EQUIP – Managing Finances in Times of Uncertainty
Managing Finances in Times of Uncertainty
We have received many questions over the last several weeks on the best way to manage finances in this season of uncertainty. We are not experts by any means, but we love the topic of finances. We are constantly studying this area and are always looking for ways to improve our personal finances and also to help support others who want to improve. We love doing Financial Coaching and leading Financial Small Groups in order to help other families get better in the area of finances as well!
As we have gotten questions about managing finances in times of uncertainty, there are 4 things that we recommend for families to do in this season:
1. Have a Plan. One of the best ways to make a plan for your finances is a budget. If you don’t have a budget, now is the perfect time to start. A budget isn’t meant to be restricting – a budget is simply making a plan for where your money should go. The main focus of your budget should always be your four walls – Food, Utilities, Shelter, & Transportation. If you have never done a budget before and don’t know where to start, HERE is a sample monthly budget from Ramsey Solutions. This is a great resource that will help you get started! The goal is to calculate your total monthly income and your total monthly expenses to make sure that you have enough money for all of your expenses. The good news is that many of the extras that are typically in our budget are easy to eliminate in this season. We don’t need to purchase extra clothing, the movie theaters are closed, we aren’t using much gas for our vehicles (and gas prices are SUPER low!), and we aren’t eating out as much. However, your grocery bill is probably a little higher than normal. All of these items need to be adjusted from month to month in your budget.
Just remember, this situation won’t last forever. In this season, focus on the four walls and create margin for any unexpected expenses that may arise. Proverbs 21:5 says: The plans of the diligent certainly lead to profit, but anyone who is reckless certainly becomes poor. If you haven’t already, your family may soon be receiving a stimulus check from the government to help support your family financially during this season. Right now, make a plan for that money. It doesn’t mean that you can’t spend any of the money and it all has to go to savings. You can plan to use some of the money for fun. Just make a plan before the money arrives. For many of us, if we leave the money in our account, we will end up spending it without a plan. During this season, let’s focus, more than ever, on being diligent with the resources that God has entrusted to us. Let’s make a plan – or assess our current plans – during this season.
2. Prepare for a Storm. Last summer, Matt & I were watching the weather and we started getting updates that the conditions were perfect for a severe storm including tornadoes. As we continued to monitor the situation, the storm continued to get worse and tornadoes were touching down. Worse yet, the storm was headed straight for us. So, we prepared. We got candles out, replaced batteries in flashlights, put pillows and blankets in the bathtub, and grabbed our family to shelter in place (before that was a real thing). We prepared for the storm. After awhile, we assessed the situation and, thankfully, the storm had passed. But, if we had been hit, we were prepared.
The situation facing us today is a storm. No one knows exactly how long it will last and how bad it is going to get. But we need to prepare. When it comes to personal finances, this means using your budget to save money for whatever storm is coming. If you are paying extra on debt, pause it for now. If you were planning on a big purchase or a family vacation, wait for now if you can. Funnel all of your extra money into savings to prepare for a storm. Preparing for a storm does not mean cleaning out the grocery store so that you have 9 months worth of groceries and supplies. Preparing for a storm means taking the necessary financial steps to make sure that you have a contingency plan in place, no matter what happens. Hopefully, as our thunderstorm did, this storm will blow over soon, with little impact on your family. Then, you can go ahead and use that money for whatever you had planned. But, if the storm does hit, you will be ready.
3. Be generous. In a season where we are constantly thinking about what is best for ourselves and our families, let’s not forget the people around us. As Christ-followers, we are called to be generous. Generosity has a way of taking our focus off of us and putting it on the people around us. And while we do want to have a plan, and we want to prepare for this storm, this season is also the perfect opportunity to be generous.
A few weeks ago, I heard the statement: ‘We are all in the same storm, but we aren’t all in the same boat.’ That is so true! You may have someone in your life whose boat is much smaller than yours. Their boat may have a few leaks and they are probably concerned about the boat going under. You have the opportunity to be generous and to make an impact in this person’s life. Maybe, in this season, God is calling you to help keep this person’s boat afloat with your generosity. Maybe that generosity is finances – or maybe that generosity is putting some groceries at their door. Whatever the generosity looks like, let’s be on the lookout for those around us whose boat is in worse shape than ours.
4. Pray. This seems like a common sense. Of course we should pray! However, during our many years of financial coaching and financial small groups, we have heard from so many people: ‘I feel guilty about praying for my finances – it makes me feel selfish’. Or, ‘I have made so many bad choices in my finances, why would God bless my finances now?’. Today, I want to free you from that. I want to give you permission to pray about your finances.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything”. Even though we make mistakes in relationships, it doesn’t keep us from praying about them. Even though we may have struggled in certain areas of our life, it doesn’t keep us from praying for those areas. In fact, we probably pray for them more.
Matthew 6:26 says “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Your heavenly father loves you and he wants you to succeed. There is nothing selfish about saying ‘God, I know that you have given me the gift of generosity and I want to bless those in need, please provide the finances so that I can bless someone else.’ Or ‘God, I want to provide well for my children and take care of their needs, please provide the finances for me to do so’. God loves you more than you can possibly imagine and he wants to bless every part of your life. Don’t miss out on that opportunity by not asking him for help.
We are living in such a unique season of life. There is much chaos & uncertainty everywhere we look. During this time, I pray that God would help us to be diligent with our finances. If you start now, you’ll begin seeing results one day earlier than if you start tomorrow.
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