The Five Biggest Little Financial Decisions To Improve Your Finances
Have you ever made a little decision that resulted in a BIG impact?
I know I have.
In 2015 I decided to drink water only for the entire year. Yes, that’s right…no coffee, tea, juice, soda, smoothies or lattes. Nothing but H2O! For full disclosure, I made it the entire 365 days, and felt so good, I’ve been doing it ever since! My only deviation from water is to occasionally enjoy water with carbonation.
What difference does it make?
For one, it helps my budget! I broke the habit of buying a $5 coffee at the airport and malls or buying an expensive soda drink just because I was thirsty. More importantly, it made me realize just how much sugar I was taking in without even noticing! It also caused me to enjoy water, sleep better, and improved my overall health.
Now let’s apply that same type of thinking to our finances.
What if we could make five little decisions that would make a walloping impact on your financial health? I have compiled a list of those decisions that I believe will help you the most. These are my personal favorites, the ones I would tell my children are essential for them, as well as for me!
Honor God Off The Top
Right now, you are honoring someone or something first with your finances. It might be the government, Walmart, your landlord, your utility company or your mortgage lender, but someone is getting the first portion of your income. Replace whoever or whatever is currently first with giving off the top of every source of your income to your church and other ministries that build His Kingdom.
If you cannot give a full 10%, which I think is the appropriate beginning standard, start with what you are able to do cheerfully and don’t turn back. Increase the amount as you are able.
“Trust me on this one!” …Those are not my words. Those are God’s words paraphrased from Malachi 3.
Save Something from Every Paycheck
Pick a day and declare, “No more! I will not go another month without saving something from my next paycheck!” Make the decision and then start saving something…even if it is only $5 a month. Save something from every single paycheck or any other source of income.
Open a savings account, buy a small safe, or simply put it under the mattress for now but don’t spend everything you have! This habit will make you wise like the ant from Proverbs 6:6. Little by little you will have money saved for emergencies, stress will go down, and financial stability will one day become a reality. But not until you make that little decision to stop living on a financial cliff.
I have counseled people who did not have money to put gas in their car but had a smart phone, cable TV and a Netflix account they were paying for each month. You can find money to cut out of your budget if you look hard enough.
Stop Getting a Tax Refund
Lots of folks celebrate when they get a tax refund as if Uncle Sam decided to reward them for their good behavior! While I never like to discover that I owe the IRS money, I don’t like to get a tax refund either. The average person will get about $3,600 refunded this year. But you know what? That means you loaned the US government about $300 a month for a whole year, and then waited for them to send your money back to you and never collected any interest.
Simply adjust your withholding or your quarterly payments to be sure you are paying what you owe or expect to owe, but nothing more. This little decision could mean a lot better cash flow for you. It may also mean you just found the money to start giving and saving some money each month!
Use the Envelope System for Your Budget
Study after study proves that we spend more using plastic.
It may sound like going back to the Depression era for some folks, but the good old fashioned way of cashing your payroll check, dividing the cash for your budget categories and putting the money in an envelope will never gone out of style because of its effectiveness! It works! If you struggle to stay on a budget, give the envelopes a try! You want to know what I have observed as the BIG impact of this little decision? Some of the folks that I know, who are really great with money, have never stopped using their envelope system, years after they no longer needed to. They say that it allows them to spend worry free!
Reduce Your Expensive Debt
This starts with a change in your beliefs about debt. Think to yourself, ”do I really have to be in debt?”
For far too many, it has become a game of jumping from one debt to another, from one card limit to another.
Make a decision to pay off your most expensive debt. Just get one paid off. Then do it again…and again…and again. You can do it. It is little decision with a major payoff…freedom. Freedom to stop worrying about the future, about your job, about the end of month. Using the snowball debt method will work wonders. Get started with the Debt Snowball Calculator to help you on your debt elimination journey.
A Big Smile on Your Face
These five are not crazy big mountains to climb, just smart steps that over time will change your relationship with God, your financial well being, your relationships and much more!
Taking control of your finances and living in freedom is a journey. Just like any journey, it’s easier with a guide. Crown’s Money Map is the guide to your journey of finding freedom – it’s a step-by-step plan that lays out financial goals and biblical principles for you to learn along the way. And it’s free! Download yours today.
Originally published in LifeWay Magazine, March 2016