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Your First Line of Defense Against Debt: Learning to Save

Establishing a savings account is one of the steps to living by God’s money managing principles and living in financial freedom. The Bible strongly encourages us to plan ahead and save for life’s difficult times.

Proverbs 6:6 says, “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food in harvest.”

This verse teaches us to prepare and set aside now for when a crisis occurs. Saving money is one way to do this.

A savings account needs to be a priority in every person’s life. Your savings account is your first line of defense against credit cards and debt. It is your safety net when the unexpected happens. Reality is that if you don’t have a savings account, you will end up using your charge cards and going into debt.

Why? Because life happens.

Things break and need to be repaired. People get sick. Emergencies come up. During these times, an emergency savings account is your safety net to keep you out of debt.

Whether you are just beginning to live by God’s financial principles or you are living a life of financial freedom, saving money needs to be a central part of your financial plan. When we establish a savings plan, we are obeying God’s Word and being a good steward of all He’s given to you.

So where do you begin?

The first step to building a savings account is making a commitment to save money and a plan to help you stick to your commitment.

The best plans involve prioritizing and consistency. Just like the government removes a percentage of your paycheck for taxes and you set aside 10% for tithing, you need to set aside a prescribed amount from each paycheck for your savings account.

Different financial advisors have varying suggestions for what percentage of your income should go into savings. Personally, I believe this should to be a matter of prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you what amount He wants you to put into your savings account each month. He understands your financial circumstances, and He knows your future. If you and your family seek His wisdom, He will lead you to the proper amount. The key is making it a priority to keep your commitment and place that amount into your savings account every month.

Many experts recommend that each person or family have 3 types of savings accounts. The first is the EMERGENCY FUND.

This should be your first saving’s goal. The name describes it perfectly. It is money saved and reserved for emergencies. Again, you should ask the Holy Spirit how much He wants you to have in this fund. I read a magazine article that said it should be at least $500.00. The Holy Spirit may lead you to have $1000 or $2000 in your emergency fund. Whatever amount you decide, you should place your monthly allotment for savings in this emergency fund until your goal is met.

The next type of savings account you need to establish is a long-term emergency fund.

This is money set aside to help you and your family survive a life crisis such as a job loss or a prolonged illness. Most experts say this account should contain 6-8 months worth of living expenses.

Let’s be honest: you cannot develop this fund overnight. While it may take only a few months to establish an emergency fund, this is a long-term savings goal. Don’t let that discourage you. After you have met your goal for your emergency fund, put your monthly savings allotment into this fund. Over time, it will grow and you will meet this goal.

Don’t give up because it takes too long. Celebrate each victory along the way. When you’ve saved enough for one month’s living expenses, celebrate it! You’ve done a great job! Look how far you’ve come from when you had no savings at all. Realistically, it will take awhile for you to meet this goal, but keep trying. Along the way, you are accumulating a savings account that will be there for you and your family during the hard times.

Finally, we need to establish a savings plan for our retirement.

This is a savings account for your future. Many people do this through their employers or through a 401K. Because I am not a financial planner, I will not give any comments on this topic except to say that you should consult someone who understands it and can give you sound advice. As with all financial decisions, you should pray about your options. Also, make sure you thoroughly understand the decisions you are making. If you are married, include your spouse in the decision making process. After all, it is their future, too.

You may be asking, “What’s the big deal about saving money? My budget is stretched already and I need to pay off my debts. Can’t this wait?”

The answer is “NO!” I learned this lesson many years ago when our family was first learning to live by God’s financial principles. Although we were still learning to live on a budget and desperately trying to pay off our debts, my Mom made a commitment to start a savings account. Every two weeks, she would put a certain percentage of our money into a savings account. It was a priority.

At first, it seemed like an unnecessary burden. After all, the budget was already stretched to the limit by debt repayment. Then the day came when we all saw the value of the family savings account: The first unexpected emergency. Only it wasn’t a crisis because we had the money in the savings account to pay for it. It’s a new way of living: saving a little each month for the emergencies of life.

Don’t forget to teach this lesson to your children. When you include them in the family budget, teach them the importance of saving money. When they get an allowance or a job, train them to budget their money with a portion going into savings. Allow them to participate in saving money for their first car or college tuition.

Too many parents allow their children to freely spend their money without accountability in budgeting or saving. This is wrong. Godly parents need to teach their children God’s principles for handling money, including saving money and avoiding debt. It is never too early to start teaching your children God’s money lessons.

While you’re teaching your children the practical principles of saving money, don’t forget to teach them the spiritual principle of learning to control their appetites. Remember, they too, are growing up in a world that says, “If you want it you should have it, you deserve it, and it will make you feel better.” Daily, they are surrounded by messages that scream, “If you’re feeling badly about yourself or your life, buy our product and it will fix everything.”

As a godly Mom, it’s your job to be the voice in the crowd saying, “You can’t buy happiness, you can’t buy fulfillment, and you can’t buy love.” As your children are dealing with their own emotional issues and seeking to have their spiritual and emotional needs filled, it’s your job to lead them to the same Savior that is helping you overcome your desire for instant gratification and filling your appetites with His healing, His love, and His fullness. As Jesus leads you, you can lead them. As you learn to separate your appetites from your spending habits, you can teach them.

This is how it worked in my family. What my Mom learned she taught us, and together we learned to live by God’s financial principles. You can follow her example and teach your children how handle their lives, their emotions, and their finances according to God’s financial principles. You can help them put aside childish ways and develop wise money managing habits.

Looking for More Biblical Teaching on Finances? Check out our Video Series, "Five Minutes to Financial Freedom"

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