We are a few weeks into the new year, and by now you’ve probably abandoned your resolutions. If you’ve already broken most of the resolutions you just made a few weeks ago—get serious and focus on just one or two.
Some of the most common resolutions are: stay fit; get healthy; lose weight; get my finances in order.
And if getting your finances in order is your resolution, we are here to help. Once you learn how to manage money God’s way, you’ll be renewed in spirit and become a good and faithful steward of all God’s blessings. One of the best ways to get your finances in order is to understand that God plays a role in your finances and one day you will be accountable to him for how you handled what he has given you.
With that in mind, we have some ideas to help you stick to financial resolutions for the long term.
Try concentrating. If you set a lot of resolutions, it is easy to lose focus and become frustrated. Focus on tackling the one or two things in your life that bother you the most, and define a resolution that helps to fix those problems.
It is important to define the reason for making the change. Changing because of pressure from others or because you think you should, will never motivate you for very long. The change needs to be driven by a deep desire in your own heart—and hopefully, this desire is driven by a need to please God.
Make sure your resolution is achievable. It is easy to get carried away with resolutions and make them so brilliant that they are impossible to achieve. If your resolution is to save $500 a month and you are barely making ends meet each month, saving $500 a month is not a realistic goal. You will improve your likelihood of success by taking small steps, being faithful to those small steps, and building on your success.
Make your resolution part of a long term goal. If you’ve decided to pay off debt, it may tie to a long term goal of putting yourself into a position to buy a home. Or maybe getting out of debt means more savings for retirement, or funding college for the kids. Whatever it is, your immediate resolution should be the first step towards a bigger life goal.
Be VERY specific about exactly what your goal looks like. Generic statements like “Manage my money better” is too vague and you really don’t have a roadmap for what to do or how to define success.
The change you want to make needs to be concrete, well defined, and measurable. A well-defined goal would be to say “I want to save $1,000 for an emergency fund by December 30, 2019”
This is a concrete goal—you know the amount and the time frame so you can measure your progress. If you start this week, you’ll have 50 weeks to meet your goal. Each week, you need to save about $20.
The next step is to define what you’ll do to save $20 each week. Will you quit eating lunch at a restaurant? Stop using the vending machines at work? Start a carpool to get back and forth to work? Avoid the toll roads? Or some combination of all of these? By making many small daily choices you can achieve your long-term goal.
Every single day, there should be something simple and small you can do to move closer to your goal. The small consistent successes are evidence that you are making positive forward progress.
It’s fine to celebrate your success, but make sure that your celebration doesn’t undermine your goal. If you’ve achieved a savings goal, reward yourself with a few hours to do something that you consider fun and inexpensive!
It’s a great idea to concentrate on a change that needs to be made, while at the same time increasing your prayer life and time with God. If your new year’s resolution concerns financial changes, we have some Bible verses for you to use for reflection:
If you are trying to get out of debt, meditate on Proverbs 22:7: “The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” If you are in debt and don’t think you are a slave, try missing a payment.
Sirach 20:11 works if paying off a specific loan is on your list of resolutions. “There is one who buys much for little, but pays for it seven times over.” Depending on your interest rate, you can pay more than twice as much for an item by making only the minimum payment on a credit card. Are you “paying for something seven times over?”
If your resolution is to save money, picture Proverbs 21:20, which tells us: “Precious treasure and oil are in the house of the wise, but the fool consumes them.” Spending first means there will never be enough money to save, and unexpected expenses result in debt.
To stop overspending, reflect on 1 Timothy 6:10: “For the love of money is the root of all evils.” When we overspend, it can be due to using money as a form of gratification. The power, fun, fulfillment and short-term happiness we get from spending can quickly turn into idolatry if our spending habits overwhelm us.
Acts 20:35 “Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, who said it is more blessed to give than to receive.” Giving increases around Thanksgiving and Christmas because it’s a natural thing to do at that time of year. How can you continue to be generous for the rest of the year?
It may sound counter-intuitive to give when you are getting your finances straightened out, but it is important for you to consciously recognize that God owns everything and you are his steward. This concept should be the foundation of all your financial planning.
Our prayer for you this year is that you eliminate financial burdens in your life and honor God in the way you spend, save, give and manage your finances.
If you truly make a resolution that is God-centered and wrapped in prayer, it is much easier to maintain the strength to keep the resolution.