As a personal finance blogger here on Paradigm Shift and elsewhere, I hear a lot of consternation around the topic of sticking to a budget. Most people can go through the exercise of creating a budget (or a spending plan) if asked to do so, but very few people can stick to a budget. That’s alarming when we realize that only one in three American households prepare a written or computerized budget each month. If only one in three households prepare a budget regularly, then even fewer stick to a budget.
As Christians, we can’t go about life that way. When we do the diligence of writing a budget, we need to make every effort to stick to it. Written budgets are essentially written promises, and we should try to keep our promises.
This is especially true if you view personal finance or stewardship as an act of worship. For example, let’s say you tell yourself you’re going to start tithing to your local church this month and begin saving 5 percent into your 401(k) to get the company match.
What happens if it has been six months, and you still haven’t made any progress on either of those vows?
Related Post – 4 Promises For Your Excuses
In terms of the tithing promise, that’s clearly a vow to God and God’s church. In terms of the investing promise, while it appears to only be a vow to yourself, it’s actually a vow to God and God’s church too. Every promise we make is a promise before the Lord. So knowing this, we meditate on the following verse of scripture:
Deuteronomy 23:23 – If you say you’re going to do something, do it. Keep the vow you willingly vowed to God, your God. You promised it, so do it. (The Message)
When it comes to personal finance, there are three simple strategies to help begin keeping promises—cut expenses, cut complaints, and cut ties.
If our ability to tithe, save, or whatever else is de-railed by too many impulse expenses, we’ll need to reevaluate our priorities. If something is truly important (and a vow is important), then we need to make sure it’s at the top of our priority list instead of at the bottom. And if prioritization doesn’t work, then we need to begin cutting superfluous expenses.
Did you know the average person complains 30 times per day? As Jesus-people, that is a recipe for disaster and a big reason why our plans don’t go well. Put forth an attitude of gratitude, and watch how much easier promise-keeping becomes.
It’s great being able to foster friendships, but all friendships aren’t beneficial. Some friends will peer-pressure you into overspending. If that’s the case, lovingly and gingerly begin spending less time with them. And if that’s too harsh, then talk to your friends about your goals and how you’d prefer to do some less expensive social activities together. Real friends will be able to understand.