As our thoughts about Christian personal finance continue to evolve here at Spend Your Values, we’ve realized we need to articulate the underlying assumptions and beliefs that inform our perspective. To that end, we are launching a Start Here page that outlines our four fundamental beliefs and identifies some of the best posts to start with on the blog. You can check it out here, or at the top of the page!
Our four fundamental beliefs were inspired by (and adapted from) our new favorite Christian personal finance book – Free: Spending Your Time and Money on What Matters Most by Mark Scandrette. Scandrette offers a wealth of insights on the deceptively simple task of aligning your time and money with your deepest held values. Written essentially as an expanded workbook, Scandrette offers reflections, exercises, plans, and challenges for seven distinct steps on the path to aligning spending and values. The core of his book is this message:
“The gospel invites us into a life of radical contentment, generosity, gratitude, trust, and simplicity. We can reimagine our assumptions about time, money and material possessions to pursue a life of greater freedom, leveraging our time and resources toward what matters most.”
The book is well-written and interesting, with useful anecdotes and thoughtful analyses. But perhaps the greatest strength of Scandrette’s book is his ability to challenge many of our dearly held beliefs without sounding overly preachy or sending us on a guilt trip. He doesn’t pull punches but he also walks the walk. For example, Scandrette and his family have lived in an intentional community for many years and all members of the community create and share their personal spending plans once a year. His perspective is a powerful corrective to the more common narratives of consumerism, consumption, materialism, and greed present in our society (and our church).
The book offers practical advice about managing time, tracking spending, practicing gratitude, and identifying your core values. However, the book doesn’t teach the reader much about personal finance. Scandrette focuses primarily on limiting spending and creating a spending plan, but I would liked to have seen a bit more general education on the subject from a Christian perspective. Also, Scandrette focuses heavily on the pursuit of simplicity and simple living. He recommends this type of lifestyle as the best way to find freedom with your time and finances. Alex and I generally follow this perspective ourselves and agree with much of what Scandrette had to say about simplicity. Yet, I don’t think this kind of lifestyle is the only way, and I’m not sure it is a narrative that makes sense for all people.
Overall, however, Free is a fantastic overview of spending your values in book form. We heartily recommend it!
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