We want to start the New Year right when it comes to our finances. Beyond a “get out of debt” resolution, what are the best moves to get us on track?
Looking for Financial Tips
Dear Looking for Financial Tips,
My best tip is to practice the simple but powerful act of daily discipline.
For example, years ago, I struggled to cut back on my sugar intake. I was frustrated with my physical state and knew that I could do better with a little discipline. So, on January 1st, I resolved to eliminate as much sugar as possible from my diet: no desserts, candy, or sugary beverages. Each day, I learned to say no to what I wanted (sugar) to gain what I needed for tomorrow (better health).
I renewed my resolution each morning for the entire year. This small victory brought great rewards and taught me to exercise self-control in other areas of my life. Let me repeat that daily formula:
Saying No to What I Want Today = Gaining What I Need for Tomorrow
If you can be disciplined in just one area of your life, you can learn to be disciplined in all areas of your life—but it must start with one. This principle directly relates to your finances. To reach financial goals, you must start with a simple discipline that you faithfully practice one day at a time. This small daily effort exercised over a long period of time will enable you to achieve more than you can imagine when it comes to your financial goals. Stated another way, “Little habits have big results.”
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” (Luke 16:10–11 NIV)
“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” (Proverbs 16:3 ESV)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22–23 ESV)
What, Why, How, Celebrate
The ultimate purpose of a believer’s financial goals should be to glorify God. Goals will take on greater significance if you aim higher than simply keeping yourself afloat. Put your spending plan on paper (or in a spreadsheet or banking app) in order to view the state of your finances more clearly. Determine what you want to achieve in 2023. The “why” of your plans will keep you motivated. Write down your “why.” Good intentions become a plan only when written down and acted upon. Now write down how you will make progress every day. Next, plan to celebrate once you achieve each step of your goals. Remember, faithful steps will become lifelong habits.
What is the goal?
Why is the goal important?
How will you act on the goal daily?
Plan your favorite celebration once the goal is reached.
Financial Goals to Consider
Here is the step-by-step plan I recommend, in order of priority.
Practice this habit: give first, and save second. If you do this before spending, your finances will begin to dramatically improve.
Don’t Give Up!
Give yourself some grace to learn new disciplines and establish healthy financial habits. Imagine that you are flying a plane from point A to B. Even if you zig-zag or get off course, you don’t give up; you make course corrections and keep the plane flying!
Godliness with money requires sacrifices in order to act and grow in faithful stewardship. As you humbly depend on the Lord, you’ll experience a closeness to Him that will motivate you even more.
Keep an eternal perspective. This is not our home, and our mansions are not to be built on Earth. God promises true riches that money cannot buy and eternal rewards that we cannot fathom. Immerse yourself in Scripture, and renew your mind on Truth to overcome the temptations of this world. Focus on the Source of all strength, hope, and peace—He will be your greatest treasure in the new year.
Maybe it will encourage you to know that I am in a group of nine who have committed to another year-long fast from sugar. Disciplines are easy to lose, so I am back on the formula of saying no to what I want today in order to gain what I need for tomorrow.
Stay in touch, and let us know how we can help. We have great budget coaches if you need some extra support.
Happy New Year to you!
This article was originally published on The Christian Post on December 30, 2022.
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