When God looks at my checkbook, what does He think? The first thing I think about when I think about this question is a budget. How do I know if I am being a good steward in how I spend my money if I don’t know where it is going? So a budget is a perfect solution to the question where is all my money going?
If you are like me, a budget is like a diet: a four-letter word that feels like restrictions, going without, and something to rebel against. In reality, a budget is a plan for your spending. But rather than call it a budget, I now call it my List of Monthly Spending Choices. God has given us free will, and we always have a choice. Our checkbooks and calendars reflect where we put our treasures. Where have you chosen to spend your money?
I find that when I work with clients, they seem to believe that they don’t have a choice over many of their expenses. You have to pay the mortgage or rent, electricity, and car payment, etc. But in reality you always have a choice. While there are consequences to not paying your income taxes, you always have a choice. You have chosen to purchase the home you live in or rent the apartment in a specific neighborhood. You drive a car (or not) of your choosing. You eat out every night because you hate to cook. (You get the idea.) So in looking at where you spend your money, I tell my clients to “re-choose,” (This isn’t a word but in my vocabulary it means choose again) where they live, what they drive, and what they believe to be important in how they spend their money.
I met a young woman recently that has an enormous amount of credit card debt and needed help with her money. Everyday she stopped for coffee on her way to work. It wasn’t that she liked the coffee so much; it was that they had coffee available for free at work, but they didn’t have cream at work. So she bought the $3.00 coffee every day for the cream. (The extra stop also made her late for work, I might add). When she realized that she could buy a container of cream and store it at work, it saved her $60 a month, and she was also on time to work. I know this is a small thing, but it is an example of the mindless spending we do for things we really don’t care that much about.
I know that during difficult times the situation may be different, times when a job loss or illness has put you in a situation where cutting some spending isn’t very useful. I can recommend Family Means Consumer Credit Counseling Service or Lutheran Social Services in the Metro area as a resource. Visit their web sites at www.familymeans.org or www.lssmn.org for contact information.
For the rest of us, it is a good exercise to look at our List of Monthly Spending Choices from God’s perspective and see if some changes are needed. God wants to bless us, and He isn’t against having things, but He is very interested in where your heart is in these choices!
Registered representative of and securities offered through Financial Network Investment Corporation, member SIPC. Advisory services offered through AdvisorNet Financial if applicable. Financial Network is not affiliated with Kristi L Andersen Financial Partners, LLC or AdvisorNet Financial.