Five Financial Figures For Fiscal Futures

As a general rule, I don't advise making resolutions. They aren't lifestyle changes, but things we decide to do on January 1 and have probably already broken. Instead, why don't we make some financial decisions today that are actually doable and can last the entire year?

Before you do anything financially, pray about your choices and talk through them with your husband. This is Biblical and necessary for the Lord to bless anything you do with your money. Remember, He's the one who owns the cattle on a thousand hills and the wealth in every mine. It's just ours for a time because He allows it.

After your prayer time, think about each of the following steps and write down a plan of action for the upcoming year.

Figure #1. Plan your major spending now. Look ahead to the large ticket items you're planning on purchasing over the next 12 months, and then do the math. How much do you need to save in order to pay for them? How long will it take and how much will you need to set aside from each paycheck to reach those goals? In all possible instances, don't purchase anything unless you have the money on hand to pay for it.

Figure #2. Set a weekly spending limit. Yes, things will happen and you'll need some emergency spending options. But if you have determined to not spend more than $x each week for groceries, $x on eating out, $x on clothing and $x on entertainment, then you'll have that extra money when you need it. Keep all of your receipts from the week and figure exactly where your money is going.

Figure #3. Get in debt-riddance mode. It's lovely to have money to go buy things and tuck into a savings account, but if you're hanging onto any kind of debt, that needs to go first. That skirt you saw may be really cute, but that money can go toward your credit card or car payment instead. Think about each purchase you make in terms of how much debt you could pay off it you didn't buy it. Set a goal for when you want to be debt free, then figure out how much you'll have to pay each month to reach that date.

Figure #4. Think "minimalist." There's something to be said for living beneath your means. If you cut back on extravagant spending, you'll have extra cash on hand for the things you really want and need. Don't buy steak every week when ground turkey will do. Choose watching a movie on television instead of going to the theater all the time. Instead of buying new furniture, refurbish what you have or buy something at a thrift shop and fix it up. Use the money you're saving with these frugal choices to reduce your debt or pay cash on a big-ticket item you've been looking at.

Figure #5. Look into the future. If you're planning correctly,setting realistic goals and setting aside money instead of draining your account every month, you'll be able to see some real growth in your finances. It's easy to say, well it's just one outfit and won't matter that much. But eliminating your debt and having some emergency money set aside should be the focus. We have no idea what tomorrow holds, but making financial plans for tomorrow is always a smart idea. Look at it as a challenge and then handle it as God would lead.

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