Money management will always produce better results if you have a wise plan for it. Today we are going to focus on uses of money. Where do we have opportunities to be wise about those uses?

A few weeks ago, I suggested you think about your basic beliefs and attitudes about money, why it is or is not important to you, and what it represents to you. These involve thinking, but even more, the beliefs come from the heart. Personally, I believe that God always provides for us, even if by giving us the health and will to work. When we produce value, money will come in exchange for the value we create.

Everything in the world, including money, belongs to God. We are responsible to Him for how we handle it. If you do not believe in God, you should be interested to know that these principles have still worked really well for others in spite of their unbelief.

Stewardship is the principle that we are responsible to others and ultimately God for our behaviors regarding money and our lives. A steward is a manager with responsibilities and rights. In our business, for example, we are responsible to each client for growing and protecting his or her investments to the best of our abilities. The client is responsible for using the money to advance his own purposes in life.

If we use money well and wisely, we can experience great peace and contentment in our present lives. The world’s chaos and confusion often cause us to be fearful about what will happen to our resources and ultimately to us. Realizing God owns it all and promises to care for us helps to conquer such fear.

The first realization involves our decisions regarding using money. This is simple. There are only five things you can do with money. The first is to live. Most of us have no problem spending money on ourselves and our families. This is what living requires.

Second, we spend by paying taxes to various governments for the services we receive from them. Third, we pay rent on the money we borrow in the form of interest. There are some good uses for debt, but the important decision is to control it and eliminate it over time.

Fourth, we save and invest money for several reasons. The most important is for the guaranteed emergencies which happen. According to Dave Ramsey, the radio host, Murphy (of Murphy’s Law) moves in with you if you have no emergency fund. After having one, you can invest excess amounts for future spending, whether for next year’s vacation or for the vacation we call old age.

Fifth, we invest by giving to the needs of others. God needs nothing, but he uses our stewardship to supply the needs of the many everywhere who cannot completely meet their own needs. I believe Giving is actually the bedrock component of wisely using money. It was definitely a step of faith in God’s providence when Karen and I began giving a tenth while we were living on $500 per month in 1974. But He has always been faithful to provide.

In conclusion, a major problem for all of us is that money carries no instructions with it. What you believe about yourself and money will guide your decisions and behavior. (To be continued.)

(Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Advice is intended to be general in nature.)

Ron Finke is president of Stewardship Capital in Independence. He is a registered investment adviser. Reach him at rcfinke@stewcap.com.