Financial Planning for Your Family! Part 1 – “The Budget”

Posted: May 21, 2010 in Marriage / Family

Don't let this be your piggy bank!

Finances can tend to be a tough topic for many people especially between a husband and wife.  If finances are not handled correctly then extreme stress can be placed on a marriage, and this is stress that could easily be avoided by taking some very practical steps.  I have been learning a great deal over the past several months, as a husband and head of my household, about how to develop and stick to a family budget, plan for retirement, set-up emergency savings, plan for future expenses like a car (which I hope is 5 or more years away!), etc.  There is so much to consider as we look at how to handle our money.

I believe first and foremost that we are to strive to honor the Lord with our finances.  We are able to accomplish this by giving back to God through tithes and offerings, and by being good stewards of what we have been given.  When we begin to honor God and wisely think through how to handle our finances much of the financial stress we have placed on ourselves can be lifted.  I will say this about giving and then I would like to give a few practical things I have been learning that maybe able to help you.  If you are a follower of Jesus it should be a joy to give back to God from your money because God is the one who has given you everything you have and He has given you life through Jesus.  The Scriptures teach that we are to give by tithing (the minimum – 10% of your gross income) and offerings (above and beyond, aka “grace giving” – giving above the 10% mark).  I believe the key to receiving God’s blessing on your finances is to first start by honoring God and being faithful in your giving. Tithing should be a non-negotiable for a believer!  It should also be great joy that we are able to contribute to God’s kingdom work.  Often times, however, people struggle to tithe because they: (A) Have not made wise choices with their finances and now carry a large financial burden; (B) Are not fully trusting God to provide and surrendering to His Lordship (Lordship = doing what God tells you to do); (C) Have not created a budget or done any type of planning to see where their money is going.  One of the keys to really being able to honor God with your finances is through creating a budget.

A family budget is extremely important and very helpful (as long as you actually use it and stick to it!).  When Kendall and I got to CA we knew that we would be living with a tight budget and we knew that we would need to create a budget and stick to it to insure that we were not being unwise stewards.  If you currently do not have a budget I would like to give you a couple practical steps that helped us get started.  (If you are facing a large amount of debt I recommend reading Dave Ramsey’s book “Total Money Makeover” and/or joining a Financial Peace University class that most churches offer.)

The first step to creating a budget requires a husband and wife to sit down and determine their total monthly net income (net income = after taxes).  You have to know how much you’re working with before you can start looking at spending.  After this step, you will need to begin to brainstorm and write down each area that your money goes on a monthly basis (tithe, rent, utilities, insurance, groceries, etc.).  Kendall and I created a spreadsheet that we can use to record each category and budgeted amount for the month.  This allows us to easily total and change our budgeted expenses as needed.  (You can view a Sample Budget Spreadsheet here: (Sample Family Budget).  This will give you an idea of some of the categories and expenses to think through.  This sample is a budget template that can be found on iNumbers for Mac.)

Once you have created a monthly spending budget (that is less than your monthly income) you must begin to determine how to track your spending.  I think this is one of the hardest things for most people when it comes to budgeting because we are so busy and don’t have time to sit down and look over our finances. But if we don’t take time to master our finances then they will master us!

One of the ways I have found it very easy to “check up” on our monthly spending is by having a personal finance software.  There are many different personal finance software products available, with Quicken probably being the most popular.  With these programs the majority have “built-in” budget software that will allow you to enter your monthly spending amount for each category.  With Quicken products you simply download transactions from your bank account or credit card, and then assign them to the proper category.  If you take the time to sit down for 20 minutes a week you can easily do this and keep up with your spending to insure that you are not exceeding your income, but you must be disciplined to keep “checking up” on your spending!

This process of establishing a budget may be stressful in the beginning and even take a pretty large time investment up front, but in the end it is well worth it to know that you are honoring God through the way you handle your finances.  Not to mention the amount of stress that will be lifted off of your family in the long run, and the fact that budgeting now will keep you from getting into trouble (mega-debt) later.

I wanted to share a little about this topic because from my experience so many people don’t know how to properly handle their finances, don’t know where to start; and as a result they end up with credit card debt, no savings, bounced checks, and lots of stress that could be easily avoided.  Also, believers who don’t know how to handle their finances miss out on the joy of giving and being part of contributing financially to growing God’s kingdom.  I will post some more blogs about other areas of family finances that I have been learning and believe to be important for families to know.

If you have any questions let me know!

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Comments
  1. Paul says:

    David, well written. This is so true and so very important. A budget must be setup and maintained. We are to be lendors not borrowers. Contributing financially to help grow God’s kingdom is a great joy and priviledge. It gives new meaning to one’s life and extends one’s treasures into the kingdom of God.

    I also wanted to recommend mint.com as a way to setup and track budgets. I found this service several months ago and it’s been amazing. The great thing about this service, aside from being totally 100% free, is that you can link more than one account to it. Let’s say you have a checking account, savings account, retirement account, and paypal account, It pulls the data automatically and keeps you always on top of your budgets across the board. It is a web-based service but also works on mobile devices like the iPhone.

    Very important message here. Thank you David.

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