I’ve been coaching people on finances for many years now, and it still amazes me how long it takes most to change certain financial habits. Most are willing to admit, right off the bat, there are changes to be made. I mean, who goes to a money coach, gets oodles of advice and then walks away saying, “I don’t need to do a thing she just said.” No, most people couldn’t agree with me more while they are sitting in a session. But once they walk out the door or end the Skype call, it's very difficult for most to actually implement the changes over the first few weeks. Why is that?
Over the years I’ve come to understand how hard change really is, especially when it comes to our money. Change stretches us and asks us to believe for an outcome that has likely never happened for us before. In the world of finance, where everything can be added and subtracted and kept in neat little columns most of the time, it’s hard to accept that some stretching of faith must happen in order to see a significant change in our bank accounts. I’ve learned it's absolutely essential for me to keep checking in with people and reminding them to actually DO the things we agreed would be done in our meetings. The doing actually makes the habit, and consistently doing the habit will eventually produce a different result. I've seen this phenomenon hundreds of times.
So here are 3 financial habits I am always encourage people to adopt immediately. When you do these three things consistently, you'll see an unprecedented shift in your financial world – no kidding . . .
Pray about your finances. Daily. For at least 10 minutes. You may think it's a little much to pray about your finances every day, but hear me out. We spend entirely too little time asking God what he wants us to do with our money. See, God understands he is our master and we are the master of our money, but sometimes we get one or both of those relationships a bit turned around and we make a mess with our money. It is essential to understand who controls whom (or what) in this little money triangle and prayer helps to keep all the players in the right box on the organizational chart. Most people wouldn’t argue with the concept of praying about money and financial decisions, but are we actually doing it? I challenge you for just one week to spend 10 minutes of your morning earnestly seeking God for your finances, making sure you leave some space during that time to be quiet so you can hear what God is advising you to do. It’ll change your life!
Design a realistic budget and follow it. I've worked with only two people over the years who thought a budget was a bad idea. Most people readily agree that following a realistic budget is a key step in seeing a shift in their finances. But, sadly, few actually adopt the habit straight away. I’ve found this is mainly because budgets challenge us in ways that make us very uncomfortable. Budgets make quick work of displaying things like shortages of income and overspending on certain expenses. Budgets can make some feel “controlled” or “limited.” Budgets press all sorts of emotional buttons, usually because of past experiences around budgets and money, or around being controlled or limited. But that's why creating a realistic budget is the key. Don't cut out your daily latte if you're never going to be able to live without it! But then be sure to reign in other areas of the budget so you're budget is balanced overall. Realistic budgets give the user control over their money, effectively helping them to master the resource and tell it what to do for them. Budgets also help us resist instant gratification in exchange for the reward of meeting greater goals in the future. If you’re looking for a template to help you get started on this step, check out Day 6 of Prosper Project’s 10 Day Money Challenge for some great downloadable templates.
Tithe. To Your Church. In Cash. As a financial coach who has met with hundreds of people about their finances over the years, I can tell you that tithing is the most powerful tool you have in your financial toolbox. Malachi 3:10-11 tells us when we bring the whole tithe into the church we’ll see a tremendous abundance flowing into our lives. What's more, that abundance will be protected. God calls us to test him in this habit to see if he won’t uphold his promises here. Based on this verse alone, I challenge every person I meet with to either start tithing or to reinvigorate their tithing effort – i.e. bringing the whole tithe or bringing it with a renewed sense of faith and thanksgiving – for just two months to see what God will do with their finances in that time period. I can't even begin to tell you the boatloads of financial miracles I've witnessed as a result of this one habit being implemented. Now I’m challenging you to try it. I’d even suggest dedicating yourself to this effort when you start your first financial prayer time tomorrow.
We all know good financial habits will reap financial rewards, but it’s actually doing the habits that will make this theory a reality. I encourage you today to make a quality decision (set your mind and keep it set – Colossians 3:2 AMP) to do these habits over the coming weeks, and see if God won’t do something amazing with you and your finances.