Whether you’re trying to give more money to Haiti relief, to global missions, or to your local church ministry, it’s good to review your budget and see where you can cut unnecessary expenses to support God’s work around the world. This is part of being a good steward and laying up treasures in heaven.
The Church at Brook Hills (where David Platt pastors) has recently come up with 50 Financial Tips to help families give more for the glory of God. This is part of their “Radical Experiment” discipleship and stewardship campaign for 2010. They’ve got some great ideas that could make a real difference in your short-term and long-term ability to give.
Here’s their list…
1. Remember that all of your possessions belong to God. Psalm 24:1, Psalm 8:4-6
2. Establish giving if you haven’t already. 2 Corinthians 9:6
3. Stop buying on credit right now. Proverbs 22:7
4. Be on guard against materialism. Luke 12:15, Matthew 13:18-23, Ecclesiastes 5:10
5. Borrow money cautiously and modestly or. Proverbs 22:7
6. Practice saving, even if it is a small amount. Save your spare change every day. Proverbs 13:11
7. Remember that you are accountable to God for the stewardship of the resources that He’s entrusted to you.
8. Learn to live on what God provides and not fall prey to what the world tells you that you need.
9. Evaluate where you prioritize your work (Jesus first, family second, work third). Proverbs 23:4-5, Matthew 6:33
10. Think before you purchase everything. Proverbs 24:3, Ephesians 5:15-17
11. Look at your monthly expenses and evaluate which items are needs and which items are wants.
12. Create and follow a written financial plan (budget). Start by praying about it. Proverbs 16:9 (See budget worksheet).
13. Document your cash flow in and out for 3 months in order to see where you’re spending (try using a tracking software such as Quicken).
14. Monitor progress toward your goals by setting weekly/monthly checkpoints and evaluating the changes you’ve made. Set a monthly meeting with your spouse to review your finances.
15. Take advantage of free retirement matching from your employer.
16. Evaluate your outstanding debt and form a plan of attack to pay it off.17. Clip coupons. Try www.couponmom.com, www.couponsuzy.com, or www.hotcouponworld.com.
18. Recycle and reuse.
19. Re-evaluate your entertainment choices. Visit the library for free entertainment. Use Red Box movies at Walmart or visit the Dollar Theater. Consider reducing or eliminating attendance at sporting events (Friday night football, college football).
20. Visit garage sales.
21. Shop off brands or discount retailers.
22. Do your own yardwork.
23. Stop going out to eat. Bring your lunch to work/school.
24. Pay bills online to avoid postage expense and the cost of checks.
25. Drink only water at restaurants.
26. Bunch your travel or errands in order to save gas.
27. Form a supper club instead of going out to eat. Share money saving ideas with the group.
28. Buy kids’ clothes on clearance in the off season for the next year.
29. Use best price finder sites for items (www.shopzilla.com, www.froogle.google.com, www.bizrate.com).
30. Buy generic food brands, buy what’s on sale, buy a less expensive version (i.e. hamburger instead of steak), buy store brand items.
31. Consider changing your home phone or cell phone plan. Do you need a land line? Do you need a long distance plan? Are you paying for more minutes than you use?
32. Save on energy bills – programmable thermostat, higher during summer, lower in winter, use ceiling fans, wash clothes in cold water
33. Drive your current vehicle instead of buying a new one. A new vehicle always costs more than repairing your existing vehicle.
34. Consider carpooling.
35. Stop buying bottled water.
36. Only run the dishwasher when it’s full. Only run the washing machine with a full load.
37. Limit your extracurricular activities to a level comfortably within your budget (i.e. children’s sports activities)
38. Review every utility/household expense you currently have to ensure you are paying only for what you need (internet, cable, phone, insurance). Get help from a professional that you trust if needed.
39. Plant a garden.
40. Eliminating or reduce dry cleaning expense. Iron your own clothes.
41. Reduce your Christmas/birthday/gift spending. Do not buy gifts on credit. Proverbs 22:7
42. Use guidelines for what percentage of your income you should be spending on certain categories (housing, food, automobiles)
43. Auto deposit your paychecks to a separate account and only move the amount necessary to pay bills to a separate bill-paying account. This is especially useful for the self-employed or other with variable income. Proverbs 27:12; Proverbs 6:6-8
44. Have your savings automatically withdrawn from your paycheck and directed to a separate savings account so you are not tempted to spend it.
45. Have your paycheck direct deposited to avoid the temptation of cashing it and spending it.
46. Evaluate the cost of your hobbies and consider reducing or eliminating.
47. Never overdraft your account. Keep a cushion in your account in order to avoid overdrafts or service charges.
48. Consider selling assets (big and small…houses, cars, investments, and so on…) that you do not use or do not need. Store your treasures in Heaven! Matthew 6:19-20
49. Give your savings to Christ’s church during the Radical Experiment.
50. Consider not borrowing any additional money during the Radical Experiment.