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Contentment on a Tight Budget

Money | Attie Murphy | 5 mins

Like most habits that are good for us, financial peace requires an action plan. That doesn't necessarily mean planning to gain more money but to be content with whatever we have. To value what we have, we need to manage it with care. This is easier said than done when your income only covers survival or your money is going in a million directions for your family. Whether you're budgeting for necessities or saving for a personal goal, the "why" won't be enough alone. Here are some simple areas to prioritize how to choose contentment on a tight budget. Each of these have helped me to stress less about past financial mistakes and focus on what God has in store. 

Fill your life with purpose

When times are tough, it can feel like effort isn't worth it. From inflation to scary news stories, the world tells us we're helpless. When we search for meaning, money is often the first place we look to improve our lives. There's nothing wrong with making financial progress, but we shouldn’t lean on it for fulfillment. If you want to curb your temptation to spend:

  1. Ask God to fill that space with His calling rather than focusing on what you want to do with the money.

  2. Find ways to reach people and have new experiences without spending.

  3. Allow God to show you creative directions that you think are outside of your scope. 

Put conviction before contentment 

Whatever your specific "whys" are, the biggest "why" is to follow Jesus. Train yourself to ask the same question whenever you do anything with your money: "What would Jesus do if He were me?" Looking like Jesus can include using our money for things we enjoy, but that shouldn't be at the top of the list. The more we center on our calling outside of money, the less we will dwell on the lack of it. Even in a financial crisis, peace is possible if we put our thoughts on God's desires, which are far more exciting and long-lasting than anything money can buy. It’s not about earning God’s favor with our budgeting, but experiencing the deeper joy He has for us. 

Give and save first 

This is wisdom I'm still working to apply in my life. It can seem counterproductive when you're trying to make your money go further, and someone's telling you to set aside a big chunk of your budget. However, "Give first, save second, and live on the rest" is a biblical and practical route to contentment. Not only does this put God's mission above all else, but it creates consistency and intention. 

No matter how small your income, giving any percentage will mean your money always has a lasting purpose. Obeying God's command to love others will strengthen your relationship with Him, even if you think it's not enough to make a difference. It's amazing what God can do with little. 

Second, saving for security won't provide instant relief, but when you look back in a few months, you'll likely see that money would've been spent on something forgettable. If you're struggling to pay bills, this step may not seem feasible, but saving any amount you can will still give you a sense of provision and discipline. 

"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”" - Hebrews 13:5 

Ultimately, we are not owners but stewards of everything we have. Society tells us to compare our lives to what we could have, but the Bible tells us to rejoice even if we have nothing. Instead of taking our possessions for granted, we should look at all we have as "extra." There will always be unfairness and stress in this life, but we're blessed by a God whose love is so much more than it all. Let's value our money while finding all our contentment in loving God.

Written By

Attie Murphy

An avid writer since the age of 5, who loves to explore new ideas and places. Inspired by Jesus, books, and travel.

Published on Sep 27, 2023