A budget is a theological statement since how we divide our resources shows what we truly value.
For over thirty years I have tracked our family’s expenses using a variety of tools. Initially I had filled in a simple spreadsheet with each week’s expenses, doing little more than automating our check register. Now I use a sophisticated database that tracks how much I spend in several categories and compares totals for each category with my budget. Thus now I can easily review how much I have spent in each category over the past year, even several years.
Merely reviewing how much I have spent last year and estimating how much more I am likely to spend in the coming year based on changes from earlier years is seldom practical. We have always had changes in our family from year to year: new homes, new after school activities, changes in employers, … But ultimately our income provides a limit. Should we intentionally spend more than we earn or should we find some place to trim? The answers to these questions is the essence of a budget.
Trimming my budget to fit our expenses within our income tests my theology. Can we cut back on entertainment? Eat out less often? Shop for insurance? Turn the thermostat a little lower? No we won’t cut education, pet care, or charitable giving (at least as a percentage of income).
What do your finances say about your theology?
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal;
but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,
where neither moth nor rust consumes
and where thieves do not break in and steal.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
— Matthew 6:19-21 (NRSV)