By Carrie Lowrance, Crosswalk.com
Having a budget seems like a joke in our spend, spend, spend society. Some people see a budget as boring and constricting. They think having to count every cent and know where it's going puts a damper on life rather than allowing freedom. As Christians, having a budget is a biblical principle and a foundation for good finances. It is also a way to glorify God.
What Is a Budget?
Let's start with, what is a budget? This word gets thrown around a lot, but what is it? A budget is a plan for how much money you make and how you spend it over a period. You can do a budget for a year, month to month, or week to week if needed. Instead of thinking of it as something restricting, think of it as something freeing and a way to keep track of your finances without going crazy.
What Does the Bible Say about Money?
Plan Your Money
The Bible says we should work hard and make plans for our money rather than be negligent. "Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty." (Proverbs 21:5, NLT)
Count the cost of every purchase. Instead of being impulsive, take a minute and think about how much a purchase will cost and if you have the money to buy without causing other issues. Make sure when you finish the purchase, there will be no buyer regret. "For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he may have enough to finish it; lest perhaps, after he has laid the foundation and is not able to finish, all those seeing begin to mock him, saying This man began to build and was not able to finish." (Luke 14:28-30, NLT)
Save Your Money
The Bible tells us to save our money and tithe rather than spend. "On the first day of each week, you should put aside a portion of the money you have earned. Don't wait until I get there and try to collect it all at once." (1 Corinthians 16:2, NLT)
How Does Having a Budget Glorify God?
There are many ways having a budget glorifies God.
1. Practicing Self-Control
Having a budget keeps our spending in check and harnesses our self-control. Rather than going out and spending $100 on a designer purse or $5 on a coffee every morning, we know where our money is going rather than wondering where it went. The practice of self-control can also keep us in a calmer state of mind.
Budgeting also helps us see where we are overspending. Things like buying too much produce that spoils or that giant bag of flour when we don't bake that much. We can see where we are buying too much and rein it in.
2. Saving Money
By seeing where our money is going, we also see where we are saving money. Sometimes that amount can be small, and sometimes it can be a large amount. Regardless, it's easy to want to spend what is leftover on frivolous things. Instead, we should put that money in a savings account to use for an emergency or towards a specific goal, like buying a house, a new vehicle, or a dream vacation.
3. Being Good Stewards
Our budget should allow us to pay all our bills, save for the future, and also provide for others. Tithing, paying our bills, saving for the future, and having a little money to donate to a favorite charity or gift to help a friend in need are being good stewards of our money.
4. Counting the Cost
As mentioned above, counting the cost of every purchase is so important. This is especially important for big purchases. Houses and cars can come with massive repairs that can wipe out savings, leading to debt. However, God does not want debt for his people because they become enslaved to money.
Instead, we should sit down and list the pros and cons of every purchase and do as much research as we can in order to save for things like insurance, repairs, etc.
5. Limiting Our Expectations
When we have a budget, we know what we can spend and what we can't. For example, you want the designer purse you saw at the mall last weekend, but you have a $200 credit card payment, a $300 car payment, and a $393 student loan payment. Clearly, you can't afford that purse on top of your other expenses.
Looking at our expenses and seeing what is coming in and going out can be sobering. Don't forget to add in things that may be inconsistent, like getting a haircut (depending on how fast your hair grows), oil changes, and car registration. It can also be encouraging, knowing once you pay off your debt, you can go buy that purse.
6. Seeing What's Leftover
Seeing what's left at the end of the month (or not) can be sobering. The good news is you can look at your budget and see where you may be overspending. You may spend too much on groceries or gas because you have to drive your kids all over town for extracurricular activities on top of driving to work and other essential places. Maybe you are eating out too much or spending too much on entertainment.
When you figure out where you are overspending, you can figure out ways to cut back the following month. Even better, set a goal for yourself to have X amount of money left over next month. Start small; it doesn't have to be a huge amount, and you can grow from there. If you are struggling, pray and ask the Lord to show you where the issue is, and then ask a friend for help. Sometimes, when worry overwhelms us, we fail to identify the issue that is right in front of us or find a solution.
7. Learning Financial Responsibility
Having a budget teaches us financial responsibility. In learning to manage our finances, we can help others. You can teach your kids how to be responsible financially so they are good stewards from a young age. You can also help other friends and family members who may struggle to figure this budgeting thing out.
Being financially responsible will be an inspiration to those around you. Your friends may wonder why you aren't in a panic every month when you pay your bills. Showing them how to budget and what a debt-free life with savings is like may intrigue them.
This is also a great way to introduce them to the Lord and share how learning his way of handling money has helped you and changed your life. If they want more information, you can always refer them to a book, blog post, or course about how to handle money God's way.
8. Fostering Thanksgiving and Gratefulness
Having a budget is a great way to see how God provides for you and your family. When you track all your expenses and see them being met, you will develop an attitude of gratefulness and thanksgiving for what God has done for you, is doing for you, and will do for you in the future.
9. Fostering an Attitude of Prayer
Before you sit down to do your budget, pray over your month and ask God to please provide for your every need. If you have extra things coming up, petition him for help with those things. Give him praise for always providing, and put your trust in him for the month ahead.
10. Peace of Mind
Knowing where your money is going rather than wondering what happened to it gives you a great sense of peace of mind. Having a budget eliminates worry and sleepless nights. Sure, things that have to be handled will come up from time to time. However, when you know you have savings to cover the "curveballs" in life and know that your bills are paid every month, there is no feeling like it.
Learning to budget is a very important thing. People manage personal budgets. Businesses manage their budgets. Although many people cringe at the "b" word, they are more common than you think. When you learn how to budget and learn to do it well, you glorify God by handling your money his way. You also give yourself peace of mind: no more worry, sleepless nights, or extreme stress. By combining God's ways of handling money with your budgeting skills, finances will be a win-win from now on.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.
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