Dollars That Make Sense

Sitting down each month to write out on paper our budget has given us a chance to take control of our finances

Dollars That Make Sense
Photo by Alexander Mils / Unsplash

My wife and I got married at 19. While the case can be made both for and against getting married young, it was our reality. When you get married young, the reality is that you typically have next to no money, and even fewer possessions. While it’s not everyone’s experience, it can also be a lesson in the school of hard knocks financially.  In facing those moments, we have learned a few things that have helped our dollars make sense.

We are big believers in having a budget! We have found over the years that sitting down each month to write out on paper our budget has given us a chance to take control of our finances. While there isn’t anything magical about writing it out, we’ve found that it helps us to really think through the way we are stewarding what God has entrusted us with. Somewhat like the way kids on a playground have a fence that shows them exactly where they can go, your budget helps you know where to go! It helps you to live within your means and allows you to know when you can enjoy the moments too! Here are a few tips as you budget for your household: 

1.     Make margin!

Proverbs has much to say about the way we steward our finances but specifically on this idea we see in Proverbs 13:16 “A wise man thinks ahead”. I’ve had plenty of months where my budget was tightly tied up with those surprise expenses. We all have those seasons where when it “rains it pours” so to speak. Urgent care visits. The washer goes out. The battery in your car dies, because in Arizona that happens A LOT more frequently than we anticipate. Sometimes it is just one thing after another. MOST of the time it is one thing after another. This is where we really need to lean into Proverbs 13:16 and make margin so that when life happens, we’re prepared.

Preparing some margin by saving each month can save you from a failed budget. If you can prepare ahead of time for those not-so-fun but going-to-happen expenses, you’ll be sure to stay on track and feel prepared when situations arise. Proverbs 6:6-8 says “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.”

2.     Make room for your dreams!

When it comes to your budget, make room for your dreams. Having goals and aspirations in life is not a bad thing! Setting goals for your financial dreams is a great step in investing in your future. Want to buy a new home? Great! Start saving now to make that dream a reality. It probably isn’t going to happen overnight, but that is OK! Rome wasn’t built in a day and financially, your dreams probably aren’t going to be funded in a day either.

Budgeting and creating a line item for your dreams and goals is a healthy habit. If all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, a budget without dreams can make your financial goals nearly impossible if you feel as if you are a slave to your budget. You can be a good steward of the money God has provided to you and still enjoy the dreams that He has placed in your heart! 

3.     Make a difference! 

You have an opportunity to be a great steward of what God has entrusted you with. This means that you can make a difference with your dollars. Invest in the Kingdom. Invest in the local church. Invest in mission causes that are close to your heart. Tithe faithfully. We often tell our kids during the holidays that “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” This comes from Acts 20:35 and is such a great reminder, and one we should remind ourselves of daily. Our budgets and stewardship should reflect our hearts and the heart of God. When we choose to steward our gifts, not only are we making a difference, but we are also worshipping God through our stewardship. And as we remind our kids, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” I pray that we, as Cross Church, would be a group of people across multiple campuses, in many different cities, who are committed to making a difference with the money that God has entrusted us by being good stewards and making a difference with our dollars. 

4.     Make a commitment!

The topic of habit formation has been widely studied. Some studies would say it takes about 30 days to create a habit. I’m not certain that 30 days is quite long enough to really form the habit of budgeting, but it is a great place to start and I am certain that sticking to the habit of budgeting each month can pay serious returns in the long run. James Clear speaks to the idea of habits in his book “Atomic Habits”. He says as it relates to sticking to your habit… "When scientists analyze people who appear to have tremendous self-control, it turns out those individuals aren’t all that different from those who are struggling. Instead, ‘disciplined' people are better at structuring their lives in a way that does not require heroic willpower and self-control." Wow. If you and I can make a commitment like that to our budget, and steward the money we have in a way that glorifies God, then I am certain that our families and churches would be impacted and that generations would be changed!


My hope and prayer is that no matter what stage of life you are in we: make margin, make room for our dreams, make a difference, and make a commitment with our financial stewardship. If we can each do that, God can use our families and our church in powerful ways; both locally and globally, to Make Jesus Known!