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Budgeting and the Bible

Via Flickr, by user brad montgomery. Used under Creative Commons License.

So you want to be the master of your money… that’s great. You’re committed to getting out of debt, spending wisely and giving to support good causes. But how do you take these good ideas and turn them into something you can actually do?

The answer is to make a budget.

“Budget” can be a scary word, conjuring up images of congressional committees or the accounting offices of multinational corporations. For some people, budget means broke — the idea of living “on a budget” implies pinching pennies and slogging through life without any luxuries. But a budget need not be any of those things.

Budgets accomplish two main goals: First, a budget is a way of documenting your financial life on paper. It shows where your money comes from, and where it goes. Second, a budget allows you to make informed, strategic choices about spending and saving. Since you have a good documentation of your financial habits, you can easily see areas that need some work, and redirect your money flow to meet those needs.

Our friend Young American benefited from a budget in both of these ways. Putting his spending down on paper demonstrated how badly Young American was over-blowing his salary. And having a document to work with also allowed us to make suggestions about our friend’s lifestyle that will put him on solid financial ground.

Here’s another way to think about it: If money is like water, a budget is the plumbing system that we build to make it flow where we want it to go.

Budget’s are some newly-invented system, either. The Bible tells us to keep careful track of our financial lives in Prov. 27-23-27:

23 Be sure you know the condition of your flocks,
give careful attention to your herds;
24 for riches do not endure forever,
and a crown is not secure for all generations.
25 When the hay is removed and new growth appears
and the grass from the hills is gathered in,
26 the lambs will provide you with clothing,
and the goats with the price of a field.
27 You will have plenty of goats’ milk to feed your family
and to nourish your female servants.

I’m not a farmer, and you’re probably not either, but the advice in this proverb still applies to us. For today’s society, knowing “the condition of your flocks” and giving “careful attention to your herds” means keeping an eye on your bank account, and knowing exactly what your money is doing. After all, “riches do not endure forever.” If we don’t carefully plan our finances, and direct them where to go, we will one day find ourselves broke.

The passage goes on to give us really good news about what financial vigilance can do for us: “You will have plenty of goats’ milk to feed your family and to nourish your female servants.” Your family probably drinks cow’s milk instead, but you get the point — when you stay on top of your finances, you’re never caught unaware. Telling your money where to go each month ensures that your most basic needs, like food and shelter, will always be met.

Budgeting is the absolute best way to become master of your money. And the Bible gives us several more important strategies to use in building our personal budgets.

Up Next: The Bible on budgeting for now and for later

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  1. […] work even further into the future, too. Consider what Luke 14:28-30 has to say about long-term planning: “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit […]

  2. […] Building a budget is an absolutely critical first step to becoming the master of your money, but it’s only a step. Financial teachers talk incessantly about the importance of budgeting, and rightfully so. But a budget itself is no silver bullet; the fact that you write down a plan for your money doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to work. Success with a budget takes a much more critical ingredient — you.Think about it — no matter how thorough or detailed you are in putting it together, a budget is just a plan. It’s just words and numbers on a piece of paper, or in a computer spreadsheet. Sure, your budget has lots of good intentions and great ideas; you’ve even remembered to budget for expenses that will come up in the future. But that budget is inanimate. It has no power. On its own, it accomplishes nothing. A budget won’t work without the power of you behind it. […]

  3. […] and only when they want. But our tithes provide the money to do God’s work. Churches need to budget too, and can only do so effectively when they can count on the regular contributions of their […]

  4. […] ready to become master of your financial life, and you know that the first step in doing that is to make a budget. That’s great. So what do you need to get […]

  5. […] I began using a budget to plan my financial life a few years back, I loved the sense of empowerment and control that it […]

  6. […] budget is a great road map for your financial life… but in the end, it’s only a document. It […]

  7. […] you’ve started to create a budget as a means of taking control of your financial life, you’ll soon start to notice that some […]

  8. […] money and give the rest. So how should you go about determining how to give? Start by making a good budget that will help you figure out what you and your family really need. Be sure to plan for your […]

  9. […] Most people know that savings is something they should do. But for many, it never materializes, because they don’t intentionally set aside part of their income to make it happen. The remedy for this is to build emergency savings into your budget. […]

  10. […] to become the master of your money. That meant some hard work — you had to develop a rigorous budget, and stick to it. You had to live below your means so that you could get out from beneath the […]

  11. […] without a blueprint, or try to build a road without a map. The same is true of finances — budgets are the plans that we build for our money that help us know what to do with it. Budgeting helps us […]

  12. […] you’ve worked hard to master your money, then you’ve overcome debt, learned to budget your spending and started saving for emergencies and big purchases. All of those techniques are great for dealing […]

  13. […] your money is hard work. It involves creating a budget, making tough decisions about what you can and can’t afford, and perhaps making deep cuts to […]

  14. […] into a lot of trouble with money, and can even make us slaves. On the other hand, good habits like budgeting, saving, tithing and giving help us to stay out of trouble, and set us up to succeed in the long […]

  15. […] is bad budgeting, or a complete lack of budgeting altogether. We’ve talked before about how budgets are essential to maintaining our personal finances in good order, and the same is true of business finances. In […]

  16. […] payments. (This usually has to do with the fact that they’re not living according to a good budget.) They let the lender tell them how large a loan they qualify for. Then they borrow that full […]

  17. […] gives us a good explanation, actually. We’ve used proverbs 27:23-27 before to talk about personal budgeting, but it applies to business finances very well: 23 Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, […]

  18. […] than you bring in. You can’t effectively manage your ministry’s money without a good budget. You can’t build a strong foundation for your ministry’s work without a good emergency […]

  19. […] is a natural outgrowth of good long-term financial strategy. Individuals and businesses use budgets to map out their income and spending each month, and ministries should do the same thing. You may […]

  20. […] you’re managing resources for the God of the universe, you’re going to work hard to account for every dollar, and make sure that you’re not spending His money on wasteful or unwise […]

  21. […] goal of good financial planning is to avoid the need for pawn or other borrowing altogether. A good budget and a solid emergency fund will save you from a lot of life’s financial calamities. Manage […]

  22. […] there’s no arguing with that. But scripture also tells us in other places to keep careful account of our money, to give to the poor, to tithe, to plan for our futures and to build wealth for future generations. […]

  23. […] that they do get. To solve this problem, you have to hunker down and work hard at planning and budgeting, making sure that you’re spending your money in wise ways and not wasting it on frivolity. […]

  24. […] a good chance that you’re spending too much on hobbies. The solution is to put together a solid budget to control your money and determine how much you can spend on hobbies every month — and then […]

  25. […] experts all agree that living according to a budget is the top key to winning with money in life. There are many methods that you can use for your […]

  26. […] way to have a debt-free Christmas is to save for it all year long by including a line item in your monthly budget. Laura and I have a certain amount of our monthly income earmarked to be used for Christmas gifts. […]

  27. […] no surprise that one of the tools that helped you overcome debt will also help you stay out of it. Good budgeting is essential for any kind of financial success. A budget is a plan that tells you exactly what […]

  28. […] the way that you worded your question, I would be willing to bet that you don’t have a solid budget as the foundation for your financial life. Most people that have a well crafted budget don’t […]

  29. […] this month in order to create progress toward your goals. In financial terms, we call that plan a budget, and it’s absolutely essential for winning with […]

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