By Michelle S. Lazurek, Crosswalk.com
There are many verses in the Bible about money. There are more verses about money than about heaven and hell combined. Jesus cares about every area of our lives, including money. As with any area of our lives, we need to exercise self-control and be good stewards of what God has given us. A budget can undoubtedly help us to exercise self-control and be good stewards. Here are some reasons why we should be encouraged to create a budget:
First, it cultivates a gift of the holy spirit. Self-control, a fruit of the spirit, is an area that can quickly get out of control if we're not careful. We can lose control in any area of our lives: our marriages, family, and relationships are all areas that can get out of control if not held accountable. Why would it be any different with money? Galatians 5 tells us the gifts of the spirit, including self-control: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."
Budgeting harnesses our tendency to overspend and allows us to measure areas in which we're spending too much or too little. By keeping a budget, we learn restraint and, in essence, self-control.
Second, budgeting allows us to save for important purchases. It is easy to pay the bills and spend whatever is left. But what about that home, car repair, or other areas in which we may have to use money allocated towards those issues? Budgeting gives us peace of mind to know we have put aside money for life's tough circumstances and still have enough to buy the things we want.
Third, it allows us to be good stewards of what God has given us. Matthew 25:23 says, "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!" Whatever God tasks us with, we are to be good stewards. This means people saving and spending money in a way that allows provision for the family but also allows saving for future repairs and problems we may face and saving for a special something we want to have. If God allows us extra money to spend on things like a car or additional luxuries, then we can do that. We should never let our desire for possessions cloud our judgment when spending and saving money. It is not only feasible to make sure all the bills are paid, but it's also feasible to get that special position if you learn to spend money wisely. Budgeting does that.
Fourth, it allows us to count the cost. Everything in our lives takes risk. If we buy a home, we risk having major repairs that can put a dent in our savings or, worse, cause a considerable amount of debt. God does not want us to have debt if we can help it. However, our current economy lends itself to having debt, but it's not God's will for his people. When people are in debt, they become enslaved to money. They must make enough money to pay off the debt or risk losing important things in their lives. God wants us to avoid debt at all costs so we can be used by him freely if he calls us to something much larger than ourselves. We need to count the cost when it comes to any purchase, including cars and homes. It does not mean God doesn't want us to have these things but instead allows us the opportunity to save for repairs, insurance, and other areas and enjoy life's treasures as well.
Fifth, creating a budget helps us limit our expectations. In any budget, there will be home bills, utilities, etc., that we will have to pay. However, we may have some wiggle room if we can pay off our debt early to enjoy the pleasures in life. Budget line items can include a tithe that should be part of giving to the church. Other line items should consist of things like grooming, haircuts, nails, etc. You can also include line items such as vacations, insurance, and other overlooked areas. It's never a good idea to wait until the day of to pay a bill. It is important to write all your bills down and know exactly when money should be allocated each month.
Sixth, having a budget is good because it helps us see exactly how much money is left over at the end of each month. Seeing how little you save at the end of the day can be sobering. However, budgets can also include things like savings so that we know we are saving as well as spending. Budgets help us determine whether we're spending too much or too little. For example, if you are looking at a house way out of your price range, don't expect your other bills won't suffer. Try to find a home that's more in your range. This will give you financial freedom, as you can still keep the house and own a piece of property and enjoy the blessing a home gives you without worrying about excessive amounts of debt. Budgets also help us figure out how much insurance we need (or want) and what types of insurance and interest rates are for our bigger items. If we know we're only saving $100 per paycheck each month, we need to figure out if we spent too much on the mortgage, gas, etc. When we find we're spending too much in any area, we can seek to cut that number so that we're spending less. Spending too much and leaving little left over can cause great panic, worry, sleepless nights, and poor appetites. Spend what you can rather than what you want, and God may increase your income to something more significant in the future. By honoring God with your money, you will, in turn, honor you for having a budget.
Seventh, having a budget is essential because it not only teaches you financial responsibility but also teaches your children. Teach your children how to have a budget from early on. This is especially important when they get their first job. Teens may seem like they have a lot of money because they don't have a lot of expenses. But knowing that each dollar they make must go into a specific category will help them figure out that life and financial needs get bigger as they grow. Teaching to use a budget early can help foresee and potentially stop issues with debt from happening.
Budgets make good financial sense for many people. Every church or organization that doesn't have a yearly budget. Any successful organization has a budget and can look at those numbers soberly to figure out what needs to go so that they can continue to make a profit. If we yearn to be good stewards of God's money, we will follow a budget. Commit to reviewing the budget every six months to ensure your finances are on track. Although we cannot foresee every situation to come, we know that God trusts those who are faithful and use his money wisely.
Michelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website www.michellelazurek.