It is rightly said that failing to plan is planning to fail. I always see God as the ultimate planner, and the Bible is replete with His plans for man. He has set clear goals for man, his redemption and his life on this earth and in eternity. He has provided us with what we need to live and reproduce. God has had a plan for each of us from the beginning.
When President Kennedy announced that America was going to land on the moon by the end of the 1960s, the whole nation was galvanised and motivated by the space race and the desire to achieve that goal. Can you remember watching athletes being interviewed after an Olympic event? While some might announce they are retiring, most tell how they wish to return and improve their performance in four years time.
Vision and dreams are powerful motivators for both nations and individuals. Add to the mix instruction and Godly wisdom from the Bible and you have all you need to achieve your Godly financial goals.
What are the key areas where you should plan? Your response to that question will be personal to you and dependent on your current situation.
1. Monthly income and expenditure
It is important to have all the information you need in order to assess your situation. If you are unsure of your actual expenditure you could spend a month or two writing down everything you spend. There are phone apps that can help with this. Do you have more income than expenditure? If not, then look at your expenditure to see where this can be reduced? What are you spending that could be stopped or reduced? Could you and should you earn more money?
Is your total debt manageable within your budget? Resolve not to allow your debt to increase one penny more. Cut your cards up if that will help. This is one form of plastic surgery that over time will improve how you feel – and maybe even how you look! Use the snowball strategy - start by repaying the smallest debt first and then when this is repaid roll over the money you pay off this debt to the next smallest debt, and so on. Keep this process in place until each and every debt is repaid including car loans, educational loans, and home mortgages.
Your mortgage If you have a mortgage and move, is it really wise for you to increase the mortgage? Perhaps you could reduce the term of the mortgage by two to five years? If the interest rate could change in less than five years, could your finances cope with an increase of just two percentage points? Why not start saving that margin to prove that you are in control of your finances?
Remember that you are never more like Jesus than when you are giving, so be generous. Is giving a priority for you? Do you give from what is left over or out of your firstfruits? “Honour the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops” (Proverbs 3:9). This is repeated in Exodus 23:19: “Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the Lord your God.” You are the steward of all that has been entrusted to you. Paul encourages us to give proportionately. Remember that a tithe is ten percent of income and that is certainly proportionate to your income. But remember also that it is not just ten percent that belongs to God – it all belongs to Him. How much are you going to give to the Lord through your church? Will you give to the poor? Do you have some money put aside so that you could give when a need arises?
Fluctuating interest rates and falls in stock markets have historically changed the forward planning of many people. Make sure you have some savings to protect your finances from being knocked off balance by the unexpected, and make a long-term commitment to saving. You could have more freedom to serve the Lord by doing this.
Record your answers to these questions and take the opportunity to write down a plan.
Where could you add a little stretch into your planning? Be real and ask God to lead you as you record what you sense are the right steps for you to take with your finances. Let Him remind you of those unfulfilled dreams you have. If you are married, share finances and decisions with your spouse. This is one of those areas where couples can share together as they seek to manage what God has given. Finally pray that you will bless God with your plan and you will be a blessing to others.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know. Remember the Lord in everything you do, and he will show you the right way. Proverbs 3:5-6