By Chuck Bentley
Have you been waiting to make a budget until you make just a little more money? Maybe you have good intentions to start saving for retirement, but it just hasn’t happened. Debt has a way of accumulating quickly while we work to develop a plan to pay it off. Can you identify with any of these? When it comes to our finances, taking the first step is often the hardest. We want to do the right thing, and may even commit to saving, budgeting, making a plan, but then it just doesn’t happen.
Sometimes it’s a result of our fear – the “what if’s” interrupting our drive to make progress. But sometimes it’s just because we over-think things.
If you think more than you do, you may never get your finances in order. Waiting until just the right time delays the process and postpones any progress. Mark Twain said, “The secret to getting ahead is getting started.”
So, DO IT! Today. Tonight. Don’t put it off and don’t let yourself make excuses.
Get Out of Debt.
We recommend that if you have credit card debt, you pay it off first. Before you tackle your student loans, car loan, or mortgage, free yourself from the burdens of high-interest rates and credit card debt.
Take the first step by making a plan. The Debt Snowball Calculator makes it easy and you will be encouraged to see how much interest and time you will save! You just enter basic information about your debt (balance, minimum monthly payment, interest rate), and how much extra cash you can put towards it each month ($20 makes a big difference!), and it makes a payoff plan FOR YOU. It will work with all kinds of debt. Not only that, it will save you a significant amount of time and money by “outsmarting” your debt.
And if you have overwhelming credit card debt, you may need a helping hand. Get in touch with Christian Credit Counselors. Their dedicated, professional team of counselors is ready and waiting to help you pay off your credit cards forever.
Make A Budget.
Many people are intimidated by budgeting, but I promise you can do it. It’s going to help you reach goals, stay on track, and experience rewards. And guess what? You can change it! It’s not set in stone, and no two months are going to be the same, so adjust it here and there as you need.
We know that budgeting can be a big hurdle to overcome, so we made an easy-to-use guide to help you. It’s simple, and you can adjust it to meet your needs. You can use it if you’ve never made a budget before, or if you’ve just fallen off track.
Once you have your budget in place, reaching your savings goals will be easier. Your first goal should be to save $1,000 in an emergency savings fund. Having this cash on hand will help you stay out of debt, and eliminate a lot of stress when those emergencies pop up. Once you have your emergency fund, work towards saving 3 months’ worth of your living expenses.
Look for ways to cut out expenses and spend less on the necessities. Set up an automatic transfer to a savings account. Or, have your employer deposit part of your paycheck into that account. These budget hacks will help you get started!
If you want to invest but don’t know where to start, seek wise counsel, either from a trusted professional or friend, and set a date to make that first investment. In the meantime, do research online, and talk with those who understand the world of investing. Many people never invest because they’re intimidated, or don’t understand how it all works – don’t let this stop you! Investing is a Kingdom principle, and Solomon gives us wise advice in Ecclesiastes 11 – “Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant; if they watch every cloud, they never harvest.” Solomon is telling us to get in the game and diversify!
Having a written plan, goals, and direction for your finances is so important. God asks us to live as faithful stewards, and that often looks like making sacrifices and taking the first step. In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul said it even better, “I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control.” Today, I challenge you. Do not spend aimlessly. But, discipline yourself and get your finances under control. The Lord will reward you for it.