Is the concept of having a budget and liv ing within your means Scriptural?
It is likely that many times you have thought or even uttered the words, “I just don’t know where the money goes!” In today’s society that sentiment seems even more prevalent, with costs escalating, while incomes have become fixed or only marginally advanced. This predicament leaves us with a rather large question on our hands: how does one cope?
There is not always a simple answer to this conundrum, but there is a method that has proven effective (in fact, essential), whether in business or in everyday life. The development of a personal budget may seem daunting at first, but it need not be. You have all you need to develop a plan with a few simple tools: a pencil, a pad, a table in a quiet room, and the will to accomplish it.
However, it will require some serious and pragmatic thought, a plan tailored to one’s position in life (as the Lord commented in Luke 14 re: the building of the tower), and a commitment to follow through (as did Nehemiah). After all, it is your budget!
Let me share with you some things that will help you to arrange a plan that will better equip you to handle your financial situation properly. Your goal is to compose a budget, based upon family income, that will clearly outline how you will spend your earnings more prudently.
As you prepare, spend some time with the Lord first – ask Him for wisdom, for guidance, and patience as you work to develop a balanced financial strategy. At this point, it would be a good idea to consider your financial position and any goals you may have set out for the future (both immediate and long term). These may include buying a house, an automobile, or other large purchases. You should take into account the cost and potential debt related to these items. Make some notes and keep them handy.
Make a chart in which you will write down what you anticipate the following will be. Under each heading describe the item and appoint it an amount, both monthly and annually.
(1) Income: your family take-home pay (after employee deductions) or, if self employed, your net income, plus any other income sources (interest, etc.)
(2) Your financial commitment to the Assembly or related giving to the Lord.
(3) Expenses: What you have spent, or will spend on:
Accommodation (rent, mortgage, insurance, utilities)
Automobile (lease, loan payments, fuel, insurance, etc.)
Food and household costs (food, supplies, etc.)
Medical insurance (prescription drugs, etc.)
Clothing (new purchases, etc.)
Gifts (birthdays, Christmas, etc.)
Entertainment (dining out, etc.)
Contingency (a little to cover items missed)
(4) Other commitments, such as:
Pension plan contributions
When you have put the dollar costs beside each of the items, add them up and total them (by month and by year), then deduct items (2) + (3) + (4) from (1).
Does your income exceed your expenditures? Are you overspending? Can you live with the results or could you do better? What do you do now?
First things first, don’t panic! Your next step is to review each item and with some further deliberation, consider and adjust them, where possible. The questions you need to ask are:
Is this item essential?
If not, then delete it, or reduce it to an amount which is more appropriate for your current situation.
Is there a surplus?
If so, then you may wish to think about increasing your support of the Lord’s work, reducing your debt, or setting aside funds towards making your future plans come to fruition.
As we get older and our finances improve there may be a tendency to feel that you no longer need to go about this task. However, even in these circumstances, it is still a good idea to go through the process as it often reveals areas of spending that may be better directed.
Some may be struggling financially even though they have reduced their expenditures to a minimum and yet, they still have not managed to achieve a balanced budget. Sometimes there are “little foxes,” those seemingly insignificant amounts that can be created by frequent visits to the ATM, impulse purchases, overuse of credit cards, and so on. It may not seem like much, but added up over the course of time, these may amount to more than you think and can potentially spoil your plan. Can these be controlled? Only you can decide this for yourself. Every situation is unique and one must examine the benefit versus the cost. Although difficult, a little self-control in these “little” areas can go a long way to helping you achieve your goals.
The completion of a budget, whether for the unmarried or done together as a couple, should be approached with a commitment to make a real effort to put it into action, otherwise you will gain no benefit from your plan. I encourage you to do this, as it will not only be financially rewarding for you and your families, but will also leave you with a great sense of achievement.