Some family of mine sent me this book recently: Your Future, Your Choice: Christian Character in a Changing Economy, by Kerry J. Koller. It’s short, and covers the basics of how this guy thinks Christians should relate to money and the economy. Much of it was straight forward—don’t have lots of credit card debt, for example. But there were a few interesting ideas that don’t show up in other personal-finance type books.
The book makes an interesting point about why we should pay attention to our money, instead of just assuming God will take care of us. The idea is basically that we should be “provident and resourceful” people, so that in the event something happens to the economy or the world (e.g. a natural disaster), we’re able to function enough to continue doing good things—helping the needy, who will be more so during times of duress. We’re not taking care of ourselves purely for self-preservation or so we can be lazy, we do it to maintain our future potential to act beautifully in the world (okay, that last bit was more like my interpretation of what the book says). This leads naturally to why we should have savings, and not have lots of credit card debt, and generally live within or even beneath our means so that we have means to help others now and in the future.
One other thing it leads to is not something I had expected. That is that we should be prepared for future problems outside the economy. In other words, sure we need to save money, but if the economy itself fails us (e.g. the store has no food), are we prepared? So this whole section of the book is dedicated to talking about planning for things like a flood or hurricane that wipes out communication or transportation for a time. It talks about a “Self-Sufficiency Exercise”, in which we give up all outside resources—electricity from the grid, fuel that’s not stored at your house, food from the store—for a period of time, such as a week. This is to test the character of ourselves and our family, and perhaps just as a learning experience to show just how much we depend on the economy from day to day.
Doing this exercise in the city seems rather hard, because having a generator or propane tanks is not really feasible. However, some things are probably easier in the city, like the fact that most places are within walking distance, or at least you can take public transportation (if your disaster scenario permits). Regardless of location, one can certainly have a few weeks worth of food and water stored up. I haven’t decided to undertake such an exercise, not the least because the other person living with me probably would object. But I might start storing a little water, and a little food—just in case.
I was a little surprised to find as much interesting in the book as I did. There was one other little thing: I learned about the existence of futurology—the study of what’s going to happen in the future, of course! It sounds like Asimov, but it looks like it might actually be real.