The first month of the new year is almost over. Any new year's resolutions are either well underway or busted by this point, but it is not too late to put together a financial plan for the year.
Don't Fail to Plan.
It's been said that failing to plan is planning to fail. But what should a financial plan look like for the year? The net five years? And while we can know most of the anticipated expenses that arise in our life, the truth is that there are a lot of unexpected financial surprises that can throw us off course. But having a plan is like having a compass that guides us back to our financial goals—no matter how far off we can get off track.
Having a plan is good, but the quality of our plan matters, too. John Wesley had a stewardship plan. “Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can!” But we need to be specific about our financial planning or we will likely not reach our goals.
When we are careful with the money we have, we don't just spend because we have money. We consider our goals and decide if the cost associated with that investment in front of us is in line with those goals. Then we determine what is the lowest amount of investment that we can pour into that decision. Benjamin Franklin reportedly said, "Watch the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves." When we seek to be a wise steward concerning all of our decisions, we stay more ini line with our financial plans.
Establish a budget that is realistic and stick with it. Webster says that the definition of a budget is "an estimate of income and expenditure for a set period of time" or to "allow or provide a particular amount of money in a budget." Some portions of a budget are estimates, though a history of spending can help to be more accurate. However, a budget does not do any good if it is not followed. More than a month-by-month spending plan, form a budget that includes annual spending and saving goals.
Below are links to some tools to help you as you seek to budget God's money. Use the budget calculator tool below to set realistic amounts in each budget calculator.
A budget doesn't just happen once it has been planned. Maintain the budget by weekly checking in to see where you have overspent or underspent.
Having a five-year view of your budget taking into account potential life events helps to keep the budget accurate and also helps to minimize surprises. Forecasting the future budget with the past budget alongside helps to ensure that our budget is realistic.
As we attempt to steward well what God owns, we will make mistakes or have unforeseen circumstances that throw us off of our plan. The same God Who provides is able to help us in such times. Just keep faithfully stewarding what He provides and planning well, and in due time you will be back on plan again.
Yours For Wise Stewardship,