All of us, Christians included, run into money problems from time to time, and would love a practical, effective way to keep our finances on track. While emergencies do come up, the key is to make sure that you have more than you need to handle household expenses on a daily basis. And, whether or not you’re a devout Christian, many of the financial principles found in the Bible can make a big difference in the way you spend-and save-your money. Here are some financial guidelines that every Christian household should put into practice.
When you realize that the money you earn is not only to be used for your own selfish purposes, you’ll learn to be much more giving in other aspects of your life. Stewardship is mentioned many times in the Bible as a way for Christians to learn to help those who are less fortunate, as well as keep the work of the church going.*Christians believe that God deserves to be in control of the ways we spend our money, since working and paying for things are indeed a part of life, and God should be in every part of Christian life. For this reasons, the principle of tithe is faithfully practiced in most Christian churches. Ten percent of each individual’s income is given to the church, in order to further ministry projects and pay clergy. By automatically taking this percentage out of your earnings to help others, you realize the importance of service, and you learn not to be so attached to money. While there’s nothing wrong with having wealth and having an organized checkbook, being a good steward helps you to put your life’s priorities in order. The practice of being a steward also helps you decide what to spend your money on on a daily basis; for instance, when you know it would be wiser to save money than to spend on something you don’t really need, you’ll be more likely to follow through on this decision if you’ve been practicing good stewardship. Stewardship teaches you that money is not all there is to life-when you realize this, you won’t let the pressures of your job get to you as quickly, and you’ll be more likely to make time for friends, family, worship, and even yourself when you truly understand this.
Practice being both spiritual and practical when it comes to your finances.
As a Christian, it should be a way of life to ask God for direction in every aspect of life, finances included. However, the old saying “God helps those who help themselves” is very true-especially when it comes to money. The Bible advises against taking out an extensive amount of loans, as well as spending more than you actually earn.* To help organize your finances, set up a financial file for yourself. Gather all your records, including Social Security information with an estimate of your financial benefits. Make sure that you have all copies of your insurance policies (i.e. home, life, and vehicle), and make sure that you include a copy or two or your credit report in your file, so that you know what items to work on, as well as the positive qualities of your credit. Figure out the value of all your assets, and keep this estimate in your file with your other important documents. Then figure out your liabilities, like your credit card payments, house mortgage, and any other outstanding debt you may have. Subtract your liabilities from your assets to figure out your net worth. This will give you a clear picture of the things you’ll want to work on in your credit in order to make sure your net worth and property values are as high as they can possibly be.
You should also make a list of all the things you spend money on each month, and subtract that from your income, so that you know exactly how much money you’re actually saving each month. This list will help you to determine how many things you spend money on that are necessities, and how much money can be saved each month to help you reach your long and short term financial goals. Talk with your family about setting aside a certain amount each month to save, as well as ways that each family member can contribute to the family’s overall financial health. You should also be sure to pay your bills on time as much as possible, and read the billing statements each time you receive them. It’s perfectly Biblical not only to pay your debts, but to pay them in the time that you promise. *Many times, the conditions of a loan or credit card may change without advance notice, and you need to be aware of these changes in order to avoid additional charges and late fees.
Understand that God entrusts wealth to those who are faithful.
Now, this does not mean that Christians are the only people in the world who are rich, or that God only blesses people with wealth who are good with money. It means that God will give wealth to people who are faithful-some are faithful in their work and eventually accrue wealth, and some are faithful to God in ministry and service. Of course, as a Christian, one should indeed strive to be faithful in both of these areas. This principle proves that if you work hard enough at something for long enough, good things are bound to happen. ‘Faithful’ also means that God will help individuals to maintain their wealth once they achieve it if they are faithful in their commitments to Him, and faithful in the ways methods they used to attain wealth. Christians are also commanded to give to those who are in need; it’s not just a great idea, or something to do when you feel like it. Being faithful means continuing to work hard, and not becoming content or conceited about having money-these are great ways to maintain both gratitude and financial security.
*Financial principles found in Proverbs 24:27, Proverbs 22:3, Proverbs 27:23, and Haggai 2:8.