We need to do our part as God has called us to be good stewards.
One of the first things I do every morning is weigh myself. My response is either, Yay or UGH! I know what you’re thinking; I’m obsessing. Many weight management gurus say it’s not good to weigh yourself every day, but it works for me. Wait, What? This isn’t supposed to be a weight management article. It’s supposed to be about money management. Well, it is. However, there are many similarities in both categories. For example, you need to eat less and exercise more to lose weight, right? Well, you need to spend less and make more to get your finances under control. One thing is for sure, you need to track your money in order to manage it. After you know what you have, you can better manage it.
Track Your Money—So, how much money do you have? It’s important to know in order to manage well. List where your money comes from and goes. First, you will want to list your income: checking accounts, savings accounts, investments. Just like the chorus, “Count your many blessings, name them one, by one … see what God has done.” Second, make a list of your fixed expenses: tithe, credit card payment, car payment, mortgage or rent, insurance, taxes, utilities, medical expenses and food (not eating out). Then make a list of your discretionary expenses, those that can fluctuate over the months. These would include eating out, clothing, gifts and entertainment. Track these for a few months to get a feel for what you spend on an average basis. After you know what’s coming in and going out, it’s easier to pinpoint where you can cut expenses. The alternative is to add extra income.
SPEND LESS—Some might say, that’s easier said than done. That may be true, but it goes to motivation. Here are a few suggestions to help get you started. There are certainly more ways than these. This is just a short list:
- Avoid emotional spending—Some people eat cookies when they’re feeling down or discouraged. Some people go shopping. Buying new things can make you feel happy; new clothes can make you feel pretty. Trust me, it’s only temporary, and it’s a vicious cycle. You feel discouraged about your finances, so you go to the mall to lift your spirits. However, you leave further in debt, which will only lead to further discouragement. Don’t eat the cookie or go shopping; go for a walk instead.
- Identify want vs. need—This should be easy, but most people can rationalize any purchase as a need without trying too hard. The truth is, I only need a car to get me from point A to point B. I really don’t “need” all the bells and whistles of a new car. They are wonderful to have, and you can indulge if your budget allows. However, they are not needed. Transportation, shelter, clothing and food are all needs. Those things desired are wants. All this to say, evaluate the primary need. If you cannot afford the bells and whistles, settle for the basics. Upgrade when you have the funds.
- Cut up the credit cards—Don’t buy it if you don’t have the money. Many financial advisors will differ with me. They will say it’s important to build credit and I agree. However, if your finances are out of balance and you cannot resist the temptation of buying, credit cards are a danger to you. You won’t be building your credit; you will be destroying it. This is not easy! Let me say it again … this is NOT easy! Remember, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender” (Pro. 22:7). I suggest paying off the credit card with the lowest balance first. This brings the quickest gratification, which will motivate you to keep going. However, you may want to deal with the accounts with the highest interest, as the interest can significantly add to the total amount that you owe.
Make More—As mentioned, you may need to add income if there’s no way to cut any of your expenses.
- Side Hustle – The side hustle could be anything from a traditional part–time job to completing surveys online for cash. There are many ways to make extra cash. I would suggest researching the pros and cons of each online opportunity and be weary of those that claim to provide high income. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. The following are just some examples: complete surveys, drive for a ride–hailing company, deliver food through a restaurant delivery service, write and sell an eBook, sell photos online, tutor online or in your home, make and sell crafts or baked goods online or dog walking. I caution you again; research before jumping into any project.
- Sell Things—Declutter and have a yard sale. You can also sell your stuff on an online auction site or other online marketplaces. Just look around at what you’re not using: clothing, china, bric–a–brac, old books and video games. They could be cash in your pocket.
- Flip—Buy low at flea markets or thrift stores. If it’s at the curb, it’s free! Fix it up and resell.
- Invest—It’s very easy now to invest online, and some sites don’t charge commission. This can be scary to many, so seek help if you need it.
- Rent space – Rent out a spare room or your house while you’re on vacation.
Weight management is necessary for a healthy lifestyle. This also stands true for money management. A healthy fiscal lifestyle calls for controls, tracking and adjustments to reach the goal.
We need to do our part as God has called us to be good stewards. Let me just conclude by saying:
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”
(Philippians 4:19 NIV)