Sometimes blog topics just fall in your lap.
This headline made me roll my eyes–but isn’t that what it was supposed to do? The article (http://finance.yahoo.com/news/bonus-withdrawal-puts-bankers-malaise-050100338.html) was an interesting read. Some quotes:
“[Andrew] Schiff, 46, is facing another kind of jam this year: Paid a lower bonus, he said the $350,000 he earns, enough to put him in the country’s top 1 percent by income, doesn’t cover his family’s private-school tuition, a Kent, Connecticut, summer rental and the upgrade they would like from their 1,200-square- foot Brooklyn duplex.”
“Facing a slump in revenue from investment banking and trading, Wall Street firms have trimmed 2011 discretionary pay. At Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and Barclays Capital, the cuts were at least 25 percent. Morgan Stanley (MS) capped cash bonuses at $125,000, and Deutsche Bank AG (DBK) increased the percentage of deferred pay.
‘It’s a disaster,’ said Ilana Weinstein, chief executive officer of New York-based search firm IDW Group LLC. ‘The entire construct of compensation has changed.’ ”
“M. Todd Henderson, a University of Chicago law professor who’s teaching a seminar on executive compensation, said the suffering is relative and real. He wrote two years ago that his family was ‘just getting by’ on more than $250,000 a year, setting off what he called a firestorm of criticism.
‘Yes, terminal diseases are worse than getting the flu,’ he said. ‘But you suffer when you get the flu.’ ”
” ‘I wouldn’t want to whine,’ Schiff said. ‘All I want is the stuff that I always thought, growing up, that successful parents had.’ ”
(My personal favorite is the “it’s a disaster” quote. But that’s beside the point.)
What I want to think about for a moment is how each one of us, from billionaires to people making nearly nothing, are faced with choices every day. (Alan Dlugash, an accountant quoted in the article, states, “If you’re making $50,000 and your salary gets down to $40,000 and you have to cut, it’s very severe to you… But it’s no less severe to these other people with these big numbers.”) We each have to decide how we’re spending our money and our time, and all of us can sometimes be forced to make decisions and slash certain items, regardless of our total income. Where do we choose to live? Do we choose private school or public? Do we choose cable TV or no? Do we choose a restaurant meal or eating in?
This is our biggest and most important choice, though: Are we recognizing our income and our ability to earn it as a gift from God, or are we looking at it as something that we worked hard for and earned on our own? (America loves the idea of the “self-made man.”) How we view the source of our finances should make a big difference in what we do with them.
Richard Foster defines “Inner Simplicity” in Celebration of Discipline:
First: receive what we have as a gift from God.
Second: know that it is God’s business (not ours) to care for what we have. We can trust Him.
Third: have our goods available to others—“if our goods are not available to the community when it is clearly right and good, then they are stolen goods.”
“If we truly believe that God is who Jesus says he is, then we do not need to be afraid…the almighty Creator and our loving Father…we can share because we know that he will care for us.”
Are the financial choices I make as a believer reflective of God’s work in my life? Am I allowing him to lead my use of our resources, putting Him first, and trusting him to faithfully provide? Hopefully I will let God guide my choices, as I start with the choice to be thankful to Him for the gifts He has given my family.
One parting thought: “There are two ways to get enough: one is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.” (–G.K. Chesterton)