Scripture Motto

"Let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father." Matthew 5:16

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Home Manager: The War of Numbers

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength…
and this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches…” 
Philippians 4:13, 19 nlt

I pulled the 2”x4” green and white four page leaflet from the envelope Crown Financial Ministries mailed to us. My chest heaved. We can do this. With renewed certainty, I opened a fresh notebook, found a pencil with a good eraser, pulled out my calculator, and took the plunge to pursue a debt-free lifestyle.

Step One: Determine our “Net Spendable Income” (NSI)
The formula said to deduct 10% of the gross income for our church tithe. Then, deduct the taxes—not our elective deductions like retirement, insurance, etc—just the federal, state, local, social security, and Medicare taxes. The remainder would be our “Net Spendable Income.”
(See MY RECOMMENDATIONS for formulas, forms, and tools at bottom of page)

Step two: Create a budget based upon our “Net Spendable Income” (NSI)
I pulled out my monthly bills—some had the set monthly payment amounts, some varied from month to month. I dug through my tax return files from the previous year (pre-financial software), sorted them by the categories listed, and calculated a monthly average using the prior twelve months of payments.

My pencil eraser lost the war of numbers battle. I seesawed with this and that, then cut and slashed unnecessary spending until the expenses equaled the NSI. I prayed. How will we live within the margins of this budget? Lord, help us. 

This is when Philippians 4 became precious to me, forwards and backwards. After a brief introduction of some women, verse four tells us to rejoice. Two verses later, the Apostle Paul says “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” (I asked for financial wisdom and guidance to be a good steward.)

When thinks look bleak—financially or otherwise—Philippians 4:8-9 tells me to set my minds on Him, trust and obey Him, do it His way, and the God of peace will be with me. (I looked away from the cuts and to the goal of a debt-free life.)

Verses 10-12 speak of the apostle’s contentment with nothing or with plenty. He goes on to commend the congregation in Philippi for their generosity. (I can do this with the strength of Christ and be content.)

Paul gives glory to God for the promise to supply all of our needs (verse 19). Thank you Father for all You provide for our household. (I counted my blessings, listed them one-by-one, and saw what the Lord has done.)

When I read the passage backwards, I see God’s provision, find His strength, and experience contentment, peace, confidence, and joy on my way to a debt-free life.

Be a winner: Because I believe everyone should experience a debt-free lifestyle, I have two copies of “The Financial Stewardship Bible” to give away March 31st to Fellow Sojourners of this site. Leave a comment to one of the March 2012 posts and tell why you wish to receive a copy.

(Simple rules: You must be a Fellow Sojourners of this site AND leave a comment to one of the March posts. One comment per post will be counted, but commenting to each March post will increase your chances of winning. If you are a winner, I will leave you a message with further instructions.)

MY RECOMMENDATIONS: Go to Crown Ministries Free PDF Publications at
  1. Print out the appropriate “household” percentage guide
  2. Print out the “Monthly Income and Expenses” from the Charts list
  3. Browse through the other Free forms and use what fits your household
  4. Bookmark
  5. Research various budget software or other tools for making budgeting easier, and then make a wise investment in what will fit your needs and new budget
(There are other budget guides and software; Crown is just the one I am familiar with. I’ve heard great things about Dave Ramsey’s materials as well. Do your research and find what fits your style.)

The Crown basic budget, percentages of NSI:
Housing: 32%
Food: 13%
Auto/Transportation: 13%
Insurance: 5%
Debts: 5%
Entertainment/Recreation: 6%
Clothing: 5%
Emergency Savings: 5%
Medical: 4%
Miscellaneous: 7%
Investments: 5%
You have now reached 100% of your Net Spendable Income budget. If, however, you have children, you may need or want to include School/Child care: at 5% by adjusting the previous categories.