The Beauty and Blessing of a Spending Plan (Budget)

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Elder Charles Sanders SWRGC Stewardship Director

Can you name a Fortune 500 company that doesn’t have a budget? – there aren’t any. Successful businesses around the world have one thing in common: they budget their money.  If companies need a budget, what about a family household?

Remember, Jesus mentioned a basic—but critically important—financial principle in Luke 14:28:  For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it.

From the research conducted by the U.S. Department of Commerce, it appears that the overwhelming majority of Americans does not have a budget; nor do they build and adhere to a personal spending plan based on their budget.  After all, a budget is only important if we use it to regulate our spending.
Start with Your Bills

Many people complain that they can’t create a budget because they don’t know exactly how much money they will earn in a given week. Instead of focusing on whether you earn enough, focus on your monthly spending. The real question is simple: where does your money go? Regardless of how much you earn, everybody has budget priorities, such as the following:

Essential Expenses:

  • Tithe and Offering
  • Mortgage payments or rent
  • Transportation (car payment, gasoline, train or bus pass, etc.)
  • Utilities
  • Food
  • Insurance
  • Savings

Your fixed expenses must be less than your monthly income, but you will never know for sure that they are, unless you adhere to a strict budget.  Otherwise, we end up in debt, robbing Peter to pay Paul, and feeling like we are on a never-ending cycle of financial shortfalls.

Beyond the Basics:
Once you have the essential expenses covered, it’s time to plan for the discretionary expenses—those that can be added to or taken from the budget based on how much money is left over after covering your essentials.  Examples of discretionary expenses, many of which unknowingly blow our budget out of the water, are:

  • Birthdays presents
  • Holiday gifts
  • Gym membership
  • Pet care
  • Haircuts
  • Clothes
  • Vacations
  • Entertainment

These are not fixed expenses because they can vary from month to month. They are also discretionary because if you don’t have the money to cover these expenses, they can—and should—be eliminated from your spending plan.  If there is no money to spend on outside entertainment or vacation getaways, you enjoy some simple entertainment at home and do a “staycation” instead. Part of taking control of your money is learning how to exercise some discipline in your spending habits.

There are usually three reasons why people get into financial difficulties: (1) ignorance (2) greed/selfishness, and (3) unexpected or unfortunate tragedy. A spending plan will help to position and direct the flow of money, identify areas of overspending, and help a family be intentional in their spending.

As a steward, God’s blessings and provisions work best when we communicate and administer the spending plan under His direction.  Let’s get back to basics and put a moratorium on non-essential expenses.  And remember, spending problems are spiritual problems.

 

By Elder Charles Sanders, SWRGC Stewardship Director

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