By: Alex Cook
If we’re honest, most people struggle with money at some point in their life, whether it’s learning the basics, getting ahead, saving for retirement, avoiding or getting out of debt and even spiritual challenges such as wrongly getting our identity from what we own. Once we get married, these challenges can multiply as our human nature can often lead us in different directions.
But there is great news. It often surprises people to discover that there are approximately 2350 verses in the Bible on money, wealth and possessions. Put simply, the bible is rich with wisdom that we can apply to our financial situation. Let me share a few tips with you that are based on God’s word.
Involve God – the starting point for our finances should be involving God in our thinking and decision making. Spend time in prayer asking for God’s wisdom (see James 1:5). God loves to share his divine wisdom with us so that we can make good decisions. In addition, acknowledge God as the true owner of our finances with us as his stewards (see Psalm 24:1). Commit to God to be faithful with what he has put in your hands, be it large or small.
Set Goals – you may have heard the saying “if you aim for nothing, you will definitely get there”. Funny, but true. Goals are about focusing you on what needs to be done. Your goals, can encompass savings goals, debt goals, estate goals, giving goals and much more. The main issue is that you have a clear set of goals that you can work towards. You need a goal as well as an action plan to achieve it.
Lay the right foundations – contrary to popular belief, money is not complicated. You just need to have a few basic foundations in place to ensure your family doesn’t get knocked over when the storms come. One key foundation is having a spending plan, often referred to as a budget. Put simply, to get ahead, you need to spend less than you earn. I like to call this living beneath your means. You also need to have the appropriate insurances in place so that when the unexpected occurs your family is not thrown into financial chaos. We can’t control what may happen to us, but we can lay foundations to limit the problems that can come these events.
Save 10% – many of us find saving a challenge. I encourage people to save 10% of their net income. This enables you to build your asset base and save towards long-term goals, such as retirement. As saving can be difficult, it should be automated. Say for example your employer pays your income on 15th of every month. Set up a bank direct debit, to sweep 10% of your income out of your account into a high interest online account. Make your savings out of sight, out of mind, to avoid consuming it. Ideally in a different bank altogether.
Focus on Eternity – it is true to say life is short. It is very easy to be distracted by what’s in front of us, and what others are doing, rather than what is truly important. As Christians we’re called to fulfill the great commission, to go and make disciples of the nations. We’re also called to help the poor. There are so many ways we can use our finances to fund kingdom activities that yield eternal results. Wise stewardship involves sowing our finances into things that build God’s kingdom. There is also a promise from God that goes with that (see Matt 6:33), when we put God’s kingdom first, he’ll take care of us.
My prayer for you is that when you enter eternity you be rewarded for your stewardship and you will hear the words ‘well done, good and faithful servant’.