Many people feel that their life styles are set in stone. The way they eat, the way they dress, where they live, what they drive define who they are as a person.

            For many people there are no compromises. Life is one continual party.  They are slaves to debt, slaves to want.

            Tossed about by every wind of doctrine. For some it is a weakness. They gamble, they drink, and they do drugs. The activities they participate in are costly, they’re addictive, and they do not fill the hole in the soul.

            Through the decades, I have counseled families in dyer financial straights. Some are compulsive spenders. Some are addicted to credit cards. They get one maxed out and get another. They make deals with themselves.  They actually negotiate with themselves. After I buy this or that I won’t charge any more. Then the car breaks down, they get a flat, or they forget their checkbook and their credit card rescues them.  It is a subtle compulsion because unlike when you over eat or drink too much and feel pain in the morning, the credit card bill doesn’t come for a month. For the compulsive spender, this is the reinforcement that keeps them in bondage to debt. I know the value of financing. I understand that some things are better purchased on time. So what do I tell my clients who come seeking advice about debt?  Every family is unique but the framework is the same. Many come saying, “Budgeting is too confining! I never stick to a budget anyway!”

            “I am not surprised you are here.” I reply.

            So I begin to layout the framework of a budget that will help them get out of debt sooner rather than later.  List your current spending. What are your housing expenses, your transportation, and your credit card debt? List everything, even the newspaper.

Are you renting or buying your home? There’s a really big difference. Homes are an investment. They can be used to restructure debt and make the interest tax deductible in many cases.  How about your phone bill and long distance?  If it is out of hand, you may be a candidate for prepaid phone cards. They force you to budget your calling time.  When they are done, you are done. Praise the Lord no surprise long distance bill coming later in the month after all of your money is long gone.

            Usually the biggest outlay each month after housing costs is the cost of your transportation.  What do you drive? Are you driving it, or is it driving you? If your car is eating you out of house and home maybe it is time to change the way you get where you need to be.  Or maybe you just need a new mechanic. You can see how each family is unique in their budgeting needs.

            Some of you may be asking right about now, where does God fit into all of this? When your desires are in line with God’s will you will be financially serene.  There will be no worry about how to pay your bills each month or which bills to pay.

            Remember the sparrow, which neither worries nor toils but has all he needs?

            What have you wanted to do that you haven’t been able to do because you’ve just never had the money?  Budgeting helps you to meet your financial goals. Budgeting is sensible. It gives you a sense of control. 

It is an integral part of discipline. Discipline is part of discipleship.
There are some things that you should never borrow for and they include food and taxes because when it’s gone and you are still paying on them there is nothing left to eat or pay your taxes with when it is time again to pay.
When you borrow you are mortgaging your future. And you lessen what you can do for your children in the future too.
When you do the budgeting, part of the process ask yourself, “Is this carved in stone? Or can I get the same thing for less somewhere else? Or maybe I’ll try my life without that altogether for a while.
When you budget, lay out a plan that you can be proud of now and in the future.
It may mean drastic changes. Don’t wait until you are forced into bankruptcy to budget. It is too late and too little.
Protect your credit as if it were your honor so that when a true emergency arises you will have the credit you need.
Your budget should be a systematic and flexible, contingencies should be included. The most important part of a budget is its’ prioritization and workability. True balance comes when you are getting a fair trade for your time and effort.
Be ruthless! Make changes to transform your life through your budget. All aspects should be evaluated; your credit, insurance, taxes, savings plan, retirement, and investing.

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