Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Stewardship and Budgeting

When we went from two incomes to one, we realized that we of course would have to decrease spending in certain areas. To do this, we created a household budget. It is a very important part of our finances and we strive to adhere to it as close as possible. It is not an easy task, that is for sure. We started and realized how much we were spending in certain areas and realized that it was not working. So, we adjusted it and cut back on those things. Now, things are much better. We have certain categories and limits for the individual things in those categories.

The one thing I've learned in doing all this is that the money we have is NOT ours. Everything we have and earn is God's money. He is the one who provides the job that provides the money. Yes, we have the knowledge to do that job, but who gave us that knowledge? GOD! If you think about everything that has happened in your life - timings of events, etc., I'm sure you can see a path of how things worked out, just in the perfect timing. It is hard to say that there isn't a plan for your life.

The most important thing for us to do is acknowledge that God provides for us. Once we do this, we should set aside our offering for Him. We are really only the managers of the finances He gives us. I encourage you, if you aren't, to give the firstfruits to God. The Bible does not say a set amount, but encourages us to give freely. 10 percent is only a minimum. Set it aside before you pay your bills or spend your money, that way it can't be spent on other things. This verse clearly states that when we give cheerfully, which is not always easy to do, especially when things are tight, that God will make his grace abound to you so that we have all we need. It is never His desire for us to be without. (This doesn't mean always having the latest and greatest) That is a choice we make by being good stewards of our money or not. If you do all these things, I believe that you will reap the benefits and blessings that God has for you...maybe not right away, but in His time.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8
"Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work."

So, in saying all this, I encourage you not to get caught up in the game of couponing. I have to admit, at first I did and still sometimes do. It is hard not to. In the beginning it is hard too, because you are trying to build a coupon pile or build your ECB for CVS. You find something that is fun and interesting. You want to find the best deals you can. Not only does this use up money, but it also uses up lots of time. I have to make a conscious effort to not be on my computer all day doing this. I have to remember that my focus is my relationship with God, my family, my house and then these other things. Stewardship is not just money, but time and other things as well.

I also encourage you to set up a limit on your spending. It is hard not to see all the good deals this week at CVS and think, 'Oh, I can get this, this and this, oh and this too!". You have to focus on what you will really use and what you really need. Now, that being said, I have at times, bought things for the ECB at CVS, that I don't use. I will be keeping a stock of these and donate them. I only buy them if I have coupons though! I will not pay a lot for things I don't/won't use. I will however, get them when I need them for another purpose and donate them happily. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I won't buy for charity! However, my charitable giving is done through tithing, so unless I have extra money that I feel God is leading me to give elsewhere, I try not to spend unnecessarily. I also buy things when they are cheap from a sale and I have coupons, to stock up to an extent. As long as I'm not paying a ton of money to do this, I think this is a wise use of my time and money.

Are you overloaded yet? I will leave it at this.

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