Americans are financially stressed these days.
Millions have lost their jobs. According to a recent survey, 49% of Americans have suffered from reduced income during the last few months.
It has been a rough year for me too. I have had five business trips (i.e. “gospel meetings”) cancelled and no one is buying my Bible class books (although not a huge loss financially in either case). I did lose a bunch of money (more than I care to admit) on the stock market in March, church operations have taken some unexpected twists and turns, and I had a major heart attack in May.
However, I have a confession to make. Despite all the weird challenges of the year 2020, I’m saving a lot of money lately!
First, the local church is still giving me a paycheck. In fact, I personally think I’ve done some of my best work ever this year, even though church life is anything but completely “normal.” Sometimes adversity brings out the best in us, but I’m thankful to still have a paying job.
Moreover, we have made back all the money we lost in the stock market (and then some). In fact, all the potential tax write-offs because of medical bills and investment losses we were anticipating earlier have reversed so much, I’m urging Andrea to look for extra deductions wherever she can spot them.
And we’re just not spending that much. We never go out to eat. We have cancelled some vacations. Our cars are sitting in the driveway, so the gasoline bill goes down, and gas is cheaper anyway. There are no car repair bills. Even the auto insurance company sent us a refund check. And the United States Treasury department was kind enough to send us some free money (along with most everyone else, although I’m not sure how “free” it will be in the long run).
We no longer go to the store, except perhaps to buy some occasional groceries – but even the grocery bill is going down as the cost of food goes up. You see, after my heart attack, I needed to reduce stress, so I planted a garden, and we have some fruit trees. Have you ever heard of the law of sowing and reaping? This is the year that we will have seen so many oranges, lemons, cucumbers, cantaloupes, pumpkins, grapes, basil and mint leaves, and other treasures, that our food spending might actually take a bit of a dive.
And even though Andrea and I have never splurged much on special events, there are no sporting events, concerts, theaters, or other big-ticket items on which to spend (waste?) precious funds.
I feel somewhat wealthy, because I can really afford to fund my retirement, be more generous, or have breathing room to pay the bills without worry. Perhaps the bizarre turn of events this year has forced some of us to reorder our priorities, to spend less on frivolous things, and to be more prudent financial stewards of limited resources. Can a curse actually be a blessing in disguise? My bank account says, “Yes, absolutely!”