Q I feel like we don’t have a very good handle on our money, and I know the answer is that we’re supposed to “budget,” but we just don’t seem to have time. What do we do?
A Someone once said that the reason for making a budget is so that you can tell your money where to go instead of wondering where it went. If you’re feeling anxious about where all the money is going—and on top of that feeling like you don’t have much time to do anything about it—you are not alone.
The good news is that God’s Word shows us how to have peace with the money God gives us to manage. For example, Proverbs 21:5 says, “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.” In other words, we need to put a God-honoring game plan together for our money, or we won’t have very much of it!
We’re all busy, but we simply can’t afford not to spend some time making a plan for the money God entrusts us with. Did you realize that if your average annual income is $40,000, nearly $2 million will flow through your bank account during your lifetime? With that much money at stake, we can probably “sacrifice” an episode of “American Idol” to carve out a little planning time with God’s money.
One of the most liberating things our family has done to save time on budgeting is to make it automatic. What that means is most of our giving, saving, and monthly expenses are handled by automatic debit and electronic-funds transfer. We use Quicken personal finance software to track noncash spending. Our monthly bookkeeping time, which used to be more than an hour, is now less than 15 minutes. Some people also use cash envelopes for things like gas, groceries, clothes, gifts, and so on.
These simple systems give you a great handle on where every dollar goes and how much you have saved, but they also allow you to be free from guilt when it’s time to spend.
Mike Buwalda serves as a stewardship con-sultant for Barnabas Foundation (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Q I am usually unsure of myself when visiting people in the hospital. Are there any “rules” that would help?
A All hospitals have their own rules regarding visiting hours, bringing of food or flowers, number of visitors, and so forth. Those are easy. What makes people nervous about hospital visiting is the etiquette or unwritten rules. Basically, you can’t go wrong if you remember your visit is for the benefit of the patient. Following are a few tips for a good hospital visit:
Don’t stay too long, especially if the person is very drowsy, very uncomfortable, or clearly not in a visiting mood. Even though your visit is short, the hospitalized person will appreciate your efforts and the gift of seeing your smiling face. Feel free to leave a card or note to be read later.
If you’re unaware of the details of the patient’s symptoms, diagnosis, or treatment, don’t ask the patient or the staff for that information. If the person wants you to know, you will be told. Anything you do learn should be kept confidential. “Sharing each other’s burdens” is something to be controlled by the patient. Keep all of your own problems to yourself and avoid discussing similar or worse cases you know about.
Do bring a smile and pleasant demeanor and keep the conversation positive if possible. Unless medically prohibited, touch is a beneficial thing. A handshake, a touch on the arm, a gentle hug, or a kiss on the cheek all transfer human warmth.
If you know some of the person’s interests, bring something appropriate such as a sports magazine or a crossword book. Show your Christianity mainly by your concern and by prayer—even nonbelievers value being told “I will pray for you.” If appropriate, ask if the patient would like you to read Scripture or pray with him; if not, don’t push it.
By being aware of the preferences of the patient, you are truly offering the gift of your love and presence.
Dr. Herman Borkent practices medicine atMisericordia Hospital in Edmonton, Alberta.