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Economics - Home Finances

Frugalship: 37 ways to save a buck

Frugal: to be careful about spending money or using things when you do not need to; using money or supplies in a very careful way; not wasteful. Synonym: thrifty


One of my sons commented that while many people he knew would boast about how much they spent on an item, I would boast about the great bargains I scored. It comes from growing up in a family that, though we were not “poor,” had to carefully consider every purchase. If you had a jacket, you didn’t need another jacket. One can of tuna made six sandwiches. And thrift stores made it much easier for me to clothe six kids.

We also enjoy it when we can spend less than expected. It comes from wanting to stay within our means, and we believe that spending less today means that there will still be money left for tomorrow. Or if not, then at least we tried our best! We think of it as “good stewardship.”

We are certainly given examples in Scripture that we should prepare bread in summer and gather food in harvest (Prov. 6:6-8), provide for our relatives (I Tim. 5:8) and plan our ventures carefully (Luke 14:28-29).

Going to Scripture

Besides being told to manage it well (Luke 12:42-43; Prov. 13:22, 21:20), the Bible also has this to say about money:

  • Realize it is a gift from God (Lev. 27:30)
  • Be content with what we have (1 Tim. 6:7-8)
  • Don’t put our trust in it (1 Tim. 6:17-19)
  • Don’t worry about it (Matt. 6:25-34)
  • Don’t steal it (Ex. 20:15)
  • Don’t love it or be covetous (Eccl. 5:10)
  • Don’t hoard it (Matt. 6:19-21)
  • Give it to others in need (Prov. 28:27)
  • Give to the Lord (Mal. 3:10)

Even in our attempts to be “frugal” we need to keep an eye on our attitudes and motives. We get so used to planning for our own needs and desires, that it can come as a surprise when we read Ephesians 4:28:

“Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.”

What does God say is the purpose of working? So that we can give to those in need, and so that we can give to the Lord. Being thrifty and getting a good deal ought to lead us to give more as well. As we read in Luke 12:15:

“And he said to them, ‘Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’”

That’s true even of the possessions earned through thrift!

Eat, drink, and be frugal

Since many of us do appreciate being thrifty, below are some ideas for ways to spend less money in our households, and even when purchasing vehicles or homes.

  1. Eat and drink at home. The most wonderful sandwich, burger, or steak at a restaurant can be duplicated at home for a fraction of the cost. It has become fashionable to buy coffee from vendors, but you’ll save a bundle by making it at home. You can pack an awesome sandwich, chips, dessert, and beverage for your lunch instead of eating out.
  2. Pre-shop the flyers. Check the ads and purchase items that are on sale. Having the app for your local store can provide information as well as coupons.
  3. Cook for several meals at once. You can save on energy and time by baking 8 chicken breasts or two large roasts, or frying 4 pounds of ground beef all at once. Then you will use them in varying ways the next 2-3 days or freeze the cooked meat. Bake enough potatoes or make enough rice or noodles for 2-3 meals. Google ideas for using “plan-over” food to make other meals.
  4. Check out the discount rack for expiring food; use ripe bananas for banana bread, wrinkled apples for baking or applesauce, and day-old croissants to make ham and cheese sandwiches in the oven. Buy “seconds” for strawberries in season and freeze them in flattened bags. Use these to make jam throughout the year.
  5. Make your own dressing by adding ingredients to the last of the mayonnaise in a jar and shaking it all together. Seek recipes or get creative. Use a rubber spatula to limit waste.
  6. Mix a buttery spread: Mix 1 pound of butter, 1 pound of margarine, and 1 cup of water. Mix on high until well-blended to create a spread that tastes like butter.
  7. Leftover Surprise Soup is a winner. Collect scraps of leftover meat or vegetables in a covered container in the freezer. When it’s getting full, use it as the base for homemade soup.
  8. Bake your own hostess gifts. Homemade bread, muffins, or candy make a wonderful hostess gift, and they are less expensive than wine.
  9. Create your own cleaning agents. Wipe down counters with a homemade spray made of water, a bit of bleach, and a drop or two of dish soap instead of buying expensive cleaning agents.
  10. Shop later in the day when meat and produce are being discounted. Freeze the meat immediately.
  11. Keep easy-meal items on hand. On a tiring day, when you are nearly out of food, or when you get surprise company – always have the ingredients for a quick nourishing meal. This will keep you from having to order out or run to the store. Examples:
    • Chicken alfredo: canned chicken breast/alfredo sauce/noodles/frozen peas.
    • Tuna noodle salad: Canned tuna/macaroni/Miracle Whip/chopped veggies.
    • Taco soup: ground beef, green beans, corn, creamed corn, diced tomatoes, sour cream, and a packet of taco seasoning.

Non-food items

Of course, our expenses go beyond just food and drink…

  1. Consider assigning separate household budgets. One can be used to plan for groceries, gifts, gas, and home décor. Another for hobbies or sports. By managing them well, there may be more money available to switch to another category as desired. No one likes surprise invoices or fluctuating amounts at the end of the month.
  2. Combine errands or carpool when possible to save on gasoline.
  3. Keep your tires filled and your car serviced to provide the best gas mileage and to make the vehicle last longer.
  4. Watch for sales and compare prices for home goods, gardening, and home improvement.
  5. Scratch and dent. Discover whether stores near you have “scratch and dent” appliances that work as well as new ones. Purchase second hand if you know the items are from a reliable source.
  6. Make your own greeting cards, perhaps with the kids’ or grandkids’ help.

Or, you might locate stores that charge less for them, and keep a stack of birthday, get well, and sympathy cards on hand.

  1. Combine gift lists. Go shopping once for 3 or 4 upcoming birthdays.
  2. Swap kid-sitting with friends or family; staying home alone without your children with a great meal and a movie and no one to wake you up in the morning can be as refreshing as paying for a hotel and dinner out. And the kids will love being with their friends.
  3. Shop at thrift stores and yard sales. With a good eye for quality, you can find amazing bargains for your house, your clothing, and sometimes even for gifts. Example: At a thrift store, I discovered an expensive glass vase with an eagle etched on it along with Isaiah 40:31; it was worth at least $50, but it made a new bride very happy and I only spent $12.
    Years ago I bought a new-looking sweatshirt and fabric painted a super hero logo on it, delighting a 4-year-boy for only $3.

When buying a vehicle

Sometimes we think about saving a dollar at the grocery store, or twenty-five cents per liter/gallon on gas, but we may neglect the amount of money we might save on larger items such as cars or houses. Here are a few ideas to consider when you need to purchase a vehicle.

  1. There is no set amount at a dealership, and negotiating is actually expected. If you aren’t very good at negotiating, find a relative or friend to go with you to assist in making the deal.
  2. Purchase a one-year-old vehicle. A nearly-new vehicle with 10,000-40,000 kilometers can still come with a warranty, but cost you thousands of dollars less, and still have that new car smell and security.
  3. Buy an older used car. If possible, have your mechanic look it over first. Also, put in the research to learn whether that particular model has a good reputation.

Selling a home

I spoke with Ashley Wright, a local realtor, who shared 7 essential tips for selling.

  1. Hire an agent whom you love and trust, who is hard-working, and knowledgeable about your area. Interview several before you sign – don’t just use a friend/relative’s buddy whom you may end up clashing with.
  2. Price your home correctly. The best price will keep your home from looking like a loser by sitting on the market for a long time.
  3. Sell at the peak of the market. Even if it still needs some work, it’s best to sell at peak time and lower the price a bit if necessary.
  4. Stage your home so that it is uncluttered, spacious, totally clean, and generic so the buyers can imagine themselves living there. Store family photos and some of your furniture if necessary.
  5. Get professional photography and videography so it will attract people.
  6. Bake cookies before a showing to provide a winsome aroma. Leave bottled water and the fresh cookies on the counter for the “lookers.”
  7. Close the deal as soon as possible. Keep away from rent-back and contingent offers if you can.

Buying a home

Wright had 7 tips for buying a home too.

  1. Hire an agent whom you love and trust, who is hard-working, and knowledgeable about your area.
  2. Shop around for interest rates for your mortgage. Having the highest credit score will lead you to the lowest debt. Sometimes it’s better to pay your debt to improve your score, but other times it’s better to hold on to your cash and buy down your interest rate.
  3. Be pre-approved by a lender, not just pre-qualified.
  4. Keep your options open. Don’t be too picky – there is almost always a good deal out there, even in a hot seller’s market. An ugly home with poor pictures could provide you an excellent deal, and you can use the savings to improve it later.
  5. Offer less, and ask for a quick answer, 1 day if possible, but include an escalation clause (for example: “I will pay $1000 more than someone else’s bid up to $X amount”).
  6. Close the deal as soon as possible, which might be between 30 and 45 days.
  7. Move on if necessary: if your agent isn’t working hard for you, you can quit them and hire someone else, even if you have signed an agreement.

On the other hand

One last thought to remember is that the laborer is worthy of his hire. Therefore, if we are hiring a relative or a brother/sister in Christ to do work or service for us, or buying their goods, we should pay them a full amount and not expect a discount. They have families and bills as well, and though we do love our bargains, this might not be the most loving place to press for one. It’s a good feeling when we can learn to be happy with our brother’s or sister’s gain and not just think about ourselves.

Let us always remember that “whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully . . . for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Cor. 9:6-7).

Save more so you can give more!

Sharon L. Bratcher is the author of a collection of 45 RP articles entitled: “Soup and Buns: Nourishment from God’s Word for Your Daily Struggles.” To purchase this book, contact her at [email protected].

Economics - Home Finances

Finances for the layman: a podcast review of “Two Stewards”

Two Christian businessmen from southern Ontario with passion for real estate, money management, and other financial topics wanted to share their experience and advice with the broader world. What better way than to start a podcast? Mark Krikke and Brent VanderWoude call their two-man show “Two Stewards” (, a great title for lessons on stewardship that are communicated in layman’s terms, with good humor thrown in. Mark and his wife Kristen Krikke founded Joyhill Property Management, specializing in short and medium-term property rentals. Brent and Cherita VanderWoude own “Good Stewards” (, a company with the goal of helping clients invest in real estate with someone at their side as a partner and adviser. “There are a ton of podcasts out there with promises of getting rich quick, and that’s not us” said VanderWoude. “We want to highlight financial realities of the world we live in, and help people make stewardly decisions with their money, all from a Christian perspective.” As VanderWoude laid out in their first show, “If your money is going to outpace inflation, you can’t just put it in a savings account; that just doesn’t work anymore.” After two introductory shows, the next episodes of the podcast focused on real estate as an investment, with the hosts making a strong case that buying homes for this purpose is superior to many other ways to make your money grow. In episode three, Krikke touted the ability to leverage your investment dollars – you, as an investor, provide the down payment, but the bank lends you a multiple of those funds, allowing you to make a return on a larger investment than your original down payment. The hosts also brought up cash flow, third-party paydown, and price appreciation as just some of the reasons to choose real estate for your investing. If these terms are making your head spin or your eyes glaze over, you might appreciate Krikke’s and VanderWoude’s simple and down-to-earth explanations of each of these concepts. “Two Stewards” can be found on all the usual podcasting apps, on Youtube, and on their website Brent VanderWoude was also a guest on Real Talk Episode #44 - What is Money?...

Economics - Home Finances

Simple steps for living generously

Jesus says: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Luke 12:34). It should go without saying that our giving is a reflection of our devotion to Him. God calls on us to share His wealth, for all you have is in fact His. And if you don’t, might that mean that you don’t belong to Him in the first place? In today’s climate of “earn more to buy more,” it can be hard for Christians to focus on any other uses for their time, talent (skills) and treasure (material resources). Regardless of this challenge, Scripture clearly calls believers to a life of giving and living generously. “Do we have to?” misses the point In the Old Testament, the tithe was introduced as a 10% minimum for Israelites to give back to God to show their thankfulness and dependence on Him. This practice is shown in both Abraham and Jacob’s life (Gen. 14:19-20 and 28:20-22), and then introduced into Israelite law in Leviticus (27:30). Additional giving – the freewill offering – was also encouraged (Lev 22:18 and Num 15:3). Giving at this level would have been very difficult at times; the Israelites frequently went through seasons of war and poverty. The word tithe literally means “a tenth” and denotes the minimum amount that Israelites were required to give to God. The nature of the type of gift God desired is described as the first fruits (Prov. 3:9, Lev. 19:23-25). Giving of the first fruits was meant to be a gift of the first and best that God provided. It is important to understand that giving of the first fruits is an exceptionally sacrificial act. It is the small harvest at the beginning of the season that follows a long winter and spring filled with the sweat and labor that goes into the growing season. There was often hunger and self-denial involved in this sacrifice. The Israelites would have had a strong recognition that the rest of the harvest, the part that would provide for their family’s daily food and provisions for months or maybe even the remaining year, was still pending and not at all guaranteed. This required much trusting in God for His provision. Whether tithing is mandated today is a hotly debated topic in Christian circles. But what should not be in question is the discipline and sacrificial nature of giving that the tithe and first fruits promoted, and the generosity Christ put on display by giving up His life for us. Making regular giving a natural and normal part of your financial routine is critical to promoting a life of generosity. Also, the recognition that God has blessed you with what you have, and you are entirely dependent on His provision, is a difficult but necessary reality for Christians to live within. Getting giving going    Many have good intentions to give regularly and generously, but often those intentions are not fully acted upon. Sometimes all that is required is the creation and implementation of a good financial plan. Practically speaking, this includes the application of sound financial principles, such as: Spend less than you earn and do it for a long time. This requires you to know where your money is going, to communicate effectively with family members, and to be a disciplined spender. Live in a home you can afford. Do not presume upon the future. God provides for your needs, but He does not guarantee you a smooth journey. Be very careful with your use of debt and avoid it if possible as a form of slavery (Prov. 22:7). Strive purposefully to provide for your family’s needs (1 Tim. 5:8). Build into your life financial accountability, especially in areas where you may struggle. To give deliberately and sacrificially, some practical steps to implement might include: As soon as income is received, remove a portion to give. This could mean transferring it to another bank account, immediately writing the check for Sunday’s service, or even e-transferring to your church if that is an option. Take regular (quarterly or annual) inventory of your personal and business net worth and give on the growth. This includes a portion of the return on your investment portfolio, inheritances received, and dispositions in property and business. Devise and implement a plan to give of your time and skills as well as your material wealth. If you have a spouse and children, get them involved and make it a family plan. Teach your children to give with paper money and not with coins since God is not a God of leftovers (Mal. 1:8; Luke 6:38). Consider the challenge contained in the concept of the first fruits. What will you give to feel the sacrifice of the gift? Would you still give at the same financial level if a tax incentive was not offered? Is your lack of intentionality and organization preventing you from giving at a level that is truly worshipful? Consider including your time and your talents as part of your giving plan. Do not offer God worthless gifts. Give deliberately, sacrificially and excellently. This has been a father-daughter collaboration: Rev. Hank Van der Woerd (MDiv) is an emeritus minister (URCNA) and past president of the Mortgage Brokers Association of BC; Maria Dawes CIM CFP is a Portfolio Manager for Capstone Asset Management (

Economics - Home Finances

When your finances have you scared

Inflation, rising interest rates, business failure, job losses – there’s no shortage of financial trouble these days. And these all contribute to anxiety and depression and even physical illness. This financial uncertainty has us looking for solutions to our many questions, questions like: Am I being responsible with what God has given me? What will the future bring? Where can I turn for help and advice? What should I do? Others aren’t looking for solutions – some will simply shut down in hopelessness and fear, as a kind of paralysis takes hold, procrastination sets in, and the feeling of financial doom settles over them. TRUST THAT GOD DOES REIGN How, then, do we move from fear to faith? The Bible contains many commands to God’s people not to be afraid. There are more than one hundred imperatives to “Fear not; be strong; be courageous,” and the like. Some commentators suggest that these commands rank second in number only to the commands to love. Why such repetition? The Lord knows we are weak, so He requires that we take hold of Him in faith. Our finances can be a major stumbling block in doing so. We confess that He is our provident God, and that all things come from His Fatherly hand, including prosperity and poverty. But when the prospect of poverty or financial difficulty looms over us, we panic and become fearful, and so we fail the test to trust Him. Likewise in prosperity, one can easily forget that the Lord is the provider of it all. USE WHAT GOD HAS GIVEN YOU Trust does not mean sitting back and doing nothing. The Lord gives us knowledge, wisdom, and the ability to plan. We must do so under His guidance and with much prayer.  Proverbs 16:3 tells us to “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” We have been given the tools for the job. First of all, we have God’s Word which has over 2000 verses that speak to possessions and finances. The Bible provides us with the principles by which we can think and act in a godly and faithful way, and it gives us direction and solutions. Another tool we have is our basic elementary school education which taught us the essentials of addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication. Basic math can give us many answers. Armed with these tools, we can walk the path the Lord is leading us on. DON’T GO IT ALONE We should not try to do this alone. It should go without saying that we must seek the Lord’s guidance and direction in our finances, except this may not always be the case. Prayerful contemplation needs to be part of our financial exercise. We must commit all our finances to the Lord, rather than trying to sort things out for ourselves, and we do well when we consult His word in all situations. We are told in Proverbs 3:5  to: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” The Lord has also given us many advisers and He tells us to use them. Proverbs 15:22 says: “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” There are many qualified and experienced brothers and sisters in the extended church who are able and willing to help. This may include the Deacons whom God has appointed for circumstances of need, and the ministry of mercy. For many other financial issues there are accountants, lawyers, and experts in investments, insurance, banking, mortgages, etc., and these people are all not much more than a phone call away. Qualified advisors can help us stand back from ourselves and our situation. This is a very important step in the quest for answers and solutions. Many who experience financial difficulty are too absorbed in their own problem to see a clear way out. Objective assessment is an important  aspect of decision making. Standing back from your circumstances and understanding the problem in a detailed way, while looking at all the options, and asking lots of questions, will help to settle anxiety and to give comfort in decision making. CONCLUSION In all circumstances, including those relating to our finances, God tells us to turn from fear and anxiety and to look to him for our comfort and help. He provides tools and support in both His Word and his people. Finding solutions in the midst of difficult circumstances may require us to expend a lot of effort as well. Knowing the character of our God, it should provide great comfort when we read in Proverbs 19:21 “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.” This has been a father-daughter collaboration: Rev. Hank Van der Woerd (MDiv) is emeritus minister (URCNA) and past president of the Mortgage Brokers Association of BC; Maria Dawes CIM CFP is a Portfolio Manager for Capstone Asset Management (

Economics - Home Finances

Is gambling wrong? And if so, what about buying stocks?

Some Christians won’t invest in the stock market because they believe that investing in stocks is really no different than buying a lottery ticket. Both, they argue, are examples of gambling, which God forbids. But are they really so alike? Consider these two ways in which investing in stocks differs completely from gambling. 1. You can gain without causing pain While it could be argued that the Bible doesn't specifically forbid gambling, it does condemn the roots of it including covetousness (Ex. 20:17), love of money (1 Tim. 6:10, Heb. 13:5, Matt. 6:24), and the lack of productivity (Matt. 25:14-30). Another significant problem with gambling is that a person can only win if others lose – there is no way for all the players to benefit. It is a zero-sum game, so for a gambler to walk away with more than he came with, he has to get it from the other players. God calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:31), but the gambler wants to benefit at his neighbor's expense – he wants to get something while giving nothing. With stocks, it is very different. While the stock market has its ups and downs, over time the trajectory is ever upward, as the economy expands, and as we continue to learn how, through automation and other efficiencies, to become ever more productive. That means it is possible for all investors – or at least all of the patient, cautious sort – to win. An investor’s gains need not come by making others lose; instead their increase can come from helping a good company grow. An investor’s return can come from supporting companies that are creating good products, or offering wanted services, or who are in some other way being productive in a way that paying customers appreciate. And then the return he gets will be in exchange for the help he provided: it will be something for something. Of course, someone could buy stock in all sorts of evil companies too, so we’re not trying to say here that buying stocks is always good. The point is more limited: whereas a gambler can only gain by others’ pain, it’s possible for an investor to gain by helping others. 2. You are likely to gain Another problem with gambling is that it is a waste of the resources God has entrusted to us (Matt. 25:14-30) because in gambling the odds are always stacked against the gambler. Slot machines, provincial and state lotteries, 50/50 raffles, casinos: all of them are a source of revenue for governments because they are designed to pay out less than they take in. Sure, a fellow might make some short-term gains, but any gambler that keeps at it is sure to lose…and quite possibly everything he has. But in the stock market, the very opposite is true. If the economy is growing (as it is, at least over the long term) then the stock market will grow too, and see more gains than losses. If you have no other ideas as to what to do with your money, then placing it in a diversified portfolio is one of the safest ways to invest it. With minimal risk you can increase the resources God has entrusted to your care. Conclusion To sum up, whereas a gambler is always trying to win at others’ expense, stock market investors can gain by helping others do better too. And while the odds are stacked such that over time a gambler will lose all he has, stock market investments overall continue to grow over time. In these two significant ways, buying stocks is the very opposite of gambling....

Economics - Home Finances

Do we need to tell our mortgage banker about our school payments?

BEING CHRISTIAN AT THE BANK A reader recently sent in an interesting and somewhat difficult question about home purchases, school fees and tithes. Now most people in Canada don’t pay school fees, and don’t tithe to their church so the question I was asked was how these “obligations” might impact the affordability of a home and whether we, as Christians, have a duty to tell the banker about these “obligations” when we apply for a mortgage. Just to be sure that we all understand the question, let me rephrase it with a more concrete example. Joe and Mary Joe and Mary have 4 children, one of whom is beginning school in September. Joe earns $4,700 per month. Joe and Mary have been renting a duplex or what is also known as a side by side. They have managed to save $40,000 for a down payment for a home purchase and have found a house that they would like to buy. It is an older home but one that has been well maintained and appears to be well built.  The house is for sale for $260,000. They have offered $240,000 and their conditional offer has been accepted. Now they will need to qualify for a $200,000 mortgage. Joe has done some research and knows that the banker will want to know what his total monthly debt payments are, or what could be called his “obligatory payments” and the banker will also want to know what the monthly costs to run his home will be. And of course he needs to be within the banks ratio in these two areas. Debt service ratios Now what are these bank ratios? There are two, known as the GDSR and the TDSR. The Gross Debt Service Ratio (GDSR) is the percentage of gross annual income required to cover payments associated with housing (mortgage principal and interest, taxes, secondary financing, heating, and 50 per cent of condominium fees, if any). The GDSR should not exceed 32 per cent of gross annual income. The Total Debt Service Ratio (TDSR) is the percentage of gross annual income required to cover payments associated with housing and all other debts and obligations, such as payments on a car loan. The TDSR should not exceed 40 per cent of gross income.   So the important thing for us to remember is that the TDSR must be less then 40 per cent and the GDSR must be less then 32 per cent. If either of these two conditions is not met then Joe and Mary do not qualify for the $200,000 mortgage they require in order for them to be able to buy the home they have found. So let’s crunch some numbers and see what sort of situation our couple is facing. Joe earns $4,700. A $200,000 mortgage requires a payment of $1,190 per month (at 5.25% amortized over 25 years). The property taxes on the home they would like to buy worked out to $150 a month. The average heating bill was $150 per month.  So $1,190 plus $150 plus $150 equals $1,490 for housing costs. His monthly housing costs of $1,490 divided by his income of $4,700 gives us a GDSR ratio of 31 per cent. So, he qualifies here. The TDSR is a different matter. According to the banks guidelines he needs to include all debts and obligations in his calculations including any car loans. Joe and Mary do not have a car loan. But we should add the church and the school into this total, right?  Church and school add an additional $870 per month to the total.  So $1,490 plus $870 equals $2,360. $2,360 divided by $4,700 is 50 per cent. Now here is where things become interesting.  His application as it stands now will be rejected. However, does the banker consider the donation to church as an obligation or just a desire or a hope? What is our responsibility here? If we do not include the $470 to church the total becomes $1,490 plus $400 or $1,840. Divide that by $4,700 and the ratio becomes 39 per cent. Now we qualify. What should we do? The ethics of this question are one part of the equation. The other is, can Joe and Mary make ends meet if they were to qualify? If the banker grants the mortgage because he does not consider the donation to the church as anything more than a hope or a wish, where might this leave Joe and Mary? First the ethics. We might be tempted to hide the truth of the situation. Maybe we neglect to tell the banker that we consider the contribution to church as an obligation. I think we can all readily see and agree that this would put us outside of the Ninth Commandment. That's the one that deals with bearing false witness. So it should be obvious that we would tell the banker about the obligation to church. If the banker grants the mortgage anyway because he considers the payment to the church as a donation that has no legal obligation tied to it, what should Joe and Mary do? Bankers have years of experience that suggest that when the TDSR is more than 40 per cent homeowners often get into financial difficulty. So maybe Joe and Mary should decline the mortgage and save for a few more years so that they have a bigger down payment. Now before we go into all the argumentation about rising house prices, the effects of inflation and the fact that I may be asking the impossible here, let’s just go back to a few other principles that we have learned.  In an earlier article (“Budgeting Basics: Everyone needs to budget” July/August 2009) I tried to make the case that we all should have a budget. We should not just have a budget but we should run our household within that budget. So, if Joe and Mary have been living within their budget and their budget has allowed them to save the $40,000 they needed for the down-payment, then I am sure that their budget (and the records they have kept which illustrate that they actually live within the budget) can easily be used to satisfy even the most conservative banker that they can make all their obligatory payments, because Joe and Mary also have learned to live prudently and economically.  Mary is an avid “coupon collector.” She is known as the queen of collectors at the grocery store.  She also has learned to dress her children very well, even though they are not always wearing the “name brand” items.  Joe and Mary do not have cable television and they do not have a cell-phone either.  They manage with one car. They enjoy reading and the entire family makes excellent use of the local library. The only two pieces of reading material that come into their home at a cost are the Clarion and the Reformed Perspective.  Both Joe and Mary have the reputation of being hard workers and also of always being aware of the specials on anything they might need to be buying. So, I would conclude by saying that yes, we must honestly tell the banker about our obligations, also our obligations to the LORD, and we should also have lived prudently, within our budget, maintain good records of our prudent living and then trust that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, and He will continue to maintain His promises to His covenant children....