Everyone, even those with the best-laid financial plans, will face crises in their lives. A crisis can be something as small as a week-long illness or as large as a loss of housing due to a natural disaster. Regardless of the nature or scale of the crisis, it usually comes with some sort of financial impact.
One of the best things that we can do to prepare for a crisis is to create a crisis budget. This can be done several ways:
- cut your expenses by a percentage – like 40 or 50 percent
- figure out the most likely crisis and cut your budget to meet the circumstances of that crisis. For example, if you were to lose your job, what would you do?
Evaluating and adjusting your spending plan before the crisis occurs makes it easier to make objective decisions, rather than basing them on emotion. It also helps you have a sense of peace that you have a plan.
One reason most people don’t do this is because they really do not understand how much they are currently spending so they cannot anticipate an adjustment. Many times people will face the financial challenges in a crisis by using credit cards to maintain their standard of living. This is outside of a plan for stewardship, and also very dangerous because you not only have a reduced income or increased expenses, you are now adding debt payments to your expenses, PLUS interest on the increased debt, so you are just making the situation worse. We have seen many people in this situation and it just drags them down faster and faster.
The important thing is to know how much you spend on a monthly basis–-that is the only way you can possibly be prepared for a crisis. Then you need to implement the crisis budget as soon as you anticipate the problem happening. For example, in most cases if there are layoffs at work, you can see them coming maybe weeks or even months in advance. So as soon as you anticipate the crisis, implement the crisis budget.
The worst thing that is going to happen is you’ll save some money if the crisis never occurs. The best thing that will happen is that you will survive the crisis with minimum financial damage.
Sometimes a crisis is a blessing in disguise. It can help us grow closer to God, it can forge a stronger marriage, we can meet new friends through new circumstances or we can find a new path in life. It reminds me of a quote I heard: “Be thankful for the bad things in life – they open your eyes to the good things you weren’t paying attention to.”
Instead of pondering why God allows bad things to happen to good people, we should remind ourselves that the strongest steel is forged in the hottest fires. God sets forth these trials and tribulations for each one of us, not to break us down, but to help us emerge stronger, victorious in the face of challenges.
If you are facing a crisis, meditate on this verse from Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope. When you call me, and come and pray to me, I will listen to you.” God is always with us on the path to stewardship, even when it’s hard for us to recognize it.