Planning your finances
Make some time to read Matthew 25:14-30. It’s a parable Jesus tells about three men who were given different amounts of gold by their master. Two of the men made the most out of what they had. They faithfully invested the money given to them and doubled what the master gave them. But, one of the men didn’t invest. Afraid of what the master might say if he lost money on an investment, the third man simply buried the money to keep it safe. The master chastises that man.
The lesson we learn is that we are to make the most out of what God has given us. Trusting in our loving Lord, we apply that lesson to our personal finances. We seek to be good stewards for our Lord with what He has given us.
Making the most out of our money takes planning. The first step came when we assessed our finances. Before you can make a plan for the future you need to look back to see where you’ve been and where you are. Now, it’s time to make a plan.
Step One: Create a budget
Now that you’ve come up with your list of life priorities and financial goals, begin to create your budget. All the tools I mentioned last time will help you with this (Mint, YNAB, and PocketGuard). Maybe you were shocked and apalled that you spend so much money each month on restuarants of coffee. Now is the time to write your future spending story. With your priorities and goals as a guide, create a budget to match. Your future spending might (maybe even probably will) look different in the future than what it has in the past.
Step Two: Meet with a financial planner
One tool you might want to consider is meeting with a financial planner. As you plan for the future and seek to make the most out of God’s gifts, you will want to think about investing your money wisely. You don’t just want to bury your money in a savings account somewhere. A certified financial planner (or CFP) can help explain to you the ins and outs, whats and whys, of tools like IRAs, 401ks, index funds, and other investment strategies. As you plan for the future, it often helps to talk with someone who is trained to walk you through a messy financial world. The lists of priorites and goals you’ve created will help guide your discussions with them. CFPs usually charge a certain percantage of the assets they are managing for you, so try to find someone who will charge you closer to 1%.
Step Three: Consider online financial planners (aka Robo-Advisors)
These days there are a lot of online tools to help you navigate the sometimes scary world of financial planning and investing. Sites like Betterment, Personal Capital, and Acorns try to make this easy. Each allows you to be as involved or as hands-off as you’d like to be. They will help you determine how much you should be saving for retirement or other goals, and will show you what your monthly contributions should be. These tools are often cheaper than meeting with a face-to-face CFP, but it’s not for everyone.
In order to be good stewards and to make the most out of what we’ve been given we need to intentionally plan. God has given us our minds so that we can consider how to best serve Him and multiply His gifts. In order to maximize our generosity, we need to sit down and think about our dollars.