This is the same reason you see millionaires go broke.

In principle this should be easy, but in practice it is difficult. The key is to keep your expenses constant, regardless of how much money is coming in. But most of our country seems to think that if you get a raise, you have to immediately increase your standard of living.

My plan to prove Parkinson wrong is to maintain my standard of living as income increases. Then (in theory) I will have an increasing amount of disposable income for the next step: paying off the house as soon as possible.

Step 5 – Pay off House ASAP

I can’t wait to get my house paid off. I am excited for the day when the most expensive bill I have to pay each month is to the electric company. We have a little student loan that is just about paid off (our last remaining non-mortgage debt) and then our next financial goal is to get the house paid off as quickly as possible.

The thing about paying off your mortgage early is that just a little bit of effort can go a long way. Paying an extra $50/month on an average mortgage will allow you to pay it off 3 years early. What if you could jack that amount up to $200 or even $500 extra each month? It is exciting to think about how quick you could get it paid off.

And then, when it is all paid off, along with all the other debts, you are in a position to have a large chunk of disposable income. This of course will lead to an ability to give way beyond 10% to the local church, support missions, and other great ministries.

Step 6 – Invest Wisely

While I started investing about 6-7 years ago, I have put most of it on hold as we have been paying off our debts. After all the debt is paid off I intend to spend more time and energy finding good investments that will help amplify the process.

While part of the investing will be in some more traditional investments like stocks and mutual funds, I plan on continuing to strategize and find ways to create businesses that help people and bring money in advance God’s Kingdom.

Step 7 – Give

It starts with giving,  it continues with giving, and it ends with giving. We are designed and created by God to be givers. I remember being one of those sad souls who believed that hoarding what I had would lead to the most joy. How wrong I was.

True fulfillment comes from giving, not getting. “Things” are nice, but at the end of the day, isn’t it much more valuable to be able to positively affect someone’s life?

Summing it All Up

Over the last few years I have come across quite a few Christians who have this desire to be extravagant givers – who don’t really care about keeping up with the Joneses, but who want to dedicate their earning power to God’s purposes.

My encouragement to them (and myself) is that we have to start small. It doesn’t matter how much you make or how little. It doesn’t matter how much debt you have, it doesn’t matter how much education you have.

Regardless of whether we have 10 talents or one, how we handle what we have in front of us determines what happens next. We just have to use what God has given us and start moving in the right direction.

Hint: Getting in debt is probably not the right direction!

I still have to remind myself that getting in debt is only bringing me farther from my goal. But every time I choose not to spend $500 on a shopping spree, and pay off debts instead, I am just that much closer to reaching my goal.