Friday, February 1, 2013

Of Houses & Things, Part 3

Working From a Budget

Financial counselors recommend that families write a budget as the first step to sound finances. While we don't write out a formal budget, we calculate how much to save from our paychecks to pay the monthly and quarterly bills, such as rent or mortgage, insurance, taxes, and retirement. Depositing all of our paychecks into our checking account, paying all bills by check, and withdrawing only enough cash for groceries and weekly necessities keep us from impulse buying and also provide a record of our spending.

For convenience we use credit cards for certain items, such as gas, travel, and large purchases, but we pay the entire bill each month to avoid interest charges. By avoiding those high interest rates, we've saved thousands of dollars over the years. For large purchases we postpone them until we have saved enough to pay the entire amount. Of course, that requires planning ahead.

We also discovered a few methods for living within our budget. When we go shopping, we prepare a list and try to stick to it. And we never go "window shopping." Nothing makes me more discontent. Someone has suggested these ways to cut spending: (1) Watch less television; (2) Do less shopping; (3) Spend less time looking at catalogs, magazines, and newspaper advertisements. I would add (4) Spend less time on the Internet.

These suggestions are in keeping with God's Word, which tells us to "be content with such things as you have" (Hebrews 13:5). What methods have you found to keep within your budget?

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