There are fewer subjects men have cared to speak about regularly than money. God’s word does speak about money too, and significantly so. Thus, it is safe to conclude that money problems do not arise from a lack of information but rather from a lack of discipline. Even though men know enough about money, most just aren’t disciplined in stewarding it.
Hebrews 12:11 tells us that ‘discipline’ is not something pleasant, but in fact painful when it’s taking place. However, for those who will be trained by it–those who are willing to bear the pangs and pains–a harvest awaits. The passage primarily concerns our character and fight against sin, but it wouldn’t be necessarily stretched if applied to many other aspects of life, including money.
Consider then the following helpful suggestions for how you could handle money in a more disciplined manner.
We are Stewards
The first step to disciplined living is acknowledging that we are all stewards of God’s material wealth, gifts and resources, whether sinner or saint. Every shilling you have comes from God, who gives us the ability to make wealth (Deuteronomy 8:1-18, 1 Chronicles 29:12-14). Financial mismanagement issues from a failure to acknowledge oneself first as a steward. A carefree attitude always leads away from discipline, and wherever discipline is abandoned, destruction is the inevitable outcome. In his conversations, Jesus often talked about stewardship (Luke 16:1-13, Matthew 25:14-30), which depending on how it is appreciated, will determine the financial mannerisms in our families. Knowing our role as stewards of God’s gifts (family) and resources (money) can help us become more intentional in approaching the same.
No Points to Prove
Peer pressure is often relegated as a concern for teenagers, and yet it is as much a reality for adults and, if anything, with even more dire consequences. Scripture calls us to a place of contentment with what we have (1 Timothy 6:6–10). That doesn’t mean we are lacking in ambition and the aggression requisite for making things better. God is faithful in granting us all opportunities in this life (Ecclesiastes 9:11), which we should take advantage of. And yet we must pursue contentment, especially because society will increasingly define the value of men by what they possess. If we fail to teach our hearts to be content (contentment being joyful satisfaction with what we have), we will crush under the weight of measuring up to friends and neighbours. Your family needs to know that what you have is what God has thus far given–and be grateful for it.
Live Within Your Means
The outcome of a contented heart is living within one’s means. It is unwise to spend with the aim of pleasing people who do not care much at the expense of those we are supposed to love and care for. Not every appealing deal or lifestyle is for you. It helps to be bold enough to say ‘no’ to many things and to only respond to the most important needs. For instance, you will realize that eating out is more leisurely than a necessity. That’s because it’s possible to have a wonderful, out-of-the-ordinary eating experience at home without spending deep into one’s pockets.
Countless pressures can be avoided by simply living within the means one can afford. Questions like, ‘Do we want it or need it?’ ‘Is it urgent or leisurely?’ ‘Is it long-term or short-term?’ are wise questions to ask. We will do well to evaluate our steps before taking them, even counting the cost first (Luke 14:28-30). So always look before you leap for your family’s sake and peace of mind.
Write Down Your Budget
Finally, to keep track of your expenses, write down your monthly budget (on paper or a notepad on your phone). Be as deliberate and consistent as you can. If you transact mostly through mobile money, be keen to capture every charge attracted (M-pesa charges and bank charges) so that every shilling is accounted for monthly. Tick off every item you have paid for to know how to navigate monetary challenges. As you check the monthly flow, put aside some cash for emergencies (this is a kitty you build up over time).
In conclusion, this world has many challenges, and none of us is exempted, not even those born again. How disciplined we are in handling finances will significantly determine our families’ health. Thus we must be wise in our dealings.