It is not much of a stretch to call my wife a huge fan of Dave Ramsey. A few years ago, we took part in Financial Peace University and though we were not in deep debt issues, we learned a lot and I can honestly say that the changes we made are responsible for the much better position we are in financially today.
For many of us there always seems to be more month than there is paycheck. It is amazing that some people are able to have a six-figure income and functionally live paycheck to paycheck. Rather than budgeting with a purpose, we live in the moment, which does allow for great flexibility, but is a serious hinderance for meeting long-range goals. If you desire to own a home, pay for college for your kids, take your spouse on a lavish second honeymoon, your goals may be blocked by your daily money management.
Paul states in Romans 11:16 that: If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches. He echoes Proverbs 3:91-10: Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine. When we begin offering purpose to the first fruits of our labor, which for most is financial, we set the right tone for how to steward the whole of the blessings God entrusts to our care.
Tempting as it might be to think of what we “earn” as ours, in reality, we are merely stewards entrusted with what is God’s. Yes, we are to work, and often work hard to earn these blessings, financial and otherwise, but they are no more ours due to an increase in the sweat of our brow. When we hold more loosely the dollars of our paycheck and treat them as a treasure given by God, we find our mentality shifting in how we make use of our money.
Just as we give a purpose to our firstfruits, we can, and should, give just as much purpose to every dollar that we earn. Take time to prioritize spending. If you are married set this priority with your spouse. As you have children, begin to include them in the process as they are able to understand.
Giving a purpose to your money is about intentionality. It is easy to find things to spend your money on every day. Many of those things may seem essential at the time. Giving a purpose to your money means identifying what the money is for when or even before you receive it. It means setting a budget for each and every dollar based on a well thought out plan rather than spending on the spur of the moment.
Ramsey teaches using an envelope system for all spending and having no credit cards. I tend not to go that far. However, what is essential is making sure that whether you use a credit card or not, you spend your money as if it was merely the cash you have in hand. You might be tempted to justify a little more spending out for dinner or for a gift for the kids, both worthy things, but if you did not account for that in the budget for that month, just don’t do it.
This means that you will need to spend the time as a married couple, family, or single person taking a big picture view on what you want to spend your money on in life. Think through whether you want to own a home, how much money you will need for retirement, what kind of vacations you hope to have, etc. You will be surprise how much you can accomplish if you do not allow every day spending to chip away at your larger goals.
My last two car purchases where done in the same year and both for cash. No car payments. I might have wanted a slightly nicer or larger car for the second one, but it was not in the budget. We had been setting aside the money each month for several months, so that when we were in need, we were ready. We do that for school, vacations, etc.
None of this is overly difficult, but it does take time to put together. Like anything we want to do well, we need to work at it. All you need to do to begin is set your goals and build your budget honestly around those goals. Be intentional about how you steward the gifts God has given you and bless your family and others with His blessings through you.