what led him to stealing from the company.
  • Note: Money is not what makes a person successful. William had over a billion dollars but he lost it instantly when he was caught. All of his legitimate hard work was wiped away because of his betrayal. Money does not bring a person success or happiness because you are always looking for more of it.
  • Quote: “Financial alertness is different than fear. When you’re alert, you are letting money serve you. When you are in fear, you are in bondage to something that shouldn’t have that much control” (37)
  • Note: Christians should be aware of five things when it comes to money, greed, fear, bad shepherds, comparison, and competition. All of these can lead a person astray when it comes to money.
  • Quote: “Which group showed more toughness: the ones that were not scared and did the ropes? Or the ones who were scared and did the ropes anyway?” (51)
  • Note: Coach ability, enthusiasm, ingenuity, and toughness are all attributes that a Christian must have if they are trying to conquer money. They are separate but work together so that the Christian is able to resolve their problem with money.
  • Quote: “We have been conditioned by our culture, even our Christian culture that contentment is something ‘out there’” (54)
  • Quote: “But frugal is good. The truth is good. Frugal means getting the best out of each dollar spent” (64)
  • Note: Contentment is key to the Christian life. This means that no matter whatever situation, we are content because of our relationship with God. Through the good times, and the bad. If we care more about the stuff we have or want, that is taking away from experiencing our life now, with family, friends, and God
  • Note: We are worth more than the value of all our possessions. The value of our relationships with God and with others should be what we judge our net worth. Not the amount of toys that we have, or the house and car. Jesus did not sacrifice himself for stuff; he sacrificed himself for humanity.
  • Quote: “I do not believe that middle-class people have money problems that lead to relationship problems. I believe they have relationship problems that lead to money problems” (67)
  • Note: If this is true, then the same logic could explain why money can get between people and God. The brokenness of our humanity allows money to get between people and God. The money is an object, it can’t force its way into anything, but the brokenness allows the love of money to rule our lives.
  • Quote: “When you have true riches, you feel as if you are a part of a larger picture. You are well connected with people. You love and you are loved. You are aware of the Lord’s work in your life and are participating in that work” (78)
  • Note: Relationships are the true riches that we can have. Our relationship with God, family, and friends are more important than having a lot of stuff. this means that we need to work hard for those relationships to be rightly ordered. This means constantly pursuing your spouse and working out any problems that might arise together. It also means spending time as a family.
  •  Quote: “The shrewd Christian game plan has two parts: (1) a decent income, and (2) a locked and guarded back door and controlled spending, founded on the SOE (save on everything) and the GVE (get value for everything strategies)” (87)
  • Quote: “Two key questions to ask before you spend money are: (1) does it build relationships? And (2) does it add to the net wealth side of the scale?” (90)
  • Note: When it comes to finances, society and businesses want you to play the game by there rules, but you shouldn’t and you can change them to play by your rules. This means that you think about buying something before you spend money on it, or you stop spending money on something. If you play by their rules, you will always lose.
  • Note: Every amount that you spend, no matter how small counts, it all adds up in the end. If you buy one hundred small $1 things, it is no different than buying one $100 thing. You have still spent $100 either way.
  • Quote: “Paying attention means being aware of the little things, planning ahead, and keeping track of where your money is going. It means using your head and a relatively brief amount of time every week to relieve pain and tension in your life” (94).
  • Quote: “Financial confidence comes from financial competence. Financial confidence comes from good experience. Good experience comes from accurate information.” (104)
  • Note: Being financially shrewd means that you have to be willing to put in the time to gain information about your finances. You need to track your spending in order to have this information. Look for ways to save money where you can; stop paying for something or find something that costs less.
  • Note: 80 minutes per week is not much, and if you can to quality work in that time to track expenses you will be able to have the information to be financially shrewd. These 80 minutes add per week add up and in the end you spend a lot of time during the year. It’s only an hour and twenty minutes, twenty minutes a day; and when you think of all the time a person spend watching TV, twenty minutes is not a lot.
  • Quote: “God does care about our every part of our lives, including our finances. He cares about our money not for the sake of our money but because our financial attitudes and actions reflect us as well as our attitude toward God. and our financial attitudes and actions can also change us as well as our attitude toward God. The truth is, the most important part of our financial life is our generosity.” (p107)
  • Note: Financial responsibilities take up the majority of our time on this side of heaven. If we as Christians practice generosity then our attitude toward God and others will change no matter we feel about giving to begin with. Practice makes perfect or in this sense it is more blessed to give than receive.
  • Quote: “God loves us so much that He wants us to be generous primarily for what it will do for us! The purpose of money is to build relationships.” (p111)
  • Note: In building relationships it can be looked at as a spiritual transaction with the Almighty and with others who receive our generosity.
  • Quote: “The people who lend you money are the real owners of everything you have in your possession.” (p116)
  • Note: The issue with people who lend you money is they are not your friend. The law supports the lender not the borrower. Thankfully we have a Creator who seeks a relationship with us and desires to give us what is best even we don’t think so at the moment. It may be hard at first but we must remember God is our lender and it is to Him we owe it all. Both us and our possessions.
  • Quote: “Even though you are in debt due to only your efforts, you will get out of debt entirely by your own efforts.” (p127)
  • Note: It may take time but the key to remember it is not forever. It is best build a savings while in the process of getting out of debt no matter how little you can put aside. It is best to have it so that if something happens you will have some cash and will not have to resort to using credit again.
  • Quote: “I am hereby appointing you as the Residential CEO of your household. (The words housewife, househusband, and homemaker are hereby eliminated.) You are on commission only – what you don’t spend, you get to keep.” (p129)
  • Note: Being a RCEO is a huge responsibility but it pays really well if you’re smart. You not only have to manage the day to day responsibilities but also a plan of action needs to be set in place to watch and keep tabs on expenses.
  • Quote: “As an RCEO you must treat your household finances as you would a properly run business.” (p143)
  • Note: Your first steps as an RCEO are to set up an Information System and a Research and Development System. Next, you should pay attention to aspects of your home, building and grounds, cleaning, organizing, and clothing purchases.
  • Quote: “More money is never enough. The simple truth is that the less you spend, the more you have.” (p146)
  • Note: It is hard to spend less in this day and age with the constant bombardment of advertisements. Also, with the next big electronic device to hit the shelves every two years it is hard not to stay with the times. So how do you have more if we spend less? By initiating a spending plan and guard against spending outside of that plan.
  • Quote: “Many stay at home spouses feel a need to get out and connect with the the marketplace as their children age and become more firmly entrenched in school. Couple that reality with the fact that stay at home spouses are viewed negatively by most of the culture, and there is a serious recipe for depression and a loss of self-confidence.”(p152)
  • Note: It should be marked that a stay at home spouse is just as important as the one in the work force. Remember you are a RCEO now and that title has responsibilities of its own. If you so desire to get a job then look for volunteering opportunities or a job that is easily flexible and fun and gives plenty of time to be home before the kids. It’s the 21st century and the job market is unique compared to 50 years ago. There are many jobs in the market today that will fit your situation you just have to seek the Lord and do some research.
  • Quote: “Newspaper food advertisements are your first line of defense in accumulating significant food savings. Keep two or three store flyers at the most and throw away the rest.” (p155)
  • Note: It is easy to get caught up with the amount of money you save from coupons. The issue lies in the fact of how much is too much. Seeing how good of a deal you get off of a certain item entices you to buy it even though you do not necessarily need it. Stick to the spending plan and only use coupons of items that you use.
  • Quote: “Start with meals that you enjoy and that your family at least tolerates. Rework them; recreate them. How can you prepare them more inexpensively, present them more appealingly, and create more taste? Think. Check the library. Watch Emeril on the Food Network. “BAM! Let’s kick it up a notch.” Get picture cookbooks. Talk to friends. Experiment. Laugh at your failures, learn from your successes.”(p161)
  • Note: Cooking at home is great way to save money. At times though you have to get creative when it comes to meals so that the meal is something that is always looked forward to. Most importantly learn from your mistakes some of the best meals come from practice. When it comes to children though it may get difficult being frugal with your meals. There are two approaches that can be taken: First, if they refuse to eat let them eat nothing because hunger can change their tastebuds. Second, let the kids eat their favorite sandwich for dinner while you eat a dish appropriated to the budget.
  • Quote: “The error of people who say that it’s best to keep a mortgage and invest the difference is that they assume that history will repeat itself and that you will be able to get out at the top of the market.”(p168)
  • Note: It is dangerous to assume anything without hard facts. Investing the difference will not make up the amount of money lost in a extended mortgage. Even though it may be hard it is best to have a mortgage to pay off sooner rather than later. The cost to “rent” money is higher than it seems. Remember to be shrewd!
  • Quote: “A home is much different that a house. A home is where you want to be not only because it offers physical shelter but because it offers sanctuary. Sanctuary means a place to find solace, comfort, excitement, laughter, challenge, and reality.”(p174)
  • Note: Home is where the heart is. It’s a old saying but it still rings true today. A house is a burden but a home is not. Do the research before making the plunge to buy a house. To rent or not to rent is the question. You can rent a home for a season to buy eventually or rent money to buy a house immediately and live under a burden.
  • Quote: “An automotive is not an investment. Investments are supposed to have a reasonable chance of increasing in value.”(p177)
  • Note: It is never wise to buy a new vehicle. You have heard it from your parents that as soon as you drive the vehicle off the lot it is not worth the amount you just bought it for. It’s true! Buy used! An auto is one of two things for us: a expense or a projection of our psyche and our expense. Having a used vehicle based on your need leads to wealth especially if you know the vehicle and are able to keep it up.
  • Quote: “If your current car dies, do not rush out and get transportation by this weekend. If you must have transportation, borrow a family member’s car (make sure they have insurance) or rent a car while you do your research.”(p187)
  • Note: It is easily to get in a rush when an issue arises so that you may get back to your routine. Take as step back and breath. Allow yourself the space to think clearly and then move accordingly. You might just find out you can do without for awhile.
  • Quote: “There is a time to boldly confront situations in faith, and there is a time to be shrewd in dealing with situations.”(p191)
  • Note: This a hard thing to grasp. How do we discern between exercising faith and being shrewd in a given circumstance? To simply put it having insurance is a shrewd move and it is definitely not a faith buster. Trusting God is the right thing to do but testing God is a whole different ball game.
  • Quote: “When it comes to dealing with salespeople, be like the hawk: Get what you need, not what they need.”(p192)
  • Note: Salespeople are wise at getting what they want but remember you are to be shrewd and to honestly know what you need. Salespeople are good at making you think that you need something but if you have already done your homework on the item then you are one step ahead in the game.
  • Quote: “Gambling and investing are alike in that they both contain an element of risk. You can win at stocks, bonds, and real estate as well as blackjack, the slots, and the Wheel of Fortune. You can also lose. The more you stand to gain, the larger the risk. Therefore, the more you also stand to lose.”(p198)
  • Note: If you are not savvy in how investments and the stock market work then you fall within the middle class. For stocks to work you have to have the knowledge to know when to pull your money out for your benefit. The issue is the market is unpredictable.
  • Quote: “One has to be a little disciplined, do a little homework, develop a knack for timing and then act!”(p203)
  • Note: To be shrewd in this area it is best again for you to be wise and most importantly have a friend who is a stockbroker one that you can trust and has your best interest in mind. Sometimes it’s easier said than done. Though if you must invest be safe and smart and act precisely.
  • Quote: “If you pay the Lord first, your charitable giving deduction will go up, and it may bring you over the top to where you can itemize on Schedule A instead of taking the standard deduction. That means you can fill out a new W4 and reduce the amount of money upon which you pay taxes. Therefore, you have legitimately become more of a Shrewd Christian. Not only is it legal and honest, it is the right thing to do.”(p211)
  • Note: Live in such a way that is a testimony of who you ultimately serve. By giving first to the Lord and then to the government will cause some eyebrows to be raised. Especially if the IRS comes to audit you with the question what do you live on to be able to give so much away. What a great way to witness!
  • Quote: “Does your company have a 401(k)? Good. (If the answer is no, ask why not? Do not let them intimidate you. Smile. Tell them you do not understand. What provision are they making for their employees’ retirement years? No, Social Security is not enough. Smile. Thank them. When the job market gets better move on.)(p221)
  • Note: Having a retirement plan is a popular plan to have today. Especially if you want to live your latter years relaxing on a beach somewhere. Planning for the future is important and it is best to have a employer who is willing to invest into a 401(k) with you.
  • Quote: “Intentional poverty is chosen poverty.”(p224)
  • Note: Intentional can be fun if it is chosen. Though being intentional about it is not a lifestyle that lost forever but only for awhile. By consistent with your spending plan and remember it’s not forever.
  • Quote: “We all have financial blind spots. All of us. But enjoying poverty will make the blind spots visible and take away their potential danger.”(p228)
  • Note: If dangers cannot be seen they are hard to avoid. There is a reason why fasting is a Christian practice with its many outcomes. From drawing closer to God and making oneself aware of buried sin and dangers in your life. A chosen life of poverty is a form of fasting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.