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Budgeting with God
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The Christmas season is past, 2014 is with us. Are you in debt because of overspending for Christmas? Christmas can be like a trap, the ads woo you to spend, spend, spend. If you succumb to the temptation, it’s a struggle to pay the bills.

The best way to avoid the Christmas-debt blues is to budget. In my high school days I studied economics. I learned the importance of making and sticking to a budget. My mom was always in debt because she never budgeted. When my husband and I got married, we set a budget. We learned through frugality to make our income work. At first, I was a stay-at- home-wife, and later a mother for the first 15 years of our marriage. We found that a budget is like a life preserver, it keeps you from drowning.

A balanced budget is based on knowing your total income and expenses—all of your expenses, including gifts, Christmas and otherwise—as well as associated costs. If you don’t have budgeted money ready for gift shopping, then gift exchanges are better forgotten. Buying anything randomly without taking into account your ability to pay is asking for financial problems.

Debt Game

I once knew a couple who racked up $10,000-plus in charges in 10 years because of buying Christmas gifts, without budgeting. Only a minimum was paid on the charge accounts; they couldn’t get ahead of the debt game. It almost resulted in their divorce. Fortunately, they sought the help of a financial advisor. If a special event party is on the year’s agenda that should be budgeted for as well.

The Bible advises us about faithfulness to God in our budgeting. Yes, budgeting, because God requires that we tithe and give offerings honestly to learn generosity. Yet He doesn’t ask us to do this without blessing us. Here is what He asks, “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house. And thereby put Me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need” (Malachi 3:10). It’s really all a part of faithful stewardship.

Why not budget by giving God His due first--and see how faithfully He’ll take care of our needs (not necessarily our wants) during the new year? Sometimes He surprises us with our wants too.

Note: Books that explain budgeting are available at public libraries. Here’s an online link to help you budget: https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/tools-and-resources/calculators-and-tools/budget-planner.

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By Betty Kossick. Copyright © 2014 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the English Standard Version ©.

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