By Bob Brooks
January 29, 2015
Being a Prudent Steward of what God has given us is an awesome responsibility. We want to steward or manage well. I have examined my own financial life over the past few months and have come to one conclusion. I don’t think that I have been a very good steward. So, I have spent time going back to the basics. I went through a detailed examination of everything that we as a family have been doing when it comes to money.
It has been a rewarding/painful process in that I feel like I am more on top of things and being a better manager of what God has given my family. It is easy to get into a rut and not practice what you know.
So, in the spirit of making 2015 the year of prudent stewardship, I wanted to share with you what I think is fundamental when it comes to how you approach money. This 5 step process can apply to everything from budgeting to managing your investment goals and objectives.
(1) Determine your objectives, values, and goals for everything you are doing with money
Why are you making the decisions that you are when it comes to money? So few understand the reasoning behind their financial decision making. The objectives, values, and goals define the why behind every decision. So take retirement for example. Why are you really saving and investing money? Retirement means nothing until you make it alive with the details. Success with obtaining your financial goals necessitates that you get into the details. What are the details of retirement? What is it that you value about that future period of your life? Understanding your values gives you the power and motivation to stay on track. All of it is very important.
On a smaller scale, this same step can even apply to budgeting. Where do you need to be with your spending and saving objectives? Are you on track or are you digging yourself a hole? What about debt? What is your debt free day?
(2) Identify and fix any risks, problems, or weaknesses
With this step, you simply ask 2 questions. What could go wrong? What could I do better? Take budgeting for instance. If you are not tracking your spending, how do you know that you will have enough to cover everything in the month? That is a risk. What are you going to do if you run out of money before the end of the month?
What if there is a premature death? How will my family survive financially? What if I get laid off? What is my game plan? What if the hot water heater goes out? How will I pay for it? The point is not to dwell on the negative or fear it. The point is to make sure you have contingency plans (Plan B when Plan A doesn’t work) for everything. Once you do, the worry ceases to exist.
What about your investments? The stock market doesn’t just go up. It goes up AND down. Yet most invest as if it only goes up. Do you have a game plan for both in place?
What could I do better? Could I be managing my spending better? Could I be more intentional about getting out of debt? I am sure you can come up with a few items. I know that I did.
(3) Manage your progress and make sure you are on track
One of the most important steps that a very small percentage of people actually take. Further, this is the reason why only a very small percentage of people are successful. When it comes to your retirement objectives, getting out of debt, saving goals, etc. always be able to answer the one question. Am I on track? Am I ahead on my progress or behind? If I am behind, what steps do I take to get back on track? This is where an overall game plan is so very important.
(4) Commitment to Education about how money works
Invest some time into getting a better education on how money works. We go through 12 years of formal education and some go further through college. Yet, very little time if any is invested into our knowledge of how money works. As a result, we are learning painful lessons as we learn through success/failure and the school of hard knocks. What’s worst we are learning on the fly. Picking up bits and pieces and trusting that information without really knowing why we are trusting it in the first place. Seek to understand and benefit from the learning of others mistakes. That is the great thing about educational material. To create educational material, you either have had to make a lot of mistakes and learn from them or learn by observing others. We all can benefit from that.
(5) Commit to a Matthew 6:24 Life
You could successfully go through step 1 through 4 and it mean nothing without the step 5. This lifestyle keeps everything in perspective. It keeps God has the value, goal, and objective driver. Those decisions that we make with money have God’s peace behind it. It creates perspective.
Most importantly, we learn that it is God that provides and not money. It is real living versus chasing a life of illusions. It takes work, discipline, and daily surrender. However, it is the life worth living.