Do You Have a Working Spending Plan (Budget)?

The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty- Proverbs 21:5

A few years ago, Gallup released a poll that said one in three Americans prepare a detailed household budget.  When you compare that with a similar stat that says that 70% of us are living paycheck to paycheck it is painfully obvious that most of us are flying blind.  Is it any surprise that the financial stress in our culture is palatable?

One of the key components of being well managed in your finances is to have a written working budget.  We say that not just because we like budget (though we do like budgets), but because year after year we sit down with families who are working through the consequence of not having a firm handle of where their money is going? Consequences like

  • Financial stress
  • Arguments with loved ones
  • Thwarted goals
  • Negative health issues
  • Fear
  • Anger with God
  • Frustration with Employers
  • Low self esteem
  • Confusion
Continue reading “Do You Have a Working Spending Plan (Budget)?”

Curb Spending in a Crisis

Step 3 Financial ideas for a CrisisIf your family lost all your income, how much money does your family need to pay all your bills? This is an important number. This is your “Survival Budget Number.” This can give you hope or a target to shoot for in a downturn.

Let me illustrate, for a family of three that I have worked a budget with, their simplified budget is about $3,500 per month. That is taking out all the fluff, such as eating out, concert tickets, etc… If they had to really tighten their belts, they could probably cut another $500 a month before selling houses and cars. Continue reading “Curb Spending in a Crisis”

think about such things

think about such things coverby Tim Howington

I am a thinker.  Or at least I think I am.  Descartes says, “I think therefore I am”, so I guess I am.  I am an engineer at heart, my degree is in computer science engineering (linear thinker, problem solver, logical and sequential).  But I am also a bit of a philosopher (love to engage with the abstract and essential life questions like- who am I, where did I come from, where am I going).  That combination of engineering and philosophy puts me in a spot to ponder a variety of issues and then come up with some practical solutions.

I love the Bible and theology because it holds real insight to the real issues of the world.  I always find it amusing when people discount the Bible as relevant because in my experience it is the only thing that makes sense in real life.  I am a self-proclaimed practical theologian which basically means that the part of theology I enjoy is the application of our theological studies in the real world.

But when a problem gets beyond my ability to solve (and that happens more than I care to admit) I begin to freeze.  My thoughts become cloudy and even though I keep pondering the situation, if I am unable to come up with a solution my mind begins to panic. My strength of thinking transitions to be my worst nightmare.  I now begin to think through the consequences (real and imagined).  Unless I begin to focus on truth, I can allow my mind to take me to places that I have no business going.  And I begin to lose the battle.

The key to winning the battle for the mind has to do with what we allow our minds to focus on. If we focus on our problems, then we will plant seeds of anxiety that will grow into a real sense of hopelessness. If we focus on what God can do, then our minds will begin to experience contentment. Now I know that our thoughts may not pay the light bill or get us that promotion or fix that fractured relationship.  But thinking about the right things keeps our hearts with the right perspective, which affects our attitudes, which allows us to struggle well in times of adversity.

What should we be thinking about?  Continue reading “think about such things”

Freedom 5:one Ministries Financial Hotline- Coronavirus

Trouble shows up in a variety of way.  Every kind of trial has it’s own unique set of challenges.  Coronavirus is not only scary because of the obvious threats to our health.  But, it also has the potential to effect our financial situation.  As our leaders scramble to figure out what the next step is, it is important to remember that God still sits on His throne and that He loves and cares for us.

Sometimes it helps to talk through your situation with someone.  If we can be of help during this time please give us a call or drop us an email. Continue reading “Freedom 5:one Ministries Financial Hotline- Coronavirus”

Chapter 9- Can I Trust Him?

JPEG Cover-Vibrantby Tim Howington

Chapter 9

 Can I Trust Him?

 The long and the short of it is simply an issue of trust.  Can you and I trust God?  Can you trust Him to make all things work out for good in your life?  This is the essence of the faith walk: trust.  Without faith (trust) it is impossible to please Him and faith (trust) is in its very nature a belief in things we cannot see.  If you and I must walk by sight we will struggle in the faith walk.  And if I am honest, it is at this point that I struggle.  Can I trust Him?

My Dad passed away recently and as he was struggling through his last days I saw the fear in his eyes of uncertainty about death.  Continue reading “Chapter 9- Can I Trust Him?”

Chapter Eight- Refreshed by Generosity

JPEG Cover-VibrantBy Tim Howington

Chapter Eight

 Refreshed by Generosity

 I don’t think she even understood how desperate our plight had become.  Not just in terms of money but more importantly morale.  Hundreds of prayers seem to be bouncing off the ceiling and as they say in Arkansas “my dauber was in the dirt.” And then the check came.  The check from one of our partners is normally $100 a month but this one was $300.  I called my buddy to thank him for the extra and he quickly deflected to his wife (whom I haven’t met yet).  Seems she felt impressed of the Lord to send some extra money.  I live in Arkansas and God led someone in Mississippi to meet a need that I have been petitioning Him about privately.  God moved another person to generosity on my behalf.  When I talked to my buddy his comment was classic, “don’t thank us, it’s not our money anyway, we just manage the Lord’s money”.  I have just been refreshed by generosity.

What does that have to do with managing ourselves in times of financial crisis?  Continue reading “Chapter Eight- Refreshed by Generosity”

Chapter Seven- Give Me My Portion

JPEG Cover-Vibrantby Tim Howington

Chapter Seven

 Give Me My Portion

God is great, beer is good and people are crazy.  This is the chorus to one of my favorite country songs.  The story line of the song is about two guys who meet in a bar and hit it off and talk into the wee hours of the morning about all kinds of things especially how to navigate life.  Turns out that one of the guys is a millionaire who ends up cutting his kids out of his will and leaving his fortune to this guy he barely knew.  The song goes on to say, “His kids were mad as hell, but me… I’m doing well.  God is great beer is good and people are crazy.”

When it comes to inheritances people are indeed crazy.  So many families are torn to shreds based on how they respond to the loss of a loved one.  In our business of helping families with their finances, we engage with people in their estate planning.  Without a good estate plan many a parent has sent their household into a pretty predictable outcome of chaos as the children fight over the stuff.  A good will and trust plan helps to define what each child should expect as their portion of the estate.

Have you ever wondered what your portion is as a child of God?  Continue reading “Chapter Seven- Give Me My Portion”

Chapter Six …but is He Willing?

JPEG Cover-Vibrantby Tim Howington

Chapter Six

 …but is He Willing?

It is Mother Day weekend in Rogers and I just spent an hour or so with my Mother-in-law in the rest home. She has a bad case of Alzheimer’s and she remembers me most of the time. Betty and I have been friends from the first time I met her over 28 years ago.  The first time Terri took me home to meet her parents; Betty killed the fatted calf as they say.  In her case, she prepared Betty’s Spaghetti and German chocolate cake.  We have tried to copy her recipe over the years, but nobody does spaghetti like her.  And her German chocolate cake is to die for.  Well, 2 plates in and 2 pieces of cake and I am stuffed to say the least.  And then it hits me:  I need a nap in the worst way.  But, I am there to impress them. Betty reads the look on my face and tells me to go take a nap on the couch.  This is right down my alley: genuine hospitality. To Terri’s horror I take her up on her offer and the rest is history.

But, this Lady that I love dearly has a degenerative disease that has rendered her in a very lovely childlike state where my Father-in-law feeds her dinner twice a day. And she walks incessantly down a short locked hallway with 8 of her closest friends who also have forgotten most of their lives and families.  Is that God’s will for her life? Continue reading “Chapter Six …but is He Willing?”

Chapter Five-God is Able…

JPEG Cover-Vibrantby Tim Howington

Chapter Five

 God is Able…

I am not sure how you manage your difficult financial times but I have a tendency to check the mailbox a lot.  Gone are the days of God providing manna from heaven but occasionally we have experienced a little mailbox manna.  Oh, don’t misunderstand me, I am a firm believer that we should do everything that we can to be responsible.  But, when you get past that point what do you do?  When you get to the place that God has to show up or you are sunk.  Some people really have to be beat down to rock bottom before they will admit that there is a place where we depend on God for our very next breath.

I remember the Christmas where things were so tight that I wasn’t sure if we would be able to buy gifts.  My family was in prayer about it and we were waiting to see what the Lord would do.  I can still remember someone coming by our house and dropping off a Christmas card.  When they left we opened the envelope to find almost to the penny what we needed for our Christmas budget.  My son, who had been praying with us about this, immediately recognized that God had answered our prayers.  As I write this I am a little embarrassed that we were in that spot.  But let’s be transparent for a moment.  There are hundreds and hundreds of people who are in just that predicament from time to time.  It may not be at Christmas, but there are times when you are looking to God to land that deal, sell that car, turn your sales around or make that bonus check materialize.

It is at these times that we find ourselves asking some tough questions:  Is God able to handle my situation?  Is God willing to help me in my situation? Continue reading “Chapter Five-God is Able…”

Chapter Four- Managing our Emotions in Tough Financial Times

JPEG Cover-Vibrantby Tim Howington

Chapter Four

Managing our Emotions in Tough Financial Times

 My Dad calls it a flesh break.  I call it the tirades of a crazy man.  The Lord calls it sin.  I have to admit that I was a little surprised by the string of expletives coming out of my mouth.  Even though I whispered my displeasure toward the Lord, I think my heart screamed inside.  And to my chagrin there is no doubt that He heard me.  It has been a long time since I had been that upset.  Before I became a believer I had a pretty foul mouth but that was one of the things that I really hadn’t struggled with afterward.  That is till I hit the wall: the financial stress wall.

The Scripture says that anxiety in the heart of man weighs it down. Said another way anxiety in the heart of man wears him out.  Just like a marathoner hits the physical wall, a person who is dealing with ongoing financial struggles hits the emotional wall from time to time.  Growing up in a chronically poor family, I saw it first hand with my Mom who must have had the patience of Job.  But, ever so often she would lose it and have to work through her emotions.  I would like to think of myself as strong, but the reality is that in challenging financial times my heart is full of anxiety and that little boy who was so self-conscious about being poor reappears with all his insecurities.  I know that I am to focus on daily bread, but I am concerned that the bakery may break down in the future.  Managing our emotions in the face of financial adversity is a key to managing yourself.

But how do you do that? Continue reading “Chapter Four- Managing our Emotions in Tough Financial Times”