The new-year is the time for setting new goals and making new resolutions. How appropriate it is to include financial planning goals into one’s resolve to mark the new-year. Many people in the church seem to focus on goals that include personal spiritual growth or some type of service-related function to benefit ministerial aspects within the congregation or community. However, equally important is that one focus on stewardship and financial management. One way of doing so is by establishing a financial plan for the year through a comprehensive and focused budget.
I had written a budget a few years ago. Nevertheless, during the past several years, I had loosely applied my financial tool and rather mentally “managed” my finances. Over time, I realized that I could not specifically track the whereabouts and allocation of funds and subsequently saw my debt levels rise. In early 2014, I read a book by Michelle Singletary, “The 21 Day Financial fast: Your Path to Financial Freedom.” I realized my folly of “mental management”, and to re-establish prioritization and planning began using the budget template she offered on her website.
In April 2014, I had set a new budget and I began to use it routinely to track how I resourced and invested money. Since then, I have reduced my overall debt by more than $10,000, increased my personal savings and church giving; and furthermore, I am able to review how my money is allocated every month.
I have observed that many wonderful Christians and church-goers suffer financially because they lack a comprehensive financial plan or are not disciplined to follow one once they’ve been established. Financial planning is not a topic that is always taught across the pulpit or included in church lessons. However, this does not do away with the fact that establishing a financial prioritization plan is Godly. Luke 6:10 reveals that whoever can be trusted with little, can be trusted with much. Prosperity has responsibilities. To be positioned for greater financial prosperity, one must successfully and effectively manage his or her finances.
This article, although short, will provide great benefit for the reader who chooses to act on it but those who choose to ignore it may be adversely affected financially. This new year, take time to review your financial picture – income, overall debt and financial obligations, use of credit, weekly and monthly bills, etc. Then, make a plan on how to manage and appropriate the resources to pay down the debt, limit use of credit, build savings, allocate church giving, and perform other financial due diligence.
Putting a plan in place and writing it down so one’s objective can be seen in black and white is a crucial step. This helped me overcome the shortcomings of loose “mental management” and can help you too. The sooner you start, the faster you will recognize what to cut out of your spending habits. You may also see gaps (deficit or surplus) between the amount you spend and the amount you bring in on a monthly basis. You may even be surprised to find out you are able to accomplish more given your current income by simply implementing a financial plan. Don’t wait, start today!