This may seem archaic to you but I applied for an ATM card this past weekend. It was really on the advice of two wonderful people who don't know each other but who work together through me, Ann Stone and Mike Tune. Ann is our church accountant and handles the finances for my mission trips to Vietnam. Mike is the son of Tom Tune, the missionary who started the church I work with in Can Tho. Mike has taken over the reins of his father's vision and coordinates my trips in terms of what I need to be doing in Vietnam.The issue came up because my friends and biological family and church family have donated in excess of my expenses for my trip so I'll be taking some funds to leave and distribute with the brothers and sisters for use as they see fit. Ann and Mike expressed concern with my carrying more than a nominal amount of traveling cash and while not exactly insisting, strongly urged me to get an ATM card from my Chase Bank branch. Last Saturday, I did just that and am expecting delivery in a few days. Chris, my personal banker according to his business card, walked me through the process and explained fees from using overseas ATM machines. He was non-plussed when I told him I intended to deactivate the card when I returned in early August. Chris suggested a few options for future considerations- we parted with me knowing more than when I came in.
I would guess my views and habits on money come consciously and subconsciously from my folks. We did not have a great deal and they were careful with what we did have. But they taught us the Lord came first, even with money. When I was very small, our allowance was 15 cents per week with 1/3 saved, 1/3 spendable, and 1/3 in the collection plate. We would skip meals and give the money saved to missionaries. I was not fond of that but it stuck with me. Mom and Dad went through a stage where they gave us a little spiral notebook and had us write down every penny we spent. After fourth grade, no more allowance and if I wanted money, I had to earn it. Thus began a stream of get it yourself employment opportunities; raking leaves, shoveling snow, mowing grass, detassling corn, paper routes, working on a farm, carrying groceries/running the register at the Jack & Jill Supermarket, waxing floors at York College. I learned to value of currency. When I wrecked our Karmann-Ghia, I paid for the repairs. When I wanted to go to basketball camp at the University of Nebraska, the money came from my checking account. So when I go to college and beyond, I knew the value of a dollar and how to repeat my folks' strategy- STAY OUT OF DEBT.
That brings me back to the ATM card. I have never wanted easy access to my money so I write checks and keep a limited amount of cash in my wallet. The only thing on my credit card is my phone/Internet bill and my once a year plane ticket to Vietnam. I'm not belittling anyone else- I know it would be different with a wife and kids- but it works for me. My parents never gave me an elaborate gift- they could not have if they had wanted to. And yet they did. They taught me contentment with what I had. I have struggles but envy has never been a big issue. I was never jealous of classmates getting new cars or even students getting new cars- I just considered them blessed. But it hit hit me the other day as I was driving- they did give me an elaborate material gift. After their passings and the dividing of the will, I went to Russell and Smith Honda in Houston and paid for a brand new Honda Fit in cash with the money my mom and dad had worked for as teachers and as a preacher and as a marriage counselor, then saved and judiciously invested. The concept of inheritance is common throughout the Scriptures, both in the materialistic way but more importantly, as it deals with eternal life. Jesus preached the laying up of treasures in heaven; if you knew my parents, you know they did. And in doing so, they also provided for their earthly offspring. In doing so, they gave me the best of both worlds.
Applicable quote of the day:
Folks can't carry around money in their pocket. They've got to go to an ATM machine, and they've got to pay a few dollars to get their own dollars out of the machine. Who ever thought you'd pay cash to get cash? That's where we've gotten to.
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