10. Get a Grip on Desire
If you are feeling depressed, indulgent spending won’t lift that fog. In fact, after the initial rush of exhilaration, buyer’s remorse can set in and actually make things worse. So get a grip on unnecessary spending. After all:
“He who loves pleasure will become a poor man…” -Proverbs 21:17
Keep this in mind: it’s not the cost of an item that determines whether it’s an indulgence. It’s how much you need it. So before you make a purchase in 2013 ask yourself this question every time, “Do I really need this?” If the answer is no, put it back and you will notice your pace quickens on your way to financial freedom.
9. Forget the Jones’s!
The Jones’s are in debt too (and you can be sure they won’t make your payments for you!) If you look at your neighbor’s shiny iPhone, 65″ flat screen TV, new car, or whatever it may be, and your wallet starts to tingle, remember King Solomon’s words:
Every labor and every skill which is done is the result of rivalry between a man and his neighbor. This too is vanity and striving after wind. -Ecclesiastes 4:4
8. Start Tithing and Keep Tithing
If you don’t want to be ruled by money and possessions, then you must establish the mentality that God owns it all and that we are just stewards of what He gives us. Generosity is the antidote to greed, and generosity begins with a tithe.
A tithe is simply a first portion of our income that we give back to God. Proverbs 3:9 says, “Honor the Lord from your wealth and from the first of all your produce.” In today’s language, that means we should give the “first of all our income.” And the word “tithe” literally means “a tenth.” So, this is the amount most Christians use as a guide for tithing.
Tithing says, “God, I trust you by giving to you first.” If you don’t trust God with your money, then you will trust in your money. I like what Winston Churchill said,“We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.”
7. Commit Yourself to Becoming Debt Free
It’s impossible to be spiritually free when you are financially bound. Christian financial experts like Dave Ramsey, Larry Burkett, and Chuck Bentley suggest to cut up your credit cards and pay for everything with cash, check or debit card while you pay off your existing debt to prevent additional debt from piling up. And don’t get any more credit or credit cards until all existing debt has been eliminated.
“Just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender.” -Proverbs 22:7
Debt-free living is still God’s plan for His people today, and the blessings of becoming debt free go far beyond the financial area. They extend to spiritual and marital realms as well.
6. Save Appropriately
“A wise man saves for the future, but the foolish man spends whatever he gets.” -Proverbs 21:20
Saving is making provisions for tomorrow. The easiest, most effective way to save is to simply do it every time you receive income. And be sure to save for both the long-term and the short-term. Long-term savings are intended to fund long-term needs such as retirement. Short-term savings should be in an account that is easily accessible for planned future spending like replacing appliances, making major home repairs, and other emergencies.
5. Spend Moderately
Spend less money than you make. You will never be free from the money trap if you don’t apply that one simple rule. Dave Ramsey says that 90% of people in our culture buy things they can’t afford. That is staggering.
The most helpful tool to keep you from spending more than you make is to simply make a spending plan, also known as a budget. John Maxwell has the best quote I’ve heard on budgeting. He says, “A budget is people telling their money where to go instead of wondering where it went.”
4. Invest Wisely
The best advice I have received when it comes to investing is to diversify. Ecclesiastes 11:2 says,
“Divide your portion to seven, or even to eight, for you do not know what misfortune may occur on the earth.”
Never risk money you can’t afford to lose. It is probably not a good idea to make uninformed or hasty investment decisions, either. Do your homework, educate yourself, and learn the investment game before you play it.
3. Avoid Indulgence
As Christians, we must learn to discern the difference between needs, wants, and desires in every financial transaction we make. Before buying, determine whether the purchase is a need or want. For many years, when Carla and I were trying to get out of debt, we continually asked ourselves before we bought something, “Is this a need or a want?” Lots of small, wise decisions over a long enough period of time will be what gets you where you want to be.
2. Gain Victory Through Vision
When asked if she knew of anything worse than being blind, Helen Keller once said, “Yes, being able to see and having no vision.” Dave Ramsey says, “The ability to see doesn’t mean having 20/20 vision; it means being able to have a clear picture of your vision and how you plan to achieve it.”
And the number one thing you can do to find financial freedom in 2013:
1. Each Day, Pray Before You Pay
Emotional and spiritual balance will lead to financial freedom. So ask God to guide you and give you strength to follow the first nine steps. Don’t be resentful for what you don’t have. Instead, be grateful for what God has provided already. Financial freedom grows out of an attitude of gratitude.