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Ask Chuck: Fail-proof financial resolutions

Ask Chuck your money question

Dear Chuck,

I dread making financial resolutions every new year because I usually fail at keeping them. Can you offer any simple tips to help me manage money better this year? Something that’s fail-proof?

Fail-Proof Financial Resolutions 

Is Your Budget Too Tight to Tithe?

Dear Fail-Proof Financial Resolutions, 

First, Happy New Year! It is always exciting to me to roll the calendar over to a fresh start on the 365 days ahead. As of today, we have 358 remaining to plan a new path forward! 

While there is no such thing as a “fail-proof plan,” I can give you Biblical advice that has stood the test of time when it comes to your financial resolution for 2022. Here it is: Give First. Save Second. Faithfully follow this plan, and you will experience true financial freedom! Now, let's break it down into some action steps. 

Give first

Invite the Lord into your finances. Ask Him to give you the motivation to make giving your highest financial priority for 2022 and beyond. Proverbs 3:9 tells us to “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce” (ESV). Do you truly honor Him first? God wants to conform us into His image. He does that by asking us to trust Him by first giving away a portion of what He provides. Ask yourself whom you are honoring in the way you use what He provides. 

Generous living is one of the greatest blessings of financial freedom. Once you develop the habit of giving first, you will discover the joy in it, and soon, it will become part of your normal routine. When giving comes from a heart of sincere love and gratitude, it will change you. If God increases your income, increase your standard of giving, not just your standard of living. I believe starting with a goal to give away 10% of your total income (gross amount) is a clear standard set forth in Scripture. While not a law, it is an objective target for honoring the Lord. 

Save second

We can save when we follow the warning in Hebrews 13:5: “Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” Contentment is what makes us able to actually enjoy frugality. It is what gives us flexibility in our budget so that we can save as needed. Automatic deposits ensure consistency. Save 3-6 months in an emergency account. Then, set some short- and long-term saving goals for things like vehicles, a house, vacation, and retirement. 

Resolve to take action

Should you make “Give First, Save Second” your New Year's resolution, you will fail if you do not take action. The first attack will be to think you cannot afford to give first or save anything because you are constantly short of the funds to accomplish one or both goals. Let me introduce you to another principle that will ensure your success this year. 

The way you accomplish this is by exercising what Bob Lotich calls TheNever 100 Rule

Do not spend everything you earn. Never spend 100% of your income! Get that? Never! 

King Solomon said it this way: “The wise man saves for the future, but the foolish man spends whatever he gets” (Proverbs 21:20 TLB). The simplified version of that is: “If your outgo exceeds your income, your upkeep will be your downfall.” If you spend more than you earn, the stress of keeping up will be overwhelming! Abide by the Never 100 Rule, and you will find margin to give and save. 

Most people have to adjust their spending habits to make this work. If you don’t have a budget yet, I highly recommend one. Download our Easy Guide to a Budget You Love, or use an app. Track your spending for a month or two so you can estimate how much you need to allow for each category. You will likely discover holes in your “bucket.” Plug them. Here’s how:

  • Limit social media. It robs your time and money.
  • Postpone unnecessary purchases.
  • Negotiate insurance, phone plans, etc. 
  • Limit or delete streaming services.
  • Eat out less by planning and shopping for groceries.
  • Move to a less expensive home. 
  • Drive a less expensive vehicle. 
  • Pay off debt and stop using credit cards if you cannot pay off the balance each month.
  • Learn to speed intentionally, not emotionally.

Find joy in the journey

Charles Dickens said, “There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.” 

My suggestion is to face the year ahead with a good attitude. Make it fun to deny yourself things you once compulsively purchased. Laugh, and enjoy it because you know God is orchestrating your steps for His purposes. Do your best with what He gives you to manage. Be proactive, and face 2022 with laughter, expectancy and renewed purpose. Resolve to see this year through the lens of an eternal perspective. Acknowledge God as your Provider, then give and save out of devotion to Him. 

The Crown Stewardship Podcast is a wonderful tool to help guide you in the many facets of God’s financial principles. You can subscribe for alerts on new episodes. I hope you find it a valuable resource; enjoy! 

Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries, a global Christian ministry, founded by the late Larry Burkett. He is the host of a daily radio broadcast, My MoneyLife, featured on more than 1,000 Christian Music and Talk stations in the U.S., and author of his most recent book, Seven Gray Swans: Trends that Threaten Our Financial Future. Be sure to follow Crown on Facebook.

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