6 Tips for Managing Your Money in Tough Times

The former CFO offers money-saving tips to help you through difficult times.

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- Posted on Dec 17, 2019

Rikki and Gerald make a difference together.

In my career as a personal finance advisor and an executive at a credit union, I’ve worked with many people who were struggling financially. Making ends meet can be tough, but it’s even more difficult without a plan. Here are five strategies I’ve found can help anyone make the most of their dollars, even when times are tight.   

  • Know where your money goes. If you use a debit card, track the payments. If you use cash, keep the receipts and check them daily. Many of us spend a LOT of money eating out. Watch where your money goes and adjust. You have to know where your money goes before you can establish a budget.
     
  • Budget your monthly expenses and annual expenses. Set aside one twelfth of your annual expense into a savings account. Then, when it’s needed, you have it. If the expense is less, keep the balance in savings. Track your monthly budget by putting it on a refrigerator. Adjust it monthly as you cut back some categories and expand others. Be sure to budget “fun times” as well, even if it’s just $20 a month for a trip to the zoo. If you can budget for a vacation, do it. Maybe it’s camping or a trip to a relative’s house.
     
  • Be sure to budget your tithe. I have heard so many people over the years complain that they just can’t pay the 10%, or tithe. Budget something for your tithe. I believe God is more concerned about your heart and attitude than your money. If you gave 10% with a stinky attitude, do you think that blesses God? If you can budget 5%, give 5%, but give it faithfully, consistently and cheerfully, and push yourself over time to give more. Eventually you will exceed the 10% ‘tithe and be giving far more with the right attitude of gratefulness. Be sure to give love offerings outside of your budget.
     
  • Use other resources. There are food banks, churches, donation centers, meals on wheels; so many places that are willing to lend a helping hand. It’s OK to ask them for help. They want to help. Let them bless you and in return they, too, will be blessed.
     
  • If at all possible, try and become debt free. The reality is that most of us will have a mortgage payment. Beyond that, try and have no debt. If you have credit cards and loans, pay off the highest rate loan first. Once it’s paid, add that monthly payment amount to another loan payment and accelerate the payment on that. Soon, your loans will be paid off in full and your money will be working for you and not against you.
     
  • There are so many ways to save and spend wisely. Ask God daily to help you manage your finances. Pray, and believe. Nothing matters but the love of Christ towards us. Nothing. Once we get that, really get it, money will not have controlover us. Instead, we will have control over it! We will be its master, not vice versa. Often, our discontent is the driving force causing us to live above our standard of living (our wages and income). Being content makes it so much easier to live at or below our standard of living. We can shop at thrift stores for clothes, drive an older, used car or live in a smaller house, and not feel bad about it.

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you'” (Hebrews 15:5).

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