Did you know that there are 3-4 times more verses in the Bible about money than there are about prayer? Surprising as it may seem, this suggests that we should probably talk about money and faith more than we do.
Ahead of our upcoming retreat for single mothers and their children, we would like to share with you a piece written by Mrs. Edna King, intended to help single mothers (though it can apply to any struggling parent), approach finances and saving from both a practical, and an Orthodox Christian perspective.
One evening when my son was about seven, I scrounged around under the sofa cushions until I was able to find enough coins to supplement the few dollars in my purse so we could have spaghetti or something like that for dinner. It wasn’t proud moment for me, but it illustrates the hand to mouth way of life we sometimes lived while I was a young single mom, working full time and going to graduate school. Recently, my son reminded me of it, describing my search for coins in detail more than twenty-five years later. Whatever life challenges and financial struggles you are facing right now, they’re just for this season. I was a single mom with a child at home only for part of my life, but the lessons I learned then help me now. Financial issues are often one of the hardest challenges facing families, but an honest, disciplined and faith filled approach to handling money can relieve much of that stress.
Family finances may be like the messy closet no one wants to peek into, but if you examine your finances with eyes of faith, you’ll find inspiration instead of despair. While searching for spare change, I remember promising myself that things would get better, and they did. Making plans for my future, including improving my salary and implementing a budget, helped me feel less like a victim of circumstances and more like the creative boss of my family that I really was. Improving how I handled my resources and opportunities helped me become more at peace with my present circumstances – because I could accept the everyday trials more easily with an plan to make them better and trust that God was caring for me each step of the way-which then led to a better life.
I’ve compiled information from a variety of sources into five steps to help you take control of your financial circumstances and to deepen our Orthodox understanding of stewardship in home finances.
- Start with confession
As an Orthodox Christians, we should approach our finances like everything else, by having the right heart towards God. In the article Confessing Our Financial Sins, Father Michael Tassos expresses the Orthodox view of how we earn, use, and save money, and how we can prepare to make a fresh start in confession.
There are three things in this world that most people cherish: their personal faith, the people they love, and money. It would seem that as a matter of course most Orthodox Christians would confess something regarding each of these important areas of their lives. However, it is my experience that only two of the three are usually discussed. The issue of money, which is often the most troubling and the most painful, is sadly omitted. It is one thing to confess frustration or anger with a spouse or loved one, or to describe moments of doubt about God’s love, but to express to God and another human being that you ran up a really large credit card bill or that you lost a significant portion of your savings in the stock market—now that is really painful! – Father Michael Tassos
Ask God to help you see the things in which you’ve fallen short in managing and using your financial resources. Pray for His help and make a new start by confessing and moving forward in a more abundant, trusting and hopeful way.
- Set up a practical way to organize your finances.
The next step is practical. Like cleaning a closet, we need to sort things to see what good things we have, what to get rid of, and what we can do to make it all more efficient. Start by keeping your budgeting and bill paying materials organized. I use a simple 3 ring binder. It contains a list of debts that I update yearly and a monthly expenditures sheet which I use to record all the bills I’ve paid. By paying bills twice a month and writing it down, I always know what I’ve done and when I did it. My notebook has pockets in which I place the bills as they arrive in the mail. By placing them in the pocket, they don’t get lost but are also not lying on my desk stressing me out and making my desk look messier. You can assemble a notebook using sheets like these.
You can customize your own very simply (This is all I use):
Or use online tools like this.
Establish where, when, and with which method you’ll organize your bills and then stick to it.