Sometimes it seems like we spend our time trying to make ends meet and not enough time working toward our dreams. When we create a budget and work to achieve our financial goals, life is more manageable and more fun.
Money affects nearly every aspect of our lives. If this sounds materialistic, look at it this way: money provides for home, food, education, security, and peace of mind. We should take care of our money the same way we take care of our health.
To achieve your financial goals, follow these four fundamental principles.
1. Establish your priorities.
What are your financial priorities? Sometimes we tell ourselves that saving money is our top priority, but then we make it the last item on our to-do list. First, we can demonstrate our faith and obedience by paying our tithing. Our next priority is to protect ourselves and our families. Set aside enough money in your savings account to get you and your family through a six-month emergency. Then, if possible, make sure you have appropriate health insurance and life insurance. Next, make a plan to eliminate debt as quickly as possible. Finally, put your money into your future by regularly saving and investing. Even putting just a little bit away each month can help you feel at peace, and this can have huge dividends in the future. You can also invest in an education or home ownership.
Sometimes we tell ourselves that saving money is our top priority, but then we make it the last item on our to-do list.
2. Communicate with your partner.
Sit down with your partner and design a budget based on the priorities above. If you are single, be honest with yourself; don’t set goals you know you cannot reach. Be reasonable, and then take responsibility for reaching your financial goals. One tip is to write the question “Will this get me closer to my financial goals?” on a piece of paper and keep it in your wallet or purse. You’ll find yourself pausing before you spend.
Pick one evening a week to go over your progress. Review your savings and checking account balances. Review necessary expenditures and see where you can cut back or do without. Make a goal to save for large purchases rather than using credit cards.
3. Take the emotion out of decision-making.
We can train ourselves not to make emotional or impulsive purchases. For example, you might make yourself a promise that you won’t buy anything the day you see it. Sleep on it. Chances are that when you wake up the next day and think it over, you won’t want the item as much as you did the day before. This kind of “self-talk” can be very useful. For example, you might say to yourself, “Hold on for a second; let’s think this through.” It takes your brain out of emotional mode and shifts it into logical mode. If you’re married, practice these kinds of conversations with your spouse.
We can train ourselves not to make emotional or impulsive purchases.
4. Trust God.
God cares about every aspect of our lives, including our financial goals. Sometimes we have to put our trust in Him and know that He will lead us in the right direction. But “trusting in Him” doesn’t mean that we should sit passively and wait for help to arrive. It means that we should pray for direction and confidence, and then we should do everything we can to make our goals a reality. What God-given traits and talents do we have that we could use to provide better support for ourselves and our families?
A few final things to think about:
- Pay your tithing to show your faith in God.
- Sacrifice short-term wants for long-term goals.
- Be honest with yourself and with your spouse.
- Reward yourself. When you hit a goal, celebrate (within the budget, of course!).