Increase ministry income: Make your money behave!

Posted on Aug 31, 2011 in Finances

Making your money behaveYesterday I introduced this topic of money on my main blog at Life In Student Ministry. I shared a bit about mine and Dana’s financial story, how stupid we were at times, and how far we’ve come over the past several years.

Two weeks ago Dana shared a little bit about that story here, too, at, but what neither of us have shared yet are some of the lessons we learned through those financial experiences. We learned how to stretch our money further than we ever thought it could go and even watched our income increase as we learned how to manage our finances. Over the next few days we want to share some of those lessons with you all.

Lesson #1: Grab your money by the horns!

Money has a way of being very illusive. It likes to disappear when you’re not looking. Somehow the paycheck goes into the bank and two weeks later it’s not there anymore. You try to recall where you saw it last. Maybe you can account for where some of it went, but the majority of it went into a black hole somewhere.

Unfortunately, most people are content with this because it’s normal. Money, left to it’s own, will not behave. It will get away from you. You need to grab every penny by the horns and make it behave! Show it who’s boss! Train your money to do what you want it to do and don’t let it do anything other than what you assigned to it.

More realistically, you need to train yourself to make your money do what you want it to do. That means deciding every month what you want your money to do and how much of your money you want to assign to that objective. This is called a budget. If you put your income at the top of the page and assign every dollar of it at the beginning of the month, you can make it behave and go where you want it to go.

The problem with budgets is that they require discipline. If you tell $50 of your monthly income that you want to take it out to eat, that’s great! You are in control of that $50. But as soon as that $50 is left behind at restaurants and you still want to eat out again before the month ends, discipline needs to kick in. Otherwise, the black hole opens up.

How your prioritize your money is a discussion you and your spouse need to have every month before the month begins. Put it in writing together and pinky-swear on it. Nothing is necessarily right or wrong, it’s just how you guys choose to use your money.

When Dana and I started budgeting every month, it was very frustrating. We had no idea how much we spent each month on things like toilet paper, gas for the car, or birthday gifts, so we continually were way over-budget or under-budget. It took about three months for it to start working for us. Sometimes we even had to have budget meetings every two weeks.

But the process was absolutely worth it because we learned where our money was disappearing. Our money no longer finds the black hole. In all honesty, it made our income feel like it increased by about 30%. It stretched much further when we learned to say no to money that wanted to sneak away through various purchases because we learned to assign every dollar with an agreed-upon, hardcore written budget.

CHALLENGE: Keep track of every penny you spend for a week. Write down the amount and what it was for. It feels laborious at first, but try it. If you can grow the first week into two weeks and two weeks into two months, you’ll start seeing the patterns of where those black holes are and once you close those holes, your money will stretch further than you ever imagined. We promise.

Make your money behave on your terms! We highly recommend Dave Ramsey’s book, “The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness,” for anyone who wants to learn more about taking their money by the horns. It revolutionized how Dana and I use money and how we work together with our finances. It will walk you through step-by-step how to write and plan a budget, how to make the budget work for you, and even includes sample budget sheets and worksheets to use.

About the author,

Tim is a dad who is imperfectly pursuing his wife and children while ultimately trying to pursue the Lord's vision for his family. He's written a few books and dabbles in online video, mostly to support his primary ministry at home.

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