We're called to be good stewards of God's resources, but being financially faithful amid the business of modern life isn't easy. Today we'll tell you how to remain faithful in managing your money.
- It's easy to feel overwhelmed these days and be tempted to take the path of least resistance with money. Maybe it's easier to grab a cup of coffee on the way to work than to make it yourself. Or to hit a fast food drive-thru rather than making dinner for the family.
- But those expenses add up quickly, and before you know it, there isn't quite enough money left over at the end of the month to meet your obligations and you're charged a late fee. It doesn't have to be that way. With preparation, you can avoid it.
- TIPS TO REMAIN FAITHFUL WITH MONEY
- First, carve out some time each week for prayer. Ask God for wisdom in managing your money. James 1:5 tells us, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him."
- Next, you need a spending plan. It's essential for managing your money faithfully. If you're not living on a budget, download the free FaithFi app at your app store. It has three different ways to set up a budget with step-by-step instructions. The FaithFi app will also track your expenses so you stay on budget.
- Developing your budget will show clearly whether you have enough income to meet your expenses. If you don't, there are really only two options. You can either cut your expenses or look for ways to increase your income.
- Trimming the budget may be easier so look at the categories where you spend a lot of money first. You may not be able to do much right away with your rent or mortgage … but what about food?
- Groceries and eating out can gobble up a big chunk of your budget. But planning can save you a lot of money. Limit getting carryout to 1 or 2 times a month. Instead, draw a menu plan for the week. Make a list of the items you'll need to prepare those meals before you go to the store.
- Actually, shopping online for groceries can save you money because you're not tempted by impulse buying and you see the running tab of the items you choose. That will help you stay on budget by not overspending in your food category. Most of the bigger chains offer online shopping now, often at no charge.
- Then, look for other ways to trim your spending. Are you still subscribing to streaming services you're not using? Can you form a babysitting pool with other parents? Or maybe look for free activities in your community? Every little bit helps.
- Once your budget is balanced, ideally you have something left over. This is also essential. Unless you can learn to live below your means, you'll be running up debt every month. More on that in a bit.
- Now, the next step in staying financially faithful is to take that leftover money, even if it's only a little, and begin saving up your emergency fund. You absolutely must have a reserve of cash to meet unexpected expenses … things outside your budget such as a furnace needing repair or a medical bill.
- Start with a goal of $1.500. Then keep going, adding bit by bit. You want to eventually save 3 to 6 month's living expenses in your emergency fund. It may take a long time and you'll have setbacks along the way, but the peace of mind you'll get once you have your emergency fund in place will be worth the effort.
- Okay, I mentioned debt earlier. If you have it, you know first hand that Proverbs 22:7 is true, "...the borrower is slave to the lender." Make a plan to get out of debt. You can split your leftover money, applying some to saving up your emergency fund and the rest to paying down consumer debt.
- Use the snowball method to speed this up. Pay all of your minimum payments, but more on the account with the smallest balance. When that's paid off, put your extra money on the next smallest balance. Rinse and repeat until the debt is gone.
- If you're having trouble meeting those minimum monthly payments, contact our friends at Consumer Credit Counselors to get on a debt management plan. They can get your interest rates reduced so that you pay off your debt 80% faster.
- Once your consumer debt is paid off, you can turn to retirement savings. Strive to save 10-15% of your income in a tax-advantaged plan like an IRA or 401k. If your employer offers matching contributions to a 401k, you want to do this as quickly as possibly to take full advantage of that benefit. It's free money.
- All of these things are important, but perhaps the best way to be financially faithful is to remain generous. Strive to be a percentage giver to your local church, no matter what's going on in your life. And trust that God will provide. Jesus says in Matthew 6:33, "Seek first the kingdom of God … and all these things will be added to you."
- Those are the ways you can remain financially faithful in the busiest of times.
On this program, Rob also answers listener questions:
- When taking money out of a TSP, is it taxed as income?
- How do you determine if now is a good time for you to buy a home?
- How can you help preserve wealth for an elderly parent?
Remember, you can call in to ask your questions most days at (800) 525-7000. Also, visit our website at FaithFi.com where you can join the FaithFi Community, and even download the free FaithFi app.