If youíre in the midst of financial stress, raise your hand. Many of us are; perhaps, in todayís financial crisis, most of us. Financial stress leads to many other stresses in life. In marriages, finances cause more strife than infidelity. So, what are we to do?
First, we must take a hard and honest look at ourselves, our lives and whatís happening in our finances. How did we get into this situation? Donít look for excuses. Look at the realistic things we have done, or not done, to arrive at where we are. If we simply make excuses, we canít find solutionsÖ our stresses will continue. We canít blame our situation on impersonal ďothers.Ē
Next, dig into the details. Look at the inflows and outflows. Differentiate between the absolute necessities and the things that have options. Look at your assets, both large and small. What do you really need and what donít you need. In accounting terms this means both the income statement (income and expenses) and the balance sheet (assets and liabilities).
Make a plan and follow it. Become disciplined and accountable.
Donít expect things to turn around immediately. Itís a good thing if they do, but that seldom happens. Remember, itís taken you a long time to get into this mess, itís going to take time to get out.
Basic, I know. Easily spelled out, hard as heck to do.
Can you do this on your own? I donít know, but I found that I couldnít. I needed help. But it was not the help of a financial adviser I needed. I needed Godís help.
For me, this has been a two-step process.
The first step was to really turn it over to God. It was not just finances, it was my life. Not easy for a control freak. In fact, it is one of the hardest things Iíve ever done. And I back slide far too often. It means more than having faith. It means really trusting that God will not only provide, but that through the Holy Spirit He will guide.
The other was a genuine recognition that all that I have comes from God and ultimately belongs to God. I am but a steward, and have not been a very good one.
Taking both of these things, seek guidance. That means prayer, lots of prayer for me. It means patience, not an easy thing for me. It means a spiritual disciple as much as a financial discipline. It means hard work and serious introspection.
Are all my financial problems solved? Absolutely not! Too many years of messing things up to solve them in a couple of years. Is progress being made? You bet!
The biggest changeÖ my security is now placed in God, not my checkbook. It makes all the difference.
Alive in The Word
Read more articles by Art Schnatterly or search for articles on the same topic or others.
Right on! Most people, including Christians, have much more than we need. There are so many people living on credit. I have been through a lot of hard financial times, but have also given much attention to coming out of them, including asking for help. I had to swallow my pride. Thanks for sharing.