Does an emergency fund show a lack of faith?
“A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.” – Proverbs 27:12 (NLT)
Christians are not exempt from trials and struggles in life and should be prepared in advance for both feasts and famines – the good and bad times. As wise stewards entrusted with all that God provides, we should seek to plan ahead but not plan so much as to insulate ourselves from Him. There is a fine balance between saving for emergencies and saving to shelter ourselves from every possible emergency. Even in tough economic times, savings should be a part of nearly every budget.
The purpose an emergency fund is to have resources available in the event of unforeseen circumstances (car troubles, prolonged injury or sickness, roof leaking, furnace troubles, etc.). An emergency fund shows preparation and planning for when the inevitable “trials of life” come your way. Having an emergency fund shows proper planning and a wise use of the resources God has provided.
Do you have an income or outgo problem?
In general, when it comes to a lack of savings, it is often not a question of low income, but a matter of high spending. While it’s very true that often we’re put into situations where we must spend money (due to loss of employment, health care bills, home repairs, etc.), for many of us our excessive spending is merely a habit we must learn to break … or at least control.
But … where do we begin?
Many people would like to reduce their spending and increase their savings, but it seems like such a monumental task that they simply don’t take any steps in the right direction. Sound familiar? Saving money can begin right now, and you can start in small ways. Here are several easy ways to increase your savings …
Secret #1: “Pray on it”
When making a major decision, generally related to a purchase, what if we took more time to pray about it? Is it really a need or just a want? Is there a cheaper way to obtain it? (used, cheaper version, another place to buy it?) When you’re considering a large purchase (like a car) or even small (like a pair of shoes), try putting it aside, even for just a week or two. Allow yourself time to think and pray it through.
If, after that time, it’s still a good idea, proceed … knowing it’s not just an impulse buy. If it’s not a good idea after that time, don’t buy it. Most of us have made at least one (and probably more) purchases of this nature that we have later regretted. What if you had the money back for every such purchase? What if that money was collecting interest in your savings account? It could really add up.
Secret #2: Pay yourself first
Of course, I’m talking after your tithe and offerings, but when you get a paycheck, you likely pay your rent/mortgage first, your car payment second, your insurance third, and so on… Somewhere at the VERY BOTTOM of your list is YOU. Why are you at the bottom? Probably because you know YOU won’t penalize YOU if YOU don’t make a payment to YOU. My point is this … hold yourself accountable. Start by putting money into your savings account FIRST. Take care of YOU before anyone else, so there are no excuses at the end of the month. Unless your monthly bills are higher than your monthly income, you should be able to determine a set, comfortable amount that goes into savings every month … no ifs, ands, or buts. Stick to it!
Secret #3: Shop smarter
We’re all in a hurry, so it’s easy to grab items like snacks or coffee when convenient. But think about it … if you stop at a convenience store for a 12 oz. coffee every morning, that’s probably about $1.75 you’re spending every day … that adds up to over $600 every year! If it’s Starbucks you could probably double that figure. You get my point! What if, instead, you bought a coffee maker for your office and bought your coffee grounds in bulk? How much money could you save? And how could interest affect what you’re saving? If you saved just $600 per year in a basic savings account with a 5% average rate of return, after 30 years you could potentially have more than $30,000 … and that’s after taxes! Start paying more attention to those “little” expenditures. They can really add up!
Secret #4: See your destination
They say that hindsight is 20/20. Think about this: if 10 years ago you began saving just $200 per month in a shoe box under your bed, then today that shoe box would have $24,000 in it! Unfortunately, you can’t go back in time. But you CAN look ahead. Use a financial calculator (there are free calculators available online) and start plugging in numbers … calculate where you could be in 20-30 years depending on how much you’re willing to save today.
Secret #5: Ditch the shoebox
Speaking of that hypothetical shoebox under your bed … the money in that box might collect dust, but it won’t collect interest. And while I seriously doubt that you keep money in a shoebox, take a moment to consider WHERE and HOW you save your money. While a traditional savings account can earn you interest, there are other options available to you that could potentially earn you more. Perhaps you’ve heard people speak about money market accounts or CDs, but you’re not sure what they are or if they’re right for you. It’s a good idea to learn all you can and make informed decisions about your money.
The best advice I can give you is this – speak with a financial professional. While saving money is important, where and how you choose retain and grow that money can have a significant impact on your net worth in the years to come. Will you choose to be dependent on others (government, employer, nursing home) or will you choose to become financially free? What you do today will impact the choices you have in the future.