I recently had an opportunity to give a testimony and speech to several small groups at my church about God’s purpose for money. Part of the speech provided an opportunity for me to share some of the things Jennifer and I are doing to try to manage money God’s way and I thought I would share them in today’s post.
We learned about biblical financial stewardship years ago when we took the Crown Small Group Study. This created a desire to manage our finances in a way that’s pleasing to God. While our financial situation is far from perfect and sometimes probably not very pleasing, we’re doing our best to learn to manage our money wisely. Here are a few things we are trying to do to grow as faithful financial stewards and mange money God’s way -
True Financial Freedom – We want to be financially free to serve and give. We believe God’s purpose for money is to use it as a resource to grow his ministry and help others follow Christ. Therefore we want to make sure we’re always working to become debt free and that we don’t have too much debt or leverage in our lives. As an example, we’re trying to minimize car payments by driving used cars and trying to drive them for several years after they’ve been paid off. In addition, we’re trying to make sure we don’t exceed a mortgage (including taxes and insurance) of 25% of take home pay. This hasn’t always been the case and we found it challenging when our home exceeded 25%. Doing these practical things have provided more freedom and we’ve found we have more money for important priorities such as giving and saving.
Manage our Money as One – We manage our money together as husband and wife. We definitely know we’re on this journey together and want to help each other grow as stewards and in our relationship with God. Therefore, we have one checking and one savings account which all the money goes into and we manage them together. We do allow for each other to have our own spending money, but this is tracked in the budget. We believe we became one in marriage and our finances should be one too!
Communicate about Money - We try to communicate about money regularly by budgeting together and setting our financial goals together. We’ve found that we tend to overspend when we don’t take a few minutes to talk about our budget regularly. We try to set aside time each week for a “money meeting”. We talk about all of our upcoming expenses and how we’re going to manage them. Additionally, having a money meeting helps us avoid talking about money at the dinner table or during date night!
Financial Goals – The money meeting also provides and opportunity to set and review financial goals together. We talk about our financial goals such as saving and when called to give more in certain situations. We definitely want to make sure we have enough cash saved to help us avoid emergencies that often present themselves. Dave Ramsey calls this “Murphy.” What can go wrong, will go wrong! We remind each other of these goals to make sure we’re not forgetting them and getting off track throughout the year. This provides good accountability for both of us.
Giving – We make sure we’re giving our first fruits to the Lord each month out of faith and love for Him. We choose to tithe on our gross income because we believe this is God’s money and we’re giving it back to Him for His purposes. Tithing is no longer a question for us and is something we our pleased to do as stewards. Money may be tight one month because of unforeseen expenses, but we give no matter what. We believe God will provide for us and meet our needs if we honor him first.
As it relates to giving, I will tell you this wasn’t always an easy decision for us. It wasn’t until I started my training as a volunteer Money Map Coach with Crown that I became completely convicted about giving. I felt God was laying on my heart that we could do more and give at least 10% of our income each month. We had reasoned we couldn’t afford it because of a new house and other expenses families often experience. It didn’t make sense from a budgeting standpoint either. I remember we would’ve had to cut a lot of Christmas savings to reach this amount of giving each month. My wife is the one who pushed me in this area while I had the reservations. We figured that Christmas was about Christ and that if it meant we didn’t spend as much that year all would be fine. Honoring God with our first fruits was more important so we made the decision and haven’t looked back. And we were able to have a great Christmas that year!
Avoid Chasing after the Joneses – We try not to compare ourselves to others. It’s not easy to avoid this one, but we are learning to be more content with what we have. Keeping up with the Joneses is not easy and it’s never ending. We know we’ll never catch them. The problem with entering into this race is that we know it’ may cause us to go into debt or experience discontentment. We are learning more and more to be content in what God has blessed us with and focus on managing money in a way pleasing to Him. We’ve found focusing on our finances is much easier to manage then trying to follow what everyone else is doing around us that sometimes may not be pleasing to the Lord for our family. After all, God should be the source of our contentment.
Raising Stewards – Finally, with two young children we realize it’s extremely important for us to raise little stewards. We desire our children to understand God’s purpose for money and teach them this perspective. We’re trying to help them learn to give and why it’s important to save. These are not always easy things for our children to understand because they see advertisements and sometimes desire what their friends have. They naturally want what the Joneses have, but it’s our job to teach them to be faithful stewards and find contentment in the Lord.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, we’re still learning a lot and our finances are far from perfect. However, I hope you’ve found some of this helpful and this post serves as an encouragement to manage money as a faithful financial steward.
What are some things you’re doing to manage money God’s way? Let me know in the comments.