Tag Archives: SDA

So, who’s ‘in the black’? 2014 1st Quarter results just in…

 Total “SMARTER Finances” Survey Responses – 1st Quarter (Mar ’14)

Juan Carlos Patrick, keynote speaker at the SEC Expo on 12 January 2014 challenged delegates to be fishermen rather than keepers of the aquarium.  

We also started to do the quarterly report on the views UK Seventh-day Adventist church members have about finances and money.  

Here is the quarterly update on responses received so far!

What do you think the result show? Please share your views and comment!

2014 1st Quarter Survey results


The results now include the Stevenage SDA Church responses (5 April 2014)

A big ‘Thank You’ to all the churches that have taken part so far.  Results are still coming in so don’t stop commenting and responding!


1. Balham 11. London Ghana
2. Bracknell 12. Hanwell
3. Basingstoke* 13. Holloway
4. Central London 14. Ipswich
5. Cheltenham 15. Lewisham
6. Clacton 16. Norbury
7. Clapton 17. Northolt
8. Edmonton Central 18. Plaistow
9. Edmonton (Cuckoo Hall Lane) 19. Reading Central
10. Elephant & Castle 20. Stevenage

* –   also won the 2014 SEC Expo £5 Challenge!!

If you haven’t yet see our  ‘7 Days’ tips for starting off the New Year –  click on any of the  links below to recap on the day’s messages:

Day 1 – the one about developing your Spending Plan
Day 2 – the one about Reducing your Debts
Day 3 – the one about Increasing your Savings
Day 4 – the one about gaining more Financial Knowledge
Day 5 – the one about checking your Credit Report/ Rating
Day 6 – the one about having ‘the Talk’ about Finances
Day 7 – the one about making adjustments for life’s ‘big changes’

From April 2014 all UK Churches are invited to host a FREE  “SMARTER Finance” Seminars to get support for you on your financial journey – These are  bible-based seminars and are delivered in your local church. As part of the Stewardship of our knowledge, member’s have supported other church groups by running these seminars annually since 2004.


Get £1,000 in one year: Jan update now in!


We’ve updated the blog about an easy way to save £1,000 in one year….

Remember, if you haven’t started this challenge yet, it’s never too late – start now!

Here’s how some of us got on in January:

HoneyBea – Decided to do this as a monthly amount to match the timing of income – thanks for updating the helpful chart  – it suggests how much you can put aside monthly now!  So I’ve done the January amount – it’s only £15 so that was easy.  Am a bit worried about how I will keep my hands of the larger amounts suggested to save over later months so I might put a bit more aside now… this is exciting!!!!

Copperz – £125  : I’m still going with the large lumps every month.  I’ll probably save  £100 each month until November – this money is going to be presents for the family and a holiday next year. I don’t think I need to do thisby standing order – I do mobile banking … and I never forget things like this.

Kate – £60 so far: I’m retired but I want to do this challenge and so I’m saving £20 each week

Anonymous Pete – I still think this savings method is fundamentally flawed and should be adjusted…. I haven’t saved anything yet – I’m looking at different options on savings that are out there

Anonymous 2 – I saved some money but the kids need shoes and I’ve bought a few things for the house and then I loaned some to a friend at work – hopefully I’ll get it back next month…

How would you do this challenge?  

The best comment each month gets a free gift*!

*Free gift is only available to persons over age 18. Must be living in the UK. Must be a member of a Seventh-Day Adventist church within the British Union Conference. Gift is not transferable. New competition opens each month and closes at midnight on the last day of the month British Standard Time

You couldn’t make this up…!

“Give a man a fish, and you have fed him once. Teach him how to fish and HE IS FED for a lifetime.”

Guest blogger takes a look back at the 2014 SEC Expo SMARTER Finances session

“I need £600….”

Delegate: I need £600…
Presenter: OK…  What’s the money for?
Delegate: It’s for my to use for my church department. I want to go to a conference in Geneva this year and need this amount..
Presenter: Have you asked for a grant from your church or from the SEC Department that helps local church activities? 
Delegate: No, not at all.  I know all that but I’ve not done it, it’s such work!
 Presenter: Do you want me to help you find ways of raising the money?
Delegate: No,   I was in your session and just thought that since you know about money you must have some going spare  – so you should give me  – so I’m asking can you give me the £600…

…Banks may have branches… but money doesn’t grow on trees!

What would YOU do?

70/30 Budget Rule:

This is similar to the 80/20 rule – the savings amount is included in the 80%. This is good if you are able to save, but if you on a course of paying down your debts then the savings/ emergency fund may be something you look to build at a later stage. Good post!

Debt Free Sisters

I found this technique a great roadmap for successful budgeting.


1. Pay yourself 10% of your take home pay. It would be wise to use a separate checking account and debit card for this 10% which includes your “play money”, dining out, extra-curricular activities or you can put away 5% for that special piece of jewelry.

2. Give away 10%; this could be your tithe, charitable contributions or any particular cause you are interesting in.

3. Save 10% of your take home pay each month; this should be outside of your 401K or retirement saving, but can be part of your emergency fund. Can also include saving for vacation, investments, business start-up money, savings for a special purchase/occasion.

4. The 70% of your income is the lifeline of your budget and should be managed very strategically so that you can make sure the 30% happens. Everyday living expenses include:

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We’ll each save £1,000 in one year: updates!


You may have seen the blog about an easy way to save £1,000 in one year….

So, here’s how some of us are getting on:

HoneyBea – Only £6 so far – but it has been weekly: I’m using an account to do the deposits using an app on my mobile phone each Friday… but I forgot this week! I’m going to start a Standing Order, that way it will just happen and I don’t have to think about it from now on…

Copperz – £125  : I decided to do it in large lumps every month.  I’ll probably save  £100 each month until November – this money is going to be presents for the family and a holiday next year.

Kate – £40 so far: I’m retired but I want to do this challenge and so I’m saving £20 each week

Anonymous Pete – I think this savings method is fundamentally flawed and should be adjusted….

Anonymous 1 – Save?? I need some money! Is there any way you could give me £600??

Who’s response do you think is the best/ the worst? Why?  Please share your comments.  

The best comment gets a free gift*!

*Free gift is only available to persons over age 18. Must be living in the UK. Must be a member of an SDA church within the British Union Conference. Gift is not transferable.

Warning: Adventists don’t get rich!



Thanks to guest blogger for this light hearted post!

Whether I want to become wealthy, financially free or become  poorer I just need to take the same approach.  It’s all about doing what it takes consistently and sustaining that effort over time.

These are the seven actions I’ve seen work best for Adventists in the UK or anywhere else in the world as it happens.

So if you want to avoid becoming wealthy or financially free ….read on!

  1. Don’t read the Bible, especially Proverbs.  Ladies, tear out the page with the secrets of Proverbs 31 and destroy it quickly.  If you do stumble across any Gospel parables, discount all of Jesus’ parables about money.  Tell yourself these parables are only talking about skills and personal talents, not financial management. And shun anyone who shows you bible-based information on wealth.
  2.  Avoid all workshops or seminars that share bible-based money management like the plague.  Be very suspicious of all experienced presenters that are willing to share practical information about money management with you… they must surely be dodgy characters.
  3. Avoid organising a Stewardship Day to share bible-based money management – in fact avoid Stewardship altogether.  Members aren’t interested and don’t need it. But if you are ever forced to run a Financial Stewardship session,  make sure you never include any personal development information; make the speaker just bang on about Tithe or your church Building Fund.  Guilt trip members by telling them God is not pleased. Then quote Malachi 3:10 and remind them “money is the root of all evil so get rid of it by increasing your giving to the church”.
  4. Never ask any questions or do independent investigation of shady deals,  suspicious business or investment opportunities  – if it’s too good to be true, suspend all scepticism… go for it.  What’s the worst that could happen??  And when you do lose your shirt on the scam – blame your pastor, the local church, the Conference Treasurer.  Everyone. Loudly.
  5. Then double down and play the lottery.  For a lot of money. Consistently. Keep your tickets in the Bible… for good luck.  Or take out a high interest debt ‘in faith’ with no way to pay it back… the Lord or the Conference office will provide.   Delay getting any help until the date of any court date… then call the Conference office – a problem shared is a problem halved, not so?
  6. Never be accountable for or do ANY financial housekeeping.  Never save money for a ‘rainy day’. Ever. That is what your local church’s Samaritan Fund is for.  And if you have children, never teach them any money management tips either – you need them to be always financially dependent on you.
  7. Live in the now – don’t prepare for the future.  Never learn how to maximise your income or reduce your expenses. Tell yourself Jesus will come in your lifetime so don’t plan for retirement. On no account make a Will.  Not only can it mysteriously cause you to drop dead earlier than expected, but you definitely don’t need clear plans that state your wishes, leave any security or give inheritance for “your children’s children”  (Prov 13:22 – oops, I’ve slipped up…)

On 12 January 2014 many members in the South of England, UK  attended the “SMARTER Finances” Workshop at the annual SEC Expo, held at Newbold College.  The aim was to share resources to help volunteers in Stewardship and Finance teams in their local churches.

In the  SMARTER Finances workshop we covered:

  • The common myths about money and explained how anyone can have SMARTER Finances.
  • Explain why you do what you do with your money
  • Show how  SMARTER Finances Clubs help members on the Wealth Life Cycle.
  • Shared great stories and tips from other members.

More information on how I got on in another blog!

Deborah Harris is a chartered accountant, board director of DHUA Limited and a Platinum πτο Sorority sister.

Know any other good reasons for not becoming wealthy?  Please share!


Get up and start!

Get up and start!

“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great…” Zig Ziglar

“Footprints on the sands of time can’t be made by sitting down… ” Unknown

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” – Henry Ford

Your Seven Day Plan to Achieve that New Year’s Resolution (Day 7)

Yay! It’s Day 7 !

Welcome to the last of the blogs in this series! Yes, you made it! –  well done for going through this week of tips  – you kept in mind: I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Phil 3:14 (NKJV)

(We will resume our regular weekly posts this week)

By completing this seven day series of activities, one day at a time, you are already that many steps closer towards your financial goals for 2014. And as you continue to progress you become one of the group of 8% in the population that achieve New Year’s Resolutions and go on to master their goals!

Before we look at the tip today, can you honestly answer ‘YES’ to these questions?


Question 1: Have you read the tips from the past six days?  If not take a moment to read those you have skipped – just click the link for the Day:

Day 1 – the one about developing your Spending Plan
Day 2 – the one about Reducing your Debts
Day 3 – the one about Increasing your Savings
Day 4 – the one about gaining more Financial Knowledge
Day 5 – the one about checking your Credit Report/ Rating
Day 6 – the one about having the talk about Finances

Question 2: Did you set the date for the meeting, or better still, have the meeting and go through the main areas you agreed to cover?  You still have a few hours today to make this happen if you haven’t yet done so…but make sure you take action in the next 24 hours!

Question 3: As part of your morning devotional study and reflections today, did you thank God for the opportunities being brought your way, and commit  to  achieving the activities planned for this day to move closer toward your goals? Remember: But let him ask in faith, never wavering; for he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. James 1:6 (NKJV)

So, if you’ve not yet done so, just pause for a moment now to do this… and then read through your list of activities you prepared at the start of the week.  Tick off all the actions you completed so far and congratulate yourself for making good on those activites.

Then, refresh your mind about the rest of the activities you will need to do this week to make your goals become a reality and commit to making them happen.

OK, now let’s move on to the last tip!

Tip No 7: ADJUST FOR 2014’s planned ‘BIG CHANGES’

You may have made some non-financial goals for 2014.  Goals that will result in major life changes.

Some may be positive changes (eg starting a new career, getting married, going to university, starting or expanding your family, buying your first home or investing in another business property) others not so much (eg getting a divorce, coping with funeral costs and the loss of income as a result of recent bereavement of main breadwinner, increased expenses due to loss of a primary caregiver).  Or you may be thinking about the changes you need to make for your retirement.

Whatever it is, these goals will all need you to take another look at your financial plans.

If this is your first time to look at things in total, you may want to categorise your goals into seven Stewardship Life Categories:

  1. Spiritual Development goals
  2. Health & Wellbeing/ Mindset goals
  3. Career /Business Goals
  4. Educational & Personal Development goals
  5. Wealth & Financial goals (this blog will help you with that one!)
  6. Relationships /Romance goals
  7. Community Service & Giving goals

First, write down the priority goals in each of the seven life categories :  Remember, just like your financial goals, these should also be SMARTER goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time bound, Ethical and Responsible) or it may be best to reassess if they fit in with the rest of your life mastery plans.

Next, identify what financial resources you will need to achieve each of these goals, and identify where you can reallocate funds in your Spending Plan to meet the needs of your short term goals.

A good example was shared by a friend recently:

“I had a short term goal to lose the weight I’ve gained from the festive season.  So I just decided I needed to reallocate the money for a couple of evening’s entertainment or eating out this month and bought a good pair of trainers. 

I also found a free app on my mobile phone that counts my steps and helps me track what I eat and my water intake. 

I’ve set it to a goal of 10,000 steps per day and I can track my progress. This may seem like such a small change to my Spending Plan but it makes a big difference – I have what I need to achieve my short term Health & Wellbeing Goal!”

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by all this planning you need to do, don’t panic.

Take one short term goals from each of your life goal categories.

Write out everything you will need to do or resources you will need to make this goal a reality and then identify the items that may need you to spend.

You may find the cost is not as much as you estimate or you can get the resources for free – do some investigating to see what is available before you run out and spend money.

Death & Taxes…

Next, look at the insurance cover you have, how your retirement fund is doing, your contributions into your employer’s pension or your own private pension.

It is also a great time for you to think about the longer term and plans for your estate which includes property and any other assets, by making a Will.  The saying ‘Nothing is certain but death and taxes‘ is just as true today and it is wise to regularly assess how you plan for these.

So, there you have it.  The last tip to help you move closer towards your financial goals this year!

Attend one of the FREE Access the Power (ATP)  “SMARTER Finance” Seminars to continue to support you on your financial journey – These are all bible-based seminars and are delivered in your local church. As part of the Stewardship of our knowledge, member’s have supported other church groups by running these seminars annually since 2004.

The first quarter, from January to March, is used for workshops and practical support sessions for members new to the programmes. From April to December we then run the weekend, or one-day church based seminars.

A number of local church groups in England already this session for basic financial literacy as a Stewardship Day whilst others use the weekend workshops or one-day seminar services for both the church and local community outreach.  If your church has never participated or held one of these sessions, show this blog to your Stewardship Co-ordinator and they can arrange a session for your church group within your Stewardship Day programme this year.

“SMARTER Finance”  sessions are open to all participating church members in any Seventh-day Adventist church group in the UK.   For more information or to arrange a programme at your local church click here – (this will take you to the feedback form on this blog)

Hopefully the information covered so far has been is useful – but please suggest any other areas you would like to see more about and we’ll post a blog about it.

As always, share how you are getting on with these, any questions or comments you have.  Maybe you think there are some tips we’ve missed – please let us know.

Until then….onwards and upwards!


Adventist minister uses ‘that swear word’…

(Video of an informal dialogue with Seventh-day Adventist pastor and British Union Conference President, Pastor Ian Sweeney, who kindly shared views of money management)

But he uses what we call ‘that swear word’…!

Here is our transcript of the “SMARTER Finances” panel session for the Pi Tau Omicron (ΠΤΟ) Sorority Year End Celebration.

Hosted in London (December 2013), the Panel explains why we think of it as ‘that swear word’ -the word  “BUDGET”….

Panel Chair: What a practical video!  Pastor Sweeney’s comments were made last year in 2012,  but his views are just as valid today. Panel, what do you think?

Delegate 1: You know, in the presentations I have done with community groups or church members during Stewardship Days, I always find it fascinating the negative emotions that go along with the word ‘budget’.

Delegate 3: That is so interesting, I find the same thing with the sessions we provide back home in the States!

Delegate 2: It’s not a surprise when you look at its earliest definitions, (I’ve just looked it up on Dictonary.com)… This shows that word originally derived between 1400–1450; from the late Middle English word ‘bowgett’  or the Middle French word ‘bougette’  (bouge = bag), or  the Latin word ‘bulga’ + -ette.

Delegate 1: Oh yes, it describes the small pouch or bag of money, often worn at the waist or hidden in your garments to protect against pickpockets and other theives.

Delegate 4: ….and this bag was usually under the sole control and decision-making of the man of the house….

Panel Chair: …and that’s a topic I’m sure could be used to start a whole other panel discussion!

(Laughter from conference delegates and Panel members)

Delegate 3: Well, I’m happy to stay on this subject – I want to hear all about this ancient bag of money, we don’t have this kind of old stuff in the States with all your 1066 history…!

(Laughter from conference delegates and Panel members)

Delegate 2: It had a tightly secured, small opening – so you could put your coins in – but was quite difficult to dip into and get money out of.

Panel Chair: So that’s why ideas of a calorie-controlled diet comes to mind when people use the word “budget”…?

Delegate 2: Yep! So, the definitions in Dictonary.com are no surprise – the noun ‘budget’ is defined as:

  1. an estimate, often itemized, of expected income and expense for a given period in the future.
  2. a plan of operations based on such an estimate.
  3. an itemized allotment of funds, time, etc., for a given period.
  4. the total sum of money set aside or needed for a purpose
  5. a limited stock or supply of something

and the words ‘budgeted’, and ‘budgeting’ often relate to subsistence living; when you ‘live within a budget’.

Delegate 5: … Urgh! No wonder the very word makes me shudder!  A ‘budget’ is often synonymous with feelings of being on a diet, a restriction  – the feeling you have  little or no control … I don’t like owing money but it feels like you are always racing to pay off your bills, of feeling chased down by creditors, burdened by down if like me you have student loans still to sort out.  It just feels like ‘calorie-controlled’ spending with very little room for the fun stuff.  And, like being a diet, it is so easy to lose heart and fail …So you often hear about people ‘blowing their budget’!

Delegate 4: Exactly.  So I actually avoid the word “budget”. Treat it like a swear word, not used in good company and avoid it.  I prefer to think about having a ‘Spending Plan’ instead.

Delegate 2: Give me a Spending Plan anyday… it’s a flexible way to decide how to use your income in that month/ week to meet all of your expenses, contribute to your savings goals and allocate money for the fun things.  And its such a flexible approach … more feeling that you have a coffer or chest of money that you manage rather than a tight-mouthed, tiny purse you force money into or try to prise money out of….

Panel Chair: So now we should pretend we have a treasure chest full of cash?

Delegate 2: OK, yes, in these times it may often feel like we’re all working with a very small sweetie tin rather than a massive chest full of notes and coins, but work with me here!

(Laughter from conference delegates and Panel members)

Delegate 3: I prefer to use the phrase ‘Spending Plan’ when I talk about my regular income and outgoings management.   First I do the ‘audit’ so I know for sure what is coming in this month down to the dollar.  And only then do I decide how my money is used to ‘handle my business’ like the list of expenses you show here (points to the presentation on screen).  So, yeah, I can choose this month not to pay my utilities or my cell phone costs … as long as I am prepared to live with the consequences…

(Laughter from conference delegates and Panel members)

Delegate 1: I agree. With the Spending Plan mentality, I decide the how and when for my money, making sure I make informed choices, taken on a timely basis and based on the information and opportunities that I have in that period.

Panel Chair: So, whether it’s dollars like my friend here, or Euros or Pounds for us in Europe, sometimes the Plan stays the say as circumstances remain steady, other times it may need to change? And a Spending Plan means you can be flexible to take account of these changes when they occur?

Delegate 2: Absolutely!.  You know, it may seem like this approach is more of a state of mind rather than a different activity but that’s just it.  Both are spending.

Delegate 4: You know panel, it all about how you think and behave with your money that makes the difference to whether you’re a success or failure in meeting your financial goals – in the short or long term!

Panel Chair: Panel, thank you for such a lively start to this discussion.  Let’s go to the Q&A and take some questions from our other Sorority delegates.  Over to you ladies!

What’s your view?

Add your comment to the discussion!

Want a really easy way to save at least £1,000 this year? The 52 week challenge

I’m taking the 52-Week Money Challenge, which gets a lot of interest online at this time of year.

This can be one of your New Year’s Resolutions!


It’s very straightforward. You simply start by saving £5 in the first seven days in January (so, five days to go!) and you build up the savings by saving a larger or smaller amounts each seven days over the 52 weeks.  You can start with £52 the first week and then work down to £1 by December, when the festive season means money is a lot tighter.  I find the summer and autumn are best to do the bigger saving amounts.  The most you would have to put away in any week is £40, everything is less than that.

The variety in the saving pattern means that you can build up in a way that suits you!

To make it something everyone can take part in, why not make it a joint family goal.  Would be great to get comments on the tips for saving the amounts each week

… I’ve opened a ‘jam jar’ account with my local church Money Club…for my shoes and handbag fund … ssh, don’t tell hubby!

Here’s one way to do this weekly saving that makes it all a bit easier:


Week Number Dates         Weekly Amount Monthly Amount Saved So Far
1 1-7 Jan £5
2 8-14 Jan £4
3 15 – 21 Jan £3
4 22 – 28 Jan £2 £14
5 29Jan -4Feb £1 £15
6 5 – 11 Feb £10
7 12 – 18 Feb £9
8 19 – 25 Feb £8 £28
9 26Feb-4Mar £7 £49
10 5 – 11 Mar £6
11 12 – 18 Mar £20
12 19 – 25 Mar £19 £52
13 26Mar-1Apr £18 £112
14 2 – 8 Apr £17
15 9 – 15 Apr £16
16 16 – 22 Apr £15 £66
17 23 – 29 Apr £14 £174
18 30Apr-6May £13
19 7 – 13 May £12
20 14-20May £11 £50
21 21 – 27 May £30
22 28May-3Jun £29 £269
23 4 – 10 Jun £27
24 11 – 17 Jun £28 £114
25 18 – 24 Jun £26
26 25Jun – 1Jul £25 £375
27 2 – 8 Jul £24
28 9 – 15 Jul £23 £98
29 16 – 22 Jul £22
30 23 – 29 Jul £21
31 30Jul- 5Aug £35 £500
32 6 – 12 Aug £25 £103
33 13 – 19 Aug £25
34 20 – 26 Aug £25
35 27Aug-2Sep £25 £600
36 3 – 9 Sep £25 £100
37 10 – 16 Sep £25
38 17 – 23 Sep £25
39 24 – 30 Sep £25 £700
40 1 – 7 Oct £25 £100
41 8 – 14 Oct £40
42 15 – 21 Oct £39
43 22 – 28 Oct £38
44 29Oct-4Nov £37 £154 £879
45 5 – 11 Nov £36
46 12 – 18 Nov £35
47 19 – 25 Nov £20
48 26Nov-2Dec £10 £101 £980
49 3 – 9 Dec £10
50 10 – 16 Dec £5
51 17 – 23 Dec £5
52 24 – 31 Dec £5 £25 £1,005!

If you get your money once a month, the monthly saving target is also given to make it easier for you to keep a check on how you are progressing!

TOTAL: however frequently you save, it’s over £1,000 – simples!!

Try it out and let us know how you get on! Join me and let’s see how much we can all save in 2014…

Onwards and Upwards!