Ask Chuck: The New Year’s Resolution to Transform Your Finances
My husband and I really need this to be the year for a financial turnaround. What are the best practical steps we can take to achieve this in the new year?
PTL it is 2021!
Dear PTL it is 2021,
Happy New Year! We join you in thanking God for another year! It is a time to start fresh and pursue our God-given purpose. Improving your finances is a fantastic goal for any couple and I have practical advice to help you.
“Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.”
– G.K. Chesterton
The last sentence is so true. Nothing effective is accomplished unless we purpose to achieve something new!
If you and your husband sincerely want to make financial progress and are willing to commit to a plan, here is the most simple and sure way to do it: Give first. Save second. Say it to yourself, write it on post-it-notes, shout it out loud, make it your mantra for 2021, and put it into practice starting today!
“Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce.” (Proverbs 3:9 ESV)
Step 1: Give a portion of everything that you receive. Make it your absolute first priority and do not compromise.
God wants to conform us into His image. He does that by asking us to trust Him enough to give away a portion of all that He provides. He wants us to simply let go of it. When we acknowledge that He is our Provider, we honor Him by giving first. We do not honor Him when we donate from what we have leftover at the end of the month.
It is vital that we learn to be generous with others to avoid the dangers of trusting in our possessions, our assets, or our net worth. As we advance God’s kingdom by practical means, we experience true riches through giving.
As you begin the year, resolve to honor the Lord by the way you handle money. 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). Generous living is one of the greatest blessings of financial freedom. When it comes from a heart of love and gratitude, not an obligatory attitude, it can change you. Plus, giving multiplies in value here and on into eternity. Paul wrote an entire apologetic for the benefits of giving in 2 Corinthians 9:6-12. Be sure and meditate on it.
Believing He loves us and knows what is best for us, we can trust Him even when giving just makes no earthly sense. We give first because He asked us to do so. And when He increases our income, He wants us to increase our standard of giving, not our standard of living.
When confronted with this practice, I told my wife that it would be necessary for us to change everything in the way we managed our budget. She said, “Exactly!”
Giving first does require an adjustment to your budget so you’re prepared to give on a regular basis. Once you develop the habit, it will become something you look forward to doing.
Start by tithing to your church. It is not a law or a tax but a great principle to apply for a beginning goal. Once this is in place, continue to seek His will and direction to grow more and more generous.
“Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in the summer and gathers her food in harvest.” (Proverbs 6:6-8 ESV)
Step 2: Save a portion of everything that you receive. Make it your absolute second priority and do not compromise.
When it comes to saving money, consistency is key. That can be achieved by living below your means which requires contentment.
Contentment motivates us to enjoy frugality. We gratefully drive used cars, live in smaller homes, and ignore the newest fads. It gives us flexibility and margin in our budget so we can give generously first and save second as our most important priorities.
To get started right in 2021, make your first savings goal to set aside $1000 in an emergency fund. Then work on setting aside a full three months of living expenses. This money should be in an accessible savings account in the event of an emergency. You may want to increase this fund to six months of your living expenses but that can happen in 2022. For now, achieve this initial savings threshold and you will be on your way to a new habit that will completely change your finances for the better. Crown has excellent online courses to help guide you on this journey.
Whether you can save a little or a lot, your confidence must rest in the Lord. He will never leave you or forsake you. Money will.
“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” (Hebrews 13:5 ESV)
Start this year with hope and anticipation of what you can accomplish in the strength of the Lord. Most people abandon their New Year resolutions by mid-February! Take it a day at a time and realize that the benefits will last beyond a lifetime–they will ripple into eternity!
“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4 ESV)
Praise the Lord, it is 2021!
This article was originally published on The Christian Post on January 1, 2021