Money, stuff and the space between them.

Many of my friends share the practice of having focus words. I enjoy it; my heart leaps when I see their word. I believe it with them and for them and we watch for God winks to confirm it.

Peacemaker. Simplify. Brave. Trust. Meek. Change. Salvation. Good words, huh… Mine for 2018 is margin. This entry is blog number two in a series to share my thoughts on creating meaningful margin. (If you missed the first, go check it out.)

Today, let’s talk about money. More specifically, think about financial dreams, godly desires, personal wants and future goals. I believe creating financial margin is going to help me achieve more with my money in 2018. Financially, the term margin means profitability… the difference between what something costs and what it sells for. Creating margin means creating profit!

I want to be more generous, to bless people more often and more extravagantly. Yet, I also want to save more and spend wisely.

Many of us are generous in heart, but limited by our means. When we take generous people and teach them to pay off debt and experience margin—  the natural result will be more generosity and more blessing!  Let’s do it!

God gave us an Old Testament commandment that is still an applicable principal. 76332431-86D3-45DB-B4BE-5BAF33AA935C

When this law was in effect, people could tell how generous a man was by the width of his edges. This is not waste. This is planned generosity.  This is God’s plan for us.

We often live to the very edge… maxed out, stressed out, and over extended. Most people don’t actually use a budget, which explains why 79% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck and 56% of people report to be in debt “over their heads.”  And more than 10% of individuals making more than $100,000 per year report they are still struggling to make ends meet.

I refuse to be a statistic in this mess. Culture has pushed and too many of us haven’t resisted.

Let’s push back and fight to create margin in our finances! Simply put, this means don’t spend all that you make. Period.

Tithe, yes. Save, yes. But to me, creating margin means more than these two things because God asked us to regularly leave some of our crop for others: the widows, orphans, and downtrodden. If we continually live maxed out, we struggle to take care of only ourselves. That was not His plan.

When you live fully extended, every unexpected expense creates personal crisis, but it also steals our chance to be obedient to ‘leave a portion around the edges.’

I think about the story of the Good Samaritan. Perhaps the others who passed by didn’t have cold stony hearts. They may have had compassion and a desire to help, just had no margin in time or money.

Here are 4 simple and practical things I am going to do this year to create more room around the edges in our finances:

1) Pre-planned spending.

Jake and I have a budget, but I screw it up in the most honest of ways. 😨 My errors are rooted in negligence. Example: I overspend on last-minute purchases because I didn’t plan in advance. School projects, group snacks, cell group meals, birthday gifts, even basic groceries- yes, they’re all things we need, but I could stay within budget easier if I were a planned shopper. I may even get crazy and be a meal planner who buys gifts in advance!

2) Stop assuming generosity has to be spontaneous.  Generosity can be planned and budgeted. You can figure out how this applies to you. Set a giving goal and make it happen!

3) No new payments. Adding payments does not represent living within margin. We justify this because of zero interest or “same as cash” promotions. Payments steal room around the edges. The goal is debt free; stop taking on more!

4) Pray and ask for wisdom. Too often we just do what we want. We buy what we want, when we want it. I have self control and I am content in spirit.  I am going to start praying and expecting God to help increase our income and decrease our spending so that our budget has more margin!

I sincerely believe God wants us blessed. He wants us to prosper. He wants to give us peace. He wants our lives to be a living testimony of his extravagent love and goodness. Let’s work with Him this year to have a more breathable budget, the ability to be generous and leave meaningful margin in our month!

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