Establish and maintain the discipline of saving a portion of your earnings.
Each day of life is filled with trade-offs. An hour spent watching television is an hour we no longer have to enjoy with our family, a meal consisting of non-nutritious foods takes the place of a meal that would have brought nutrition and energy to our bodies, one hundred dollars spent on shopping is one hundred dollars we no longer have to improve our finances or further the cause of Christ.
What helps us to make wise decisions in everyday trade-offs is to know our priorities in each aspect of life. When it comes to time, if we wrote out our roles in life in order of priority, we would have a visual reminder of how to allocate our time. If I wrote out my roles as, “servant of God”, followed by “husband”, followed by “dad”, then “adviser”, I could better allocate time each in order of those priorities. I would make time with the Lord a priority, I would schedule time with my wife, schedule family time and then, of course, time to work. A popular saying in leadership training is, “What gets scheduled gets done.” I have found that to be true.
The same applies to our finances. How often do we spend money based on a feeling (the temporary pleasure of buying something new, or “retail therapy”), or because we see something and believe we must have it? According to a Gallup Economy and Personal Finance survey, only 30% of Americans polled say they have a detailed budget – either written or digital. That means that roughly 70% do not have a detailed budget. Without knowing where our dollars are going, we will be hard-pressed to fulfill our financial priorities.
For most, a top financial priority is to pay the bills on time. What are your other financial priorities? Have you written them? Holding onto money (saving) seems to be a challenge to many because there are so many temptations thrown our way on a daily basis and, let’s face it, there are countless ways to use money today for our enjoyment. That’s where an important trade-off comes in. By setting aside a portion of our income for later that could elsewise be enjoyed today, we are taking the rewarding steps of preparing ourselves and our family for such a time when that money is needed to meet the basic demands in life. Perhaps the financial need is brought on by an illness, disability, or even the termination of employment.
We can be encouraged in this matter of saving, knowing that it is a biblical principle, and that it is not hoarding or being selfish. Solomon uses the real life example of ants who have no supervisors, no mentors or bosses to tell them what to do or how to do it, yet they gather their food prudently during “harvest” because there is coming a season when they cannot work or gather “winter” and would otherwise starve (see Proverbs 6:6-8). Likewise it is wise for us to gather (save) while we are physically able to labor because there will be a time when we are unable to labor yet will still need money for the necessities of life.