If you are living beyond your means, you have accumulated debt because you are spending more than you earn. If you have debt, becoming debt free will necessitate you living below your means and using the extra money to pay off debt. It always costs more money to be in debt, so get rid of the debt and begin to live below your means.
Taking the Second Step in Financial Maturity
"Well, we live within our means," you might say. "We have no debts, but we have a hard time saving any money." That is a good step toward the goal of living below your means, but it isn't good enough. You see, if you are living within your means, you have nothing saved up for your retirement and nothing left over to give away (I'm not talking about tithing--that should be done first!).
To live in financial freedom, we must learn to live below our income. The extra money we find can go to our savings account for future purchases and investments. The eventual goal for the Christian is to be dependent on no one, but to pull our own weight, financially and otherwise. We also want to be able to give to the poor.
"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each of us should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each should carry his own load," (Galatians 6:2-5 NIV).
The Real Issue
Let's just be honest with ourselves. You and I do not have an income problem, we have a spending problem. If you are monitoring your spending, you are probably seeing that the little things we spend money on (like going through a drive-through or impulse items in the check-out lane) add up.
Make a list of all the things you spend your money on that are not absolute necessities. Don't worry, I'm not suggesting you stop all of that spending and live like a monk. What I am suggesting is that after you make that list, you lay your hands on it and pray. Ask God to show you what things you should stop spending money on so that you can live below your income. Pray for wisdom and self-control--wisdom to know what to cut out of your spending and the self-control to do it.
See saving money and spending less money as a challenge. It can be fun to cut back on spending and see a savings account grow. It might be good to cancel the Blockbuster account for a few months and dust off the old books. Maybe you could read them aloud together as a family while you munch on popcorn or chocolate chip cookies. This doesn't have to be permanent, but look for opportunities to sit back and observe. I can guarantee you that if you heart is to honor God with your finances and you take this challenge to live below your income seriously so that you can grow as a disciple of Jesus in the area of money management, then the Lord will do amazing things on your behalf. His heart is to bless you! Remember, in an earlier article, I mentioned that we spend on ourselves because we really don't believe that God wants to bless us because we are precious to Him?
A Six Month Trial
I can't wait to hear your testimonies. May the Lord bless you in every way--physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially!
I have written my own high school economics curriculum Economics, Finances, and Business that uses living books and hands-on projects. You can purchase the print book here and the E-book here.
Merey (Meredith Ludwig Curtis)