Want to know another Billionaire By-Law? Here it is:
Your income is a huge asset. It can propel you into huge levels of prosperity … but only if you keep enough of it in your hands. Give, yes. Tithe, yes. But after that, you’ve got to hold onto enough of the money that comes into your hands to carry out your mission.
Billionaires spend no more than necessary.
This Billionaire By-Law comes from David Green, founder of Hobby Lobby. In his book “More Than a Hobby,” Green talks about how important it is to keep costs down at Hobby Lobby. They do all kinds of things to help control their expenses and overhead:
- They manufacture many items themselves;
- They pay their employees well so employee morale will be high, and productivity will therefore be high also;
- They don’t build stores in markets where the city business taxes are so high that the store would have to change its pre-labeled prices;
- They offer manager bonuses for keeping store expenses like housekeeping and window-washing under control;
- They started their own trucking company so they can transport their goods to their stores themselves–and they haul paid freight for other companies when their trucks are empty;
- They offer manager bonuses for managing their payroll and staff well; and
- They eliminate middlemen when they source products to sell, preferring to purchase their products factory-direct instead of from importers or wholesalers.* 
I’m so impressed with Green’s creativity in these matters.
The cool thing to me is that he’s not gypping anybody. He’s not being a tight-fisted moneygrubber. Actually, he’s being the opposite. He makes sure store managers take care of their employees, paying them a fair wage, and he treats customers well. So his money-saving strategies are not hurting anybody.
But you know what? Those money-saving strategies are helping a whole heap of people:
- They’re providing nice products to customers at an affordable price.
- They’re helping Green provide tons of jobs to Hobby Lobby employees across the country.
- They’re building local economies everywhere there is a Hobby Lobby store.
Reading about Green’s techniques makes me think of my own household budget.
My husband and I live pretty frugally in some areas, but we aren’t careful like we should be in others. Groceries, for example, is a budget category that we have gone over on almost every month for many years.
We don’t eat out very much; who wants to eat out with a one-year-old? I prefer not to even leave the house right now, frankly. It’s very challenging to take the baby out at all. So when it comes to eating out, it’s not our cup of tea.
BUT, we do overspend on pre-packaged food just about every month. You know, the convenient foods:
- microwave burritos;
- frozen veggie burgers;
- frozen Amy’s vegan microwave meals (hello, $5 apiece);
- yogurts; and things like that. 🙁
But here are a few things that David Green, our billionaire role model, points out:
- “We are determined to spend no more than necessary” (page 68).
- “Any single thing has the power to tip over the boat” (page 72).
- And the clincher: “Cost control in an organization should not be viewed as a chore. It is rather an indication of priority.”
Uh, ouch. Did you read what I read? Cost control is an indication of priority.
That’s rough. True, but rough on the ol’ flesh.
My husband will love it that I’m writing this, because he doesn’t need pre-packaged foods to be happy. He would eat cardboard boxes if he could. He doesn’t care about how food tastes and he doesn’t have cravings, ever. He eats because food is necessary to live. And he’ll participate in the eating of nice food, but he’d be just as happy without it.
But as for me … well, I am a different story.
I have cravings. I enjoy food. Love it. Food is great stuff. And when I’m craving something, I sure try hard to get it. Now. 🙂
Problem is, when it comes to craving pre-packaged convenience food, and I send our grocery budget into the red because I wasn’t willing to cook or whatever, that means we are literally eating our provision. We’re eating more of our income than we should be eating.
Listen again to this quote from David Green:
“Cost control in an organization should not be viewed as a chore. It is rather an indication of priority. What’s important enough to get us to spend our limited amount of resources, and what isn’t? No company in the world has “money to burn,”as the phrase goes. The most high-flying corporation today can hit the skids within a year or two if it doesn’t watch the outflow. Far better to manage the expenses with eyes wide open, keeping the proportions in line day after day, month after month, year after year” (page 79).
Now let me be clear: I am not a bad steward.
Er, of some things.
But I have to realistically confess that I am a bad steward of some other things. Is my house clean? Nope. Are my clothes hanging neatly in my closet? Nope. Do I spend too much on convenience food to eat at home? Yep.
I think we have to stop and take a good, hard look at things like this sometimes … like now.
Honestly, we are really frugal in some other ways:
- We don’t have cable TV.
- I haven’t been to a movie theater since Wonder Woman came out.
- I rarely buy new clothes; I prefer to buy classic pieces instead, and I wear them until they wear out.
- We have iPhones that are many, many years old.
- We have one car that’s over 10 years old, and the other car is almost 20 years old.
- We don’t buy the newest technology. I don’t have a Kindle, Nook, iPad, or anything else like that.
- When we travel, we mostly travel for free with airline miles that we also got free.
So it’s not all bad. Most things, we’re pretty careful about. I’m just saying that I have to acknowledge, looking at reality, that I’m not as good a steward as I would like to think I am.
What David Green said about expenses and priorities also convicts me.
If I have the desire to save more money–which I do, since we’re trying to pay off our house–then I should be more careful about everything, including the grocery budget. I shouldn’t assume that I’ll have money left, then proceed to carelessly eat it all in the form of yummy, delicious microwave burritos.
Can anybody else identify? Or am I preaching to myself only here?
So let’s talk about you; don’t leave this post thinking it’s nice to hear about all my mistakes. Let the Lord speak to YOU about this too. What are you overspending on? What are you even spending normal amounts on, but if you were honest you would have to admit that you can’t afford that thing in the first place?
We all have to get honest with ourselves. We all need to improve in some areas. And I know that I won’t stop overspending on microwave convenience foods if I don’t:
- DECIDE to do things differently;
- ASK God for help; and
- Make the change now, cutting off the overexpense COLD TURKEY.
The Lord is always extending the invitation to us to “tighten it up,” as the old song goes.
No matter where we are right now, we can always improve. We can always come up to a higher level of wisdom. Where are our priorities? How much of our income are we keeping (after we tithe, of course), and how much are we throwing out the window on frivolous spending?
I want to learn from billionaires.
It’s pretty obvious that anybody with that kind of money has some things to teach me that I’m not living out yet. Same for you, right? 🙂
So, I’m asking Father God right now to really convict me with a big, huge heart change that will keep me on track even when I’m standing in the freezer aisle at Publix. I want to be a good steward in every area, so I can be wealthy in every area.
How about you? Please leave a comment below and tell me how you are doing with this billionaire by-law!
 These facts are from David Green’s book More than a Hobby, pages 63-79.