We continue with the series on learning to set our priorities right in order to enjoy a fulfilled life. If you have not been following the previous articles, I encourage you to grab a copy from any nearby news stand or you visit the site of Bftonline.com for more information. Today, we focus our attention on developing the skills of handling our finances. I draw my basis on financial management principles from both theological and business perspectives. Let’s get started:
Relationship with your finance
Money as a medium of exchange is very vital as far as our stay on earth is concerned. You need money for your basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter and water. In other words, without money you cannot even pay your utility bills. One American psychologist and philosopher by name Abraham Maslow who propounded the theory of human needs agrees that most of man’s needs are primarily met with the aid of finance. It is prudent to note that money makes life on earth easier though there are other needful resources. Jesus Christ knew the value of money. Surprisingly, most of the parables He told were all linked to money or monetary value. Let us identify a few of them:
- The parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14 – 30)
- The parable of the lost coin (Luke 15:8) and
- The parable of the unjust steward (Luke 16:1-9)
They all suggest that money is not always as evil as portrayed by others. Money only becomes evil when you lust after it! In other words, lusting after money means a person’s total obsession is to use any wrong means to have money. God therefore expects us to learn how to prioritize in the management of our finances. Most people do not know how to handle money so they end up misappropriating and embezzling funds in organizations. The management of money is based on several skills that can be learnt so that you do not tarnish your image through misuse of funds. In handling money, it is prudent to ask yourself the following set of questions:
- Do you know what you want to do with money?
- Do you know how to save or invest money?
- Do you have an idea of where your money goes?
- Do you have a budget for spending in advance?
- Do you know how to control impulse buying?
- Do you keep financial records?
Here are two basic principles to help you manage your money judiciously:
- Live within your income
- Draw a budget
- Live within your income
Money can either make you great or mar your image if it is not well-handled. Though money is a defensive tool, it can also become defenceless if not well managed and accounted for in times of need.
In living within your income, what you should know is that, there would never be enough money to satisfy everyone’s need. It is because your wants are insatiable (always wanting more and never feeling satisfied). The problem is necessarily not with the money but your own ostentatious living (impressing people or attracting their attention in a way that is extreme and unnecessary). For instance, if you earn three thousand five hundred Ghana cedis (GH¢3,500) or better still two thousand five hundred dollars ($ 2,500) at the end of every month as your salary, the question you need to ask is how do l handle it?
In the first place, acknowledge the fact that God always has a share in all your resources, especially in your financial resource that is if you believe in the principle of tithing. If you do, then God becomes the absolute shareholder in all your possessions. Prof. Stephen Adei, the former rector of GIMPA puts it this way: ‘for every income, wages or gifts received, pay God first.’ Learning to give ten percent to Him in the form of a tithe secures your financial prosperity. Afterwards, it is your responsibilities to manage, control and handle the remaining 90% of your income.
The technique of managing the remaining 90% is simple. Pay yourself second while saving the rest in another account! At least that is to discipline you from squandering it. Inevitably, you will find that at the end of the month you will still be able to pay the bills you have saved for yourself. Try it today and you will be amazed how you will naturally self- adjust your spending rate when you have saved some money.
Your expenses should always be less than your income. If your expenses are always higher than your income then you should know that you will virtually live-in debt. It is wiser to come out from your pretentious shells and think like a real man. Cut down on unnecessary expenses. After all, who do you impress? If you try to impress your friends on how wealthy you are and squander all your monthly salary on unnecessary needs, you deceive yourself. What you have to bear in mind is that you are not competing with anyone. Think of your future and wisely use your money. The book of Proverbs 28:20 places emphasis on faithful stewardship.
“A faithful man shall abound with blessings but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.”
God honours faithful stewards but no special reward awaits the steward who sails on an easy lifestyle. You can only pass God’s test today when you value the little you have whiles trusting Him for bigger things tomorrow. Friend, learn to keep financial records if you want to be recognized as a man of integrity. Get a small book beside in recording all your expenses. Afterwards, check the list of items and simply ask yourself the item which draws a lot of money from your priority list. This attitude also helps you in overcoming impulse buying.
- Draw a budget
You know there is no way you can decide to put up a building without necessarily taking into consideration the acquisition of land, its certification from the government and the plan in purchasing the needed building materials. That is exactly how life is – it is about planning. This means you cannot achieve much if you do not plan towards all areas of your life including your finances. You cannot achieve financial success if you do not have a budget. Jesus in Luke 14:28 taught about the need for wise planning. He says:
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower, will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?”
How can you achieve financial success if you do not first of all plan or budget for it? In simple terms, a budget is a proposed expenditure explaining how you ought to spend your money so that you do not over spend or spend unnecessarily. In fact, you cannot go through the day, week and month without budgeting financially. It is prudent because budgeting guides and controls your expenditure. Let us now look at some areas you need to budget for after paying ten percent (10%) as a tithe to support the work of God that is if you are an enthusiastic giver.
It is well known that one of man’s physiological needs is shelter. It is therefore wiser to plan for this rental arrangement. It does not augur well for tenants to be lambasted by landlords when they know very well that the rent advance is overdue. To avoid any embarrassment, you need to factor in the money to cater for your rent. If you do not pay for any rent as of now, do not think that will always be the case. You might do so in the near future so save towards that and if you happen to own your house, I will urge you to still save so you can use that money to maintain your house.
2. Utility Bills
Paying of utility bills can be as frustrating as pulling hair from the noise. But to make it as painless as possible, you just have to put it at the back of your mind that most of the luxuries in the house are paid for. In that vein, you can cut down the rate at which you make phone calls, use water, electricity and other utilities available in your home. As you are using these amenities, know you will be paying for it so you must learn to be modest.
3. Car Maintenance or transport
Depending on your social and financial status, it is advisable to budget for daily, weekly or monthly fuel expenses and the maintenance of your car or better still make budgetary allocation for your transportation. However, if you think you cannot maintain your car because of economic hardship, it is wiser to sell it and invest the money into another business venture. Do not pretend all is well when you really admit that your car is more than a liability to you. Do not roll up your glasses and put on the air conditioner when you deeply know that you are sitting on the seat of expenses. Be real to yourself! After all, who do you impress? You should never forget you can never fool yourself. However, if you think you can maintain your car, budget for its maintenance. On the other hand, if you are planning to buy one, ask yourself if you have enough money to maintain it.
4. Home Management
Your home becomes more lovely and enjoyable if food is always available. Make plans for weekly or monthly foodstuffs for your home. It is better to shop with a list of items needed so that you avoid the unnecessary or impulse buying. These impulsive purchases have a tendency to eat into your savings or what you could have easily saved. In managing your home too, do not forget about this budget – the clothing of your children and spouse.
5. Academic Materials
If you are a student, you must be able to distinguish between important materials and less important ones. Buy materials that only add value to your life. If there is a book you are keen to buy, make plans for that. Even when you would buy a book you should first ask from a senior colleague if his is not in use. If he does not use it, you can save some dime. Do not waste your money on unhealthy materials such as pornography, occultic materials or books on witchcraft. They all possess the power to pollute your mind with fear and also to saturate your mind to perpetuate evil. And before you are aware your dream of becoming a great person would be in ruins.
- School fees
Children are real gifts from God to every parent as already mentioned in the previous article. And gifts from God must be handled carefully, even if you had the baby out of wedlock. Though the conception may be inopportune, the birth is divine. Therefore, the child’s upbringing, particularly in the area of formal education should be the sole responsibility of every parent. If you are living in an environment where formal education is free, then the parent must do their best to help the child go through that system of education. However, if it is not free, parents should budget for it. It is rather unfortunate when some children at the Basic level are consistently driven away from school for not paying their fees. Financial insecurity makes it difficult to take good care of your children but I think if you are able to set your financial priorities right, the academic pursuits of these children will not be hindered. A budget must however be monitored and thus there is the need to keep a record of expenses to cross check if the utilization of resources is as planned.
Do you know why money is mostly called liquid? It is because it can easily be accessed with limited consequences. In other words, money has the capacity to flow to wherever it wants. That is why we should learn to properly control our usage of money. So, learn to manage the little you have and make your life better.
Grab your copy of this book (YES, YOU CAN MAKE IT!) from Kingdom Bookshop, KNUST, Kumasi and in Accra, contact: Mrs. Justina Asempa (Phoenix Insurance, Ringway Estates, Osu) on 0244 20 88 43 and Pastor Stephen Gyamfi (ICGC, Asylum Down, 054 679 7323). In Sunyani, contact: Miriam on 054 929 89 16.
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- Owusu, P. (2016). The Leading Edge, Kumasi: Streams Publishing House, pp. 277-317.
- Owusu, P. (2021). Yes, You Can Make It! , Kumasi: Streams Publishing House, p.22.
The writer is an Academic, Visiting Lecturer, Leadership Consultant and a Reverend Minister with the WordSprings City Church, Kumasi-Ghana. This article is an extract from the writer’s book, Yes, You Can Make It!