"Imagine what I can get with this money!"
That was the thought that crossed my mind when I received my very first salary. It was a surreal transition; from a budget-conscious, beans on toast lifestyle as a student, to making a living for myself and having money which I have to decide what, when and how much to spend. The temptation to go out and spend it all was very real. Additionally, it didn’t help when my colleagues seemed to have no qualms about spending vast amounts on various gadgets or clothes. Thankfully, rent deductions from my account a few days later soon put things back into perspective.
I believe that the wise management of our finances is God’s way of preparing us for the bigger plans He has for us in life (Luk 16:11).
Regardless of your current financial position, through financial prudence, we can apply the same principles to be better stewards in His ministry. Below are some tips that I find useful in managing my finances.
Pray for divine strength. Along with other methods, Satan can make use of spiralling debt in order to divert our attention from God’s business. Although we can’t change the financial situation which we were born into, we can, by God’s grace use what we have to glorify Him. Deuteronomy 8:18 says, “and you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.” In this verse, Moses was trying to send a twofold message to the Israelites (and subsequently to us). Firstly, that God is the provider of all things, and secondly, with that same power, He will give us wisdom (and humility) to manage what He has blessed us and ultimately fulfil His plans in and for us.
Review/prioritise your expenses. The best way of saving money is not to spend at all. Go over your expenses prayerfully, and be honest with yourself! Personally, I had to give up buying a new flute as I was sending money back home. This taught me self-discipline, and it feels more rewarding knowing the money is spent on a cause that matters.
For those expenses that are necessary, are there are better ways of spending it, for instance:
- Comparing like-for-like products, is it possible to get a decent quality equivalent for a fraction of the price?
- Bulk buying with other people. Not only does it saves money, doing it with others makes it easier to know them through their spending habits.
- Clicking through cashback websites (search TopCashback or Quidco). While they may seem miniscule, all these savings do add up. Take care not to let this influence you into overspending.
- Consider applying for a cashback credit card, however this does not mean you can spend excessively! Think of it as redirecting your normal expenses, rather than falling into a debt spiral.
- Research/compare different banking products across different banks - some offer better savings rate, some build a habit of saving by requiring you to pay in/increase your balance by a certain amount per month. There are plenty of comparison websites out there which are useful. This is even easier in the UK with the Current Account Switch Service which seamlessly switches from your old to new account for free.
- For travelling/foreign remittances, it’s worth looking into fintech institutions like Revolut, TransferWise or Starling which offer better rates for foreign currencies than your local money changer.
Once you have managed to exercise prudence over your finances, think about how you can use your assets, including your time, effort and money, to further your ministry. There could be a ministry in church that urgently needs people in order to reach out to others, or there may be students in your church that could do with a fellowship dinner together. Ellen White sums it up perfectly:
The Lord designs that the means entrusted to us shall be used in building up His kingdom. His goods are committed to His stewards that they may be carefully traded upon and bring back a revenue to Him in the saving of souls unto eternal life. And these souls in their turn will become stewards of the truth, to cooperate with the great firm in the interests of the kingdom of God.
I hope these tips will be helpful as we all grow to be better stewards for God, and encourage each other along the way!
Having graduated from the University of Bristol in mechanical engineering in 2016, Yi Han now works as a data analyst at a professional services firm in Cardiff, Wales. In his spare time, he enjoys a game of badminton, cycling and hiking (though not all of them simultaneously).