This is a guest post by Brandon Marcott, founder of Edify Financial Planning.
Many of us are caught in a cycle of spending. We have no grip over our finances. We have no concept of the lies that are supporting our spending behaviors. And as a result, our pockets are empty and we feel even farther away from the promise of an abundant life—what exists outside of the hold of money.
Yet, in the midst of this, an internal battle is happening between two other thoughts. 1) There is at least a small part of us that knows a truly abundant life is not one of endless consumption, and, in fact, could lead to our financial unwinding. 2) We are convinced everyone around us has everything figured out financially and has no concern or worry about their consumption.
In light of this struggle, we make the decision to “fake it,” to put on a happy face, and just keep on spending. This is how we lose control of our finances. This is how we lose the intentionality needed to rescue ourselves from debt and buying into the lie of consumption being king.
It’s time for you to break out of this cycle, to regain control of your finances and discover the true abundant life that Jesus talks about.
Here are four practical ways for you to start intentionally living your own financial life.
1. Don’t Make Assumptions
The Christian community is often guilty of assuming the financial security and even abundance of those around them. We all love to have brunch after church, go out for coffee or drinks midweek, and have small group around the dinner table. When things are tight for you financially, or you are simply trying to be more responsible with your finances, you might feel the answer is to not be involved in these things. You might be afraid to look, let’s face it, lame, because you have convinced yourself that no one has the same financial “struggles” that you do.
Don’t make assumptions either way. If you are financially secure, don’t assume that others will always have the finances to participate in something, and if you’re working towards a better footing financially, be the brave one who steps out and doesn’t spend money you don’t have. You might be the inspiration for others to start saying ‘no’ to excess spending, while still saying ‘yes’ to fellowship!
2. Be Honest
We all want authenticity from those around us, but are so hesitant to be truly authentic ourselves. I recall the first few conversations I had with my wife about this topic. We had to leave behind the assumptions and expectations that we, and others, had about what our money should be spent on. Once we became honest about our financial situation we found something surprising happened, others followed suit.
It only takes one person to step out and acknowledge where they stand. Don’t be afraid to be that person in your community. It doesn’t need to be a big production, a pity party or a holier than thou situation. Just be honest. You will not only find others quick to admit they are in a similar situation as you, but you will also allow the others in your circle to better understand and encourage you.
3. Say Yes to the Right Things
This step is the hardest part. Being intentional with your finances means you really need to hone in on what is most important to you. For some, things are very tight, and providing food and shelter for your family is the most important, and therefore all other things need to fall aside. For others, you look at your spending and realize you’ve spent nothing to provide for the needs of those around you, even though you consider charity to be important.
Having a life plan or mission statement is vital to living a responsible financial life. By stating what is most important to you, you are acknowledging what isn’t. There will always be things you end up saying no to financially. Make sure they are the right things.
4. Be Unique
Everyone’s story is their own, therefore, your financial life should be your own. Don’t let another’s focus determine your own. Don’t accept a generic way of budgeting, saving or investing just because it’s what everyone else is doing. God created each of us to be able to think critically and plan prudently in our lives. You have the capacity and the creativity to intentionally focus your financial life on what is most important to you.
I understand that following these steps means paddling upstream. The journey takes time, but finding your financial purpose is beyond worth it.
BRANDON MARCOTT is a fee-only financial planner and founder of Edify Financial Planning, where he specializes in helping people align their finances with what they value most so they may achieve truly abundant living. He is the lucky husband to Erika, father to Walter, and spends his free time trying to perfect the coffee roasting and brewing process.
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