As I stated in my first post, I want this blog to be not only a spiritual encouragement, but also a tool for practical things in life as a single. Over the next few weeks, I will begin several series of practical advice; things I’ve learned either from other’s showing me or by myself. Some of these things I hope will save you time and trouble. Please, if you know more on a subject than I do, I am willing and wanting to learn as well. Most of these things I’ve had to learn in the day-to-day struggle. A few of these series will be: Dinner for 1, #Lifehacks for the Single Life, and Practical Spirituality. I will explain each one in detail when the time comes.
Today, as the title of this post indicates, is the first #lifehack for the Single Life. In my last post, I encouraged you to take advantage of the time as a single. One of the items I listed, is sometimes one of the most avoided and most hated things to do. Our finances. We try to avoid having to think too much about it, because we can get depressed or frustrated with all the difficult math and life-problem solving. It can be frustrating dealing with these kind of things on our own sometimes. So let me show a little of what I’ve learned, mostly the hard way.
Let’s understand a few things that we can learn through the Bible about our finances.
- All that we have, is essentially the Lord’s and we need to treat our money and things as His.
“Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it.” (Deuteronomy 10:14)
“The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the LORD of hosts.” (Haggai 2:8)
In Job, and all throughout the Bible, we see how the Lord blesses men with riches. To Abraham, not only did he promise great riches, but he also promised land. We know that if we obey him, he will bless us. Please, do not understand that because we obey him, that we are then entitled to have great riches. God owes us nothing. It is not his obligation to bless us in this way, but the Bible teaches us, that the Lord enjoys blessing his people when they honor him. The only thing he does promise is food, clothing and to take care of our basic NEEDS.
- The fact is, we as Christians need to understand that taking care of our finances is an order from God. He wants us to be good stewards of His money and use it wisely. To do this, we need to define and organize how and how much we are going to use it.
“Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds, for riches do not last forever…” (Proverbs 27:23-24a)
“For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish it, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’” (Luke 14:28-30)
To know where you stand financially is important. How much do you spend on yourself every month? Are your expenses ones that would honor and glorify God? Do you think that maybe He would have you spend less on entertainment and more on wise decisions? Budgeting your expenses helps analyze these questions and makes you a wiser spender.
- Planning ahead for emergencies an saving for future expenses is Biblical.
“Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest” (Proverbs 6:6-8)
Usually we use this verse to emphasize that we should not be lazy, but we can also understand it as an order to plan ahead. The ant prepares bread, meaning she gathers it in harvest and saves some for later, she doesn’t eat it all up at one. In the summer she still has “bread” to eat because she saved up.
- Tithing is not only a Biblical suggestion, it’s a command. The amount of the tithe is not necessarily black and white but we should follow many of the examples of tithing in the Bible: Abel, Abraham, Jacob, and many of the new Christians in Acts. More importantly than the amount is that it should come from a grateful heart. Tithing in my view doesn’t necessarily have to be a certain percentage, but an amount that you feel that God would like for you to give back to him. It is a way to show that you honor him and to acknowledge that He is the one that gives us our sustenance and wealth.
“Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.” (Proverbs 3:9-10)’
“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)
- We cannot let money govern our lives. Some people think that the verse:
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.” (1 Timothy 6:10) means that greed only shows itself when someone wants more money. Obviously, greed is a sin, but worrying about money can be as well. It can be our idol when we are consumed with worry over our finances, how we are going to pay bills and buy things for our loved ones. We need to work hard, organize, plan and use wisely, but beyond that, we can only trust that God will provide for us.
- We need to use our money for the good of others. The Lord says that if we do not help those we see in need, especially someone from His body, that we do not have the love of God in us and that our faith is dead.
“Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest works with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.”(Ephesians 4:28)
“If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?” (James 2:15-16)
“But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” (1 John 3:17)
- Debt is not necessarily a sin, but it is unwise.
“Do not be among those who give pledges, among those who become guarantors for debts. If you have nothing with which to pay, why should he take your bed from under you?” (Proverbs 22: 26-27)
So, with these thoughts in mind, I wanted to give a few resources for you to plan your own budget and organize your finances. I am not graduated in anything financial or mathematical. The tips and hacks that I bring here are only things that I have learned myself from doing some things the hard way. I hope some of these resources and tips are helpful in getting a better grasp on your finances.
Apps: (All of these I have used at some point of my life.) In today’s world of technology, use this to your advantage. There are apps that have platforms for easy budgeting and finance controlling.
Mint ($2.99) – Integrates with your bank account and debit card. Every purchase you make using your debit card and every transfer from your account can be seen and is automatically shown in your mint account. It keeps track of how much you’ve spent in a certain category and warns you when you have exceeded your budgeted limit. It will send to your email weekly and monthly summaries of your expenses. Unfortunately it only works in the USA and Canada.
CoinKeeper (FREE) A little bit more amateur-ish but still easy to use. You have to input everything manually, though. (I used the classic version, but there are other versions available.)
Spending Tracker (FREE) Very similar to CoinKeeper.
VisualBudget (FREE) Again, the input of the information is manual, and can be a bit confusing. But I used it to help for a few months.
BudgetCalendar (2.99) This is the only one of this list that I have not used. What it does, however, seems to be very useful. It synchronizes your bills, and calendar with your bank account and foretells you how much you should have in your account on a certain day based on the bills you have to pay and other budgeted expenses.
Files: After I learned how to manipulate formulas etc on Excel, this is what I have been using. Sure, I have to input it manually, but it seems to be easier to view my expenses, and my budget side by side. I’m kind of old school in the way I like to do my finances, so this way just keeps it simple, and quite honestly still does a lot of the math for me. 😀
This is my file from me to you: Budget Spreadsheet – Model
Graphs: I decided to attach some graphics that help explain some important steps when making the decision of how to budget.
Links for FREE Printables:
The internet is an endless source of tips and tools. I’ve added a few of the printable budget sheets that I have used and tried in the past. I’m the kind of girl that likes to make and/or print out her own agenda/ calendar sheets, because I can customize size and what I need on it. I’ve added these budget sheets to some of my agendas and it made it very practical, because everywhere I went, my agenda went with me and I was able to right down something as soon as I spent that money.
Budget Sheet By Printable Crush http://printablecrush.com/free-printable-budget-sheet/
Family Budget Worksheet By A Mom’s Take http://www.amomstake.com/family-budget-worksheet/
Budget Binder By Just a Girl and Her Blog http://justagirlandherblog.com/the-2016-budget-binder/
3 styles of Budget Binders By Blooming Homestead http://www.bloominghomestead.com/2016/02/budget-binder-printables.html/2
Extra Tip: As I said, the internet has endless resources for us to use. If you go onto pinterest.com and research budgeting or finances you can find a world of other tips. I have tried to limit to the ones that I have used at some point and that I found helpful.