During the early years of my freelancing, my wife and I did not plan our finances. We had a common account where I deposited my earnings, from which she drew her household expenses. In the same way, from the same pot, I also drew for my needs to cover gasoline, maintenance, business expenses, etc. We both lived on a shoe string budget, thinking that the only way we can survive was to make sure that we spend to the bare minimum. We felt proud of living on so little, but somehow, we were always anxious.
After a few more years, we sensed that there is something wrong in our approach. We were always living on the defensive, fearful that we might have nothing left, thinking that somebody might get sick or an accident happens and we may not have enough to cover those. Thus, we lived on very small budget for food. We always buy second- hand cars. We had very simple and budget meals. We seldom shopped. There was one time my client went to my house and when she saw the food on our dining table, out of pity, she sent her maid to bring food to our house. We were surviving but not thriving.
Then one day, I told my wife, “Stel, please compute how much you need to cover the household budget. Include shopping and anything you wish for yourself including beauty parlor expenses”.
Then she did and I added my own budget. On an excel file, I did an annual budget, showing monthly expenses and cash coming in from my consultancy fees. Of course, I cannot project what will come in and from where they will come from, several months ahead, but somehow, I have to make assumptions and see a cash flow budget where all expenses are covered by my income from my free lancing which does not come in regularly. After all, that is what I do for my clients when I do their business plans. On top of our household and business budget, I included our budget for tithes and offerings, savings and investments, out of town vacations, which we regularly have during Holy Week and Christmas to New Year. I also budgeted for myself a salary out of my consultancy business from which I can give Stel her household budget. This time, it was a well organized budget. The planning exercise stretched me. I prayed for more clients and thought of ways to increase my income. The exercise stretched my creativity in doing my business.
Then I told Stel, “Now you have a monthly budget with enough allowance. I will give you your budget every month, while I draw mine too”.
But being a spend thrift, my wife’s tendency is to bring her expenses down, so that by stretching, her one month budget will last for more than a month or two months if that is possible. In short, we planned in faith, but she still operated in fear.
Then, I said, “You are not cooperating with me”.
She said, “Why?“
Then she reasoned out, “I am helping you so that just in case money doesn’t come, we will still have food on the table”.
Then I said, “My job is to see to it that our monthly expenses are covered. That is what the Lord assigned me to do. If it does not happen, it is between Him and me. I will kneel before Him and ask Him why. That is how I will perform my role. I am accountable to God to take charge of my financial responsibility to my family. You are not supposed to help me by anticipating that there will be no funds coming in and act as if there will be none. Both of us and not just me, must have the faith that He is faithful and will provide”.
I was surprised at myself, being able to articulate that kind of faith. Honestly, it didn’t occur to me that when we were not planning at all, dipping into a common fund the minimum we can get, scrimping on food, thinking that what we have in our account might be the last money we have, not giving my wife a budget for her personal expenses, we were actually acting in fear and not in faith. No wonder, we were surviving, but not thriving. It suddenly dawned on me that as children of God, we should believe and act as if we are in the house of God where we will not lack. I said to myself, if God gave me the responsibility to provide for my family, then, He will give me the grace and favor to fulfill that.
We have been doing this type of planning and budgeting up to now, believing that our assumptions for a monthly income and monthly expenses will materialize because of the faithfulness of God. After all, shouldn’t we have faith that God will never fail to provide? We went through several economic crisis where we experienced the faithfulness of God. Now, we have savings, properties, investments, and we were able to travel to places as a family. Lo and behold, faith with action works. We both realized that we cannot afford not to plan because we are serving God’s purpose. We plan because we believe that it is God’s will to prosper us and to bring us to our purpose. Thus, we put our lives in God’s hand and plan in faith.
Do you involve God in your planning?