How do you like it when someone tells you what to do?
I do not always like it! Especially if the tone isn't right, the directions given can get under a person's skin.
For just a few moments, I want you to imagine something that could radically change your life. I want you to imagine that your money is a person -- that's right, money personified. And then I want you to tell your money what it needs to do. Pretend that your money is a person and direct each and every dollar to where it needs to go.
This may seem weird or over the top, but this is basic wisdom and insight from God. Consider what Proverbs 21:5 says, "The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty." This proverb contrasts two ways of handling money or two ways of making decisions about money. One leads to success (profit); the other leads to chaos (poverty).
A plan is a proposal for doing or achieving something. When we have a money plan, we have created a mechanism to direct spending to what we can afford and need. The most important principle that a money plan helps us carry out is the maxim of spending less than we make.
Haste and money do not mix! Spending on the fly means we have not thought out the repercussions of our behavior and possibly have just acted on an impulse or even a desire that may pass. Sometimes we justify spending on a whim by rehearsing to ourselves, "It will all work out!"
The insight God gives here is not easy to implement. It is not for sissies! Plan-making takes diligence. And it starts with hard thinking about three concepts.
The first one is "What is important to you? What do you value?" This is a discussion about priorities. Everyone has a finite amount of money and "many mouths" to feed. Is cable TV more important than developing a savings account or taking a family vacation? We all need to determine what is important and what needs to wait.
The second concept that needs to be thought about is "What might I need money for in the future?" We need to forecast future needs. The ant in Proverbs 6:6-11 gathers his food at harvest anticipating a down time -- the winter. Dave Ramsey remarks often on his radio show that "Murphy" is going to show up sometime. If we have foresight, then money set aside in an emergency fund is ready to deal with Murphy's Law. We also need to save for big purchases (i.e. cars, replacement of appliances, etc.), college, and retirement.
The third concept in a money plan is "What are the details?" It is often said the devil is in the details. Personally I have an aversion to details, but when it comes to money, we need to get into the minutiae of it all. This means writing out every monthly expense, adding it up and removing those expenses that drive us over our income. The ultimate goal is a "positive net income." If you do the math and that is not the case, you either have to remove some expenses or increase your income.
Here are four awesome outcomes of telling your money what to do:
1. Month to month you will have that positive net income. There will be money left at the end of the month!
2. Debt will be dumped. As you apply dollars that are left over to the principle of the debt you incurred before you began telling your money what to do, it will be eliminated and then you will have less payments per month, and then ...
3. Wealth will begin to accumulate. Positive net income leads to paying off debt, and once debt is retired, then the money begins to add up! Then there will be money there for emergencies and you will pay cash for big purchases -- yes, even cars! Vacations will be saved up for and not put on a credit card.
4. Other money goals can be set and reached, like making a difference in your world by sacrificial giving.
You may feel like you are in way over your head. But you can always determine to start taking responsibility for your own finances. One of my favorite Steven Covey quotes is "The essence of being human is the ability to direct your own life."
How are you directing your finances? You can begin today by finding a budget outline and then tell your money what to do.
Norm Byers is the lead pastor of Genesis Church, which meets 9:30 a.m. Sundays at the Petoskey Cinema and 11 a.m. Sundays at Boyne City elementary. For more information, visit www.genesiswired.com.
Tell your money what to do
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