Personal Financial Goals for a Christian: A Closer Look at Controlling Your 'Giving' and 'Living' Expenses

by Van Richards , Christian Examiner Contributor |

(PHOTO: KAT YUKAWA/UNSPLASH)

Being a Christian is simple, in concept. As Jesus told us, the greatest commandments are to love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. But how do you apply these commandments to your personal financial goals, especially through your "giving" and "living" expense budgets?

If you affirm that you love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself, that is a faith statement. You can develop your financial goals from a Christian faith statement by asking yourself this question of each goal: "Do my personal financial goals and how I spend money affirm my commitment to God and his commandments?"

Most Christians have these five expenses: giving, living, savings, debt, and taxes. Today we will take a closer look at the giving and living expenses. The amount of the expenses differs depending upon the desires and circumstances of individuals and families. To put Christ in your personal financial goals, begin with this basic concept. God created everything, so God truly owns everything. When you discuss managing your personal finances and how you spend money you are making plans to oversee what God has temporarily put under your control. To help put the influence of Christ in your personal finances, put God first when you pay your expenses.

If you are married, managing your expenses is a process you should do together. In many marriages, only one spouse handles the money for the family. However, husbands and wives should make decisions together. "A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one" (Ephesians 5:31 & Genesis 2:24, NLT). In some marriages, everyday responsibilities are split. For example, one spouse takes care of the finances while the other takes care of another aspect of running the household. If your family has a comfortable sharing relationship such as this, the spouse that is not as involved with the finances should take the role of an accountability partner. Discuss your personal financial goals and let one spouse be accountable to the other by patiently explaining the way that finances are being handled. And work to agree. Prayer for guidance with your financial goals is important, and prayer for cooperation is important, too.

Some people let the words in their mind guide their prayer. Another way to pray is through scripture. Try reading a passage of scripture as a prayer. An excellent example of scripture to use when praying to God for guidance with your personal financial goals is Paul's second letter to the Corinthians, chapter 9, The Collection for Christians in Jerusalem. If you are married, read this scripture and discuss how it applies to your family's finances.

If you have a good understanding of how you spend all your income, putting God first may not be difficult. However, if you are struggling to pay your bills, putting God first may not be so easy. There are many ways to approach controlling your expenses. However, it all comes down to understanding where your money is going. Your goal should be to spend less than you make.

Here are a few ideas that will help you see where you are spending your income. Write down every expense that you have within a month. If you have a bank or credit union account, this may be just a matter of getting your monthly statement and categorizing the expenses. Beside each item on your statement write giving, living, savings, or debt to define each item. If you are self-employed or paying estimated taxes, you will want to include taxes with your monthly expenses. Once you have labeled each item on your statement, then go through and add up the respective categories. Having the total of these five expenses is a powerful tool to help you see where you are spending your income.

Another idea is to turn to a technology platform for controlling your personal finances. Finding the right personal financial software program can save you time and keep you on track financially. YNAB is an excellent software if you mainly need a budget. That is why it is called YNAB, or "You Need a Budget." YNAB does have a small monthly cost, and they also offer other benefits such as free online classes to help you get your budget under control.

Regardless of which method or software you use, the goal is to see how you are spending your money so you can ask yourself this question: "How do you feel about the amount you are giving?" There is not a specific percent for giving in the New Testament. However, "While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins. 'I tell you the truth,' Jesus said, 'this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has'" (Luke 21:1-4, NLT).

As you pray for guidance with your personal financial goals and work to control how you are spending money, technology can help you work toward fulfilling Jesus' commandments: "'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are basedon these two commandments" (Matthew 22:37-40, NLT). As you get a better understanding of your living expenses, you will have a better understanding of how much you can give back to God.

–Van Richards is a Christian financial advisor as well as the founder of https://www.Advice4LifeInsurance.com and http://www.Advice4Retirement.com. Van draws from his 30 years as a financial advisor to write about financial issues from a Christian perspective. You can contact him at van@advice4lifeinsurance.com.