Honoring God With Our Money: Practical Money-Management Tips (Part 3)

This week’s lesson on honoring God with money focused on practical money-management tips.  These ideas have been culled from books, magazine articles, and internet sites, including Crown Financial Ministries and Christian Financial Concepts.

Today’s tips focus on ways to save on vacations and recreation, gift-giving, as well as general savings tips.

StaycationSaving on Vacations and Recreation:

  1. Take a stay-cation.  Take days trips to sites of interest in your general locale, go on picnics, visit museums, etc.
  2. Consider a camping vacation to avoid motel and food expenses. Christian friends can pool the expenses of camping items.
  3. Use Netflix or Redbox instead of going to the movies.  Also, saves on popcorn and soda.
  4. Have family games nights.
  5. To reduce expenses and increase fellowship, consider taking vacation trips with two or more families
  6. If flying, use the least expensive coach fare (i.e., late night or early morning usually saves 10 percent to 20 percent).
  7. Check out books and movies from the library.

Ways to Save on Gift-Giving:

  1. Shop ahead for birthdays and anniversaries.  Look for sales.
  2. Make gifts.  Learn new skills, such as sewing and knitting.
  3. If your family is large, draw names.  Or only buy Christmas gifts for young children and immediate family members.
  4. Help children earn money to shop for gifts.
  5. Consider sending cards rather than gifts.

 Saving money

General:

  1. Look for things you need on Craigslist.
  2. Take unwanted items to consignment stores.
  3. Have ‘planned’ leftovers for lunches and dinners on busy nights.
  4. Use your curtains and/or blinds to hold in heat in the winter and keep out heat in the summer.
  5. Wash clothes in cool or cold water.  Washing in cold water rather than hot water saves 60 cents per load.
  6. Don’t buy bottled water or $3 cups of coffee.
  7. Hang clothes out to dry.
  8. Cut out or reduce cable expenses. 
  9. Reduce cell phone expenses. Consider eliminating your land line.
  10. Down pay for music downloads—burn CDs at the library
  11. Eliminate magazine subscriptions and look for articles online.
  12. Dishwashers save more water than hand washing dishes.
  13. Take reusable bags when you go shopping.
  14. Reduce, reuse, and recycle.
  15. Frame your own photos and art work to hang on the wall.
  16. When ordering online, look for free shipping.
  17. Don’t spend change. Put it in a jar and cash it in at the end of the year.
  18. Put half of birthday money/gifts in savings.

Will your family be taking a ‘stay-cation’ this year?  What fun activities do you have planned?

What other tips do you have for saving money?

Honoring God With Our Money: Steps to Budgets That Work

Steps to Budgets That Work

The information below is adapted from Larry Burkett’s book Family Budgets That Work.

1)      Include periodic debt (quarterly insurance premiums, annual HOA fees, etc) in your budget.  Set aside a fixed amount each month so that you have the money available when it’s time to pay these irregularly occurring bills.

2)      Set aside amounts to replace furniture, appliances, and fixtures that wear out over time and for replacing automobiles.  This can be included in your savings account, although you don’t want to dip into emergency savings for these items.

3)      Set aside money for family vacations and recreation.  If possible, budget 6% of your income for recreation and leisure.  If you don’t have room in your budget for a nice vacation, consider inexpensive options such as camping and stay-cations.

4)      Control impulse spending.  Make a ‘rule’ to wait at least 24 hours before buying items that you weren’t specifically shopping for.  Often the desire to purchase the item will go away once you have left the store.  If you decide you really want and/or need the item, purchase it only if (1) it fits into your budget and (2) you have the money to pay for it.

5)      Plan for gift-giving.  Set aside money each month for Christmas and birthday gifts.

6)      Watch miscellaneous spending.  Miscellaneous spending is a problem area for most families.  Track all of your cash spending for a month to determine what your problem areas are and then make a plan to deal with the problem areas.

7)      The bookkeeper should be the partner who is best at it, but spouses should work together to establish and maintain the budget.

8)      Develop a good system of keeping records.  Some people prefer the envelope method–put the budgeted amount of cash in an envelope at the beginning of the month and spend only the money in the env elope. Other people use Quickbooks, an Excel, or phone apps to track spending.

9)      Get out of debt.  Pay off debts with highest interest first, while making at least the minimum payment on all debts.  Once the highest-interest debt is paid off, apply that money to the next highest-interest debt, etc.

10)  Commit to using at least 50% of any “windfalls” to paying off debt.  The remainder of any windfalls should be used to meet shortages in other areas, including clothing and leisure.

11)  Set family goals. If your children are old enough, include them in your budget discussions. You will be starting them on the road to good financial management and they will better understand why you cannot always buy them the things they want.  Goals should include:

  1. Trust in God to supply your needs
  2. Save money regularly
  3. Family sharing time
  4. Husband and wife time
  5. Ministry to other people

Honoring God With Our Money: Creating a Budget

Financial Principles to Consider in Creating a Budget

The information below is adapted from Larry Burkett’s book Family Budgets That Work.

1)      Use a written plan.  A written plan helps keep you on track and provides a reference for you.  Adjust your budget as your income and/or expenses change.

2)      Provide for God’s work from the first part of your income.  God enables us to work and provide for our families.  All of our income truly belongs to God.  He asks for only a small portion of it back.

3)      Limit your use of credit.  Avoid using credit cards to purchase items you cannot afford.  Use credit only for large-ticket items that fit into your budget.

4)      Before buying new items, ask:

  1. Is it necessary?
  2. Is it the best buy?
  3. Is it an impulse purchase?

5)     Save regularly, even if it is only a small amount.  Setting aside even $10 or $20 per paycheck gets you in the habit of savings.  Increase savings as your budget allows until you can save 5% of your income.

6)      Set your own goals with your family.  No one else’s budget will work for you.  And your budget will not work for your family if one partner dictates the budget without input from the other spouse.  Work together as team.

7)      Get out of debt.  Develop a plan to pay off small debts first and continue until all debts are paid off.  We will look at strategies for paying off debt in two weeks.

8)    Avoid indulgences and lavishness in your family life.  However, do include  some money for leisure and recreation in your budget.  You will not be able to stick to your budget if you never feel rewarded for all your hard work.

9)     Seek good counsel if you have a question, preferably from a Christian financial counselor.  Crown Ministries (Crown.org) provides many resources to assist you in budgeting.

10)  Stick to your plans diligently.  Make a plan you can live with and follow it.

11)  Balance your checkbook every month or more often.

12)  Use duplicate checks if possible.

13)  Have only one bookkeeper in the family.  This should be whichever spouse is better at record keeping and balancing the budget.

Honoring God With Our Money: Principles of Budgeting

In our study of how to honor God with our money, we are now entering the practical application phase.  This week we examine principles of budgeting.  In the coming weeks, we will focus on applying budget principles, practical money management tips,  living debt-free, and cultivating true wealth.

Planning the Budget

Theme Verse:

1 Timothy 6:17  “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.”

Budgeting Principles

1)      Recognize that everything belongs to God.  We are stewards of those possessions God has entrusted to us.  We have an obligation to be good and faithful stewards.

Psalm 24:1 “The earth is the _______________, and everything in it; the ____________, and all who live in it;”

Psalm 50: 9 – 12  “I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every ______________ of the forest is mine, and the ______________ on a thousand hills.  I know every bird in the ______________, and the insects in the fields are mine. If I were ______________ I would not tell you, for the ______________is mine, and all that is in it.”

2)      Tithe.  God asks us to give back the first portion of what He has given us.  The first tenth of our income should be tithed to do God’s work.

(For Scriptures on tithing, please refer to Lesson 4.)

3)      Meet the needs of your family.

I Timothy 5:8 “If anyone does not provide for his __________________, and especially his immediate _______________, he has denied the faith and is worse than an _______________.”

4)      Pay debts and obligations. 

Psalm 37:21 “The wicked _____________and do not __________, but the righteous give ____________________.”

5)      Establish short-term and long-term savings plans. 

Proverbs 21:20 “In the house of the _____________ are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man ____________all he has.”

Proverbs 6:6-8 “Go to the ant, you ____________; consider its ways and be wise!  It has no commander, o overseer or ruler, yet it stores its _______________ in summer and gathers its ______________ at harvest.”

6)      Set aside money for recreation and leisure.

 

 7)      Give money to charitable causes.

Proverbs 22:9 “A __________________man will himself be blessed, for he shares his _____________ with the __________.”