Dear Faith and Family,
How do I teach my family the right way to budget and save money?
Thank you for writing to Faith and Family!
According to the American Psychological Association, “For the majority of Americans (64 percent), money is a somewhat or very significant source of stress, but especially for parents and younger adults (77 percent of parents, 75 percent of millennials [18 to 35 years old] and 76 percent of Gen Xers [36 to 49 years old]).”
Therefore, financial security weighs heavy on the mind. While financial matters differ between families and individuals, here are some tips for money management and how we can keep our Christian faith in mind while we deal with these matters:
Our first tips on budgeting come from RJ Custodio, a choir member from Quantico, Virginia, and a personal financial coach who is passionate about teaching families financial literacy.
- Prioritize your values
When it comes to budgeting your money, you want to first prioritize saving for what is most important to you and your family. Living life as Christians, we are taught by God in the Bible to set aside our offerings to Him first. My parents taught me always to set aside my sacrificial offerings first and save some of my money before spending it. So growing up I learned how to prioritize saving my money for what’s important to me first. I developed value-based budgeting and saving. I set aside first for my offering before saving money for my financial goals.
- Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
It’s important for the whole family to understand what the priorities for the budget are—it helps when deciding what/what NOT to buy. Priorities can include paying down debt, building a 3-6 month emergency fund, saving more, investing more, saving for college, down payment on a house.
- Zero-based budgeting
An effective way to know where your money is going each month. The intent is to give EVERY dollar a PURPOSE. It is as simple as taking your income (take-home pay) minus expenses (giving, saving, bills, spending) = ZERO
- Give yourself some grace
No budget is ever perfect…don’t get discouraged if you start a budget and it doesn’t go according to plan. Stick with it and keep moving towards your goal/priority.
If a monthly budget seems like a long time to stay on track, try breaking it down into 2-week increments (micro-budget). It is more manageable and motivating seeing the progress.
• Helpful ways to save money: pack a lunch; staycation; use public transportation; just because there’s a sale, doesn’t mean you have to buy it…be intentional.
Someone might ask, will these really bring benefit or good to myself and my family?
Well, in addition to being good for the family, these tips are also in line with God’s teachings.
…but the hand of the hard worker brings riches. A son who gathers in summer is wise, but a son who sleeps during gathering time brings shame.
[Proverbs 10:4-5 New Life Version]
Our second set of tips comes from Adelfa Manguit from Sanford, Florida, a financial vlogger and content creator who loves teaching tips and tricks regarding credit, debt, budgeting, and saving. She is a deaconess and secretary for the Buklod organization for married members.
- Setting financial goals
When setting for your family’s savings, it’s important that you set a goal and put a plan together. In general, you want to save at least 10% of your monthly income for your family’s future and have at least 3-6 months’ worth of expenses for your emergency fund for any unexpected expenses or emergencies that arise like a job loss, car repairs, illness, etc. Get everyone involved in setting your family’s financial goals by planning together and writing the goals on a board that every member of the family can see.
- Automate your savings
Now that you have your financial goals written down, you want to set up an automatic transfer for your savings so that you can remove the hindrances or inconvenience of remembering to transfer a portion of your money to your savings. You also want to have a set amount so you can consistently put that amount into your savings account and reach your family’s financial goal to save a certain along at the date you have set.
- Track your progress
Tracking your family’s progress is important because it will help you stay motivated and focus on achieving your financial goals. It will help you and your family stay on course and see the progress you’ve made. It will also help you see where you need to adjust your plans and where you can make improvements. This will lead to achieving your financial goals within the timeframe you’ve planned.
A truthful [reliable] person will have many blessings, but those eager to get rich [or with get-rich-quick schemes] will be punished. …Wealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished, But he who gathers by labor will increase.
[Proverbs 28:20 Expanded Bible, Proverbs 13:11 New King James Version]
Saving and budgeting are the will of God, for He is the one who wants us to be secure even as we strive to support our families and uphold our responsibilities.
When saving, we should also make setting aside our monetary offerings our first priority. Because as God’s people, we are expected by Him to set aside our offerings and sacrifices to help the growing needs of the Church Of Christ.
Our third set of tips comes from Natasha Esguerra from Winslow, Pennsylvania. She’s a choir director, but also a financial minimalist and video creator who avidly shares tips on minimalism, finances, and real estate.
- Compound Interest
Most people believe that time must always be traded to earn money, but in fact, this is only one way. It’s important to understand that there are different ways to earn money without directly trading time or life energy. There are ways to enable your money to make money, or in other words, work for you.
Enter: compound interest. This simple concept is rather powerful when applied to someone who is able to set aside a small but consistent amount of money for an extended period of time. This amount, when allowed to grow (we’re talking a decade or more) can grow into a nicely-sized nest egg without much active management. Look into investing automatically through your company’s 401k (many companies offer a match which, in essence, is free money), or in ROTH IRAs. You could even look into HSA’s. With enough time, these small consistent investments can grow into formidable amounts for future use. For children, consider looking into 529s which can help pay for college expenses.
These types of accounts offer various tax advantages and thrive on long-term investing. Basically, you can set them and forget them, letting compound interest and time do the legwork.
- Multiple Income Streams
Also, as the pandemic has taught us, it’s important to have multiple streams of income such that if anything should happen to one stream, you still have others you can fall back on. Consider a round table that only has one leg in the center. If something happens to that leg, then the table is no more. However, if you have a table with 4 legs, even if one leg goes missing, the other 3 could still keep the table upright for a bit. Multiple streams of income = more financial security. But these don’t need to be multiple jobs as then you will be working yourself into the ground. Instead, consider ways to add passive income to your repertoire.
- Spend Wisely
Rather than falling prey to “keeping up with the Joneses” and adopting a consumer mentality, look into buying assets, or things that can earn money, rather than sinking all your disposable income into liabilities. While it feels good to have some “nice things”, the average person goes into debt to obtain such things (putting up an image of “success” and “wealth”, but ends up being just one paycheck away from losing everything.)
However, if you are able to obtain assets such as real estate that over time can pay for your liabilities, then you won’t be working all your life to pay off your car notes, your large house notes, and your credit card debts. Besides, we as God’s nation shouldn’t be so focused on the acquisition of material things. This is what gets many people into debt. But if you get past the dopamine hit that comes from buying a cool new outfit, car, or other shiny objects, you can instead take that money and invest in the companies that everyone loves to buy things from.
You can become a part owner of that company rather than another consumer and build up assets.
By gathering assets that earn money for you, you can ultimately free up your time, not feeling like you HAVE to work 2-3 jobs just to make ends meet, as you won’t be living paycheck to paycheck. Rather, by spending wisely and building up your investments, you can ultimately have more time to dedicate to the Lord.”
This is exactly why in the Church Of Christ, we’re admonished to work hard and secure our needs in this life. However, the greatest success we strive for comes from our trust and devotion to God:
Let Almighty God be your gold, and let him be silver, piled high for you. Then you will always trust in God and find that he is the source of your joy. When you pray, he will answer you, and you will keep the vows you made. You will succeed in all you do, and light will shine on your path.
[Job 22:25-28 Good News Translation]
God will take care of you
If some feel hesitant to devote themselves to God because it might defer their attention to needs in this life, what does the Bible teach? We are advised by our Lord Christ not to worry about material needs, including our finances, since God not only knows but He loves us and promised to provide for all our needs.
Don’t worry and ask yourselves, “Will we have anything to eat? Will we have anything to drink? Will we have any clothes to wear?” Only people who don’t know God are always worrying about such things. Your Father in heaven knows you need all of these. But more than anything else, put God’s work first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be yours as well.
[Matthew 6:31-33 Contemporary English Version]
What divine insight does God provide in order for us to possess the proper outlook and balance in life, including how much effort one should exert for their material needs, according to the Bible?
keep me from lying, and let me be neither rich nor poor. So give me only as much food as I need. If I have more, I might say that I do not need you. But if I am poor, I might steal and bring disgrace on my God.
[Proverbs 30:8-9 Good News Bible]
As God elaborated, one of the wisest things a person can do in this world is learning to be content. Additionally, financial security is a good thing, so aspiring to it isn’t a bad thing. In spite of our busy lives, it’s important to remain mindful since the devil will use anything to distract us from our true purpose:
But make sure that you don’t get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing! God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work he began when we first believed. We can’t afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight. Get out of bed and get dressed! Don’t loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!
[Romans 13:11-14 The Message]
Our true goal is salvation on Judgment Day. As we strive to provide for our personal needs and the needs of our families, let us, even more, be “up and awake to what God is doing!” Above all, may we take advantage of every opportunity to be prepared for the second return of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- Your friends at Faith and Family
If you’d like Biblical advice on how to include God in your family dynamic, write to Faith and Family at email@example.com!
Disclaimer: We are not financial experts, nor are the financial ideas of this blog guaranteed to result in financial gains.
About the writer:
This blog was written by Brother Jeffrey De Guia, a minister of the gospel in the Church Of Christ (Iglesia Ni Cristo), with contributions from RJ Custodio, Adelfia Manguit, and Natasha Esguerra.