Happy New Year! This time of year is wrought with resolutions and thoughts of income taxes. What? Income taxes aren’t a concern until April 15, right? Not exactly. My husband starts estimating what is going to happen with taxes in November, so he can be prepared.
1. Read The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn. While you read, ponder where your treasure is. Are you building up treasure in heaven, or treasure on earth where moth and rust destroy? Are you being a good steward of what the Lord has given you? Do you recognize that all you have has been given to you by your Almighty Father?
2. Review your budget. Track your spending for a month and categorize by Needs, Wants, Saving, and Giving. What percentage of your spending in each category? It may be that 100% is in the Needs category, but probably not. Sometimes we think we need to stop at Starbucks, but really that is a want. A first grader once told me that television was a need. Really? She dramatically told me she would, “die without a TV.” Really? Be critical of yourself and work toward improving your self-control.
3. Make a budget if you don’t have one. Resolve to stick to your plan for the entire year. Resist some of the unplanned wants, like the latest and greatest phone or new shoes. Budget for all categories so you don’t feel deprived, but make sure you remember what you learned in The Treasure Principle. I know some pretty savvy shoppers; make sure you are being wise about your spending. Just because it is on sale doesn’t mean it is a good deal. Consider the true cost, as any portion that goes to waste is money not well spent.
4. Consider reducing your Wants spending percentage and increasing your Giving spending percentage in 2011. If you are presently giving 5% to church and other ministries, consider increasing your percentage to 6%. Just think, Jesus asked a rich young man to sell everything and follow Him. Could you do that? How tightly do we hold onto our belongings, including cash? We are rich beyond the wildest dreams of many in this world, even those who think they have nothing.
5. Do you have debt on credit cards or other accounts? Resolve to pay off at least one account in 2011. That will free up cash for … you guessed it … giving! Imagine if you are paying $50 every month toward a credit card and instead you were able to give that $50 to missions. Did you even remember what you bought that you are paying $50 a month for? And is it worth the $50 a month for however long it will take to pay off? Unless you are paying the card off completely every month, you are paying too much for your purchases. It is a vicious cycle to get into. Get out as soon as you can. A great resource for debt reduction techniques is “Debt Free and Prosperous Living Basic Course” by John M. Cummuta. Another is to talk to John Monks.
6. Resolve to be a good steward of what you have been given. Do you own a home? Make sure you are being a responsible neighbor and keeping your house up inside and out. Do the work yourself. Taking care of the little things keeps them from turning into big things. A small repair you can do yourself will save you time and money later, as the untended small repair may result in the need of a contractor or some other professional to make the repair. That is when things get costly. How about a car? Maintaining it properly will save money in the longer term.
7. Prepare for income tax time. Know your numbers and what you have given to church and missions. Our country still allows us to use church and missions as a charitable contribution and that counts for a lot when you file your taxes. Our tax accountant sees us once a year, usually in February, and every year we strive to contribute more to church and missions. This opens the door for us to witness to him every year.
Married women, remember that your husband is the head of the household and should have input into how the finances are handled. Not everyone is good with their finances, men or women alike, so work together to ensure that you are able to be successful as a couple. You and your husband must decide together how of effectively handle finances. The subject has been known to tear apart many marriages, don’t let it ruin yours.
Remember, it’s not what you get, or what you keep, it is what you give away. Not what you buy, or what you save, but what you are building as treasure in heaven for the sake of the Gospel. We truly own nothing and all we have is because of the overwhelming grace of God our Father.
I pray that God will give each of you wisdom with your finances so that He will be glorified in the way you live your life!
By Rhonda Monks