HOW TO CONTROL SPENDING
Summary: If you are having difficulty with income equaling outgo, you need to cut some of your outgo. As you read, the author will help you to look at your budget realistically and to see where you can start trimming.
Spending Is a Habit
Does money burn a hole in your pocket? Does buyer’s remorse set in after you have spent your money? If this sounds familiar, how can you manage your spending so you can buy the things you need now and also save for the things you need in the future?
In order to change spending habits, we must first understand how habits are shaped and the ways spending behavior can be changed. In essence, we must identify spending “leaks” that give us immediate satisfaction but do not help us reach financial goals and, instead, substitute desirable spending behavior that may not be immediately gratifying but will allow us to reach those financial goals.
How to Change the Habit
Luke 16:11 says, “Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you?” We need to learn to handle the smallest thing God has put under our authority—our money. Therefore, if we observe the following guidelines, it should help us control spending.
- Establish self-discipline. Put all spending under God’s control. By doing this, you become a manager of God’s finances, and all spending should then be from the vantage point of whether He would be pleased with your purchase. With God’s guidance, any bad habit can be broken.
We need to learn to recognize the drive that places us in a spending situation and then, when we shop, we can avoid the spending pitfalls produced by that drive by having a purpose for our shopping, a time limit, and a written plan. It is important to make a list before you go shopping and then stick to it.
In addition, you should limit the number of trips to the store or mall and never shop when hungry or depressed.
- How far money goes usually depends on how much you want something. As such, you need to be in control of the money, under God’s direction, instead of having the money control you by limiting what you do.
Once spending has been brought under control, there should be a determination as to how much needs to be spent each month in every area of an implemented budget; and, since the basic idea behind budgeting is to save money up front for both known and unknown expenses, there must be a commitment to stick to the budget.
If you are having difficulty with income equaling outgo, you need to cut some of your outgo. As such, you should look at your budget realistically and see where you can start trimming.
A budget is a money plan. With it, people can organize and control their financial resources, set and realize goals, and decide in advance how money will work for the good of the family.
Therefore, because every purchase should be considered in light of the established budget, buying any nonbudgeted items on impulse should be avoided, especially if those nonbudgeted items are going to be purchased with a credit card.
- You need to be accountable to other people for a specified period of time for everything you spend. Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10 says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.”
If there is accountability, you will be more inclined to be more cautious in your spending habits—more of a “look now, buy later” attitude. So, shop around before buying and learn to say no. Keep a record of spending and purchases and share these with the accountability partner.
- Establish a want-to-buy list. Whenever you feel you need to buy something that is not budgeted, put it on the list, but then wait seven days and find two additional prices for the same item to be sure you are getting a good buy.
If you still want the item after a week has passed, you will have thought about it and probably will be getting the best buy on the item. However, you still should not charge it.
Finally, you can have only one item on the list at a time, so if you find a new “want” during the week, you will need to decide between the two.
A good way to reduce debt is to develop discipline in spending habits. That may include taking away any security that might be used in case of emergencies: credit cards or other avenues of borrowing.
By committing not to go further in debt, we begin to reverse the process that produced the debt. Then we can develop a balanced budget that will control spending and will allow us to stay within the parameters of our financial means.
© Crown Financial Ministries, 2004. Reprinted by permission. To learn more, visit http://www.crown.org/.
This article was written by Crown Financial Ministries and was published in the Oct.-Dec. 2005 issue of the Dynamic Steward magazine.