A new year means a fresh start. Fresh starts can be exhilarating, but they can also be overwhelming. Whether you’re jumping feet first into 2018 or hesitant to start filling in the blank pages of a new year, January is the perfect time to evaluate your financial health and set clear, achievable financial goals for the year.
Did you know that the top source of stress in marriage is money? Whether you’re married, single, or divorced, financial strain can be a huge source of stress. Fortunately, whatever 2017 held for you financially, you can decide now to take healthy financial steps in 2018.
Whether I was single, married, or a single mom, and often the primary breadwinner for our family, there were three financial non-negotiables that helped me steward my financial resources in a way that honors God:
- Everything belongs to God. Since I first started working, I have made it a priority to always tithe 10% first. Tithing is a regular reminder that everything we’ve been given comes from God. 1 Chronicles 29:14 says, “Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” My husband Chris and I sit down at the beginning of each year and set a plan for how much and where we want to give. Whether you can give $10 each month or $10,000, prioritizing giving will gently remind you to hold on to your finances with a loose grip.
- Always save and keep records. After giving, your next highest priority should be to save. I started working on my family’s farm at 5 years old, and I remember learning from a young age to always save 10%. If you make saving a habit, you won’t find yourself putting unexpected bills on a credit card and racking up debt. After saving each month, make sure you keep records of your income and major expenses. For example, Chris and I create an annual budget that we update monthly as well as a balance sheet every six months to keep us accountable to our budget. This simple step will help you have a clear picture of your financial health and help you maintain transparency in your finances with your spouse (and yourself).
- Always plan and always learn. Each December, Chris and I sit down together to set goals for the next year: spiritual, physical, professional, relational and financial. Then, we review how we did on the past year’s goals. Planning for the year ahead will enable you to make strides in areas like your finances and help you prepare for hiccups along the way. We are also open about our finances with our adult children and recently sat them all down to review our will. Not only does this help prepare them for the future, it sets an example of preparation and openness about finances for their future families.
Finally, it’s important to have resources from Godly advisors when you make a financial plan. 4word Board Member Erin Botsford has created an amazing resource called Nuggets of Wisdom that she is offering for free to all 4word women. Erin is our family’s financial advisor and one of the top financial advisors in the country. Finding a financial advisor who can help you set earthly financial goals with a heavenly perspective is invaluable in long-term planning and financial health. Click here to download a free copy of Nuggets of Wisdom.
In my book, Work, Love, Pray, you will find these principles and more at the end of Chapter 13 that have guided my financial decisions from a young age. I have also included a simple framework for setting goals each year that include financial goals
Last but not least, we’re offering a simple monthly budget spreadsheet from Verne Harnish, author of Scaling Up, that will help kickstart your budgeting in 2018. If sticking to a budget has been difficult for you in the past, make 2018 your year to start tracking your expenses so you know how all your resources are being spent and you can identify areas to cut back and save.
The team at 4word is praying for you as you set your goals for 2018 and take steps toward stewarding your God-given resources well. If you have any big dreams and goals for 2018 you’d like us to pray for, please let us know!
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