I’ve come across several articles of “How To Stop Living Pay-Check to Pay-Check” and “Save Your First $1,000.” While I found many of the articles helpful and equally insightful, they lack one very important practical element of advice.
First off, you may ask what qualifies me to discuss budgeting, saving, and money. I will admit, I do not- I repeat- do not have a degree in finance or have published a well-renowned book with a detailed synopsis of all the money “How-Tos.”
I have, however, learned through years of set-backs, personal mistakes, and life in general, that financial success requires incredible discipline, sacrifice, wisdom, and patience. While I practice wisdom with saving money, I do not claim to have “arrived” at my financial success destination. Because financial success is not a destination, but a continual, steady process.
Financial success is a slow, steep climb. You have to keep your eye on the goal (the Summit of the mountain), while managing to carefully find your footing each step of the way up. Be patient-very patient- with the process.
Everyone’s definition of financial success varies. Some people consider it a financial win to have $30 in the bank before receiving their paycheck, while others consider more lofty means like owning a huge house and driving expensive cars, and anywhere in between both ends of the spectrum.
Regardless of what your definition is, there are practical answers right in the Bible- yes, the Bible. I know it doesn’t sound like your typical, catchy title go-to guide for money management, but Jesus spoke more about money more than almost any other subject- 2,350 verses, to be exact. So there is no secret to financial success-the jig is up- because God has already laid out the answers for us. And you don’t have to be within the financial elite to have this wisdom because He designed His plan for you, me, anyone.
Jesse and I, like many people, thought we needed to get out of debt first before saving money, so we put all our efforts into paying off debts. But when an emergency occurred, we ended up back in debt. You can’t neglect your debt, but don’t wait to get out of debt before you start saving money. And we know better than anyone that when you live off one income, have a family to support, and live in a costly society, saving feels like a very far-fetched fairytale.
So why is everyone talking about saving $1,000? Well, $1,000 is a good starting point for saving because it is a reasonable amount of money in the event of an emergency. By emergency, I’m not referring to Macy’s One Day Sale- I’m talking about times when we blow out a tire or are saddled with a major house repair. Then once you reach the goal of saving $1,000, push toward saving for 3 months living expenses, then 6 months living expenses, and so forth.
While other articles suggest ways to earn a little extra cash here and there, the Bible offers a very simple, yet effective strategy. It’s called “The Steady Plodding Principle.” This principle is derived from Proverbs 13:11 which states: “he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.” It may not sound as groundbreaking or perhaps even as enticing as some online sources promising simple ways to earn money. But that’s the mentality of our microwave society- a society that doesn’t want to be patient and wants fast results.
Rather than a microwave approach, think of this principle as more like a crockpot approach, so to speak- low and slow, but so worth it at the end of the day. So how do we practice Steady Plodding?
- Save Your Change– I realize this sounds elementary and most of us got rid of our piggy banks when we were about 10, but this is such a simple, yet effective habit to practice. But keep in mind, in a credit card user economy, you will have to use cash in order to make this work! I know a couple who puts all their spare change in a jar each day and by the end of the year, they have accumulated close to $700. So don’t short change your change! Steady Plodding at it’s finest! (Proverbs 13:11).
- Exchange Unnecessary Expenses– Let’s talk about sacrifice. It’s not exactly a word that rolls off the tongue. Steady plodding requires some degree of sacrifice, which again, comes hard in a microwave society- where we are bent toward the easiest method to achieve results. Heaven forbid we give up anything in order to reach a goal. When considering your unnecessary expenses, don’t look in terms of daily or monthly cost. Look at what it is costing on an annual basis. What may seem like a low cost on a daily or monthly scale can actually add up to a larger amount in the course of a year.
- Daily Starbucks Coffee: $5 ($1,825 annually)
- Monthly Gym Membership: $25 ($300 annually)
- Monthly Cable Bill: $100 ($1,200 annually)
- Monthly Netflix Subscription: $10 ( $120 annually)
- Monthly Apple Music Subscription: $16 ( $192 annually)
- Monthly Manicure : $20 ( $240 annually)
These are just a few common examples of extras. If we could reduce or eliminate even just a couple of these, we can exchange the expenses for extra savings. A $10 per month Netflix subscription doesn’t sound entirely unreasonable, which might make you question if it’s really worth giving up. But with steady plodding, it’s not about putting large sums of money in at a time, but consistently adding a little over time in order to attain our financial goals. If you find yourself struggling to save, but have one or more of these unnecessary expenses, then it’s time to put some sacrifice into practice. “The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways.” -Proverbs 14:8.
3. Put Back Some Extras– In the event you receive some unexpected or expected extra- you return a purchase, receive a tax refund, or monetary gift- put some into your savings. There are circumstances when other necessities require attention, but be disciplined not to turn around and spend it on something else. “The wise man saves for the future, but the foolish man spends whatever he gets.” -Proverbs 21:20.
It is my heart’s prayer that the Steady Plodding Principle becomes your best solution to practice discipline and save money. Believe me, I know saving is a challenge for most of us, but with God’s wisdom and strength, it is possible! “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” -Philippians 4:13 and “with God, all things are possible.” -Mark 10:27.
The Humble Homemaker
*Extra Resource for Further Reference: “Your Money Map” by Howard Dayton