King Solomon writes in Proverbs, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18) This quote is exceedingly true regarding our finances. Without a vision for managing our money, we quickly find ourselves out of control and overwhelmed by debt.
Financial peace in your home can be found through setting goals, establishing a plan, and following through.
What do you want to do with your money this year? Do you want to be less in debt at the end of 2012 than you are now? Would you like to be able to take a stress-free trip with your family this summer? Would you like to begin tithing to your church?
Each year, between Christmas and the New Year, I pull out a piece of paper and begin to dream about how I will manage our money in the New Year. I start with how much I want to give (15%), and then I look at how much I would like to save (10%). I also consider the various ways I want to save (IRA, cash, car fund, vacation fund, emergency fund, and other investments). After I have considered my giving and saving goals, I begin to look at the other areas of my finances. I consider my current bills and then set goals for managing my car and home loans.
My first financial questions always deal with what I want to accomplish.
ESTABLISHING A PLAN
Goals are useless if they do not lead us to action, and the action of financial goals is called a budget. Through a budget, I consider the resources available to me (my paycheck) in light of the needs around me (my expenses).
I begin my plan by listing the essentials, the things I will not compromise in my finances. I will not compromise my tithe. I will not compromise feeding my family and providing a home for them. From the essentials, I begin to prioritize my way through my other expenses, needs, and desires. I ask myself questions such as: How much do we need for groceries each month? What should be our limit on eating out? What is the average of my electric, gas, and phone bill each month? What are the areas where I can decrease my spending this year?
Even the best plan is of no value if I do not follow through with it. Two essential keys to accomplishing your plan are training and motivation.
We must all aspire to be life-long learners, and we must recognize there is more we can learn about managing our finances. There are countless tips, tricks, and methods that have helped families maintain their monthly budget. If you are going to accomplish more with your finances this year than you did last year, you may need to learn more about managing money than you knew last year.
We must also work to maintain our motivation. Months of financial discipline can be undone by one season of unwise decision making. Husbands and wives must be working together toward common financial goals, and they must also help one another stay on track. Motivation is also encouraged through friendships. Sharing your financial plans with trusted friends and inviting them to pray with you and check up on your progress is a tremendous tool for sticking with a financial plan.