Handle money entrusted to us in a godly way.
If we truly believe that God provides everything (He does), then everything we have belongs to Him (It does).
Since money is the primary method used to purchase earthly things, which ultimately belong to God, then all money is a gift from God and is to be used to glorify His name. We must, therefore, treat the money that has been gifted to each of us with seriousness and stewardship. Living our lives in a godly manner includes handling the money entrusted to us in a godly way, avoiding debt, and giving generously. (1 Peter 4:10)
Unfortunately, it’s easy to forget this, and sometimes we experience financial difficulty by mishandling our money. Some time ago, I accumulated more debt than I could manage. Eventually, it all came to a crash. After refinancing to pay it off, I adopted the following money management disciplines to never again to accumulate any debt and manage money in a godly manner.
The Discipline of Communication
Communication about money is essential, as money problems are more likely to occur when little or no communication exists.
If married, you and your spouse will have different ideas about spending. One of you is willing to spend more readily than the other (in my case, me), and both will spend on items that the other may not. Avoiding the discussion about what your financial needs and priorities are, will result in each of you adopting spending habits based on your personal likes. This increases your likelihood of money problems.
If you are single, a good stewardship practice is to discuss money with your parents, a sibling, or someone you trust to hold you accountable.
Whether single or married, remember that your ideas on spending are yours, and only yours. Be prepared to change some of your spending habits to come to an agreement on how to spend. Practice the discipline of communicating.
The Discipline of Avoiding Debt
The discipline of avoiding debt is something that is mentioned in the Bible many times. There are two primary and easy ways to accumulate debt: credit cards and lines of credit.
Here is a great way to avoid the inability to pay your credit card balance: Every time you purchase something and plan to use your credit card for payment, ask yourself, “Can I pay for this later today?” In other words, do you have enough money that you can go online and pay for this purchase right now? If your answer is no, then don’t make the purchase.
If your answer is yes, go ahead and buy it – but here is the next step: Later that day, or certainly by the next morning, go online and pay off your credit card. Don’t wait until the statement arrives. I guarantee that if you follow this discipline, you will never have any credit card debt.
Lines of credit offered by financial institutions are great – for them, not you. Lines of credit are demand notes that are 100% in the financial institutions’ favor. A demand note means that at any time, with no reason needed, payment of the balance can be “demanded” to be paid back immediately – not over time. It is when you are most vulnerable, maybe due to the loss of a job, that the financial institution will demand payment.
Lines of credit should be avoided, as Scripture is very clear about unnecessary debt. (Proverbs 22:26-27)
The Discipline of Maintaining an Income/Expense Statement
The third discipline is maintaining a monthly income/expense statement. Whether it’s an electronic spreadsheet or pad of paper, list all your expenses. At the bottom, add an income line with your take-home pay. Every time you purchase an item, add it to whichever line of your expense listings so that it deducts the same amount from your income.
Do this daily or every other day. As it accumulates, you will be amazed at how much money you spend on items, and every day you will be able to see how much money is left for the month. Stop spending when the balance is at zero.
If you are already in debt, struggling to pay it off, or just can’t do it, set aside your pride and get help. Talk to people close to you or seek professional help, but don’t wait. The problem will not go away and will probably get worse over time.
These disciplines will work for you if you follow them in both bad and good times. I know, because I have applied these for almost ten years now. And the rewards are incredible: No stress about money, peace of mind, a better marriage, more ability to be financially generous, and the ability to pursue a godly life. (Hebrews 12:1-2)