God doesn’t intend for us to struggle financially our entire lives; however, there are seasons of struggle that we all go through. Whether we’re just young and naïve, or we’re a bit older and perhaps undisciplined with our finances, it’s not uncommon for people to find themselves in financial distress.
Principles for Wise Financial Stewardship
My husband, Dave, has been a great example to me in handling money. He’s shown me that it doesn’t take an MBA to make wise financial decisions. Instead it takes good character and the application of sound, godly principles.
If you can learn to live by these four important principles, you’ll see your financial borders begin to expand:
Work for it.
It’s not likely that God is going to drop a huge financial windfall in your lap while you’re sitting on the couch watching TV. Neither are you going to become financially successful if you live carelessly and pray for God to “clean up” your financial mistakes. Being financially successful takes hard work!
A lot of people want today what it took their parents years to get. They’re just not patient or diligent enough to put in the same kind of effort over time that their parents did. They end up making poor investments, trying to get rich quick, or go into debt to get things they can’t afford.
God calls us to live with excellence and integrity. That means that we give a good day’s work for a good day’s pay, and that we try as best we can to live within our means.
The best way to be happy in this life is to be a blessing to other people. That’s true of how we spend our time and certainly true of how we spend our money.
It’s something I’ve experienced over and over: the more you give away, the more you’ll be blessed. When God asks us to give our money away in the form of tithing or other contributions, He’s not trying to take something away from us. He’s simply giving us the opportunity to be a part of what He’s doing to meet the needs of others. And that’s a part of His purpose and the calling on our lives.
Whatever you give up now will come back to you one-hundred-fold in this lifetime (Mark 10:29-30). If you want to have everything God has for you, then I encourage you to ask Him to help you live generously.
It’s extremely important that we be prepared for unexpected expenses, like flat tires, house repairs or medical bills. When we have savings set aside for these emergencies, it will help us avoid going into debt.
If you’re already giving regularly, let me encourage you to set aside an additional amount each paycheck as a personal savings. Start with whatever you can afford and save more as you’re able.
If you will be diligent in saving, God’s Word says he will command blessings on your storehouse (Deuteronomy 28:8). God wants you to trust and expect Him to fulfill His promises in your life.
Here’s the fun part! Yes, you need to spend some of your money. Buy yourself something nice once in a while. While saving is important, God doesn’t call us to be hoarders. Just make sure that when you’re spending, you’re following a few, simple guidelines:
- Know what you have. Make sure that you’re balancing your checkbook and have a budget prepared so that you know what is coming in and what’s going out.
- Don’t buy what you don’t need. The quickest way to the prison of debt is convincing ourselves that “wants” are “needs.” If you obviously don’t need something and it’s not in your budget to afford it, then be bold enough not to buy it. I know this one is hard, but you can do it!
- Don’t buy with what you don’t have. Credit cards aren’t bad in and of themselves, but if you can’t control what you spend with them, then using them is a bad idea. A general rule for using credit cards is to only spend what you can pay off at the end of the month. The interest on consumer debt can quickly get out of control.
- Pay debts off immediately. Living debt-free will give you the flexibility to live more generously and more abundantly. If you’re dealing with debt now, make a plan to get out. Start with the smallest debt and work your way to the biggest ones.
- Invest. This is wise spending. It’s setting aside money so that it will bring a return later on. Sound investments in property, mutual funds and the like can allow your money to work for you instead of the other way around.
Figuring out the best options for your financial future can seem overwhelming with all the choices out there. And what works for one person may not be what works for you. That’s why I recommend talking with a financial advisor.
God loves you, and He has a wonderful plan for your life. Part of His plan is for you to manage your resources, not the other way around. When you do things His way, it is possible to get out of the prison of debt and live with financial freedom!