Overview: Christian Budgeting & Financial Planning
Does Christian personal finance sound like a misnomer to you? If so, you are not alone. There is a misconception among a great many Christians that becoming wealthy or having money is sinful. This is simply not true. According to scripture, God wants us to be good stewards of the blessings He’s given us.
This does not mean that we must always be poor. Instead, it means we should employ some Christian money management skills to take care of what we have. This article will explain how a Christian budget is biblically supported and how you can go about starting one for yourself.
For example, see Proverbs 27:23-24:
Be sure you know the condition of your flocks,
give careful attention to your herds;
for riches do not endure forever,
and a crown is not secure for all generations.
That passage doesn’t say we should live in poverty and financial bondage. It says we should be smart with what God has given us. He uses times of want to teach us how to govern our blessings, as well as times of wealth. So, how can we go about learning everything he has to teach us about Christian money management?
Whether we are in lean times or fat, we need to invite Him into our Christian personal finances and business dealings. How can we use the Bible in conjunction with strong financial practices to govern our blessings well?
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Christian Budget Planner
You, too, are called upon to be a Christian budget planner. You may recall Proverbs 21:5, which states, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.”
In plain English, what does that mean? It means we are called upon to practice Christian budgeting by making a plan for our money and sticking to it. Our personal finance needs to be part of our faith, just like every other aspect of our lives. But how can this help your family learn how to practice Christian money management in the nitty gritty details?
Let’s start by making a Christian budget plan.
First and foremost, what is a budget? A budget is a formal, written plan about how to spend our money to make sure we are taking care of our responsibilities while also getting the most out of our earnings. Probably a great many people have heard of budgeting, but when it comes to making one, we tend to slack off. Do we really need a budget just to deal with our Christian personal finances, we ask ourselves? Of course businesses need them, but does our household?
The answer to this is a resounding yes. Without a formal Christian budget plan, many families have a tendency to spend their earnings as soon as they come in. Instead of cooking, they might order a pizza, or they might want a pair of shoes they saw and, instead of thinking about the outgoing bills that are due next week, decide to let the future take care of itself because they want those shoes now.
Of course, invariably, the future doesn’t take care of itself. We end up short on the rent and wishing we’d never bought those shoes. We find ourselves in debt bondage again, anxious about when we’re going to be able to catch up on the bills. This is not the way God wants us to live. He wants us to feel free and secure. And to think, all of this anxiety could have been prevented by making and implementing a Christian budget plan!
The nice thing about having a Christian budget plan is that, not only is it biblical, but it also enables us to know what we have left for frivolities after our bills are paid.
When God is invited into your checkbook, there is nothing to fear.
Incoming vs. Outgoing Funds
The first step in Christian budgeting is figuring out how much money you have coming in and how much you can afford to send back out. According to Crown Ministries’ wonderful family budgeting guide, a good rule of thumb is to arrange your budget in this way:
- 36% of your income into your rent or mortgage
- 12% into food
- 12% into your car
- 5% on insurance
- 5% on debts
- 6% on entertainment
- 5% on clothing
- 5% on savings
- 4% on medical and dental
- 6% on school or childcare
- and 5% on investments.
The other 4% is what you have left to use for your own discretionary spending. These numbers will change depending on your circumstances, but they are a great place to start when considering your own Christian budgeting.
For instance, not everybody is sure how much money will come in next month; some people work for an hourly wage, or maybe even work in commission-based sales. There might be some months where there is a surplus of money, and there are bound to be other months where there isn’t enough money to cover all the bills. Those folks are probably thinking with a snort, “Yeah, you make a budget! My income depends on whether I sell enough cars next month!” If this is your circumstance, how can it be possible to practice Christian personal finance?
Christian budgeting is a good idea and a biblical requirement for you, too. In fact, you will have to be even more careful than people on a salary. Take your yearly income and divide it by twelve to work out the proportions accordingly. Some months, extra may come in; this, you can put into savings to dip into during the lean months so that everything comes out even in the end.
As you can imagine, this might take a great deal of discipline. The desire of our flesh is going to be to look at the months where we have a surplus and spend that money on things we don’t really need. But Christian budgeting will require you to follow God’s will and stick to your budget.
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Make Christian Personal Finance a Family Affair
Teaching our children Christian money management principles is one of the best things we can do for them. Exodus 18:20 says, “and you shall warn them about the statutes and the laws, and make them know the way in which they must walk and what they must do.” We love our kids and want the best for them. It’s only right and loving that we teach them how to handle their wealth as adults.
We know kids learn by watching what their parents do. A loving, education-minded Christian mother and father will sit down together and make their Christian budget plan, not only for themselves, but for the sake of their children. Watching mom and dad cooperate for the good of the family is exactly the sort of thing God wants our kids to see. Christian money management is an excellent skill for any child to learn.
Lack of money, or financial instability, is one of the biggest causes of divorce in the modern age. Not only is Christian budgeting a gift to your children, it is also a gift to your spouse. Taking the time to make sure your finances are transparent and meeting the needs of the whole family is a great way to make sure your family unit stays intact.
Some couples lead very different financial lives. Mom and Dad both have checkbooks or credit cards, and they don’t really discuss their purchases with one another. The day when you start to practice Christian money management will call for total honesty from both parties. It will be necessary to sit down and make sure that all expenses are accurately accounted for. It isn’t possible to make a Christian budget plan without excellent communication.
Remember, your kids are watching.
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Prioritize Your Needs
Those Monolo Blahniks are a need, right? Well, as badly as you might need new shoes, you probably don’t need those ones. Once you have the family Christian budget plan meeting, the next step is to figure out what you’re spending too much on and cut those things out.
Prioritizing our needs means we pay for housing, bills, and food before we splurge on designer shoes. In Christian personal finance, it even means we prioritize our tithes to the church and our kids’ college savings accounts over those fleshly desires.
Dueteronomy 14:22 says, “Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year.” This is a standard many Christians follow, offering ten percent of their income to the church as a tithe.
A commitment to Christian personal finance is not an easy commitment to make. We need loads of prayer and self-sacrifice. We have to learn to say no to things we may want but not need to be able to afford the things we do need.
Food and clothing are obviously needs. Above, when we made our Christian budgeting breakdown, we allocated percentages for each. But many families spend much more than they should on those things.
One way to stay on track with food and clothes is to make a list of the things you actually need. For example, when you go to the grocery store for milk and bread, do you have a tendency to come back with milk, bread, and cookies? When little Jimmy or Julia needs new shoes, do you go to the store and come back with three outfits for him or her?If you make a list and stick to it, you’ll find it easier to stay within your Christian budget plan.
Get Help From Someone Who Knows Finance
Does all of this seem like a little too much? It is never shameful to ask for help from a wise counselor. Proverbs 15:22 says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”
Human nature is to mentally turn the things we want into things we need. An objective third party might be just the sort of help your family requires to get the most out of your new Christian budget plan.
Your counsellor can be an older, more financially secure family member who already knows how to make a Christian budget plan, a friendly business owner, or a financial professional like an accountant, tax planner, or investment broker. The nice thing about a professional is that you don’t have to know someone who is already successful. You can start right at the beginning and work your way up.
A financial professional is a person who can determine your risk tolerance and help you invest in something that will make you happy and comfortable, as well as helping you save for your future. He or she can help you break down your spending and figure out where you can cut back.
They can even help you plan for your retirement. Planning for retirement is something we all know we need to start as early as possible, but most people don’t do it until they’re staring down the barrel of what Social Security doesn’t cover. Retirement savings are an absolute necessity for a Christian budget plan.
Don’t think for a minute you have to change your financial destiny alone. There are people trained to help you do just that. Besides, the best Couselor and Comforter there is has your back.
Take It from the Top…
Today we’ve discussed how Christian budget planning and Christian personal finance are biblically supported by the Word of God. We know that changing how we relate to our money is going to be hard work, but in the end, we’ll have better relationships with our lenders, our families, and the King of Kings. We have some resources to work with and a solid, numbers-based plan. We have never been in a better position to start practicing Christian personal finance.
So, what are you waiting for? Sit down with your spouse, your kids, and your counselors as soon as you can and get started. When you embark on the journey of Christian personal finance, you know you’re headed in the right direction because you can trust your Guide. So go ahead, make that Christian budget plan! You’ll thank yourself later.
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