There are people far more qualified than I am to write about this topic, but as the saying goes "we teach best what we most need to learn."
Our culture is overwhelmingly materialistic. Relative to the rest of the world and history, most of us are wealthy and most of us live like kings. Often it is hard to see past this and gain perspective about our material possessions and how we spend our money. If you are not convinced, take a moment to ponder the fact that it's estimated in 2013 that Americans spent $330 million on pet Halloween costumes and $2 billion on candy.
I think this is a good starting point when creating a budget - to realize just how much we have and to have an understanding of what we are up against. We are up against a culture that is always trying to sell us something and convince us the we need to upgrade. And bigger than that, we are up against ourselves. The real issue lies in our ability to have self control when it comes to spending. The issue lies in discerning our wants and needs.
I can write out a budget, but sticking to it is a whole other beast. It is hard to have self control. Buying things is fun and temporarily it feels good. I believe that knowing this is half the battle.
So when you write out a budget, pray for self control to execute it. Pray for guidance and wisdom. Pray that God would help you manage the good gifts that HE has so graciously given you. Pray that you will learn to discern your wants and needs.
Having acknowledged the external an internal challenges we face in creating a budget and sticking to it, let's talk about the why?
Why budget? Why be frugal? Why save?
Define your why. If you don't have a reason to be frugal, then you will fail. My whys are are:
1. To live below our means so we can afford for me to stay home with the children and manage our home.
2. To build up an emergency fund of 6 months.
3. To prepare for the future (private school, college, retirement).
4. To teach our children to be wise with the material gifts God has given us.
5. To increase our giving to our church, missionaries, friends, and community.
What are your whys? What are your goals? To pay off your student loans, to save for a car, to buy a house, start a business, quit your job, give more to your favorite charity?
Some of your goals may be specific (#1,2) and some more big picture (#3,4,5).
The why is our motivator. If we don't have a why then it is that much harder to have self control when sifting through the myriad of spending decisions we make on a daily/weekly/monthly/yearly basis.
Write down your whys on paper.
Another thing to keep in mind is that having true financial freedom and peace does not mean you don't ever buy things you want or enjoy any luxuries. Often those things are right and good and blessings to others.
The goal is peace and freedom from our own greed and mismanagement. The goal is to use wisely what the Lord gives us and to enjoy the fruits of our labor for His glory and intended purposes.
My next finance post I plan to share some technical budgeting tips and ways I stay organized with money and 3 kiddos! Nothing fancy, just one woman's way of doing things. Stay tuned.....