Many of us bury our heads in the sand when it comes to budgeting and money management. We find it challenging to devote the time and effort needed to handle our money well. The start of 2022 was supposed to be a little easier, yet we seem to be surrounded by even more uncertainty.
As difficult as it is, we need to take a realistic look at our finances. But in this ever-changing environment, what is the best way to prepare and plan? How do we discern whose advice we should listen to?
To answer this and more, Alex Cook from ‘Wealth with Purpose’ joined us on 20Twenty to share his thoughts. Alex gave us his top tips on how we can prepare spiritually, and look to God for direction when it comes to our finances.
One observation most of us have made over the last two years is that the world is becoming increasingly chaotic. Covid has caused more uncertainty, instability, political unrest and division than any other issue in recent times. As Christians, we need to look to God for our hope and salvation, but also for our direction.
The start of a year is a great chance to have a reset. When it comes to our finances, we have to be honest. We need to repent of certain things like stinginess, overspending and maybe even fear. Repent as a biblical word means to turn around; to go the other way. It’s a great principle to consider when changing direction with your finances.
“I really want to challenge people to adjust their focus to a kingdom focus,” says Alex. “We are here to build God’s kingdom. It’s so important to reconnect with God and to realise that God is above all these circumstances. God’s not surprised and He’s completely in control. We should be excited by that.”
Alex believes one of the biggest problems we face is greed. It’s something we often see very easily in others, but not in ourselves. When we look more broadly at Australian society, we see the obsession with things like homeownership and material possessions. We are very much a society driven by greed.
“Be honest with yourself,” says Alex. “Whether it’s buying the latest phone, upgrading your house or planning your retirement. Often people’s aspirations around retirement are pleasure-related. What’s lost though, is that perspective of running our race for Jesus until the very end. That is a critical thing.”
One of the key factors in managing our finances is to set some goals. Alex recommends working towards getting out of debt. With the possibility of interest rates rising again soon, we need to have a clear debt plan. Having an emergency fund with six months’ worth of living expenses is a great place to start.
“That sounds like a lot of money,” says Alex. “But just start with a thousand dollars and keep adding to it. Build up to six months over time. It doesn’t have to be an overnight thing. Keep working towards having that buffer in place, and set some savings goals.”
Having a kingdom focus on our finances also gives us the chance to revisit our giving. There’s a faith step in this to increase our generosity. In a chaotic world like this, we desperately need to win people for Jesus. And that will involve us being generous and sacrificial.
“Look at your budget and say, what am I willing to give up for God?” Alex says. “What am I going to sow into instead? Decide to live a generous life. That is one practical thing we can look at and review at the beginning of a new year.”
Both local and global factors affect our finances, but Alex says being prepared will help us not to fear. Trying to predict the future is fraught with danger, but we can certainly look out for warning signs.
“I honestly think that despite all the crazy things going on, it’s such an opportunity for the church to rise up,” Alex says.