How To: Steps to Financial Freedom
There is a strange feeling in our society right now. . . It’s that strange, yet familiar mix of sadness and excitement when we say goodbye to a beautiful summer and say hello to a new school year. If you’re like me, you are simultaneously reflecting on the summer and looking ahead to this new season.
During these “in-between moments,” you might find yourself naturally evaluating certain aspects of your life such as your physical health, daily routine, weekly schedule, finances, professional goals, or relationships—just to name a few. New seasons of life allow us to reflect on our previous decisions, and we look forward with the hope of making big changes.
Step 1: Let Go of “I Wish I Had. . .”
These are often moments when I have financial realizations and regrets. Many of us, myself included, look back over our summer and wish we had made better financial decisions. We think and say things like, “I wish I hadn’t spent so much money on takeout,” or “I wish I had saved more for retirement,” or “I wish I had given more.”
Then, in our moment of realization and regret, we find ourselves making big, sweeping declarations of change, such as “I’m never eating take out again,” or “I’m getting a second job,” or “I’m cutting my grocery budget in half.” Usually, though, a few days go by and our big changes become past ideas.
Don’t misunderstand me, if you find yourself in a financial crisis or you are outspending your income, big changes are necessary; you will need to prayerfully make them. But for those who are not in a financial crisis who find themselves weary and discouraged, how do you tackle your problem?
Step 2: Take One Small Step
I recently listened to an author who shared that big changes don’t happen in a moment, they happen over time through small, incremental, and intentional changes. One small, purposeful change at a time.
Looking to change your personal finances? What if, rather than making one sweeping change today that will disappear tomorrow, you start small? For example, you can commit to spending one minute praying about your finances every day. Talk to your Heavenly Father for one minute about your financial fears, your money mistakes, your income, and your bills. Then, talk to him for one minute tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day—forming a habit one day at a time. A year from now, you will hopefully find yourself trusting God more; believing that you are a steward of his possessions, leaning on his provision and guidance rather than worrying about your financial wisdom.
Maybe your small change is finally opening up to someone about your financial fears and seeking out someone trusted and wise who can teach you about biblical stewardship. At College Park, we have a Financial Coaching ministry and it’s been a privilege for me to lead that and see how God is using these coaches to wisely come alongside others. Don’t underestimate the value of listening and learning from someone who’s been where you are and can provide godly counsel.
Maybe your small change is pulling up your online bank account and looking at your expenses for two minutes. Maybe it’s pulling up your last paycheck and taking three minutes to analyze all the information there.
Step 3: Keep Walking Forward, One Step at a Time
Whatever big financial change you hope to make, start with a small step. One small, prayer-filled step today will lead to another small, prayer-filled step tomorrow. Step by step, you will grow. Friend, biblical financial stewardship is important, and it doesn’t need to be scary. Try taking one small, prayer-filled step today!