By: Crown Financial Ministries, Chuck Bentley
Our finances are stretched so thin that I am stressed out all the time. We live on a budget, but my husband and I both need some hope that it will not always be this way.
Living on a Financial Cliff
Dear Living on a Financial Cliff,
There is certainly reason for hope, so hang on!
Let’s put your challenges in a current economic context and then a Biblical context before I offer some practical tips to help you through this painful time.
With the lingering impact of inflation, a new CNBC survey reports that 70% of Americans say they, too, are feeling financial stress, and 58% report they are living paycheck to paycheck. The report pointed to several specific concerns, including a lack of savings and a dependency on debt.
“People are worried that the money they’ve saved won’t last and are worried they’re going to have to lean more on their credit cards and other sources of debt just to get by,” said Bruce McClary, a senior vice president at the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
With rapidly increasing costs, higher interest rates, and a sense of economic uncertainty in the air, many are feeling like their finances are balanced on a razor’s edge with no margin for error.
The Bible is full of people who had to face incredible amounts of stress. It is also full of principles and truth that help us to reframe our present circumstances. I am reminded of Romans 8:18–21:
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. (NIV)
We live in a fallen world—in bondage to decay—because of mankind’s disobedience to God, but a promise of freedom and redemption awaits those who are children of God. Considering our eternal future, our present trials and tribulations are insignificant. Remember to keep your present cares and burdens in the context that this is not our home. We temporarily manage what God provides and seek to be faithful until we have finished our race.
Help in Reducing Your Financial Challenges
Three very practical steps will help you reduce the immediate pain you are in.
First, no matter how much or how little income you have each week or month, be sure that you are spending less than that amount. Think of the old game of limbo, where you have to bend your body to get under a bar without knocking it off. The bar represents your income. Your attempts to get under it represent your control over your spending. That is why a budget is so very helpful. You can adjust your expenses to ensure that you never exceed the height of the bar (your weekly or monthly income).
Second, build an emergency savings fund. You need at least $1,000 set aside to help with unexpected expenses. That is the bare minimum. Set a goal of saving three months of overhead. Emergencies always happen, so this is non-negotiable. In the CNBC survey, most of those who report living paycheck to paycheck say they do not have any money saved. This is like flying through the air on a trapeze bar without a safety net. It is scary! Crown has some free tools to help you get that accomplished. Perhaps you need to adjust your budget. You might benefit from our budgeting resources and a coach.
Finally, make a plan to reduce your debt and break any dependence on credit cards, store accounts, buy-now-pay-later plans, or payday loans. The largest expense in most American budgets today is the interest expense on debt. Just imagine how free you would feel without debt hanging over you each month. We partner with Christian Credit Counselors to help free people from this burden.
Thank you for writing. Please know that we want to help! May God give you His peace and the freedom you so desire.
Christian Credit Counselors is a trusted source of support in assisting people with getting on the road to financial freedom. Reach out to them today; they may be of great benefit to you.