Lord, help me get my money right! 10 realistic and easy debt-relief tips
Article By Natasha Payton // EEW Magazine // Finances
You’re swimming in debt. You feel like you’re drowning. You’ve been praying for financial breakthrough and asking God to work a miracle in your finances. If that’s you, this is an answer to your prayers. God may indeed make some supernatural moves on your behalf, but there is some groundwork you, as an empowered Christian, have to lay.
The key to financial management and growth is understanding money basics, practicing good spending and budgeting habits, and making money stewardship a priority.
If you’re sick and tired of being cash-strapped, frustrated and buried under a load of unpaid bills, here are 10 things you can start doing right away.
1. Make a bill schedule: There’s nothing worse than a surprise bill. It sneaks up on you and messes up your budget. Knowing not only what is due but when it’s due is a huge step toward successful financial management. You can’t plan properly without all the facts. So use a Microsoft Excel sheet, Quickbooks, or some other easy software program to keep track of your payment schedule. You can even add alerts on your phone. That way, no surprise withdrawals from your checking account will leave you in the red.
2. Give your money an assignment. Would you drive blindfolded? No, you wouldn’t. So don’t spend blindly either. Every dollar of income must be accounted for. Give your money an assignment. Anything with no purpose assigned to it will be mishandled or abused, including money. Once you have written down how much money you’ll make in a given month, get your bill schedule out and deduct those numbers. Also, make sure you budget out groceries, gas, and even an allowance for you if there is any left over. Leave nothing to chance.
3. Track your expenditures: Don’t make a budget and stop there. Track your actual spending. You have to see your budget as your intention. Good intentions don’t translate into action unless you are intentional about doing the right thing. In a nutshell, intentions are useless without intentionality. Keep track of your purchases and make sure the amounts line up with what you have budgeted. If you end up needing to spend more than you budgeted for something, document that change. Then revise the budget and reallocate the resources. Think about it this way: just as you track calories when you’re on a diet as not to overeat, track spending on your budget as not to overspend.
4. Use cash only. Stop spending money you don’t have. Use real dollars. This will keep you on track. Instead of credit, use a debit card, which can pretty much do everything a credit card can except allow you to spend money you don’t actually have. Here’s something important to remember: when you use your debit, don’t rely on the automated voice service to tell you your balance. Put pen to paper and actually subtract what you’ve spent so you have an accurate record even if the system gets it wrong. It feels terrible to spend money you thought you had and then be hit with an overdraft fee.
5. Use the envelope method: When it comes to budgeting, keep it simple. The envelope method is perfect. Just get some plain white envelopes. Label what the money in each one is for: groceries, gas, bills, entertainment, or whatever you’re paying out. Then put the amount of money allowed for that item in the corresponding envelope. Once the money in it is gone for that period, that’s it. This is a real, tangible way of keeping track of your spending. There’s no guesswork.
6. Live off of 80 percent. If you’re in serious debt, this may take a while, but make it a goal. Ideally, you don’t want to spend everything coming into the house. Otherwise, what do you have left for a rainy day? After you give God His money—a non-negotiable 10 percent tithe—save an additional 10 percent. When you honor God with the first fruits of your increase (Proverbs 3:9), you will be blessed. And when you accumulate cash for your rainy day fund, you will be secure.
7. Act your wage: Being fabulous and broke is popular but not wise. Don’t live above your means. Live below your means. That means you may not live in the fanciest house, drive the coolest car, go on the most exotic vacations, or wear designer threads. Learn how to look for discounts, stick to the necessities, and avoid vanity purchases. Just as you dress age appropriately, spend wage appropriately.
8. Stop eating out. Those quick fast food runs add up. Dining out is expensive. Starbucks, Tim Hortons and Duncan Donuts coffee get pricey if you purchase something on the daily. Those candy bars, potato chips and processed dessert snacks add up, too. Go grocery shopping and cook at home. Make your own coffee. Pack your lunch for work. Take a snack with you when you’re on the go. Get a hot and cold thermos for your beverages. You’ll be surprised by how quickly your belly can consume your budget if you don’t keep those cravings in check.
9. Find free entertainment: Billions of dollars are spent annually on entertainment and if you like movies, concerts, video games, and nights out on the town, these things can easily blow your budget. If you’re tight on cash, do you really need cable? Is that Netflix account necessary? Evaluate what you’re spending your dollars on and if you don’t need it, get rid of it.
10. Get debt counseling: Being ignorant about how money works adds lots of stress to your life. There are many reputable debt counseling agencies that can help you understand money, budgeting and more. Some are free and for others, there is a nominal fee. Either way, it’s worth it to get you back on track.
If you are ready to be free of debt, begin with these 10 tips. As you take measures to get financially free, God will help you as long as you are willing to do the work and be disciplined.
Do your part and God will do the part you can’t do.
Here’s to your future financial freedom!