Thursday, October 21, 2010

Being a Good Steward, Part 1: Money

Stewardship: 1. responsibly managing the resources within one's control: can refer to environment, money, time, etc.; 2. a virtue intended to make one feel guilty for buying a $4.00 cup of coffee that comes in a non recyclable cup in the drive-thru while having the car running and the A/C on high.

I used to focus so much on what I lacked in: money, talent, etc. Recently I feel like a veil has been lifted and I can see how abundantly blessed I am instead of what I am lacking. This realization has come with the responsibility I know have of being a good steward of all I have been given, no matter how big or small the amount.

Not to brag, but I am very bad at many, many things. Dancing, reaching things on the top shelf, initiating small talk, leaving voice mails, playing tennis and (according to my husband) loading the dishwasher - just to name a few. I can live with these failures.

Making a budget and sticking with it should not be something I fail at doing. The way I deal with money impacts my family immensely in the long and short term, not to mention being irresponsible with it is a slap in the face to my husband who works so incredibly hard. We have lived by certain money rules for awhile that have kept us from getting in trouble, the main one being to use credit cards like they are debit cards and to pay all of our bills on time. We're good at this rule. Our credit score is awesome. Too bad this is only step one of being good stewards of our money.

Every time we tried to establish a budget we either disagreed about nearly everything, failed to make the budget realistic, or just didn't stick with it. I think a lot of this was my attitude towards the Big Scary Budget. I would try and approach it with my head held high, but would quickly run away with my tail between my legs, crying in a corner while emotionally eating a Chicken Biscuit from McDonald's (which was not in the budget). The budget would blow up in a scene similar to this:

Chris and I recently attempted to tackle the BSB again, this time with much success. We agreed on almost everything. After clearing that hurdle, the next one was fast approaching - sticking with the given budget. As the end of the month comes near, I see that I did an OK job. I have a lot of fine tuning to do over the next few months, including finding a way to organize and keep track of everything more efficiently (If you have a system for budgeting that you use, please share in the comments below!)

In the past, every time I couldn't do the budget perfectly, I would quit. Right now my methods are probably laughable, but they are working. We're well on the way towards our main goals of saving like crazy, living below our means and giving to charity/tithing every single month.

It has been difficult to change. The tough thing about realizations is that they call one to action, to make tough changes. However, I shudder at the thought of being one of those people who remains stagnant, never growing or learning, always struggling with the same thing. I think I'd choose painful inner growth spurts over being stagnant any day.

Now I'm going to go turn off the lights in the other room and maybe crank the AC from 72 to 75. Hey, I'm a work in progress.


  1. The dishwasher thing has to be a hereditary problem. Your mom can't do it either!!

  2. I am the worst when it comes to spending money wisely. That's probably why it's such a good thing I have Blake to keep my spending habits in check, lol. I need to get better at it. But being 9 months pregnant, all bets are OFF when it comes to the a/c, lol!

  3. Michael and I do our budget monthly and take our budget out in cash every month (except for electricity/mortgage/trash, etc. bills), we leave that in the account and write checks).

    We save us a little bit every month for things that only "hit" you every once in a while, like Christmas, car repairs, clothes, haircuts, prescriptions, etc.

    The most important thing we do is pay cash for almost everything. We keep the cash in envelopes. That way, we can't go over our limit OR buy something on impulse if we don't have that item's envelope with us.

    It is especially helpful for grocery shopping and eating out so that we don't spend more than we have.

    We don't use credit cards, but we have one for emergencies. We also are blessed with great credit!

    For tithing and charitable giving, we have some money taken automatically out of our account each month, and we leave some in for future larger gifts (keeping track on our budget Excel spreadsheet as it grows), and we take the rest out in cash to be able to take some cash out for Sundays (to show Gabriel about giving in the offering) and to be able to, for example, buy a box of chocolate to help the Salvation Army outside of mass on Sunday, and those kinds of spontaneous giving opportunities.

    I think I've probably told you all of this before, but I thought I'd post it up anyway.

    Congrats on tackling the BSB again!

    I always find that discussing, solving problems with and then agreeing on finances is really great for our marriage, and sexy! :)