I just read an Investopedia article about some of the most common mistakes people make with their personal finances.
To name a few, overspending, buying too much home, and using credit cards to pay for essentials and bills. In fact, according to online financial advising and management company Personal Capital, in the U.S., 11.5% of the average monthly credit card spending is spent on groceries. And as the Investopedia article mentions, while these habits may not be a red flag at first, they can either lead to a crisis… or make a crisis much worse.
So, to avoid this from happening, the advice from most financial experts is to cut back on spending—especially when it’s through credit cards or other forms of debt—and turn the cutbacks into savings.
Cutting back on food, for instance… We have to eat. But some of the groceries we buy can be purchased for a cheaper price, either at a different store or buying a different brand. And we can curtail how often we dine or eat out. If you go out to eat for lunch and spend $8 on average, that adds up to over $2,000 every year.
Shopping is another category… Shopping for clothes or not shopping around for a better price on services we need, such as car or homeowner’s insurance, cell phone and internet service, etc. can be costly.
Finding ways to cut back and/or more sources of income, would be one of the first steps mainstream experts recommend to avoid a personal crisis. And the main reason for doing this is to be prepared for rainy days. But what about from a biblical perspective?
For starters, in the Building Your Finances God’s Way financial discipleship study, the recommendation is to save up at least $1,000 first. This way, if any emergency comes up, you can turn to cash, instead of digging a deeper hole for yourself using credit cards or other forms of debt again. The next step is to pay off your debts. Typically, that’s starting with the smallest amount on your credit card, if you have any. Then, continue to save toward three months’ worth of living expenses. There’s more outlined in the study, but that’s just a glimpse.
Saving is one of the best ways to avoid a crisis. Having it may not necessarily make what you’re going through enjoyable, but it does ease the stress—and prevents you from adding debt.
But we must always remember that, with God being for us, no weapon formed against us shall prosper (Isaiah 54:17).
If you’re in a crisis right now, pray! God is and always has been your Provider. Put your faith in Him… not your circumstances (or your bank account). Seek contentment (1 Timothy 6:6), and know that you can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13). The more content you are, the less you will find yourself giving in to the need to keep up with the Joneses or make impulsive purchases.
Sign up for the Building Your Finances God’s Way small group study to learn more about what God says about managing money and a crisis. And little by little, day by day, do what you can to get out of debt by being obedient to His word. Because whether you’re taking steps to get out of a crisis or avoid one, the more we do finances God’s way, the more we can live by God’s will.
We were bought at a price (1 Corinthians 6:20), not to be controlled by anyone or anything, but so we could be free to pursue joy, serve Him and serve others with love. After all, the only thing we should ever owe anyone in this life… is love (Romans 13:8).
Melody is the founder of financial coaching business Centsible Finance LLC, which publishes the free e-letter Making Cents. She earned a bachelor’s in public relations from the University of Florida in 2014, and a master’s in global strategic communications from Florida International University in 2017; but discovered her passion in personal finance and writing, as well as a closer relationship with the Lord after joining a Compass—Finances God’s Way study in 2020. She now also volunteers as a financial coach for MoneyWise, serves as a member on the Compass Florida board, is the editor for the Compass blog, and a facilitator and trainer for financial discipleship studies. Melody and her husband, Nate, live in South Florida.