by Pastor Kregg Hood
December 12, 2014
God cares about everything in your life—spiritual, emotional, physical and even financial. When you realize that more than 2,200 verses in the Bible deal with money and financial issues, you can see that God wants to lead you in your finances.
It’s so easy to spend more than we make—especially during the holidays. Every store is offering a too-good-to-be true discount, luring us into spending more than we planned. So, to reduce your expenses fast, here is a “top 10” list. Try to implement these right away before you get into trouble this holiday season.
- “Just say no” to new debt. This is especially true on the big-ticket items. Even if you need a new refrigerator or even a new car right now, don't assume that the low interest rates justify a new multi-year commitment.
- Make and follow your personal spending plan. Don't wait another day to figure out what you can and can't spend. Be tough on yourself at first. After you start to make progress, you can relax a little when you are truly following your plan.
- Watch out for how often you use your debit card to get cash from an ATM. First, remember that many ATM accounts charge a fee to use their service. Then remember that it's far too easy to get money out of your account. Decide how much cash you can afford to spend each month and then use your ATM only according to your plan or when it's an emergency.
- Take a shopping sabbatical. Some of us go shopping because it relaxes us. Others of us go because we're bored. Watch out for any trips that take you to a place where you might be tempted to buy something you don't really need.
- Avoid impulse purchases. Save up for all of your purchases until you're sure you need them. Use what you have a bit longer and fix things or wear them out.
- Use your cash to pay down a credit card balance. It may not seem like very much compared to your total balance, but every dollar paid on the balance means reduced debt and less interest you’re paying on it. You’ll be surprised at what a difference this can make.
- Stay home and cook. For the price of one meal eaten out, you can usually buy groceries for three to five home-cooked meals. Remember, the money saved is not extra spending money. Use it to pay down your debt.
- Take your lunch to work. This is a quick way to save $25 to $30 per week. That may not sound like much, but it’s over $100 per month! Take the money you save each week and add it to the amount you’ve been paying on a credit card or use it to pay for necessities you’ve been charging on a credit card.
- Discontinue monthly subscriptions and memberships that aren’t absolutely necessary. Is cable TV or internet access really more important than your sense of inner peace? Do you really need a daily newspaper? Can you learn to exercise at home instead of the health club? One thing by itself may not seem like very much, but together they all add up at the end of the month.
- Use the “envelope system” for spending (I wrote about it in “From Debt to Life,” which you can download for free on our Thrive resource page). This is the single most practical action you can take to get your spending under control.
More than anything, remember that the Lord wants to guide you in this process. Hebrews 11:5-6 says, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’”
God is on your side and wants to help you in all aspects of your life. Implement these tips in your life, and you’ll be able to reduce some stress of the Christmas season.