How to Make the Most of Your Finances
By Andrea Smith
“Honor the Lord from your wealth and from the first of all your produce;” – Proverbs 3:9 (NASB)
My husband and I talk a lot about honoring God in our finances, because everything we have belongs to Him. We make it a priority to start each year with a budgeting exercise, focusing on setting aside the money we give first, before we plan out the rest of our spending. Budgeting (and sticking to it) hasn’t always been the most fun task, but it is a tangible way we can live out our faith and grow in our relationship. As the years go by, we’re able to bond over the time we spend budgeting and get excited about how God provides, instead of grumbling or complaining that we don’t have more.
Money is a powerful tool. As we look at how the Bible teaches us to view money, it brings peace and clarity. Here’s a realistic look at how you can tackle budgeting and allocating finances:
THE 50/20/30 BUDGET
50% Fundamentals: housing, utilities, food
20% Future: savings, emergency fund, paying off debts, saving for cars
30% Fun: investments, vacations, restaurants, expensive clothing
Using Dave Ramsey’s budgeting recommendations as a huge influence, here’s a more specific breakdown of what that could look like for you:
10-15% Food (Groceries, restaurants, household items)
25% Housing (Rent or mortgage)
5-10% Health & Insurance
10% Savings (Emergency fund, retirement)
10% Transportation (Saving for cars, public transit, gas, maintenance)
5-10% Personal (Nicer clothing, salon appointments)
5-10% Recreation (Travel, vacations, concerts, date nights)
5% Misc (Everything you forgot to budget for)
*Tithing 10% of your income is biblical—so for us, it’s non-negotiable. Since we give and tithe in obedience to God, we’ve found this to be really fun, especially when we see all the ways God uses and is working through our gifts! God has often rewarded our faithfulness in this area, and we give the worry of not having enough over to Him.
There are lots of ways to create a budget, so the percentages above are just one way to portion out your income. Use a tool that helps you track your expenses, because each month will vary. Our family values experiences over physical stuff, so this exact breakdown might look different for you. We have personally chosen to put more aside for things like vacations and trips, and keep other areas (eating out, personal care, driving our vehicles longer) more lean. We spend more than average on healthcare, and forego other things like cable and fancier appliances. When it seems that others have more disposable income, time, connections, or resources, we could dwell on that negatively—but we have to choose daily to be positive and make the most of what we’ve given with a grateful heart.
Andrea Smith works full-time as a small business owner, freelance designer and artist and has a passion for branding, digital marketing, good stationery, travel, and palm trees. She is also a part-time LCC staff member and lives with her husband and two rescue pups in Bluffton, S.C.