I used to be a slave to money.
Now, "that sounds drastic," you might say, however, I believe it to be true.
When I say I was a slave to money you may assume:
- I was rich and has a lot of money
- I bought whatever I wanted whenever I wanted it
- I was a rich politician swimming in dollar bills
I actually was a missionary when I was a slave to money. I was sent out by the Lord to live and serve in Norway with Youth With A Mission. I was surrounded by followers of Jesus, and felt extremely close to the Lord. YET, money still had a hold on me. I actually used my job title "missionary" as an excuse for my bad money habits: "I have so little money and am living by `faith’ of course my personal finances are chaotic!"
At the time, I was blinded, I made excuses, but looking back I can see the results of my enslavement:
I was stressed all the time about money. I hated checking my bank account because I never knew how much was there. I paid bills late almost every month. I worried constantly about money.
- I felt guilty for being generous.
- I felt guilty for buying things I didn´t need, like a latte.
- I felt guilty for not being "good" with money
3) Living by "faith"
When I didn´t have the money I would make a purchase by "faith", aka credit card. I didn´t do this often, but I bought things in "faith" believing God would provide for them after the fact, and sometimes God did. But it was not a responsible way of dealing with money, and ended up putting me in credit card debt.
I was 28 when I finally sat down with my boyfriend to figure out my finances and it looked something like this:
- I had no savings
- No system of giving
- I was in credit card debt
- I had no idea how much money was coming in every month...or going out.
I was embarrassed and ashamed.
Lovingly, my boyfriend helped me map out a plan to become debt free and helped me make a monthly budget. It took sometime to change my money habits, but I can say that today I am completely free of stress or worry of money!
Since then, I have learned that discipline and good habits in personal finance actually free us from the stresses and worries of money. Money doesn´t have to have power over us, it only does if we choose to let it. We all can "unlearn" bad habits and discipline ourselves to learn new ones in regards to money.
Step ONE: Theory
What does the Bible say about money?
1 Timothy 5,8
We need to buy things to survive in our society, food and housing, for example. Now what we buy, and how much is a different story and should be evaluated. We will talk more about that next week on the blog.
Proverbs 21:20, Proverbs 6: 6-7
Unexpected things happen. Some seasons we have plenty, and some seasons we have little. Saving teaches us to set aside our surplus for when we don´t have a surplus. It reduces stress and anxiety because we know that if something unexpected comes along we don´t have to worry.
Leviticus 27: 30-34, 2 Corinthians 9:6-8
The bible instructs us numerous times to give to the poor, the church and to missionaries. Giving is a spiritual discipline that takes practice! When I had no control over my finances giving caused me anxiety. It sounded a bit like this: "Oh no, what if the Lord asks me to give!" It is easy to think giving is easier when we have more money, but that isn´t always true. I can say, after years of steady regular giving, that now it is a pure joy for me to give. But that took practice.
Step TWO: Put theory into practice
Make a Budget
IN: How much is coming in?
- How much money to you have a month to spend?
- How will you spend it?
This is a basic principle for personal finances. These percentages work great no matter how much money you get in every month.
- Save 10%
- Give 10%
- Spend 80%
Out: How much is going out and where is it going?
Chances are you already have spending habits. Instead of tying to make a budget and then adjusting your spending to that, it can be easier to make your budget based on your current spending and then adjust as time goes on.
Making a Budget:
1) Map out where you spend your money.
Go through old bank statements to get an idea of where your money goes every month. This is the foundation for your budget.
2) Make some basic categories based on your habits of spending.
Rent, phone, food, entertainment, other, osv.
3) Set your monthly amount based on your spending habits:
It may take a few months to adjust the budget and get used to sticking to it.
Don´t give up!
Leaning these habits, and changing our relationship to money takes time. Be patient with yourself. Becoming debt free, or getting to a place where you actually can save 10% every month takes time.
Ask for help!
Do you see some bad money habits forming in your life? Would you like to start some good rhythms with money now? Ask for help from someone who you know has good money habits and stewardship.
Some good teaching resources:
Dave Ramsey: https://www.daveramsey.com/baby-steps/?snid=start.steps
We use "Spendee"
We have also tried "Good Budget"
Meghen Jean Gustavsen
- Mother to Luca, Wife to Øyvind
- Lived in Norway 9 years. Worked with Krussen since 2010
- Studied Theatre, Dance and Theology at University
- Loves a good latte´and delicious food