Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds.
–Proverbs 27:23 (NIV)
Whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.
–Proverbs 13:11 (NIV)
Bookkeeping is that discipline of accountants, which allows business owners, to get an exact view of the state of their finances. It can be an arduous task; and most businessmen are not capable of doing it on their own: or at least in a very exact way. Out of all business activities, perhaps it is bookkeeping that grates against human nature the most, often inciting financial anxieties or depressions in the business owner; and thus, for his own mental health, leads him to neglect it, so that it won’t stress him out so much. How can a man be happy if he is preoccupied with the ups and downs of his finances all the time? But on the other hand, how can a man be truly happy if he is unsure about the state of his finances? Having a state of certainty about your finances going in a positive direction, can be the only way to attain a sense of contentment as a businessman, or just any man.
Budget Pies: A Popular Attempt at “Bookkeeping”
A popular rule of thumb for the common man is to apply the so-called 50/20/30 Rule to their personal finances: 50% of your paycheck should be transferred to needs like housing payments, car payments, groceries, insurance, healthcare, minimum debt payments, and utility bills. 30% of your paycheck should be transferred to wants like entertainment, household expenses, etc. 20% of your paycheck should be transferred to savings like debt repayment and an emergency fund worth three months of living expenses. Of course, translating all of this into something useful or actually controllable is easier said than done, especially if you don’t make a lot of money or can’t afford a financial advisor. The 50/20/30 Rule might be a good start for budgeting or bookkeeping for your household income, but you might soon find that it isn’t good enough, in that it doesn’t separate the spending categories into a financial pie that is quite as narrowed down as it should be.
Personally, I like the way J. J. Montanaro, CFP, breaks down the budget pie for the families of soldiers, who are expected to be living on roughly $60,000 a year as of 2022. It looks like this: 20% goes to housing, 10% goes to transportation, 6% goes to utilities, 12% goes to food, 11% goes to charity and household expenses, 4% goes to an emergency fund, 4% goes to entertainment, 10% goes to retirement, 7% goes to insurance, and 16% goes to taxes. This last item, taxes, should still be part of the budget pie of a person who lives on W-2 employment, with their paychecks withholding their taxes. It’s just that person will not need to set aside anything additional for taxes but can trust that their employer is already covering that 16% tax category for them. But if you are an independent 1099 contractor as I am, and you need to pay estimated taxes, knowing that tax percentage is very helpful. I personally do 20% for my taxes just to be safe.
In my view, taking this approach of a fully sliced up budget pie is a much more reliable way to manage your money than the 50/20/30 Rule. I’ve also found it useful to go to my banker and have several checking accounts opened, so I can make online money transfers to each of these budget pie categories. The bankofamerica.com website allows me to label the savings accounts by custom names, such as Rent, Groceries, Home Expenses, Insurance, Taxes, Fun, Savings, etc. and I can make my percentage transfers into them whenever I get paid. I also have debit cards for each of them which I store in a safe. But even after all has been said that can be said about slicing up budget pies, you might still be wondering: how can I keep my monthly spending from meeting or exceeding my monthly income? How can I keep my monthly expenses, say $1,000 or even $2,000, below my monthly income? Tricky, tricky…
Why You Might Need to Get a Bookkeeper
As for myself, who am prone to anxious states on occasion, I’d much rather have a CPA, bookkeeper, or financial advisor to handle all my bookkeeping for me with a fee of something like $300 a month; and have the deep financial analysis taken off my plate. In my view, this is a good thing for several reasons: 1. You are trusting a bookkeeping specialist to handle your financial reporting. By this, you admit the need for it, remaining humble; and give the responsibility to someone far more skilled at this than you are. 2. You are taking legal responsibility for your finances. In the event a business owner was ever taken to court, for any reason at all, having his bookkeeper’s reports will become an essential part of resolving any disputes. Also, by having a bookkeeper, they share the legal responsibility in such a case: and so, the business owner does not shoulder all that responsibility by himself. It is both he and Bob Cratchit, so to speak. 3. Do-it-yourself bookkeeping programs like QuickBooks and Quicken are not fully accurate. I have experimented with them myself; and neither of them sync the income and expenses from the bank website with 100% accuracy. Plus, in this case, the DIY bookkeeping software is often being used by a deficient bookkeeper: yourself. You, who are most likely not a certified public accountant; and have not even taken so much as one online class on bookkeeping. You, the inexperienced bookkeeper that you are, are trying to manage your financial analysis all by yourself, with a deficient accounting program, haphazardly used, and fumbling your way through the fiscal year. You better believe that money is going to fall through the cracks that way. I doubt that such fumbling accounting would lead to a state of financial contentment or success. I personally think it’s much better to trust a bookkeeping professional.
By paying a bookkeeper to handle this for you, you are not only taking responsibility for your financial affairs, so you can always have an accurate view of how things stand, and which financial actions you should take, but you are also being legally responsible for your money and sharing the responsibility with your bookkeeper; and you are letting a competent and skilled professional handle this for you—this thing called bookkeeping, which can be a labyrinth of reports, and complicated for laymen to understand; and so, it can take a load of financial depression and worry off your back, by allowing someone else to look at your money in an emotionally detached manner. Jesus said:
I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?…And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin…But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matt. 6:25, 28, 33-34).
As a rule, your monthly income should always be higher than your monthly expenses. The successful businessman is careful to live below his means to keep this pattern going. When income is greater than expenses, there is a buffer zone of money, which is called surplus. It is from this surplus that financial growth could be measured or advanced. There are crude ways of tracking this, such as the “Spending and Budgeting: Cash Flow” feature on bankofamerica.com, but this is a far cry from the kind of financial reports you would get from a seasoned bookkeeper. Using tools like this are valuable, but a bookkeeper puts another human being on the subject, another set of eyes, and a brain that is acquainted with the details of profit and loss, transactions, ledgers, daybooks, receipts, invoices, debits and credits, sales, debts, payments, and purchases. Tracking incomes, business expenses, taxes, and the correlation between certain types of sales activity and higher earnings: all of which might provide the much-needed guidance to highlight certain business activities you’ve already done, which if allowed to repeat again, could possibly lead to financial growth in the future.
Solomon in speaking to a businessman, alludes to him as a livestock trader, and tells him to “know the condition of your flocks” and “give careful attention to your herds,” because it is by giving a careful accounting of the amounts of each kinds of livestock he owns, that he is able to put a price tag on each of his livestock, and know exactly how many animals that he is holding as commodities, and how much he can sell at a later date. He admits that “riches do not endure forever,” and so, to curb against disaster, knowing the exact condition of how much money he owns in livestock, he is then able to predict what he can expect to make once he decides to sell them, or benefit from by using their raw materials, to feed his family (Prov. 27:23-27). Commenting on this passage, Matthew Henry said:
We ought to have an eye to it ourselves, and not turn over all the care of it to others. We should, with our own eyes, inspect the state of our flocks…we must be discreet and considerate in the management of our business, know the state of things, and look well to them, that nothing may be lost, no opportunity let slip, but every thing done in proper time and order, and so as to turn to the best advantage.
I don’t see this as being against hiring a bookkeeper, but that if a person hires one, then he should supervise the bookkeeper’s work with another level of evaluation. It could also be a recommendation against allowing an assistant manager to take over your business. But don’t allow the bookkeeper to be the only person who investigates your finances, like Judas Iscariot apparently did, and embezzled the apostles’ money bag (John 12:6). You also investigate it yourself. It might be good to take an online course in bookkeeping so you can be sharper about what to look out for. There were Levites “in charge of the treasuries of the house of God” (1 Chron. 26:20), and so I think this might serve as a Biblical precedent for bookkeeping; but we should still be on guard against an embezzling Judas or any errors in accounting.
Richard Baxter on the Budget Pie
The idea of slicing up a “budget pie” is nothing new. Don’t think that it’s only the invention of modern CPAs, bookkeepers, and financial advisors. The terminology may have changed over time, but the practice has been around for quite a while. The percentages of each slice have also changed over time; and even today they are very subjective: or subject to change based on the individual’s conscience and preferences. Baxter said:
It seemeth the prudentest way to divide my expenses according to the proportion of others of my quality; some to the poor, and some to necessary charges, and some to actions of due civility…Where God hath made many duties constantly necessary (as to maintain your own bodies, your children, to pay tribute to the king, to help the poor, to maintain the charges of the church) there all must be wisely proportioned. But entertainments, recreations, and other such after to be mentioned, which are not constant duties, may be sometimes good and sometimes sinful.
In the mind of this Puritan minister and theologian, it was prudent, good judgment to use a budget pie of sorts: to “divide your expenses” into the following slices (although he suggested no percentages as CPAs do nowadays): philanthropy to the poor, rent, utility bills, groceries, clothing, taxes, tithes, and recreations. Most of these things today would fall under what he called “necessary charges.” He said nothing about saving and investing in that place though, but it seems to be assumed, because it would be impossible to pay for recreations without a little bit of saving. He also said that the budget pie you make should be “according to the proportion of others of your quality,” or according to your economic class. A lower-class man would be foolish to create a budget pie for a middle-class man: and a middle-class man would be foolish to operate on a budget for an upper-class man. Reading personal finance books or conversing with others in the same income bracket that you are, would be necessary for figuring out what the proportionate budgeting percentages should be, for someone in the same economic class as you.
Baxter would have probably supported the idea of people reading books on personal finance, to get a handle on what their budget pies should look like. I can’t prove this with any degree of accuracy at this point, but it seems to me that the visual image of dividing up your budget into something like a pizza pie, might have originated with a silver Spanish coin called Pieces of Eight, which had line indentations in it, so you could break pieces off of it, sort of like a Hershey’s bar. Ecclesiastes 11:2: “Give a portion to seven, and also to eight.” Although this is referring to seven or eight investments in a diversified portfolio, the same could apply to a budget pie.
Personally, I use bankofamerica.com and have about eight different checking accounts. I have them named for Main Checking Account (21%), Fun (2%), Grocery List (19%), Home Expenses (2%), Insurance (7%), Taxes (20%), Savings (13%), Rent (12%), and Credit Card: Energy Bill (4%). This last one is for building my credit score. This approach keeps my family of four relatively stable with two streams of income from me and one stream of income from my wife. Every once in a while, I might have to “steal” money from one category and transfer it to another category. The percentages for my bank account transfers are subject to minor adjustments occasionally, but they generally stay fixed: especially taxes, rent, and savings. Larger bills are paid out incrementally twice a week: telecom, credit card recoup, energy, rent, car insurance, and Fingerhut (another credit score building measure).
My main checking account stands alone by itself and absorbs most of my miscellaneous and automated “necessary charges.” The transfer percentages that I make, amount to no more than 100% at a time. Whenever I get paid, I will get out a calculator and multiply the paycheck amount by the percentage of the spending category, and then I will make my transfers from the main checking account to the necessary accounts: for example, if I got a direct deposit of $615 one week, then I would whip out my calculator, and do a multiplication equation that would look like this: .20 x $615 = $123. I would then transfer that $123 into my 20% estimated tax account; and then do the same thing with all of my other accounts, with their different percentage amounts. I try to keep my main checking account at a bare minimum of $300 during the week, while all my other checking and savings accounts are funded with bank transfers and left untouched from any random, impulsive spending.
The purpose of all this is to park my money into all these different spending account categories, so I don’t dip into them for stupid impulsive things like McDonald’s or Starbucks all the time. There is nothing so financially impulsive as food cravings. Baxter was constantly warning against gluttony and expensive meats for this reason. To him, gluttony seemed to be the chief enemy of frugality and saving money. If you can control your food spending, then congratulations! Currently, I allow about $275 a week to my wife for grocery money, for our family of four. This allows for a little bit more than the USDA Thrifty Food Plan does, so there are at least some desserts and snacks in the house, over the course of the week. I figure the U.S. government can’t be wrong to base a grocery budget off of, especially since they are constantly determining who is qualified for food stamps or EBT cards. I also leave our various debit cards in my safe; and only let them out upon request, as needed. Holding money is the key to frugality and budgeting: once you have learned how to hold your money for its different uses, without spending it away thoughtlessly and impulsively, that’s when you have taken the first step towards financial security.
“Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks; and look well to thy herds” (Prov. 27:23). I can’t think of a better Bible verse for budgeting or dividing up expenses. In Biblical times, flocks of sheep and herds of cattle, were a main form of income, currency, and financial holdings, alongside silver and gold coins. Here Solomon is telling men to know the amounts of money that they have; and not only how many sheep they have, but also how many cattle they have: which again highlights his diversified financial thinking. The sheep are of one money category, the cattle of another. When I look at bankofamerica.com—I do this almost daily now—I tell myself that I am looking after my flocks and herds. If a man does not look at the condition of his various bank accounts daily, then the effect would be the same as if he were a livestock farmer that stayed inside of his house all the time; and barely ever went outside to take care of his animals.
Saving Money for Different Priorities
Baxter observed that Puritan men in the seventeenth century, mainly saved their money in the form of silver and gold coins, in a safe or strongbox. It was the age of bullionism, the proto-mercantilist age, which declared that a man’s wealth could be measured by how much gold and silver he owned. This was such a popular and assumed practice, that he referred to it at least twice, while trying to illustrate spiritual points in his sermons:
Keep up a high esteem of time; and be every day more careful that you lose none of your time, than you are that you lose none of your gold or silver.
The devil will give hypocritical worldlings leave to play them with the most excellent ordinances, if he can but keep God out of sight, even as you will let your children play them with a box of gold, as long as it is shut, and they see not what is within.
I personally think that saving for an emergency fund, which most financial advisors suggest should amount to about three months of living expenses: and should only be turned to in the event of job loss or car repairs—is most easily saved in the form of U.S. dollars or cash money in a safe deposit box. I know this this goes against conventional wisdom. Most people save their emergency fund into an online savings account, because it is FDIC-insured by the bank up to as much as $250,000 if stolen; and to prevent withdrawals, you should only tap into it by going to the bank and asking the cashier for the money. You should keep no bank card for the savings account; and possibly even keep the account in a separate bank than your normal one.
If the goal is to create barriers to spending, or saving money based on self-control, then it seems to me that it would be better to store cash in a safe deposit box at the bank, along with perhaps $1,000 of petty cash in a home safe for easy access: all this cash being wrapped up in $1,000 currency bands. But to keep most of it at the bank, and not all of it at home in your safe: if the idea is to protect your money from yourself, or thieves: to protect you from the temptation of human nature to dip into your savings for non-emergency reasons.
After accumulating an emergency fund that covers three months of living expenses, all based on cash in a safe deposit box, then it is time to focus on other saving priorities: such as paying off all debts, recouping the emergency fund, college funds, Roth IRA retirement, a dividend-producing stock portfolio, and maxing out on FDIC-insured savings accounts as much as possible. Many people consider a down payment on a mortgage to be a good savings goal, but I would advise against it. You can improve your standard of living just as well by renting a better quality home through a property management company. In the long run, renting is much cheaper than pursuing homeownership through a mortgage, because the repair costs on a rental home are always covered by the landlord. A mortgage can all too often turn into a money pit. Also, there’s not much to be gained in terms of monthly payments either, because even “fixed mortgages” have other ways, through property taxes and things, to increase the monthly payments in one way or another. Getting into a mortgage means you will be in debt for most of your working life, and if you’re lucky, you’ll have that debt paid off before you die. Lastly, mortgages are only mentioned once in the Bible; and its not in a positive light:
And there was a great cry of the people and of their wives against their brethren the Jews. For there were that said, We, our sons, and our daughters, are many: therefore we take up corn for them, that we may eat, and live. Some also there were that said, We have mortgaged our lands, vineyards, and houses, that we might buy corn, because of the dearth (Neh. 5:1-3).
Mortgaging was once resorted to by the Jews during the time of Nehemiah, because there was a famine. Money was scarce, and those who were wealthy enough to own homes, sold them to poorer men, and those men mortgaged out those homes. But this was seen as an unsavory situation. The whole context speaks of something bitter and unwelcome: something that had to be done because it was an emergency, and an exception to the rule. The Bible way of homeownership, if anything, was probably to pay for a house in full, after nearly a lifetime of saving for it (Deut. 8:12; Mic. 4:4). But such extreme lending and borrowing was to be avoided, because “the borrower is slave to the lender” (Prov. 22:7). Totally the opposite of the way things are today, where modern banking practices expect people to make down payments on mortgages in their 20s and 30s; and prepare them to live in debt to a 30-year mortgage. A housing debt that could in some cases lead to foreclosure.
Why not be like the apostle Paul and just be content to rent a home? (Acts 28:30). Haven’t we learned our lesson from the 2008 housing bubble? When will this American Dream mortgage craze ever stop? We’re here on this earth for just a short time; and then we’re gone. Most people who mortgage likely never give a thought to the fact that their children will have to fight over the home after their parents are dead. It is not a godly situation, to leave an empty house on earth, with multiple adult children left to squabble over it (Luke 12:13). Paul rented his house: and since this was his practice, it might have been the general practice of Jesus and the apostles as well (see Matt. 4:13; 8:14). Paul says that we should “let no debt remain outstanding” (Rom. 13:8). Is this a total prohibition of mortgages, loans, credit cards, car loans, and credit scores? I guess each person needs to figure that out for himself. But I think that prudence suggests to the conscience, that it is not spiritually healthy to be saddled with tons of loans and unpaid debts. And I think our modern banking concept of the “advantages of a good credit score” sounds a little bit hokey to me at times. Almost like a scam to get you roped in by some new usurious banker or lender.
Investing in Silver and Gold Bullion
Biblical economics will always acknowledge the value of bullion, even if it is out of style, and has been replaced by cash as a currency. Silver and gold bullion are still useful as investments and are now comparable to stocks. I have personally used moneymetals.com and their Monthly Accumulation Plan. Every month, it will automatically draft by ACH a specified amount from my savings account which I have named Money Metals on bankofamerica.com. I personally like the 1 Oz Canadian Silver Maple Leaf coins, and the differently sized gold maple coins, because their designs are harmless: one side features Queen Elizabeth II and the other side a maple leaf. If you accumulate 25 of these silver coins, then you can fill up one coin tube. If you can accumulate a total of 20 filled out tubes, then they will fill up a yellow “monster box.” 20 tubes x 25 silver coins = 500 silver coins: which amounts to about $12,500 in 2022. 20% or 10% of your paycheck might not sound like very much money to accumulate for savings, but this is the general recommendation of financial advisors. Solomon would agree: “he that gathereth by labour shall increase” and “whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow” (Prov. 13:11, KJV, NIV). It takes determination and patience, but if you continue to do it for years, then you’d be surprised at what you can accumulate. If you ever need to cash in on your coin collection, then you can sell them back to moneymetals.com or sell them to a local coin dealer.
The reason why I choose the Canadian Silver Maple Leaf coin for saving rather than others is simple: it is a highly traded coin or easy to buy and sell: and secondly, it has no idolatrous pagan designs on it, which are warned against in the Bible. A lot of the bullion coins that are minted today have pagan goddesses on them. While most people view such deities as nonexistent, the Bible says that God takes offense at this: “Ye shall not make with me gods of silver, neither shall ye make unto you gods of gold” (Exod. 20:23). It doesn’t have to be actual statues of gold and silver, in a pagan temple with occult ceremonies, for it to offend God. If you take any gold or silver, which has for all human history been considered the main way to consolidate wealth, and you mint that metal into the form of a pagan deity, you are in that moment saying to yourself, “God has played no role in my accumulation of this wealth. I either did it by myself or with the help of a pagan deity.” This is related to the warning in Deuteronomy 8:13, where multiplying silver and gold can lead to us forgetting about God if we’re not careful. At least our cash says, “In God We Trust.” As if to say, “We do not trust in money, but in God our provider.”
Gain, Save, and Give
John Wesley is often credited with originating the phrase, “Gain all you can, save all you can, give all you can,” which is from his sermon “The Use of Money” (1760); but seeing that he was a huge fan of Richard Baxter’s theology, it might be possible that he borrowed the concept from Baxter’s Christian Directory (1673), which uses almost the exact same expressions that Wesley often used:
Even Christ when he had fed thousands by a miracle, yet commanded his disciples to gather up the broken bread or fragments, that nothing be lost, John 6:12, which plainly sheweth that it is a duty which the richest man that is, is not exempted from, to be frugal…but this must not be in sordid covetousness, but in obedience to God, and to do good to others…he is much more commendable, who is a good husband for the poor, as worldlings are for themselves; and frugally getteth and saveth as much as he can, and denieth all superfluities to himself…it is no sin, but a duty, to labour not only for labours sake, formally resting in the act done, but for that honest increase and provision, which is the end of our labour; and therefore to choose a gainful calling rather than another, that we may be able to do good, and relieve the poor (Eph. 4:28)…every man should spare as much for the relief of others as he can.
After reading through John Wesley’s “The Use of Money” (1760), it should become clear that there is a Christian and non-Christian way to handle cash flow. I will present them like this:
The Worldly Man’s Economic Formula
- Gains – He makes money by often embracing Machiavellian traits like deception, cruelty, greed, self-interest, and competition; and yes, hard work, even to the point of workaholism. Maybe he supports vice industries such as hard liquors, tobacco, drugs, gambling, and pornography. Sin City or Las Vegas, and Atlantic City, are alive in his heart in some way.
- Saves – He is very wise when it comes to investing; and he is often paying attention to this, for how he can aggressively gain more and more by saving and investing. His goal is to live in luxury.
The Christian Man’s Economic Formula
- Gains – He only makes money by honest hard work, the Golden Rule, moderation, to provide for his family, cooperation with others, but never gets into workaholism, because God and family are his priority, and work comes in second place.
- Saves – He is wise as he can be when it comes to saving and investing, but he will not buy stocks on margin, not gamble, and not be thinking about investing in an obsessive manner. He has a frugal lifestyle: he avoids designer clothing, expensive foods, luxury homes and cars, and costly entertainments. He is looking forward to his family’s financial welfare and his retirement years; and he strives to remain in the middle class by choice.
- Gives – Because he understands the spiritual danger of materialism, he gives to the poor and godly ministers, so that he never raises his standard of living above the middle class. He knows that while God calls him to avoid poverty, he is also expected to avoid luxury; and keep his faith in God strong.
This is not to say that worldly-minded or non-Christian people don’t ever give to charity. I admit that there are people like this. There are many examples of famous philanthropists and humanitarians, but that begs the question: what amounts are they giving, and what amounts are they holding back for themselves? Why are they giving? Are they giving in obedience to a Biblical command or are they giving because it will make them look good in the eyes of man? (Matt. 6:1-4). Are they giving out of pure compassion or are there other perks that they can receive that result from their giving, such as, publicity? Is their giving of millions of dollars a publicity stunt to help them garner their support from a certain group of people for a political campaign?
But let’s set aside the philanthropy of millionaires and billionaires, because I question that their high living standards, are spiritually healthy enough to allow for a strong faith in God. They are still living in the upper class by choice. When we come to the middle-class people and the upper middle-class people: I think this is where the real spiritual battle for a person’s soul could be in the balance. This is an economic area where the person could choose to serve God or money, as it would be easier for them to be moderate and shun materialism, if they gave enough money away. And if we are focusing on the middle class alone, then I think it would be fair to say that the worldly-minded middle classer works and saves but gives little to nothing at all; but the Biblically minded middle classer works, saves, and gives on the principle that he shuns luxury from a fear of God. Philanthropy is God’s cure for the sin of luxury.
The Love of Money:
Pirates, Slavery, and Corporate America
It is difficult to fall in love with a moving target, such as the online money in a checking account, because it is always moving, changing, in a state of fluidity, and is being used up, and spent away every day. But when you save cash or silver and gold bullion, for example, you are at that point creating capital accumulation: real, static, measurable wealth that is left untouched and unspent. And it is our silver and gold especially that can become a snare to our hearts. 1 Timothy 6:10: “The love of money is the root of all evil.” William Beveridge, assuming that silver and gold were the plainest meaning of money in this text, said, “I need not insist long upon it, all men knowing well enough what money is. But we must remember, that by money is here understood not only silver and gold, but all earthly comforts, possessions and enjoyments whatsoever, whether goods, lands, houses, wares, wealth, or riches of any sort or kind whatsoever.”
So, he extended the meaning of money beyond that most basic understanding of Biblical bullionism, which measured a man’s wealth by how much silver and gold he owned. Wealth was also measured by worldly goods, lands, houses, and wares: all of which could be sold and converted into spendable money. A degree of detachment from material possessions is required here. You can have them stored up somewhere far away in the bank or something, but you need to detach your heart from them. It’s about priorities: “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33). God comes first, money comes second. But materialism switches these around; and makes money come first, and God come in second, or not even in the picture. Materialism puts money and possessions in your face all the time, like when Scrooge McDuck shoveled barrels of silver coins into his closet; or jumped into his gold coin vault for a money swim in DuckTales. Atheistic economics would have you to do away with God as you explore things related to financial accumulation: the CPA and CFP sorts of things. Dave Chilton rightly said, “The only hope for the real elevation of the poor is capital accumulation and productivity.” And it is a Christian’s responsibility to show them how to do this, but it needs to be based on faith in God, and it needs to continue to be mindful of giving to the poor and the likes of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Because the moment an upwardly mobile middle-class man decides not to budget off a slice for a charitable fund, knowing full well that it is within his prosperous income and accumulation, that may be the moment he turns into a backslider.
The hunger for gold can get out of control: and this is called “gold fever.” It can make you forget your faith and principles. Look at what the pirates did in Treasure Island to pursue their gold, only to have it confiscated from them by English authorities:
In a far corner, only duskily flickered over by the blaze, I beheld great heaps of coin and quadrilaterals built of bars of gold. That was Flint’s treasure that we had come so far to seek, and that had cost already the lives of seventeen men from the Hispaniola. How many it had cost in the amassing, what blood and sorrow, what good ships scuttled on the deep, what brave men walking the plank blindfold, what shot of cannon, what shame and lies and cruelty, perhaps no man alive could tell.
I understand that Stevenson’s pirates were fictional characters, but they were based on real-life pirates, such as those mentioned in Charles Johnson’s A General History of the Pyrates (1724), which some scholars believe was written by Daniel Defoe under a pen name. Edward Teach (or Blackbeard), Calico Jack, Black Bart, and Captain Kidd were all infamous pirate captains. All of them were real-life gangsters involved with organized crime on the high seas, all of them bullionists, seeking to raid ships for strongboxes filled with gold and silver coins, diamonds, jewelry, gems, and the like. All of them, no doubt, probably raised by either Anglican or Puritan parents, but who had lost their way, and backslidden from God in their pursuit of gold and silver. These pirates were also mainly responsible for kidnapping Africans and shipping them to the American colonies as slaves: something which Baxter, Wesley, the Quakers, Wilberforce, Finney, and other real Christian leaders were strongly against. The Wesleyan Methodist Church formed in 1841, because of its opposition to slavery within the Methodist Episcopal Church; and many Wesleyan Methodist and holiness churches eventually joined the interracial Pentecostal Movement. By 1845, both the Baptist and Methodist denominations had major splits over the issue of slavery.
The moral of the story is that while silver, gold, and bullionism is a total revelation on the accumulation of wealth, history tells us that both godly Puritans and criminal pirates have used bullion as a means of exchange. And that slavery, which was introduced to certain Puritans by pirates, brought spiritual and economic confusion into the English and American economies for two centuries, until Abraham Lincoln finally issued the Emancipation Proclamation and freed the slaves in 1863. It goes to show how spiritual blindness can completely grip Christianized countries when it comes to economic matters. Slavery was an economic issue. It was a way for farmers to make a profit from free labor. But it was criminal in the eyes of God. From the slavery of Joseph to the deliverance of the Jews by Moses, God has shown himself to be opposed to the tyranny and abusive control in the form of slavery. Although God did allow for indentured servants and a year of Jubilee (Lev. 25:8-13).
Today many employees are called “wage slaves,” because Corporate America is still a slavish environment. Sure, people aren’t working in cotton fields or being literally whipped by their masters, but the toxic workplace remains: with grouchy bossy managers, secularism, job sabotage, back-stabbing, low wages, and many honest hard-working employees never getting their highly deserved promotions, upward mobility, and financial growth. The wicked are still running after ill-gotten gain, by keeping themselves rich, and their employees poor through lies, abuse, and manipulation. They might not be pirates or gangsters per se, but they might as well be, because they’re no different in spirit:
My son, if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them. If they say, “Come along with us; let’s lie in wait for innocent blood, let’s ambush some harmless soul; let’s swallow them alive, like the grave, and whole, like those who go down to the pit; we will get all sorts of valuable things and fill our houses with plunder; cast lots with us; we will all share the loot”—my son, do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths; for their feet rush into evil, they are swift to shed blood. How useless to spread a net where every bird can see it! These men lie in wait for their own blood; they ambush only themselves! Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the life of those who get it (Prov. 1:10-19).
If we are going to work, save, and invest our money the Bible way, then it assumes we are actually trying to follow Jesus. Corporate America is at odds with Biblical values. If you think differently, then you probably haven’t read a whole lot of the Bible. If you somehow think that good and evil have to mix into some necessary evil, so you can make money for your family, then you’re confused! A hundred f-words a week and half as many flirtations! Lying about performance outcomes to cover themselves! You don’t need to be a part of this. There is a better way; and God will show you the way, if you will trust him and not give in to the corporate evils that surround you daily. Everyone else at your company might have turned their backs on the Holy Spirit, but you don’t need to. Keep looking for ways to get out of this situation, so you can come by your money honestly and live in peace (1 Thess. 4:11). If that just sounds like idealism, then I feel sorry for you. Have faith! Don’t compromise! God can show you what to do! But please don’t allow yourself to be enticed by a corporate culture of cut-throat pirates. That’s not a Christian environment. They are definitely running after their silver and gold the wrong way.
 Daniel Defoe, op. cit., p. 148.
 Daniel Defoe, op. cit., p. 197.
 The USDA Thrifty Food Plan (2022) sets about $210 a week for a family of four, for grocery money. Montanaro’s budget depicts a $60,000 annual income in 2022. If we go by the USDA, the grocery budget should be more like 19% of the weekly income; and that’s not including money for restaurants and fast food.
 Michele Cagan, Budgeting 101 (Avon, MA: Adams Media, 2018), p. 73. “Savings: 10 percent. If this seems low for covering retirement, emergency funds, and goals saving, remember that it comes from take-home pay, so any employer-based retirement contributions have already been made.” If you’re a W-2 employee with a company-paid 401(k) plan, then great, you can afford to only save 10% of your paycheck. But because many people today jump from one company to another; or are independent contractors, if you have no 401(k) plan consistently working for you, then it’s safe to save 20% of your paycheck for general saving purposes, whether the money will be used for an emergency fund, college fund, retirement, silver, gold, bonds, stocks, land, charity, etc. That takes us back to the 20 from the 50/20/30 Rule. Budget spending categories and the percentages related to them should be subject to change, because no such percentages are prescribed in the Word of God. Giving 10% of your take-home pay to the Church, or the tithe, after taxes, is believed by many Christians to still be in effect, but it seems that this should be based on conscience; and on whether you believe the ministry is godly enough, and it should never be given by compulsion (Mal. 3:10; 1 Cor. 16:2; 2 Cor. 9:7). Some people believe that all tithes for pastor’s salaries have been abolished, because so many churches are corrupt (see Frank Viola’s Pagan Christianity?, ch. 8).
 Richard Steele, op. cit., pp. 54-55. In order to spend less than your income, it’s wise to avoid expensive living: not keeping up with the Joneses or being involved in any materialistic competitions or catch-me-ups, not living above your economic class, regulating grocery spending, avoiding expensive homes and furniture, avoiding expensive clothes, not spending a lot of money on entertainments, and continuing to pay off debts. However, even the best CPAs and financial advisors are often baffled when it comes to directing their clients on how to spend less money than they earn. They will give them impossible rules to keep for “conscious spending,” and tell them to rely on frugal, minimalistic willpower to cut back on impulse items, like mocha lattes over the course of the month (see Michele Cagan, Budgeting 101, pp. 89-90; David Bach, The Automatic Millionaire, p. 36). This financial asceticism is their solution for how to keep monthly spending below monthly income. But it doesn’t work! Unless you’re an omniscient god, there is no way you can remember well enough, or become that cognizant of your spending over the stretch of 30 days, let alone any longer than that. In my view, the only solution to the problem of “lifestyle creep” (spending the same amount as you earn,) is to open a savings account at a secondary bank without a debit card (Michele Cagan, op. cit., pp. 80-82). Make sure at least 20% of your total income goes into that account, while you manage the rest of your budget pie through your primary bank. If you learn to strike a balance with this method, then you can increase your savings percentage as your income increases. Note that I’m referring to having two separate banks, not two bank accounts with the same bank. Having two completely different banks, will keep your savings money over there in a corner, so it can accumulate easier and not be touched by frequent withdrawals.
 Matthew Henry, op. cit., 782.
 Richard Baxter, Chapters from a Christian Directory, pp. 162-163.
 Apparently, William Playfair invented line and bar graphs in 1786 and the pie chart in 1801.
 Michele Cagan, Budgeting 101, p. 111. According to Cagan, the method of budgeting that I follow is called the classic “envelope system,” because people used to, (and many still do this today,) budget their money by splitting their spending categories into about eight different labeled envelopes, and put the cash percentages into each of them. I find its easier to create multiple checking account “envelopes” on bankofamerica.com and manage it that way.
 Michele Cagan, op. cit., p. 230. “It is much easier to negotiate for relaxed payment terms (like skipping a month, or making three small payments instead of one big payment) if you contact your landlord or mortgage company before you’re late to pay.”
 Bullionism is found all over the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. If you go by the KJV, then the Bible mentions gold 419 times and silver 283 times.
 Bullionism was present in the early Methodist churches as well (see John Wesley’s “The Use of Money,” 1.1; “The Danger of Riches,” 1.6); G. C. J., “Primitive Wesleyan Methodist Church of Ireland,” Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, vol. 8, edited by John M’Clintock and James Strong (New York, NY: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1879), p. 594. “An annual missionary income of $70,000 in gold is now devoted to the support of the ministers on the poorer circuits. Over $75,000 in gold is invested as a fund for the support of superannuated ministers.”
 Richard Baxter, A Christian Directory, vol. 3 (London, England: Richard Edwards, 1825) p. 236.
 Richard Baxter, op. cit., vol. 4, pp. 16-17.
 Having savings or an emergency fund is not only common sense but is supported by the Bible (see Prov. 10:4-5; 13:11, 22; 21:10, 20; 30:24-25; Matt. 25:14-30; Eph. 4:28; Eccl. 11:1-2): also look at Matthew Henry’s commentaries. The emergency fund is especially supported by Solomon’s observation of ant colonies. All summer they labor hard and save a little of their earnings to store up food for the winter when there will be no food left to gather. The diligent ants will have food to eat in the winter, but the slothful: they will have nothing to eat, because they neither work, nor save a 20% portion of their earnings for future emergencies. Proverbs 6:6-9: “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” “The Grasshopper and the Ants” was one of Aesop’s Fables from the fifth century B.C., which came about three centuries after Proverbs, and teaches the same moral, but contrasts the diligent ants with the slothful grasshopper, who later needs to rely on the ants for charity during the winter. This was animated as a Silly Symphony by Disney in 1934. Aesop lived during the same time as the prophets Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel.
 John Maynard Keynes rightly stated in his Tract on Monetary Reform, that the gold standard is a “barbarous relic” of the past (Robert Heilbroner, The Worldly Philosophers, p. 262). Gold is no longer considered as currency, and so if we want to save money, then we should shift our focus to cash. This is because the Federal Reserve Bank and the Bank of England are hoarding large amounts of gold and keeping it out of circulation as common currency; and by using their governmental authority, they have made for us paper money in the form of dollars and sterlings; and this is now what we count as currency, or real money that is used for day-to-day use. Gold and silver are not used this way; and so they have now been relegated to nothing more than stocks which fluctuate in price value. Hold your gold if you have any and wait ten years or so for the price to rise, to see if you might profit by selling it then in the future. But saving money for emergencies or other purposes should be through the medium of cash, because it is real currency, and its value will never fluctuate as drastically as silver and gold do. Cash has taken the place that gold and silver held in Biblical and Puritan times.
 Michele Cagan, op. cit., pp. 76-82. However, it may be advisable if you have multiple steams of income, to have one of your paychecks directly deposited into a savings account at a second bank. Don’t use a debit card for it: cut it up when they mail it to you. If you normally budget with Bank of America, then open a savings account at Wells Fargo. Commit that savings account to something like debt repayment, a down payment on a mortgage, another car, college funds, vacations, investments, or retirement. CPAs speak about the importance of keeping our monthly income higher than our monthly spending, but most people find doing this is impossible. It’s called “lifestyle creep,” even if you are frugal, and earning more money, it is part of finite human nature to spend up everything available. The key is to make a portion of that money unavailable by storing it in another bank without a debit card.
 Matthew 6:19: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” If Jesus was totally teaching against saving money in this passage, then it would contradict the time when he told the apostles to gather up the fragments of the loaves and fish (John 6:12), Solomon’s proverbs about gathering money for times of distress (Prov. 6:8; 13:11), and the Parable of the Talents: which teaches a lesson about placing a bag of gold in the bank, so that it would gain interest (Matt. 25:27, NIV). Jesus also told the apostles at the Last Supper to buy swords for themselves and carry moneybags around with them (Luke 22:36-38). It seems that Matthew 6:19 is against leaving your emergency fund in an unsecure location, such as a small safe in your house, which could easily be stolen by a thief. The Parable of the Talents would also suggest that burying your silver and gold in the ground is a foolish idea, as many have done in the past, only to have it become a lost treasure (Matt. 25:18, 25). The TV show Unsolved Mysteries had several episodes about lost treasure, or bullion, which people had buried or hid away in caves, only to die and leave vague tips about its location. Whenever a treasure’s location was discovered, the U.S. government would often come in and take ownership of the land: such was the case at Victorio Peak. There are many similar cases like this in Eugene Conrotto’s Lost Gold and Silver Mines of the Southwest (Dover Publications, 1996). Matthew 6:19 could also be in reference to “treasures” in the sense of luxury items or things related to conspicuous consumption such as designer clothing and expensive TV sets, instead of silver, gold, cash, and other kinds of currency used for emergency funds. Matthew Henry, in commenting on this verse, says that it is not so much a literal teaching against saving silver and gold as a financial strategy, as it is a teaching about detachment from your possessions: a teaching against the materialism of placing such a high priority on them, so that they become more important to you than God, the Bible, Puritanical theology, prayer, and evangelism. We should look at such heavenly things as the true treasures. Our hearts should be set on that, instead of silver and gold, even though financial tools like them have their usefulness (Luke 16:9).
 Michele Cagan, op. cit., p. 23, 44, 137, 173, 209, 243.
 Michele Cagan, op. cit., pp. 201-205.
 David Wiedemer, Robert Wiedemer, and Cindy Spitzer, eds., The Aftershock Investor: A Crash Course in Staying Afloat in a Sinking Economy (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2012), p. 201; William Baldwin, “From Russia with Gold,” Forbes (April-May 2022): 63-64. “‘Storing your reserves in the financial system is like plugging your backup generator into a wall socket…it works beautifully until the grid goes down.’ Gold, stored offline, is a different thing. ‘It’s cyber-immune. It’s indestructible. It’s not anybody’s liability’…Some of your assets should be off the grid. Grids, whether of the electrical variety or of the financial variety that relies on the electrical one, are unstable.” The article then points to how President Biden issued economic sanctions to Putin and Russia by freezing their online bank accounts. “But the country’s hoard of gold is quite usable: ‘He can just take it to Shanghai.’” This same issue referred to an April 1974 issue that listed what people were investing in the previous year: “real estate, art, silver, bonds, antiques—and gold. Lots of gold…Gold prices would more than triple by the decade’s end. ‘I used to sell to collectors,’ Stack said. ‘Now people say, ‘Sell me gold coins—any gold coins’’” (p. 130). Along with other articles, this issue of Forbes looked skeptically upon electronic money, cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, and fintech, and points back to investing in silver and gold coins several times.
 Coin shops are often owned and operated by Indians, because gold is a symbol of wealth in their culture. But more important than that is the fact that it’s a financial security that a person can turn to in an emergency. India is one of the poorest countries in the world; and yet, their cultural respect for gold remains. Indian mothers give gold jewelry as heirlooms to their daughters at their weddings, much like in the Old Testament (see Gen. 24:22-54; Ps. 45:9). Gold is also viewed by them as a good luck object; and a symbol of status and power. They view gold as a safe and wise investment: as a safety net against financial emergencies. Silver however, is seen as the “poor man’s gold,” because although it serves the same purpose as gold, it is cheaper and easier for the lower classes to gain access to it (“What is the Significance of Gold in Indian Culture?”; “How Silver is Poor Man’s Gold.” bankbazaar.com).
 Banks are essentially based on gold vaults. In the seventeenth century “goldsmith bankers” are what bankers were called. Their whole financial strength is based on the foundation of gold ownership. The dollar bill was created as a convenient I.O.U. bank note by the Federal Reserve Bank that people could carry around with them, which represents an extremely small fraction of the gold that exists in Fort Knox. The history of currency is a lot more complicated than that: but to simplify things, if banks had no gold in their possession, then all paper money would be worthless. The U.S. paper dollar is only a note that represents a small fraction of government gold value. This shouldn’t be confused with the so-called “gold standard,” which is when all money used to be measured by gold down to the smallest penny: at one point in history, things were that way. Paper money might not grow on trees, but silver and gold do grow in mines; and they are the originators of all money and wealth. It leads one to the conclusion that these precious metals are perfect for saving and investing, since they are the time-tested sources from which all other forms of money only seek to imitate.
As a recent example of how important gold is to the world of banking, look at what President Franklin Roosevelt did in 1933: Executive Order 6102. The Great Depression began in 1929 due to banks issuing out massive amounts of margin calls to stockholders. Banks were falling apart: and so were mortgages and jobs. FDR sought to strengthen the economy this way: he ordered all U.S. citizens to hand over their gold coins and bullion to the U.S. government, which then stored it in Fort Knox. Only ancient coin collections were spared from this gold confiscation. By strengthening the Federal Reserve Bank in this way, FDR was able to implement all kinds of government aid programs called the New Deal, to help with recouping the losses the American people had suffered from the Great Depression; and from the stockbrokers that caused it (see David Ganz, The Essential Guide to Investing in Precious Metals, pp. 54, 57-61). In 1788 the U.S. Constitution, to limit the power of the states, prohibited them from making their own state dollar bills and state coins. If one state government was in debt to another, only silver and gold were to be considered acceptable forms of payment: “No State shall…make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts” (Article 1, Section 10, Clause 1). This is because gold and silver coins are the most universal form of currency.
 Richard Baxter, Chapters from a Christian Directory, pp. 168-170.
 Wine is allowed in the Bible and usually does not go over 13% ABV (John 2:1-11), but that class of alcohols known as the hard liquors are anything above 50% ABV and can be very dangerous to the mind and body: such as Everclear, Absinthe, Moonshine, Whiskey, Scotch, Gin, and certain kinds of Vodka, Brandy, and Rum. I’d say that any of these drinks are definitely in the “vice” category when they are found in the 80% to 90% ABV range. It is safest to avoid all liquors. These drinks can quickly make a man drunk, alcoholic, and even violent. They produce hallucinations, are flammable, and can lead to the mental hospital.
 William Beveridge, Private Thoughts Upon Religion (New York, NY: Robert Carter, 1839), p. 218.
 Thomas Andrae, Carl Barks and the Disney Comic Book (Jackson, MS: The University Press of Mississippi, 2006), ch. 6: “Resurrecting the Self-Made Man.” Barks was the Disney cartoonist who invented the Scrooge McDuck character. His character first appeared in Barks’ comic book called Uncle Scrooge, which ran from 1947 through the 1990s. This character is best known for his portrayal in Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983) and DuckTales (1987-1990), which is where I and most other Millennials were introduced to him. Scrooge McDuck is a parody of rich capitalists. Although Barks was a conservative Republican and believed in capitalism, he was never a very rich man, and personally identified more with Donald Duck and his bumbling failures. He created Uncle Scrooge to make fun of the rich: to point out their contradictions and vices. Disney used McDuck to teach economic lessons at times, such as diligence and frugality; a budget pie for rent, clothes, groceries, education, entertainment, telecom, energy, and transportation; investing in stocks, and saving money as he does in the animated cartoon Scrooge McDuck and Money (1967); but mostly it was to poke fun at the mean spirit and stinginess often found in greedy businessmen. McDuck was especially used to crack jokes at the love of money. Barks believed in the middle-class work ethic; and it was from this ethic of honest hard work, upward mobility, and the American Dream, that he lampooned the tyrannical nature of the corporate business culture, which creates wage slaves, exploits the poor, and encourages economic discrimination. The Beagle Boys, which are the enemies of McDuck, are used to suggest that conspicuous consumer items, and money stored at home, are liable to be stolen. Thieves can break in and steal: and so it’s better to store your money at the bank, in a secure location, and keep yourself detached from it somehow (Matt. 6:19; 25:27).
McDuck started out as a poor gold prospector who struck it rich during the Klondike Gold Rush; and then over time, developed from a cold miser, to a heartless monopolist, to a greedy banker and usurious moneylender, and finally into the lovable, adventurous treasure hunter who inspired Indiana Jones and DuckTales (p. 5). He only sometimes sees the need for compassion and giving to the poor. But his greatest love is money: he accumulates and saves money; and he totally hates spending money. Spending even one nickel is anathema to him. Scrooge McDuck, is probably the most popular economic cartoon character ever created, used to illustrate the tensions that exist within American capitalism. Business magazines like Forbes have speculated that McDuck must be a multi-billionaire. The comic simply says he is the world’s richest duck; and that his net worth is “umpteen-centrifugilillion dollars” (p. 244; “Only a Poor Old Man,” 1952). Don Rosa’s The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck (1996) is his comic book biography.
 David Chilton, Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt-Manipulators (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1981), p. 228.
 Giving to the poor permeates the whole Bible (see Deut. 15:7-11; Prov. 14:31; 19:17; 22:9; Heb. 13:16; Acts 20:35; 2 Cor. 9:7; 1 John 3:17; Matt. 6:1-4; 5:42; Luke 12:33-34).
 A great example of gold fever can be found in the real-life story illustrated in the Little House on the Prairie episode called “Gold Country” (Season 3, Episodes 21-22). Charles Ingalls takes his family out to Dakota during a gold rush to pan for placer gold. While there, his daughter Laura meets an aged hermit, a worn out gold miner, named Zachariah. He shared with her that he buried all his gold under the creek where he buried his wife. The grieving man lives off the land and refuses to take his gold with him and return to society. He loved the memory of his wife more than his gold. A man hears Laura talk about the gold; and he eventually digs it up from the creek along with the corpse of Zachariah’s wife. Zachariah is so grieved by this, that he commits suicide, by burning down his shack with himself inside. Before he died, Laura asked if 20 years earlier, did anyone find any gold around there? He said, “Some. Just enough to change folks. Enough to make them think they needed more and more and more…until more wasn’t enough. Until all the gold on God’s earth wasn’t enough. Now it’s beginning again. The greed and the hate. The sorrow.” Jealousy, saloons, gambling, bar fights, competition, outlaw claim jumpers, and finally Zachariah’s house fire, all played their roles in making Ingalls take his family back home.
 Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island (Boston, MA: Roberts Brothers, 1884), p. 283.
 It does not agree with the New Testament to buy and sell jewelry as investments, although this was done in Old Testament times. The moral on this was modified to cultivate modesty in Christian women (see 1 Tim. 2:9; 1 Pet. 3:3; Gen. 24:22, 53; Exod. 3:22; Song 1:10); Greg Bahnsen, By This Standard (Nacogdoches, TX: Covenant Media Press, 2008, 2020), p. 242. “We should presume that Old Testament standing laws continue to be morally binding in the New Testament, unless they are rescinded or modified by further revelation.”
 Even Long John Silver was grieved when his fellow pirates marked him for death by cutting a page out of the Bible (Robert Louis Stevenson, op. cit., pp. 239-240).
 Richard Baxter, op. cit., p. 33.