When it comes to spending, people often become their own worst enemies by following pooradvice, making bad decisions, and backing themselves into a corner. After all, isn’t that today’s American way of life—live, spend, and die broke? The American Dream has turned into the American Nightmare for many families. You can either learn to master your money or become a slave to it. Which would you rather be: slave or master?
Many people don’t choose to become slaves to money, but it occurs because of their spending habits. Think about your spending habits. Are you using your resources wisely or do you spend money like there is no tomorrow? For many, money burns a hole in their pockets. How often do you go out and spend money on an impulse, leading to buyer’s remorse?
How many things are in your garage or basement that you at one time just had to have and now sit around collecting dust? Instead of buying dust collectors, what if money w as used wisely? I know there will be times when spending gets off track, but with a plan and some focus, you can minimize the damage.
Today, many people live beyond their means. Often people buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t even like. Most people would agree that they have overspent on occasion but do not fall victim to impulsive or compulsive shopping. There are others who cannot say the same thing.
Do you have a plan?
Put pen to paper and write down whatever you, your family, and the Lord decide is appropriate in every budget category (housing, transportation, food, entertainment, medical, clothing, etc.) Why? Because, having no written plan is the same as having no plan.
According to God’s Word, not to plan is slothful. God wants you to be disciplined, organized, and yet not legalistic. One way to become disciplined and organized in your planning, especially in budget planning, is to write down your plans. Too many play “god” and get in His way! They fail to identify needs versus wants and fly by the seat of their pants!
Well thought out, prayed over and written down plans help strike a balance between slothfulness and legalism.
Identify your needs, wants and desires.
Let’s add some definitions to start:
Needs: are the basic material necessities of life. Needs are the minimum amounts it takes to provide housing, food, clothing, medical care, etc.
Wants: cover the same budget categories but at a higher quality or quantity level.
Desires: cover the same budgeting areas but at a level where price is no object.
Perhaps God is providing the resources to live at the wants level. If so, and the resources are available to stay at this level, great. Sometimes, after all your obligations have been met, you can use some of your surplus funds to reach for some of your desires. Many times God will give you the desires of your heart. Once you identify your needs, wants, and desires it will be much easier to change your lifestyle if you have a hard time paying your bills. It is hard to cut much from the needs level. It can be easier to move from wants to needs or from desires to wants or needs.