Who hasn’t had financial struggles? I sure have.
I remember the time just out of college when I worked as a temporary for several months. I had to pay my rent from week to week. I don’t know who hated that worse, me or the landlord!
Then I got a job where I got paid twice a month. Now I could actually pay my bills, but I wasn’t paying them regularly. I finally got a job where I got what felt like a huge amount, but only once a month. And I still struggled!
I eventually had to resort to signing up for one-on-one financial counseling through a Christian financial ministry to help me sort out my regular expenses, my debts, a plan to pay my regular expenses regularly, and a plan to help pay off all my debts. It took me about ten years to pay off my student loans, my new car, and my 4 small debts, and continue paying my regular living expenses. I’ve been debt-free for almost 12 years now.
It’s made life so enjoyable, to live without that debt. It freed me to pay my entire way through four years of graduate school a year after getting out of debt.
Yet I know I am in a limited group of Americans, even Christian ones, who are living without debt. Just last month, Bankrate.com reported that only 52% of individuals surveyed had more savings than credit card debt. That same report noted that 24% had more credit card debt than savings, and 17% had no debt and no savings.
Internationally known Christian financial guru Dave Ramsey reports on his website that 40% of the average food budget is eating out, 68% of people do not budget every month, 78% of Americans live from paycheck to paycheck, and 90% buy things they cannot afford (though I am still checking their website to find the source of these figures).
According to ShareFaith, only 1.5 million out of 99 million churchgoers tithe on any regular basis.
If you are a follower of Christ, though you are single: now would be a great time to get your financial house in order. Though we walk by faith, not by sight, it is always better to plan for the future and let Him guide and bless it than to ask for Him to get us out of the mess we created for ourselves!
The basic reasons why:
1) to gain an eternal perspective on ownership, stewardship, possessions, money, desires, and identity;
2) to glorify the Lord by properly discharging your duty as a steward (not the owner) over all He has given you;
3) to be able to share in His work and advancing His kingdom by being obedient and generous;
4) to meet your own current and future needs and the needs of your family;
5) to grow in faith, wisdom, obedience, and peace; and
6) to avoid idols, entrenchment, enslavement, wastefulness, and despair.
For a thorough treatment of Biblical principles to handle our finances, please check out Ramsey’s and Brian Kluth’s websites.
Christ’s single, some questions to ponder about your financial status with clarity and brute honesty:
- Do you have a written budget?
- Do you have a current will (something I must update myself)?
- Do you have a savings account? How and how often do you deposit into it and draw from it?
- Do you know where all your money goes every month?
- Are you constantly getting behind in paying your bills and basic living expenses?
- Have you started using your credit card or cash advance places to pay for basic living expenses like groceries?
- Exactly how much debt do you have? Are you making the minimum payment each month?
I do not ask you these questions to intrude, annoy, shame, or condemn you, my friend. I was in your shoes once.
I remember that feeling, that burden, of being in debt.
I also want to share the relief, peace, and joy that come from setting up your lifestyle for financial freedom.
I ask you to ask yourself the above questions because how we handle our finances is a strong indicator of the focus and the condition of our hearts. Jesus reminded us that where our treasure is, there our hearts would be established (Matthew 6:21).
God talked a lot about finances in both the old and the new testaments. We ought to be talking about it as single Christians. Especially if you plan to ever get married.
If you have never done these fun activities, you have 2 homework assignments for this week:
1. Write down all your regular bills/expenses, and categorize them: weekly, monthly, yearly. (Hint: No creating a category for “miscellaneous”!)
2. Track every single one of your expenditures: save in an envelope or take snapshots of every single one of your receipts just for the next 7 days. If you have to pay someone back for a personal loan, just write down their name, how much you paid him/her, and the date.
I will continue this topic next Sunday.
Cornfield, Jill. Only 52% of Americans have more emergency savings than credit card debt, Bankrate finds. Article for Bankrate.com. 02/22/17. http://www.bankrate.com/finance/consumer-index/financial-security-charts-0217.aspx accessed 3/4/17
Jones, Jeffrey M. Majority in the US do not have a will. Article and poll for Gallup.com website. 5/18/16.
http://www.gallup.com/poll/191651/majority-not.aspx accessed 3/4/17
Kluth, Brian. 30 Biblical principles for financial peace and freedom. His personal website. http://kluth.org/church/30FinancialFreedomAndPeace2.htm accessed 3/4/17
Moodie, Walter & Hoos, Glen. Money management for the Christian family. Article for Familylifetoday.org 2003, originally posted by Family Life, Canada. http://www.familylife.com/articles/topics/marriage/challenges/finances/money-management-for-the-christian-family accessed 3/4/17
Mullaney, Tim. More Americans debt-free, but the rest owe more. Article for USA Today. 3/21/13. http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2013/03/21/census-household-debt-report/2007195/ accessed 3/4/17
Ramsey, Dave. Money management tips for singles. Article for Daveramsey.com. http://www.daveramsey.com/blog/money-tips-for-singles accessed 3/4/17
Sharefaith. The truth about Christians tithing in the U.S. Article for Sharefaith.com. 12/21/15. http://www.sharefaith.com/blog/2015/12/facts-christians-tithing/ accessed 3/4/17
Skowronski, Jeanine. Credit card debt still a big concerns. Article for Bankrate.com. 02/23/15.
Wolff-Mann, Ethan. The average American is in credit card debt, no matter the economy. Article for Time.com, the Money page. 02/9/16. http://time.com/money/4213757/average-american-credit-card-debt/ accessed 3/4/17