So before I go on, let me say a couple things that have been rolling around in my mind…This covers a bit of the “Why It Matters” part of the title 🙂
I am not writing this from a place of having it altogether. I don’t always follow every bit of this advice; there are times I feel led to do something differently and also there is compromise needed sometimes in marriage, etc. Also, there are so many ways that I have been financially blessed by others that in a way it is easier for me to have my head halfway on straight about desiring things, spending, giving, and saving than for many people. Being financially blessed by others and coming from a stable but thrifty household growing up makes me want to handle money wisely and sacrificially. I want to BE like those people who have given us a car and other extravagant gifts…Somewhere along the way they decided to be great with money, therefore they have the freedom to give a car away! And these people- some of them- have lived in trailers, have traveled the country for a job, have went without vacations for a decade, have done whatever they needed to do without complaint. I want to be like that, too, if I need to. Also, being financially blessed by others forces me to have some humility. I didn’t work for all that I have and I know it, and it’s humbling. I am a recipient. And as a recipient, I am super aware of where my money is going because I know it is undeserved blessing.
But whether we earned everything we have or not, we are all recipients! Don’t we recognize it is all from the Lord? Our ability, our minds, our relationship/connections…it is all from the Lord and we became good stewards (hopefully) of those abilities and minds and connections. 🙂 But knowing it is all from Him changes how we view money and what should be done with it. It’s ours to steward but it’s not ours. I try to live with the mentality that I have exactly what He wants me to have, no more and no less, for strategic purposes. I have dear friends around the world in varying forms of financial discomfort, and even though I have been given much, if you knew the numbers on my budget you would count me in that group most likely! But I still say it: We are blessed. We have our basic needs met. I can’t say that for a good part of the world, sadly. Yet still some of the worst financial decisions ever made are because we have an underlying feeling that we are entitled to spend our money however we want, that we deserve to make and keep more, and that we deserve certain things we’d like to have and do, in due time if not immediately. Oh how much frustration these lies have caused! For MOST of us, worrying about money stems from the fear that we will have to drop to a lower standard of living, not the fear of homelessness, starvation, or death! That humbles me.
But back to remembering we are simply stewards of God’s money: We shouldn’t feel guilty for buying movie tickets or even Disney tickets, with this knowledge that it is all His, but there was a time in my life that I did feel that way. Through a lot of prayer and study, I felt like the Lord was saying all I could do was make a budget that took care of first things first, make sure my husband was in agreement with it, and stick to the projected costs of each category in my budget to the best of my ability. And just like I said in part one, there is room for fun! You could even add a savings for vacation or whatever it is you are wondering how it will ever fit in with this “I’m stewarding God’s money” mentality. But getting rid of any attitude of “I deserve this” and replacing it with “I will receive this gift from God” is vital, I believe. I am learning to receive good gifts; there is a time and place for that. Family trips are precious getaways and priceless memories. Anniversary dates are downright necessary. Lunch with a friend with your “fun money” is worth every penny spent as God has made us in need of each other! But every one of these things has to be weighed and balanced and planned for. Making a budget for yourself or as a couple if you’re married enables you to be more free to enjoy your splurges and times of gifting others and treating yourself because you know there was a place in the budget marked for it.
Dave Ramsey says we’d all go a little crazy if there is no “blow money” whatsoever. But there are times you just don’t have any blow/fun for yourself money, and I promise you, with the right attitude of surrender and thankfulness to the Lord about this issue, you will not go crazy! Know that in your leanest times, if you have a roof over your head, a loved one, and something in your tummy, you are better off than millions. As we live, with God’s help, in an attitude of thankfulness and surrender, I believe God will change those circumstances in time because financial need is stressful and takes it’s toll on a body, a marriage, and a family. We have to be doing our part. “Our part” is different for everyone- what you need to do to be stable and have a little breathing room financially is different than what I have to do- but what we all have in common is our ability to ask for the Lord to rule our finances and our attitudes about them.