Say Goodbye to Regret,

Say Goodbye to Financial Regrets

By Dr. Robert Jeffress

The Bible has a great deal to say about money. 16 out of 38 parables discuss money. You can’t turn a page in Proverbs without encountering money.  

Why is that?  

  1. Money touches our lives every day in every way. Money plays a key role in the jobs we take, the houses and neighborhoods in which we live, the schools we choose for our children, and the health care we receive.
  2. It measures our faithfulness to God. Jesus repeatedly taught that how we handle the money God entrusts to us in this life will determine the responsibilities God entrusts to us in the next life.

In our series Say Goodbye To Regrets, we are discovering what the Bible says about avoiding regrets in the major areas of life—our relationships, our work, and our spiritual life. Today we are going to talk about regrets over our finances. In a survey I once conducted, I discovered that people’s regrets about money deal with one or more of these four areas: saving, spending, investing, and giving. Today I want to briefly deal with each of these areas and suggest some practical ways to escape regret over money.

1. “I Regret Not Saving More Money” (Proverbs 6:6-8)

I asked a friend of mine, “Do you have any regrets in life?” “No, I can’t think of any,” he quickly answered. A moment or two of silence passed, and then he said, “Well, I can think of one. I wish I had saved more money for my children’s education. I knew it would be expensive, but I had no idea how expensive.”

My friend is extremely intelligent. He realized that both of his sons would want to attend college, but college is expensive, and he did not have the financial resources to pay for college.  

Yet for years, he failed to set aside money for something he knew was about to happen. Why?  Why do so many of us fail to adequately save for the three major financial commitments most of us will face: retirement, college education for our children, and financial emergencies such as long-term health care for ourselves or our parents? In talking with people, I have discovered at least three excuses. 

  • Excuse #1: “Social Security and/or My Pension Will Cover My Needs.”
  • Excuse #2: “I Don’t Have Any Extra Income to Save.”
  • Excuse #3: “I Am Trusting God to Meet My Future Needs.”

Whatever the cause, God’s Word says that you can be assured that you will have some future financial need. And the way to prepare for that future need is to set aside a portion of your current income to provide for that future need.

2. “I Regret Wasting So Much Money” (Proverbs 21:20)

Do you ever come to the end of the month and wonder, “Where has all the money gone?”  Every two weeks or once a month, you receive a check for your work, yet by the end of the month, your wages “sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle” (Proverbs 23:5).  

Even more discouraging is to come to the end of your working years and ask the same question: “Where has all of the money gone?”   

Let’s say you are 40, and you and your mate earn $50,000 a year over the next 30 years. Assuming no raises during those years—an unlikely assumption—that means that nearly $2.5 million will pass through your hands before you retire. You probably have never thought of yourself as millionaire material, yet over the long term, you are. How much of that $2.5 million will you keep? How much of it will you invest in Christian ministries or other causes you feel passionate about? How much of it will be frittered away?

One person explained his financial dilemma this way: “My problem is not overspending, but under depositing!” Yet, as we have just seen, the opposite is true. Over time, most of us will earn a significant amount of money.  But the only way we will be able to retain, multiply or give away that money is to develop a millionaire’s mindset for spending. The only way I know to accumulate money to fund your future needs or to invest in Christian causes is to start spending as if you were a millionaire. Let me explain what I mean.

Years ago, I read a fascinating book by Thomas Stanley and William Danko titled, “The Millionaire Next Door.” Using extensive research, the authors have concluded that what distinguishes most millionaires from the rest of society is their fundamental choice about spending: they would rather have wealth than have the appearance of wealth. That means they refuse to waste money on frivolous expenditures. Contrary to popular thinking, most fortunes are not received through inheritance but are earned in one generation. People become millionaires not through good luck but by spending less than they consume over a long period of time. Why? Their desire for financial independence overrides their desire to spend.  

Consider these survey results of the spending habits of millionaires:

  • Stanley and Danko found that the average MND owned a house worth $557,000 in today’s dollars. In many cases, this was far more than the homeowner had paid for the house. Nearly half of all MNDs lived in the same home for over 20 years and had seen their value rise significantly. Their average house size was 2,600 square feet.  
  • Most of the MNDs Stanley and Danko spoke to drove cars at least two years old. They preferred buying cars rather than leasing them and leaned toward American-made cars. Nearly 37% of MNDs said they bought their most recent car used rather than new. The average MND had paid $43,150 for his current car.
  • Over half of Stanley and Danko’s MNDs said they had never paid more than $700 for a suit. Their typical top price for a pair of shoes was $245, and for a wristwatch, it was $410.

Now you understand what I mean by learning to spend like a millionaire. Those who have accumulated a great amount of money have not only learned how to make money but, more importantly, how to spend money. They intend to preserve their wealth instead of allowing it to slowly slip through their fingers.

Whether your financial goals include saving a specific amount of money for some future need, retiring early, becoming financially independent, giving a large gift to a charitable cause, or indulging yourself in some specific fantasy, you will never reach that goal without learning how to control your spending.

Ten Ways to Cut Your Expenses

  1. Use a 15-year instead of a 30-year mortgage on your home.  
  2. Refinance your mortgage.  
  3. Set your thermostat to five degrees warmer in the summer and five degrees cooler in the winter.  
  4. Keep driving the car you have instead of purchasing a new one. 
  5. Use a self-service instead of a full-service gas station, if possible.  
  6. Refuse to shop for groceries when you are hungry.  
  7. Use a list when you shop for groceries. 
  8. Postpone clothes purchases until major sales.  
  9. Split entrees when you eat out.
  10. Plan travel ahead of time.  

These suggestions are not to transform you into a selfish miser whose only life goal is hoarding money. Instead, carefully monitoring your spending can prevent wasteful expenditures that result in regret. 

3.“I Regret Not Making Wiser Investments” (Ecclesiastes 5:13-15)

Bad investments can be a very real source of regret if we do not learn to avoid the four common mistakes in investing.

  • Mistake #1: Postponing Investing
  • Mistake #2: Failing to Diversify Your Assets
  • Mistake #3: Waiting for the Right Time to Invest
  • Mistake #4: Get-Rich-Quick Schemes

The secrets to avoiding regrets about your finances are quite simple: invest early, invest in a mixture of assets, invest now, and invest wisely.

4. “I Regret Not Investing More Money in God’s Work” (1 Corinthians 3:13-15)

Most Christians do not regret their paltry support of God’s work—not yet, anyway. However, many Christians will experience tremendous regret at the judgment seat of Christ when they reap the consequences of failing to invest their time, effort, and money in furthering God’s kingdom.

Jesus once told a fascinating and misunderstood parable about a man who served as a business manager for a wealthy individual. He learned that his boss was going to fire him within a few days, and he began to panic.  

Not having any other marketable skills, he was afraid that he would be destined for a life of poverty. Then he had an idea, an inspired idea.  In the final days of his employment, he decided to deeply discount or entirely forgive all the debts owed to his employer. He reasoned that by forgiving the debts of those who owed his master money, he would make friends with people who could offer him a job once he joined the ranks of the unemployed.  

When his boss found out what he had done, he was impressed! “If only you had shown that much ingenuity earlier, I would have kept you,” the employer said.  

Jesus then made this application, “And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness; so that when it fails, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings” (Luke 16:9). 

Jesus was not praising this man for his dishonesty but for his foresight. This steward had the wisdom to use his present circumstances to prepare for the future. We need to exercise that same wisdom. The shelf life of money is severely limited. Money is of use in this life and this life only. One day it will fail us.  

The Bible says, “Riches do not profit in the day of wrath” (Proverbs 11:4a). Nevertheless, investing our money in God’s work now ensures that there will be people and rewards awaiting us when we arrive in heaven.

Saving, spending, and investing our money wisely are crucial to escaping regrets over our finances. But to paraphrase the words of one philosopher, “The best use of money is to spend it on something that will outlast it.” For a Christian, that means investing in God’s work.


Full Passage: Selected Scripture