Feeling the pinch? You can live – and give!
Keep an eye on your cash and you will find it’s still possible to be generous, even when money’s tight
What the Christian finance experts say
Christians Against Poverty (CAP)
Golden rule: Get smart with your finances
“Looking at new statistics from client records in 2011, people say the main things that get people into debt are ‘problems with budgeting’ followed closely by ‘unemployment’ and ‘relationship breakdown’,” says Marianne Clough from the charity Christians Against Poverty. “Bearing that in mind, the message is to get smart with your finances because the unexpected does happen.”
Draw up a budget Set your income against your outgoings and see how much you have left. As you write down everything that you spend your money on, think about whether it was worth it. Maybe you could have got a better deal or done something less often. Writing a budget will help you to prioritise the things that are important to you and it’s the best way to ensure you have money left to give.
Use cash not cards After building a careful budget the next task is sticking with it. Studies have shown that people spend 18% more on average when paying with a card as opposed to cash. If you take out regular and controlled cash withdrawals, then you know exactly how much money you have left and how long it needs to last. You can’t dip into funds that were meant for other things.
*For more information about CAP money workshops or to get debt help, go to www.capdebthelp.org To book an appointment with one of the CAP Debt Centres call 0800 328 0006.
Golden rule: Remember – you don’t have what you think you have.
“Your new shoes, that big shop from the supermarket and those two weeks in Spain aren’t really yours – and were never really yours in the first place,” says Daniel Jones from the charity Stewardship. “All these things are gifts from God and stopping to acknowledge that he owns it all will transform the way you view ‘your’ money.”
Set some goals Getting serious about giving means making it a priority in your budget. What can you afford to give and what would you like to give? Start small and build from there. And, to show you’re serious, why not make it the first amount to leave your account after payday each month?
No pain, no gain Generosity needs to hurt a little. And when it does, it’s the most rewarding feeling in the world. Look again at your weekly spend – can you sacrifice that skinny latte or extra newspaper and give the money away instead?
Practice makes perfect Find ways to weave generosity into the rhythm of your life. Building regular financial giving into your budget is a great start, but it doesn’t stop there. Each day, look for opportunities to be generous with your time, your talents and your belongings.
* For resources on living and giving generously, or to open an online giving account, visit www.stewardship.org.uk or call 020 8502 5600.
Association of Christian Financial Advisers (ACFA)
Golden rule: Generosity, like love, should inform ?all we do.
“A credit crunch should not mean a generosity crunch!” That’s the challenge from the ACFA chairman Aidan Vaughan. “Jesus said, ‘Give and it will be given to you … With the measure you use, it will be measured to you’ (Luke 6:38). Meanness has no place in God’s society. Generosity transforms lives across the generations and, as an act of love, is the best investment you can make.”
Draw up a budget Only when you have a budget, can you work out what’s a need or a want, or what can be set aside for a gift or for saving for the future. Be sure to check every direct debit.
Be willing to give God the first part of everything – of your day and your income Then actively trust God to supply your needs. It is hard to ‘out-give’ God.
Give as an act of worship God loves a cheerful giver, but wisdom is called for. Please avoid getting into debt!
*To find your nearest Christian financial adviser, go to www.christianfinancialadvisers.org.uk or write to: ACFA, PO Box 728, Rickmansworth WD3 0HT
Golden rule: Always differentiate between essential and non-essential spending.
Keith Tondeur, president of this national money education charity, warns against buying something that you fancy because you want it, rather than saving money for a real need. It’s “a recipe for disaster and can lead to over-indebtedness and real pressures in the future,” he says.
Always keep a budget to ensure you know you are in control of your spending Budgeting forms can be found on the Credit Action website.
Control your spending whilst shopping Download the Credit Action Spendometer to your mobile phone and use it to keep a record of how much the contents of your shopping trolley are costing!
Always try and build up an emergency fund so you do not have to resort to expensive borrowing if unexpected costs arise.
* For further tips, ideas and downloads go to www.creditaction.org.uk or call 0207 380 3390
What do you spend your money on?
AW Financial Management LLP
Golden rule: Spend less than you earn.
“As a firm of Christian Independent Financial Advisers, we often talk to people about budgeting,” says partner Gary Wilson. “From very few is an analysis of their likely future expenditure measured against their likely income. Family budgets usually get into trouble because families don’t talk about money for fear of creating conflict. And many of us don’t plan to spend – it just seems to happen!”
Work out a family budget Take account of every area of family expenditure and allocate a realistic sum to it. It is not a quick process to get it right, particularly if you are starting from scratch. But setting the budget is the easy part; many people then forget to monitor their expenditure against it and this is where things often go wrong. Either you are interested in balancing the books weekly or monthly, or you are not. If this does not come easily to you – work on it. Be disciplined about it.
Talk to a friend If you are struggling with overspending, get a really good friend to keep you accountable. This would be someone who is able to challenge you on the kind of spending that is likely to impact your ability to continually meet your budget.
Set aside your tithe first It’s a personal sign of our faith and trust in God to give away the first 10% of anything we receive. Why not set up a standing order to your church, just like you do with your mortgage payments or rent?
Consider cash Placing cash into a series of pots for different items is a good way of ensuring that you don’t overspend. As the pot empties, you know that you have to be more careful with your spending. Some banks will allow you to set up multiple accounts all linked together, which can further enhance this strategy, particularly if you are wanting to build up some savings for a project or holiday. In doing so, you should avoid the common fall-back position of debt.
* AW Financial Management LLP, based in Essex and Kent, has fee-based, biblical-based financial planning at its heart. A budget planner is available as a free download from ?www.awfm.co.uk E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or call 0845 60 10 718.
Golden rule: Once you have your budget under control, make a simple list of your financial goals, keep working towards them and get help when you need to.
Know where you are now Run a budget, keep a black book, use a spreadsheet, whatever works for you. But do something.
Spend less Look at the biggest essential item first, usually your mortgage – can you make some savings there?
Save more If you can, make your very first payment from your salary to yourself. Set up a simple savings scheme so that you are saving for that rainy day. A website such as? www.moneysavingexpert.com can help you with current rates.
* Ecclesiastical Financial Advisory Services (EFAS) provides independent financial advice and has a long history of working with both clergy and the church community. To download a budget planner or find out more about their services visit www.ecclesiastical.com/getadvice or call them free on 0800 107 0190 quoting Woman Alive. A free financial planning workbook with useful tips to help keep you on track is also available on request.