Learning to live by the 10/10/80 rule – Hamilton County Reporter


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In previous columns, we’ve talked about goal planning, smarter goals, and life goals. Today we are talking about an extremely important topic: financial goals. When it came to money, my dad, a hardworking teacher/farmer, had a simple rule. He called it 10/10/80. His theory under 10/10/80 was to give 10%, save 10%, and live on 80%.

As a Christian, my father believed that we were created in the image of God and specifically designed to worship him. As an act of worship to God and in recognition that all our blessings come from him, we return 10% of the value to him. Even if you don’t believe in God, giving 10%, whether to charity, nonprofit or otherwise, has positive practical consequences. When we give freely, it keeps us from being obsessed with money and becoming greedy. Because money is not in itself an end, but simply a means to an end. Additionally, giving extends your influence. As we discussed in the LIFE Purposes column, giving allows us to form lasting connections and relationships, and can provide unforeseen opportunities and blessings.

It was my father’s goal to save enough money to cover his own expenses and leave an inheritance for his children and grandchildren as his parents and grandparents had done for him. Thus, he pledged to save 10% of his income. One evening, at the table, I asked when do you spend the 10% saved? He had an easy five-step answer:

  1. Do you want it? Otherwise, don’t buy it.
  2. If you want it, do you need it? If you don’t need it, don’t buy it.
  3. If you want and need it, do you have money in savings to buy it? If you don’t have money in the savings account, don’t buy it.
  4. If you want it, and you need it, and you have the money to buy it, you ask could you really Do without ?
  5. If you want it, and you need it, and you have the money to buy it, and you can’t live without it, then go ahead and buy it. Otherwise, keep the money in the bank!

My father’s theory of savings certainly takes discipline and self-control, but from my observations, it has served him well and allowed him to leave a legacy for me and my children.

Finally, are you ready to live off the 80%? In the age of credit cards, the Internet and Amazon Prime; where anything you want can be delivered to your doorstep in days, living within your means has become increasingly difficult. Our society favors excess over temperance, extravagance over moderation. Living at 80% requires discipline and perseverance. This requires budgeting. This requires saying “no” even when all the other neighbors say “yes”. Are you ready to try?

The beauty of 10/10/80 is that it is simplistic. It doesn’t involve financial gurus and there are no expensive courses to take. 10/10/80 can be understood by children and adults. I have strived to implement 10/10/80 into my life, and so far it seems to have been a successful endeavor. To anyone looking to conquer their finances, get out of debt, or even just start saving money, I implore you to try 10/10/80. You will certainly not get rich tomorrow but will be amazed at the financial transformation that takes place over time. 10/10/80 is about living proportionately, acknowledging the Lord’s provision, and building a legacy day by day.

Educational material, not legal advice, written by the Adler team of lawyers. E-mail [email protected] with questions or comments.

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