Taxes, Details, Money, and Peace

????????????????????????????????????????After about five hours of uninterrupted work on my computer, I finally had to say, “Time to quit.”  Would that I had been writing an article, or composing a message, or catching up on correspondence or something else wonderfully creative!  But this task was far more mundane:  going over my 2012 financial records in preparation for the income tax deadline.

Clergy taxes are extremely complicated, as we are considered self-employed, and so pay the extra SE tax, but really are not. Every expense needs to be categorized. Good hardware and software help manage this herculean job of exacting record-keeping, but the task still nearly brings me down each year.

Intense attention to detail is needed to sort these figures coherently.  I’m not a particularly good detail person–just ask the people who proofread my work.  I miss a lot of stuff.

But there is a greater issue here than just massive detail work:  it is seeing in one place a picture of how I spent the money entrusted to me last year.

How I indulged my love of books and reading! Perhaps buying them perhaps just a bit too freely, both for myself and for my grandchildren in whom I hope to instill a love for reading.

Clothes got almost no attention, hardly a surprise for those who see me as a fashion disaster. Yes, somebody, someday is going to report me to “What Not to Wear.”

I also gave much money away, experiencing good satisfaction in those decisions.  Much freedom to be found there.

Financial freedom—people dream about it, fantasize about winning the lottery (sure ticked for destruction, by the way), and wonder what it would be like to have no money worries.

It’s hard to get there.  All sorts of forces encourage us to get into financial chains that bind us uncomfortably.  Those chains can get so tight that circulation cuts off and life disappears.

I’ve seen it happen.  I’ve experienced it myself.  An unplanned baby, a car needing expensive repairs, credit cards maxing out, unexpected health care bills, growing children, school expenses, needed vacations. Any of these things can put a family in a tough financial position.

The vast majority of marital strain and the cause of most family arguments come from money issues.  Anxiety over unpaid bills rises, one wants to save, another wants to spend, children need something and need it NOW, and tensions build, too often to the explosion level.

Little happiness or peace there.

Knowing how complex our financial lives can be, and wanting to help those who are looking for a way to handle those issues, the church I serve is offering the Dave Ramsey course, Financial Peace University.  The nine week class starts this Sunday, March 3, at 4:00 pm.  All are welcome—this program is for anyone interested, not just church members.  Registration is available on the church website:  We’ll provide child care if it is needed.

Dave Ramsey is not going to tell you how to spend you money, or make your financial decisions for you.  Those decisions belong to you. He will give some extremely effective tools that you can use, “baby steps” he calls them, that will indeed set you free and give peace where there has been conflict before.

Millions have found this program to deliver well on what it promises.  People do find financial peace.  They start living freely in a way that they’d never experienced before. The chains fall off.  Circulation is restored.  Life returns.

Sounds so good to me that I’m taking the course myself.  I know I have things to learn.

If you want to come, go ahead and sign up.  Your materials will not arrive until next week, but it is important to start with the first session, this Sunday at 4:00 pm, Krum First United Methodist Church, 1001 E. McCart Street in Krum.

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