As we recover from the financial impact of a year like no other, Laide Olunloyo shares her top tips on how to manage our money well as Christians.
I used to enjoy walking down my local high-street but lately all the empty shop fronts have become slightly depressing. Businesses that survived the first, and even the second, lockdown have been unable to bounce back from the third.
The unemployment rate in the UK has soared to 7.4%, compared to 3.9% in 2019. Financial vulnerability has never been more at the forefront of our minds. The dictionary definition of being vulnerable is: “capable of being physically or emotionally wounded”. It is little wonder that financial vulnerability often impacts people deeply.
The impact of financial vulnerability
Although I have worked as an accountant for many years, there was a time in my life when I fell into debt. As I helped others to plan their finances, my own became more and more out of control. The impact was massive - not just on my mental health but on my physical and spiritual health too. I lost sleep and my hair started to fall out. When you are in debt, anxiety and frustration build; everything feels out of control. You fear the future and all of the hope that scripture has to offer can seem empty and meaningless. Prayer can feel ineffective and pointless.
When you are in debt, anxiety and frustration build; everything feels out of control.
Being in control of your finances enables you to make better decisions. If you don’t manage your finances, your finances will manage you. As Joe Biden famously said: “Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget and I’ll tell you what you value.”
As Christians, faith is the bedrock of who we are and what we do. That includes our finances. But what does it look like to manage our finances faithfully in the UK today? The world of money often feels complex and tricky to navigate. While there is no ‘one size fits all’ system, I want to suggest six biblical principles for managing your finances as we move into this post-Covid season.
Biblical principles for managing our money
Remember God is the source of all we have. Philippians 4:19 says: “God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Remembering that God is the generous giver of all we have keeps us humble and protects us from the worship of money. It also makes us more responsible with our money; we do not have the title deed for our possessions and we will have to give an account to God for how we have used his gifts.
Be generous. Luke 6:38 says: “Give, and it will be given to you.” You may feel like you do not have enough to give, but there is always something in our hand that we can be generous with. In Genesis 26, Isaac sows in faith during a famine and receives a harvest of a hundredfold. There is blessing in giving and treasure in heaven.
Budget carefully. Luke 14:28 says: “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?” Having a budget is so important. Ensure you have enough - not just to start a project but to finish it. Think about your values - what is important to you? Reflect that in your budget.
Avoid the dept trap. Proverbs 22:7 says: “the borrower is slave to the lender”. Buying on credit can seem attractive but it is incredibly dangerous. Easy credit now will always bring uneasiness later, and often comes from a discontented or greedy heart.
Save wisely. Proverbs 21:20 says: “The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but the fools gulp theirs down.” It is wise to set money aside and not spend everything we have as soon as it comes into our hand.
Invest. Ecclesiastes 11:4; 11:6 says: “Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap” and “Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.” Investments can be risky but a considered, balanced risk may bring return.
Thinking through these six principles will hopefully equip you to make wise, biblical decisions around your personal finances. Often, all that is needed is a plan, the belief that change is possible and the courage to start.
When I first got into debt, I had no older women in my life to help keep me on the right path, or to teach me from their mistakes. So it was incredible to come together, as women, in a community that was not defined by age recently at the Uncommon Women conference. The theme was living fearlessly. This speaks powerfully into financial vulnerability. At Uncommon Women, as we empowered one another and delved deeper into the practical ways we could manage our finances, we found freedom from financial vulnerability.
This post-lockdown season is an amazing opportunity to teach biblical financial principles to the younger generation and be reminded of them ourselves. The onus is now on us to put in the work to reflect our faith in our finances.