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There are several practical things that you can do to stay out of financial trouble or to get out of the trouble you are in.
Turn to God for help, Matt. 6:30-34, “Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” It is the Lord that gives you power to get wealth. Most people in financial trouble lay out of church on Sunday and Wednesday night because they are working, depressed or tired. You court financial disaster when you do that. Get back in your Bible, on your knees and in your pew.
Stay out of debt, Rom. 13:8, “Owe no man any thing.” Debt is a killer. Most people can’t handle it responsibly. Money is easy to borrow and hard to pay back, particularly credit cards. If you must borrow to stay afloat, you are in bad trouble already.
Live within your means, 1 Tim. 6:6, “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” An unbelievable amount of money is thrown away at restaurants and convenience stores. One coke and a bag of chips each day will cost you over $60.00 in one month. One taco and a cup of coffee on the way to work each day will run you over $55.00 a month. A pack of cigarettes a day will run you around $180.00 a month. A trip to McDonald’s or Taco Bell with the family once or twice a week will run you between $60 and $120.00 a month. We’re talking nearly enough money to pay the rent here. Get rid of those habits and make some better choices. Your expenses will be much cheaper and your nourishment will be much better for you.
Cut out the fat, Prov. 21:17, “He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man.” You only bring in so much money each month and you must pay all your bills and live off the rest. In addition, you must have a little set aside for car repairs, unforeseen problems and taxes. If you spend some of that hard-earned money that was for bills and food on something that you don’t need, you are going to come up short at the end of the month. Just look at all the excess that you spend on pleasure: movies, cable TV, fancy cars, sporting goods, club fees, knick-knacks, you name it. You wouldn’t need all that junk if you weren’t so depressed about your finances. That stuff doesn’t make you happy, anyway.
Don’t steal from your employer, Eph. 4:28, “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good.” Sometimes you might get the idea that your boss owes you a little more than you’re being paid. So, you just help yourself to some of his cash, tools, supplies, or whatever. Cut it out. God won’t bless that. You put in an honest day, working all the hours for which you are being paid, and God will bless that.
Quit talking and fix the problem, Prov. 14:23, “In all labour there is profit, but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury.” There is a system that will help you get a handle on the problem and fix it, if you have the character and discipline to do it. Do a budget. The best way to do this is to estimate what you think it costs you to pay your bills, groceries, gas, sundries, and so forth. Estimate everything. Then for two months, write down everything you spend each day, including a single candy bar or whatever. I mean everything! Then compare the actual expenses with what you estimated and you will be shocked. Your spending habits are “nickel-and-diming” you to death. You probably spend $200.00 to $500.00 more each month than you think you do. Then from the actual expenses, come up with a real budget. Cut out all the fat and discipline yourself not to cheat. Quit buying small, prepackaged food, for instance. Buy in quantity. It takes more work to prepare a meal than go to a restaurant, but you can’t afford to eat out all the time. So, change your habits. Check yourself at the end of each month to be sure you are staying within the budget.
Make sure to budget each paycheck and the expenses associated with that check. This keeps you from spending your paycheck before your bills are paid. Most people have bigger bills to pay out of one check than they do out of the other. So, they usually end up short on the one that has the biggest bills coming out of it. Budget for:
Tithes/Offerings. Take at least 10% of your paycheck and give it to your local church. Some people hate the word “tithe” for Christians. But whatever your preference, you’ll never make it financially by hording all the money for yourself (Prov. 11:24-25, 2 Cor. 9:6-7). I don’t care how you skin it; people don’t start working out of their financial troubles until they give God his money. 10% is what Abraham gave God before the law (Gen. 14), and you should do at least that much. The first opportunity you have, give to the Lord through your local church.
Bills. Look at your bills and your budget and put everything that you are going to spend on bills and necessities out of each paycheck in your budget. You should pay everything that’s coming due before the next paycheck. Don’t wait for the “cutoff” notice. That’s past due. It would help to make a little ledger that shows when the money is due and how much is due, and mark it paid as you pay it. That way, you won’t lose track of your money. You will undoubtedly need some of the money from the paycheck where the bills are low to help cover your bills from the other paycheck where the bills are high. So, don’t spend the extra money for anything other than the bills and necessities that are to be paid out of it. Otherwise, you are going to come up short.
Mad Money. Everybody likes a little of this. If you truly have anything left over after your tithe and your necessities, save it. You can use this money for whatever. However, a wise man or woman would realize that sometimes mad money must be used for unexpected repairs and emergencies. Therefore, he or she won’t go through all this money at once; save it.
Get some credit counseling, Prov. 15:22, “Without counsel purposes are disappointed.” You might already be in debt over your head. If so, there are several reputable consumer credit counselors that can help you consolidate your debt and lower your payments. That could help you immensely.