As the new year rolled in, many blogs I read shared goals and resolutions for 2012. For many, the New Year brings a time of refreshment, refocusing and sweet new mercies of grace given by our Heavenly Father. Yet even with my yearning to start anew, make my pretty lists, and attack them with fervor, I’m already exhausted. Ladies, it’s only the middle of January, so that is not a great start.
I crave His promises that are new every, single morning and I’m convinced He calls me to take simple steps of renewal.
The opening declaration from the late Jonathon Edward’s seventy resolutions has been one I claim as my own.
“Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat Him by His grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to His will, for Christ’s sake.”
This is my heart felt desire, and so I’m breaking my goals into bite size pieces because the Lord knows that this “Type Z” personality needs to take baby steps in those areas which I struggle.
As we share accountability goals within the Body of Christ, a marvelous sense of encouragement occurs. While I turn to my uber-organized friends for wisdom with my de-cluttering challenges, they turn to me for discernment in the area of finances.
Walking along side other women and encouraging them to steward their resources well has become a calling on my life. The thousands of books written don’t begin to cover all aspects of personal finance, therefore I can’t do so with just “five simple ways,” but I’m going back to my goal of chewing off bite size pieces, and maybe just one of these five morsels will encourage you.
Pray and Search the Scripture
Our family has walked through seasons of plenty and of want, and He has proven faithful through the most difficult of financial circumstances.
Yet sometimes in the midst of financial disarray, it’s so challenging to see past the mountain of regret for financial choices or circumstances in which we are placed. During our year of unemployment, my desire was to choose joy and fully embrace all that He was teaching me during those really trying times, but sometimes it just dragged on and on. I didn’t understand why it had to be such a long drought, but He knew.
He knew, and this small financial blip in our lives didn’t take Him by surprise. I knew that His promises remained the same. He was the same; yesterday, today and forever.
With over 800 scriptures on the area of money and finances, more than any other one area in the Word, God wants to speak to your area of need directly. I can’t begin to know what that is, but He does.
He desires you to live in freedom from the bondage of debt, to understand the difference between needs vs. wants and know that He always supplies our needs. Blessings pour out during seasons like this, as we seek Him to peel back the layers of vision.
Philippians 4:11-13: For I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances may be. I know now how to live when things are difficult and I know how to live when things are prosperous.
Contentment brings peace.
Plan a Family Meeting; Seek a Mentor
Whether you are in the midst of financial uncertainty or just haven’t communicated on the subject of your own family finances for awhile, I encourage everyone to plan a family meeting. Openly talking about money is often difficult for spouses, yet marriage is a partnership and both parties need to be involved in the process.
Statistically, financial problems are stated as the number one reason marriages end in divorce. Marriage is difficult, even when finances aren’t an issue, so add money stress and lack of communication to day to day challenges and slowly the unified front begins to dissolve.
If you aren’t on the same page financially or are struggling with debt, seek out a Godly financial mentor. Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University is offered in churches throughout the country, and I highly recommend their 13 week life changing program.
Make a Budget: Track Family Spending
Yes, I mentioned I am a Type Z, free spirit kind of gal. One would think I’d run from something that seems so confining as The Dreaded “B” Word of Budgeting, yet there’s real freedom in “telling your money where to go, instead of wondering where it went.” (John Maxwell)
For the last few years, I’ve claimed the word “intentional” in my bio. For many of us, our desire is to be intentional with our time, intentional with our family, and intentional with our choices, so why wouldn’t we be intentional with our dollars? Spend money with purpose and intention.
Give Every Dollar a Job in your budgeting. Dollars are told what to do, and every dollar in our budget needs to have a task. There’s additional freedom in understanding and figuring out what that means for your family finances. It takes time to get it to work for you, but when it does, true financial freedom waits. Yes, I love the word free!
Spend Less Than You Make
That’s the whole premise for saving money.
Why does this sound so simplistic, yet for many, it can be the hardest principle to implement?
I live an 80% off lifestyle. Living an 80% off lifestyle means I save where I choose, so that I can spend and give more generously where I want. This means that I shop thrift as a lifestyle. I dress Frugal Fashionsta style (designer clothes, but all second hand) and decorate with a flare for turning trash to treasure.
While this frugal lifestyle works for me, it doesn’t work, nor is it necessary, for everyone. It’s just another option in refocusing our finances to spend less than we make.
You may need to implement tough love in your finances in order to achieve this step. If you struggle with consumer debt and over spending, it may mean cutting up your credit cards and only paying cash. If you feel as if have already cut all your expenses, then brainstorming an additional money stream to raise your income a bit may be necessary.
Give It To Him
I’ve learned to hold my finances loosely and release it all to Him. Through difficult life lessons, I’ve realized that I can make a budget, communicate with my husband openly about finances, track my spending, live below my means, give generously, and yet still experience harsh, financial uncertainty.
We are merely managers of the resources the Lord has given us. I still strive towards financial preparedness and stewarding my resources well, but ultimately, it is all His.
We own nothing. The house, the portfolio, the paychecks, He owns it all.
Ultimately, this is the most crucial way to refocus our finances: towards Him..
How can our finances bring Him glory?
Many of you reading this right now are overwhelmed with your finances, and even attempting a small baby step feels like too much. Know that you are not alone, others have been there, and we’d love to pray with you.
Some of you are just beginning to set a plan in motion for refocusing your finances for 2012 and sharing your goals in written form would encourage others.
I look forward to sharing a bit of life with you in the comments.
Jen Schmidt, just a frugal, thrifting, yard sale loving daughter of the King writes at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam.