Kelli and I were drowning in our finances three years ago. We were frustrated and often found ourselves bickering about our financial situation. Overdraft fees and spending freezes were a part of our weekly routine. Like fools, we kept doing the same things and surprisingly nothing changed. Finally, we decided to make a change. We began studying and following a plan that has totally changed our lives when it comes to money. We’ve learned so much over the past few years, but here are three tips I’d like to share with you that can change the way you manage money starting today.
1) Stop thinking it’s your money. A few weeks ago, before Kelli was about to take the boys shopping, I asked Levi if he was going to buy me anything. He said he didn’t have any money, paused a moment, then he told me he did. I said, “Oh, yeah? What kind of money?” He went into his silly Levi voice and shouted, “Yo mon—ey!” I lost it laughing. As silly as that is though, he knows that he owns nothing and his dad does. The same is true for us. God the Father uses the psalmist Asaph to tell us all that the world is His and everything in it (see Psalm 50:7-12). God gives and takes away; we simply manage His resources. When we understand this in our heart, these next 2 tips come easier.
2) Get on a budget. One of the best things we did financially was creating a budget. As soon as we established a working budget, it was like we received a raise! We realized we were living above our means, spending a lot of more money than we should on things like eating out, TV, and entertainment. We still eat out, but we set an amount every month that we can’t go over. We turned cable off and much to my surprise, I’m still alive.
Remember, a budget can be flexible. For us, it changes month to month. A budget is a tool that helps you evaluate how you are managing what God has entrusted to you. Kelli and I would love to help you create a budget if you’d like someone to walk through it with you.
3) Prepare for Uncle Murphy; he’s coming uninvited. Everyone has an Uncle Murphy. He comes in many shapes and sizes. Your Uncle Murphy may be a broken washing machine, exploding water heater, broken HVAC, flooded house, or a busted 2003 Ford Explorer transmission. All of these things have happened to us in the past 2 years. Thankfully, we were prepared for Uncle Murphy’s arrival… with cash! When we created our budget, we budgeted to save. Our first goal was a $1000 emergency fund. Later, after paying off all our debt, we set aside a 3-months-expenses emergency fund. When Uncle Murphy came knocking, we experienced so much peace because we were able to pay cash and be done with it. In the face of the unexpected, we were prepared and God rewarded us for managing His resources well.
I promise you if you apply these three tips to your life, you will steward God’s money better and find financial peace in the midst. I challenge you to pray and ask God to guide you through managing His resources. I believe He will. I believe He will also give you a content heart. And the more content we are, the better we steward his money.