Have you been waiting to make a budget until you make just a little more money?
Maybe you have good intentions to start saving for retirement, but it just hasn’t happened yet.
Debt has a way of accumulating quickly while we work to develop a plan to pay it off.
Can you identify with any of these? When it comes to our finances, taking the first step is often the hardest. We want to do the right thing, and may even commit to saving, budgeting, making a plan, but then it just doesn’t happen.
Sometimes it’s a result of our fear – the “what if’s” interrupting our drive to make progress. But sometimes it’s just because we overthink things.
If you think more than you do, you may never get your finances in order. Waiting until just the right time delays the process and postpones any progress. Mark Twain said, “The secret to getting ahead is getting started.”
So, do it! Don’t put it off and don’t let yourself make excuses. Here are some basic tips to get started.
Make a Budget
Many people are intimidated by budgeting, but it can actually be the key to financial stability and freedom. Don’t think about a budget as restricting your spending – think about a budget as giving you the freedom to spend – the right way.
Remember that your budget is also not set in stone. Each month is different, and your budget will change and fluctuate with your circumstances.
We know that budgeting can be a big hurdle to overcome, so we made an easy-to-use guide to help you. It’s simple, and you can adjust it to meet your needs. You can use it if you’ve never made a budget before, or if you’ve just fallen off track.
Giving is not mandated by God – He asks us to give so He can pour out His blessings on us and others (Malachi 3:10). Giving with the proper attitude and an eternal perspective opens our hearts to the needs of others. We see the world through God’s eyes.
Living a generous life is one of the greatest blessings of financial freedom. When it comes from a grateful heart, not an obligatory attitude, it can change you. Start by giving a tithe to your church and then pray about other areas in which God is asking you to be generous. Remember 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 – God loves a cheerful giver!
A savings strategy should be part of every Christian’s financial plan. God wants us to be savers, and balancing your savings is an opportunity to honor God and experience His blessings.
Once you have your budget in place, reaching your savings goals will be easier (as long as you allocate money to save in your budget!). Your first goal should be to save $1,000 in an emergency savings fund. Having this cash on hand will help you avoid additional debt, and eliminate a lot of stress when unexpected expenses arise. Once you have your emergency fund, work towards saving 3 months’ worth of your living expenses as your next goal.
Look for ways to cut out expenses and save money on the necessities. If saving $1,000 seems overwhelming to you, just start by saving $10. If you can save $10, you can save $100, and you can save $1,000. Try setting up an automatic transfer to a savings account so you aren’t tempted to spend it. Or, have your employer deposit part of your paycheck into that account. These budget hacks will help you get started!
Get Out of Debt
It may seem counterintuitive, but getting out of debt should come after you’ve started budgeting, giving, and saving.
Having a budget will help you see what extra money you can put towards paying off debt. Giving will help you keep your heart and priorities in order. And saving will help you avoid accumulating debt in the future.
Once you are ready to put a debt-payoff plan together, go straight to the Debt Snowball Calculator. All you have to do is input basic information about your debt (balance, minimum monthly payment, interest rate), and how much extra cash you can put towards it each month ($20 can make a big difference!), and it creates a payoff plan for you. By utilizing the debt snowball method, you essentially “outsmart” your debt and save both time and money. If you’re interested in learning more about debt and the debt snowball method, check out our free mini course – 5 Steps to Debt-Free Living.
We recommend you pay off your credit card debt first. If you have overwhelming credit card debt, get in touch with Christian Credit Counselors. We’ve partnered with them for years and trust them to help you develop a plan to pay off your credit cards the right way. You can start with a free debt analysis here.
I hope these practical steps help remove any fear or hesitation you have about getting your finances in order. Take the first step, and see how your heart changes in the process. And if you want to take a deep dive into managing your finances God’s way as we enter the new year, enroll in Crown’s online MoneyLife Personal Finance Study.