“Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.” Proverbs 3:9-10
“Budget” can feel like a bad word, restrictive and difficult.
Instead of thinking of a budget as a negative thing, remember that a budget is simply a “game plan” or a financial plan. We need to have money to live in today’s society. Because money is a necessary aspect, a tool that we need to create, apply, and follow the plan. In doing so, we can be wise stewards with what God has blessed us, and we can competently handle money, time and things—all gifted to us for the glory of Our Lord. A well-designed budget considers necessities, generosity, and desires and benefits everyone—you, your spouse, your family, your friends, even strangers!
This is what we need to do: Work on a budget. It is not hard to do, and it will make your life so much easier!
How do we do this? You need to have a plan. This starts with a biblical concept of how to deal with your money and debt.
First, know your total income (what comes in).
Then, count all of your expenses (what goes out).
The goal is to always make sure the income is greater than the expense. Kindly and honestly communicate with each other to make sure that you are both aware of the reality and work from there. Put the plan on paper and discuss it together. If you need a template for examples, go to crown.org or biblicalstewardship.net.
You are a money manager for God as it all belongs to Him, and we work for Him!
Money is many things. It can be a blessing or a curse, a tool or a hindrance, a solution or a problem. It is what it is by how we see it and use it. Think of your money problems as opportunities to be solved. See money as a tool to please Christ help your family, church, ministry, and others. Your budget is a clue as to what is important and what is not. If you are not helping to support your family first and your church to do the Lord’s work, then what are you doing (Matthew 28:18-20)?
Our Decision-Making Process
Make sure you make healthy decisions based on the Word of God and the character of our Lord. Please do make decisions based on pride, personal agendas, and power trips. This is necessary if you are to effectively establish unifying goals, to anticipate and adapt to change, with two people who have completely different experiences and vision for what they want and have. Your goal is to be kind, encourage your spouse, and to ensure that what they bring inside is valuable, what they want is valid (within reason), and your goal is to budget money in accordance with Godly priorities.
You are to tell your money what to do, not just wonder where it went!
- First of all, do not be overwhelmed!
- What do you have coming in? Total all the net income for a month. If your income is sporadic, make an average out of the last 12 months.
- What do you have going out? Total all the bills–rent, mortgage, utilities, groceries, insurance, fuel, clothing, all spending no matter how small for a month. Try to carry a little notebook and write down all of your expenses for a month, and you will see how much actually goes out. Notice what you spend on those little purchases; it adds up quickly!
- What are the other resources will you need (time, money, people)?
- What problems will you face? How will you solve them?
Make sure to pay God first and yourself second by giving the first percentage to the Lord and a percentage for your savings. Allocate your monies to first food, shelter, other necessary bills, transportation, work and school expenses, medical expenses, debts, clothing, gifts, and, finally, entertainment. A good way to prioritize is to think of what is absolutely necessary (first) to what is absolutely frivolous (last). Write it out:
- Pray about this. Ask God to guide you, to give you wisdom and discernment, and let Him know that you realize you need His help in this. He will hear you, and He will help you. Our Lord wants you to be successful, and He works for the good in all who believe in Him. This is a promise, and it is true.
- Make the budget. Use one piece of paper. Much later, when you are ready, try a more complex plan or computer program.
- Set goals. Think of things that you will need or want—newer car, more education, college tuition for children, home repairs, a vacation. This is your carrot on a stick.
- List the most important fixed items first—God, rent or mortgage, utilities, groceries, insurance premiums, taxes, childcare expenses, and transportation costs. Allow for savings; then, list discretionary items like dining out, coffee, date nights, vacations, and gifts. (Goal: Have at least 2 months worth of income saved for emergencies. After you have met this goal, continue to save for retirement and those other things that you know you will need or want.)
- Pay off debt. Debt can be daunting. Try this plan to make debt manageable. Pay more than the minimum whenever possible. Pay your bills on time, but give more focus to one bill at a time, beginning with the smallest debt you owe. For instance, if you have one debt that is $400.00 with low interest and one debt that is $24000 with high interest, pay off the smaller debt first. Yes, the interest is low, but as soon as you pay it off, you’ll have more to throw at the big debt. As soon as the smallest debt is paid, tackle the bigger debt and pay more than the minimum when possible. If you have debts that are rather equal in size, but have different interest rates, pay as much as you can on each with a focus on tackling the biggest interest rate first. As soon as that debt is settled, take that money and apply it the next and so forth. This speeds up the process greatly AND makes the process manageable.
- Finally, anticipate. Cars break down, teeth get cavities, clothes wear out, pipes leak, premiums are due monthly or every 6 months, etc. If you have a hard time keeping track of things, write down those things you know will happen and set extra savings aside for those things you that you don’t anticipate.
As you do these things, pay attention. Notice what is a necessity and what is not needed. Know what is used, and what is wasteful or wasted. For instance, if you go to the local coffee place, realize that this is a delicious treat and luxury. If you can afford this after you have met all the budget plans, continue on. However, if you’re trying to find more money to meet your responsibilities, this daily treat is unnecessary and wasteful. Even if the cup is only $2.00 a day, this can add to up to $40 to $60.00 a month. However, that cup of morning elixir could cost you between $80 and $300 a month alone! The same is true with eating out a lot or buying your lunch each day. Your coffee and dining habits can add up to a car payment! So, think it through. Is it better to buy a good coffee maker and make it yourself? If you’re willing to eat fresh, homemade meals, you might help your budget (and your health)! If you have bigger purchases to think of, consider buying a good, used car with under 60, 000 miles. With regular maintenance and good care, this kind of car can last for years.
“Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.” Proverbs 23:4-5
Write out your budget:
What do you have coming in (net income)?
List all incomes:
What do you have going out?
List all bills and expenses:
Where do you need to allocate your income?
What is your agreed amount for giving? To whom and or what?
What bills need to be paid each month? Every six months? Every year?
What will go to savings?
What will go to pay off debt?
What are the bills and expenses that you anticipate to come up?
Set goals for your future.
“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” 2 Corinthians 9:6