In our Life Hacks series, we talked about how focusing on the end (worshiping God) can bring order to the means (managing our finances). Here is a simple process for doing that with resources from Crown Financial Ministries:
Step 1: Pray
Paul in Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” The first step to to ask God for direction and help. If you’re married, you should pray about setting up a budget with your spouse. Tell God about your hopes dreams and fears. Also listen for him to give you new hope, new dreams and new boldness and faithfulness.
Step 2: Gather the Data
Now it’s time to gather some information: “what are we spending”. One of the best ways to do this is with a spending diary. You need to gather the good, the bad and the ugly.
Step 3: Pray Again
Perhaps you need that new hope right away! Perhaps you need to be challenged. Whatever the case remember that our goal is not just to make the numbers work, but to put them to work for Jesus.
Step 4: Put Together a Spending Plan
God has entrusted you with some of his wealth. You’re going to spend it (that’s the point). What will you spend it on (that’s the question)? Use your spending diary to populate a budget worksheet. If you need help figuring out what goes into each category (as well as spotting expenses that didn’t show up in the diary like annual expenses) use the Crown Financial Ministries Income and Expense Form. As you work to formulate your new budget you may want to consult the Family Guides. Remember that if you’re preparing a budget for a family, the family should be involved – especially your spouse.
Step 5: Commitment
Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established (Proverbs 16:3 ESV). Now that you have a plan, you’ll need to carry it out. On the spiritual front, you’ll want to commit it to God. On the practical front, you’ll need to know how you will implement the plan. You could use physical envelopes to organize cash. You may want to keep using the spending diary. You can use an Excel spreadsheet. You can also take advantage of apps such as Mint or Mvelopes. Additionally, think about telling someone at church about your commitment. They don’t need to know the dollars and cents, but that you are committing to a budget. Give them the freedom to check in with you to see how you’re doing. When they do, be honest. We’re all in this together.