Thursday
Feb102011

How to experience financial freedom

As I minister to seniors all over the country, one of the biggest causes of stress that I see in their lives is the subject of finances. But did you know that God doesn’t want money to be a source of stress in your life? And that He wants you to experience financial freedom? It’s true.

Yet, financial freedom won’t just happen. God expects you and me to be good stewards of the money He has blessed us with. As the apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 4:2, “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.”

Over the course of my life, I have searched the Scripture to discover what God has to say about money and stewardship. And today, I want to give you six pieces of biblical advice I have found that will help you to steward your money in a way that is both honoring to God and beneficial to your financial health. Whether you think you have a little money or a lot, these steps will help you glorify the Lord with your checkbook—and they’ll help you experience true financial freedom!

Step 1: Find out what’s coming in.

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?”  (Luke 14:28)

It might surprise you, but so many men and women don’t even know how much they make when I talk to them about their finances. So before you do anything else, it’s crucial that you begin by knowing how much income you are bringing in each month.
I would encourage you, if you don’t know what your monthly income is, sit down and write out exactly what you expect will be coming in next month. Whether it’s a paycheck, a regular Social Security check, or a one-time tax credit, make sure all of the month’s income sources are included.

Step 2: Rank your spending priorities.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  (Matthew 6:21)

When you figure out how much you have coming in, give every dollar on paper a purpose before you even have it. After you pay taxes, the top seven items on your budget should go in the following order:

1.    Giving: Don’t neglect giving as the Lord leads you. Make it your first priority!

2.    Food

3.    Housing: rent or mortgage

4.    Utilities: electricity, gas, phone, and insurance (renters, homeowners, life insurance, etc.)

5.    Transportation: gasoline, car payment, car insurance

6.    Clothing

7.    Health

Next, rank your discretionary income that isn’t tied to one of the above needs. You can use it to pay off debt, put it in savings, give more, or spend it however you wish.

Step 3: Create your budget.

Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. (Proverbs 6:6-8)

Realistically estimate how much you will spend in each of the above categories. The key here is keeping your expenses at or below what you are bringing in each month.

Step 4: Make allowances in your budget.

The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty. (Proverbs 21:5)

If anything, over-budget instead of under-budget for your first few months. It’s not realistic to think you can get by on $20 a month for your food allowance. If you need to trim or reorganize your budget, your discretionary income should be the first category you reduce.

Step 5: Budget for occasional expenses like gifts, emergencies, etc.

In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has. (Proverbs 21:20)

Whether expected or unexpected, occasional expenses will come up. So set aside an extra allowance each month in a savings account that you can access when birthdays come around, cars break down, unexpected health expenses arise, or anything else happens that may require additional money.

Step 6: Don’t be afraid to ask for help managing your finances.   

The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice. (Proverbs 12:15)

Above all else, don’t be afraid to ask for help when it comes to managing your finances. Maybe you need a good financial planner to help you organize your finances. Or, you might need someone to hold you accountable to sticking with your budget.

I’m confident that by following these simple steps, you can make your money work for you, you can be the steward God expects you to be, and you’ll experience the financial freedom God wants you to have!

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