I’m not big on budgeting or any type of financial planning, for that matter. I try to live in a way pleasing to God, not being overly materialistic. I work for a living, put a little away, pay my bills on time and give to charity as I’m able. Why should I spend more time thinking about money?
Part of our responsibility as a steward of Providence is to set priorities for using the resources we’ve been entrusted with, no matter what our income level is. The new year offers an opportunity to make a fresh assessment of our priorities. You should seriously consider doing so, as the benefits are well worth the investment of time.
A good place to start is setting, reviewing or formalizing your financial goals. (Surely you’ve given some thought as to where you’d like to be at some point in the future?) While “building wealth” isn’t an adequate goal unto itself for a Christian, growing our resources in order to meet our responsibilities and to help others is a very worthy objective.
After all, the Catechism states that, “The ownership of any property makes its holder a steward of Providence, with the task of making it fruitful and communicating its benefits to others, first of all his family” (No. 2404).
From a financial perspective, our review should encompass a number of areas, including how we generate income and how we choose to spend it. Whether you work for a Fortune 500 company or are self-employed, there are certain characteristics that we need to bring to the workplace. Are we properly focused on the needs of the employer or our business? Do we fulfill our responsibilities to the best of our ability?
Financial stability starts with the income we generate from doing our work well. Colossians 3:23-24 says, “Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you are serving the Lord Christ.”
Next, ask yourself if your spending habits reflect your long-term goals and the responsibilities the Lord has given you.
My guess is that you have goals that require saving for your retirement and the education of your children. Maybe you need to save for a down payment on a home or to start a business.
You’d probably like to be more generous to your church and worthy organizations. For those with unproductive debt, an important goal is to eliminate it quickly. But to achieve these goals, you have to choose to spend your resources wisely.
Unfortunately, many people are in a constant mode of reacting to financial events rather than making an effort to actually think through a spending plan that helps them reach their goals.
If you don’t regularly track your spending, I encourage you to keep a spending diary for one month. Your eyes will be opened and you’ll probably find that you’ve developed some bad habits without even realizing it.
Don’t be afraid of financial reflection or change. If done for the greater glory of God, it really is for the better. God love you.
Phil Lenahan is
president of Veritas