Our finances can get so out of control so fast, especially heading into Christmas season. Back in the Black will help us avoid financial pitfalls, climb out of financial potholes, and experience financial freedom.
Most of us have made unwise and foolish financial mistakes over the course of our lifetimes that we wish we could go back and have a do-over on. 70 to 75% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, just one missed paycheck away from a crisis.
We can experience enormous freedom when we get back in the black. God’s Word, the Bible, is a great source of financial advice. This week Gene shared numerous Scriptures and synthesized them into a Financial 10 Commandments. These commandments are the basics to help you get back in the black.
Commandment #1: Thou shalt work hard
Proverbs 28:19 (NLT) Hard workers have plenty of food; playing around brings poverty.
The Bible always connects acquiring money with working hard. These days it seems like there is a growing entitlement mentality that says someone else ought to support me. The Bible says if a person will not work, they shall not eat. God knows that hard work not only produces the income we need to stay alive, productivity makes our lives more satisfying and fulfilling.
When is a time you’ve experienced the satisfaction that comes from accomplishing something you have worked hard for?
Commandment #2: Thou shalt not keep up with the Kardashians
Exodus 20:17 (KJV) Thou shalt not covet.
Ecclesiastes 6:9 (GN) It is better to be satisfied with what you have than to always be wanting something else.
Thou shalt not covet is one of the 10 Commandments God gave to the Israelites through Moses. Coveting means you not only look at something your neighbor has and simply appreciate it, but you say to yourself, “I’ve got to have that too.” We go on Instagram and see our friend showing off the latest iPhone and think “I need that.” We overspend trying to keep up. You can save yourself tens of thousands of dollars if you will just declare your neighbors the winner right now and say, “I will not keep up with the Kardashians!”
Each of us has things in our life we desire. From a love of cars to the latest gadgets, we struggle with being content. In what area of your life are you most tempted to say “I’ve got to have that too?”
Commandment #3: Thou shalt not impulse spend
Isaiah 55:2 (NIV) “Why spend money on what does not satisfy?”
Some people are emotional shoppers. When they feel sad, lonely, down, bored, or just feel they need a little pick-me-up they say, “I’m going shopping! That will make me feel better!” Others work so hard to earn money, and then they just obliterate their financial future with uncontrolled impulse spending. They come home still feeling empty and dissatisfied.
What situations in your life tend to trigger emotional or impulse spending? What are some healthier ways you can deal with those situations?
Commandment #4: Thou shalt create a budget
Proverbs 21:5 (NLT) Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity.
You will never just drift back into the black. You need a plan. If you put together a simple budget and work your plan, you will have plenty. Without a plan, we live re-actively instead of pro-actively. We impulsively buy things we don’t need because we have no other pro-active plan to direct our spending.
A budget is simply a financial plan to help you decide in advance how you’re going to spend, invest, and give rather than just hoping it’s all going to work out somehow.
When have you been most successful in budgeting and what is your biggest struggle to living pro-actively and not re-actively?
Commandment #5: Thou shalt honor God first
Proverbs 3:9-10 (NIV) Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.
Deuteronomy 14:23 (LB) The purpose of tithing is to teach you always to put God first in your lives.
First fruits, refers to the first part of your income and is what the Bible calls the tithe, the first 10% of any income, earnings, bonuses, or inheritances we receive. It’s not just a percentage amount, but it’s the first percentage. We have found when you honor God first in your life, you invite His supernatural touch and activity into your finances. Whatever area you are willing to put God first in, He will bless.
Where do you need more of God’s blessing in your life? What holds you back from putting God first?
Commandment #6: Thou shalt pay yourself second
Proverbs 13:11 (NIV) Whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.
After you’ve honored God first, instead of spending everything else you have to live on, you need to pay yourself by saving money. The reality is that 1 in 3 people in America has nothing saved for retirement and 6 in 10 Americans couldn’t cover a $1000 emergency. If you make an advance decision to save a percentage of your income, little by little it will grow.
What is something you could give up monthly to enhance your savings for retirement and/or emergencies?
Commandment #7: Thou shalt minimize debt
Proverbs 22:7 (NIV) The borrower is slave to the lender.
When you live with debts that you can’t pay, making minimum payments, and unable to save, you know exactly what it feels like to be a slave to the lender. It is never too late to start finding freedom. This February we will be offering Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. Consider signing up and learn the tools to become debt free.
Have you attended Financial Peace University? If so, did you find it helpful in helping you get your finances under control? If not, would you consider it? You can sign up at fpu.com/1052933.
Commandment #8: Thou shalt not make any major financial decisions without wise counsel
Proverbs 20:18 (NLT) Plans succeed through good counsel.
Many people grew up in a house where there was a lack of wise financial counsel. Often, we repeat the mistakes of our parents. Embarrassment and fear of being told something we don’t want to hear prevents us from seeking wise counsel. But how many financial fiascos could we have prevented if we had sought counsel from people who told us what we needed to hear instead of what we wanted to hear?
Who do you turn to for wise financial counsel? If you don’t have anyone currently, is there someone you would trust to talk to as a next step?
Commandment #9: Thou shalt leave a legacy
Luke 12:20 God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded of you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”
According to Jesus, a fool is someone who lives with no thought of God. He hadn’t thought about God in life, and he certainly hadn’t thought about God in death. Each of our lives will come to an end one day, and we have the chance to determine who will get what we have. It is an opportunity to bless others and make an eternal impact.
What type of legacy do you desire to leave?
Commandment #10: Thou shalt trust God
Philippians 4:19 (NIV) And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
Ultimately, how you approach your finances is an issue of how much you trust God. Our faith in Jesus can guide us and help us find our way back in the black.
Do your actions reflect a true trust in God’s financial wisdom? Where have you seen His provision in your life? Where do you need His provision?
Review the list and identify which of the Financial 10 Commandments you need to work on. What is your next step to becoming debt free? Split into groups of 2 or 3 and pray for each other.
Gene mentioned the EveryDollar App (https://www.everydollar.com/). Download it and start budgeting today.