Financial Death by a Thousand Cuts

Only the Foundation
of My Aunt’s House Survived the Tornado (1974)

The first time I heard the phrase “Death by a Thousand Cuts” my imagination ran off with a graphic image of someone literally bleeding to death drop by drop. I had a great aunt who almost died from such a fate.

In April 1974, a tornado hit her house in Indiana. She lived in a two story farm house about 30 miles east of Indianapolis. The tornado made a direct hit and her house vanished. Only the foundation remained. Moments after the tornado passed, a neighbor drove down the road and wondered aloud, “Where is Mary Hawkins’ house?”

He parked his truck and surveyed the damage. Across the road from the former house, he heard groans and found her in a barren cornfield. The tornado had thrown her about 200 yards away. Someone found her bathtub a mile away. My brother found a letter bearing her name and address 15 miles away while hunting for mushrooms a few weeks later.

The tornado and debris stripped her of all her clothes except her underwear. She had lacerations on ever inch of her body. She had more than a thousand cuts and had lost a great deal of blood. Somehow, through the grace of God, she survived and lived another 20 years.

I have mentored many men. It has been a great joy to do so and through this process I see patterns that emerge. They are not really surprising after you consider them, but like so much of life, they often pass by unnoticed. One such pattern is the common error of money mismanagement … self-afflicted financial cuts.

Blindly, we advance through life without paying close attention to this area of life. We commence our journeys as young adults filled with starry-eyed dreams. We hope and assume that as we progress toward middle age that we will arrive at the Promised Land of financial stability and wealth.

Hope and assumptions are not good strategies. The reality is that we go through each day as though on a trek through a Financial Wilderness. Brambles and thorn bushes crowd the trail we trod. We suffer thousands of cuts and bleed out financially without being fully aware of the great loss of blood.

“Why pay money for something that will not nourish you? Why spend your hard-earned money on something that will not satisfy?” Isaiah 55:2 NET

I like to ask questions when I mentor. “How do you choose what you spend your money on?” Most stare back blankly and blink their eyes. Like deer in the proverbial headlights, they don’t know why. They suffer cuts and bleed out money without being aware of just how much is lost.

I like to get down to the emotional reasons why a young man spends his money. Often it is to impress others. Sometimes, it is because everyone else is doing it and they imagine it to be the norm. Some experience the shame (or the perception) of being poor. All these together with many more answers cause us to make daily choices. We spend money. What we buy does not satisfy us, but we arise the next day, “rinse and repeat.”

Add up the money you spend weekly on eating out; at Starbucks; on car washes; and whatever else is your favorite way of suffering financial cuts. How many subscriptions do you have? Cable TV? Netflix? What else? Do you budget? If not, do you keep a record of your spending? Most are unaware of the summations of these little expenditures over a one year period. They suffer financial blood loss over the course of time.

Money problems is likely the number one reason people divorce. Oh, yes, we might cite a lackluster sex life, the breakdown in communication or arguing over the children, but often these stem from the results of fighting over money. Believe me men, when you fight over money, your next thought is not “I wonder if I will get lucky tonight?” And most assuredly, your wife is not dreaming of the next passionate moment.

When we understand the answer to “Why do I spend my money?” we have the opportunity to avoid future cuts. Find a life coach to mentor you in this area. Humble yourself and admit that you need guidance. Read books on finances. Go to Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Peace University” where you can learn the practical steps to being liberated. There are many ways we can stem the loss of financial blood. Find one and take action!

Photo: April 1974 taken by my mother, Mildred Wilfong near Greenfield, Indiana

“Scripture quoted by permission. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2016 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.”

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