Last week we chatted about how to spend money without guilt and shame. If you didn’t get a chance to read through that, I’d highly recommend it. This blog will include more of the nuts and bolts of money management, but last week’s blog was about mindset. Both are important to have a healthy relationship with money.
If you stick around here for any length of time (and we really hope you do) you’ll find that Trent and I love asking the question, “Why?” In order to improve our relationship with money we have to figure out why we even want to in the first place.
Here’s what I mean…
Do you come from a long line of poor money managers, and you want to break the cycle? Do all the verses in the Bible that deal with money make you uncomfortable, and you need that to change? Are you just sick of paying on student loans or living paycheck to paycheck?
Be honest with yourself. Doing the deep work of asking why will give you motivation for the hard work we’re about to discuss. Let me actually say that again, because I don’t want you to miss it. Doing the deep work of asking why will give you motivation for the hard work we’re about to discuss.
Before reading on, set a timer for 5-10 minutes and write down your why.
The five steps I’m about to share require time. If you want to do this well, grab your calendar and schedule in a chunk of time to work through the steps. I would recommend an hour for meeting number one. Then fast-forward exactly one month and schedule in a second 2-3 hour chunk for meeting number two.
HERE’S WHAT TO DO AT MEETING NUMBER ONE:
Step 1: Pray.
So often Christians forget that the same power that raised Christ from the dead lives inside them. God doesn’t want us to live in bondage. Pray for His guidance and empowerment to honor Him with your finances. And thank Him for what he’s beginning in you.
Step 2: Create a Financial Mission Statement
Start the conversation by asking these questions:
- Why do we need to make a change?
- What do we not like about our past and present?
- What do we want for our future?
Then, brainstorm some ideas for your financial mission, and narrow it down to one easy-to-remember phrase, statement, or Bible verse. Examples: Faith over fear. Our family is wise with money. Hebrews 13:5
Step 3: Set some goals.
We want to pay off our student debt by _____. We want to up our giving by ___% immediately. If you’re unfamiliar with what the Bible says about money, I would recommend starting there.
BETWEEN MEETING NUMBER ONE AND TWO:
Step 4: Track your spending
Taking a month to track your income and spending will expose places where you can cut back. There are a few ways to do this. You can download an app like Personal Capital or Mint. If you prefer pencil and paper, check out our Expense Tracker.
Note: Because meeting number one was so loaded with steps it may seem like steps 4 and 5 are less important. That couldn’t be further from the truth. If you take the time to work through the first 3 steps, but stop there, you’re doing yourself a disservice. If you start… commit to all five steps.
MEETING NUMBER TWO:
STEP 5: Create a zero-based budget (OR spending plan.)
Doesn’t ‘spending plan’ sound more enjoyable than ‘budget?’
- Take your total monthly income and write it at the top of this sheet. Then go line by line adding in last month’s expenses by category.
- Add up your expenses and subtract the total from your income.
Did you end up with a positive number? That’s a great place to start! Now, look back on your goals from meeting number one and play around a bit. If you want to make an extra student loan payment each month, figure out where you can cut back to free up those dollars.
Did you end up with a negative number? That means you’re spending more than you’re making. Here you have two options: Cut expenses or figure out how to make more money. In some cases, you may need to do both. If you find yourself in this camp you need to know that there is hope. Don’t freak out.
What you’re ultimately gunning for here is for your total expenses to be exactly the same as your income. That doesn’t mean you have to spend every dollar that comes in, but it means that every dollar needs to be accounted for. There should never be some random amount of money floating around each month. If you have that, it’ll encourage random spending, which in our experience, always leads to overspending. If you have excess income, figure out which line item(s) in your spending plan is(are) going to receive those dollars.
Now that you have your spending plan put together, work the plan! Truthfully, you may need to make some tweaks over the next few months, but you’re well on your way to having a healthier relationship with your money. Congratulations!!
The title of this blog is 5 Steps to Creating a Budget You’ll Love. Here are two reason we believe you’ll love your new budget.
- It’ll be based on your own personal goals and passions.
- Tracking your spending brings hidden things to the light. At first that may feel hard and embarrassing, but just like sin, when we expose things that are out of line with God’s will they begin to lose their hold.
God wants freedom for you, and so do we. You can do this. We believe in you!
Because there’s a better way,
Sarah (and Trent)