I once asked my husband for some creative ideas on how to help us save a little extra cash every month. He gave a little laugh and immediately exclaimed, “Save?! Don’t ask me – I like to SPEND!”
While he identifies more as the “spender” and I more as the “saver”, we both would have to admit we enjoy spending money. It’s exciting to get a new piece of furniture for the house, or a new pair of shoes. Spending can be really fun!
But what’s NOT fun is buyer’s remorse.That knot in your stomach when you see the credit card statement is FAR from enjoyable. Bringing up the “b” word (budget, obviously) at dinner, terrified of how the conversation will turn out, is NOT exciting.
Maybe you’ve never gone an out-of-control shopping spree, but you also can’t seem to get all those little expenses under control. As I mentioned before, I tend to be more of a saver, but the grocery store can be a blackhole of sneaky little expenses that cause me to overspend. I somehow convince myself that I will use every pretty looking piece of produce and well-branded snack that I encounter. None of it is on my list, but it seems rational to have extra food, and I have a coupon for it, so into the cart it goes.
But these extra little expenses wreck the budget too. The little expenses need to be tamed just as much as the big ones. Because it’s all about the heart behind spending.
Luke 16:11 says, “So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” We have to learn how to control our spending with the little things, so we can be trusted with the big things.
These guidelines will help you get your spending under control. Even if you aren’t overspending all the time, these guidelines will help you give your spending purpose.
Obviously, a big part of controlling your spending is learning how to say, “no”. You have to make the switch from letting your spending control you to allowing God to control your spending.
Try to identify why you’re spending – is it because you’re bored, sad, distracted, unorganized? Make a list, stick to the list, and try to limit the amount of time you spend in a store. Never shop when you’re hungry or sad.
Make a Budget.
A spending plan is essential to get your spending under control. Every dollar you earn should have a purpose – to be saved, invested, given, or spent. And you need to plan how each dollar is to be spent. No two months will be exactly the same, but, as the saying goes, “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
Budgeting doesn’t have to be hard or tedious. We created an easy-to-use guide to make it simple for you. It may involve you making sacrifices, so be prepared to make a list of your actual needs versus wants.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”
When you’re accountable to a spouse, a parent, friend, coworker, or church member, you’ll be more inclined to stick to your budget and make progress. Be both wise and cautious when choosing an accountability partner.
Make a Wish List.
Inevitably things will come up during the month that you want to buy but aren’t included in your budget or “needs” list. When this happens, add it to your Wish List. An item has to stay on the Wish List for at least 7 days before you’re allowed to buy it, and you need to do some research during that time to see if you can find a better deal from another store, a coupon, or a rebate.
If, after a week, you still want the item and can’t find a better price, you can buy the item (as long as you still have cash in your budget). Only buy ONE Wish List item at a time, and only if you have the means to do so. If you find two items in one week, you can only purchase one per month.
Numerous studies have proven the effectiveness of using cash to limit spending and prevent overspending. You have more of an emotional connection to a $20 bill than you do a credit card, so as you make your budget, cash out the categories you tend to overspend in – for me, that’d be groceries and eating out. It’s a great habit to develop and will help you keep your spending under control!
Controlling your spending will help you save, eliminate debt, and develop good financial habits. But it will also help you become a better steward. Matthew 6:19-21 says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”