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Summer is the time for tropical vacations and long weekends sipping your favorite cold drinks, right? Not when you're trying to raise those numbers in your savings account. As we follow Jesus with our budgets, here at Sun Valley we say, "Give first, save second, and live on the rest." However, we tend to slack on at least one of those, and it's usually not the "living on the rest" part. When you have certain amounts you intend to set aside, it's easy to tell yourself, "I can always save for it next month." You might think it'll be easy to stay home next time, but when your friends are all going to ride the rocks at Moab or have a night out at your favorite restaurant, your savings goals will get left in the dust. At the same time, you'll probably have regrets if you spend all your time worrying about money and miss out on experiences. That's why balance and compromise are key. With a bit of discipline and a few effective tips, you can enjoy your life and have financial peace. So, let’s talk about the “save second” part of how to trust God with our finances.
It can be less than exciting to save for practical goals, but you can make it interesting. You can start by visualizing your budget in a new way. I like to write things down on paper first and then use some cool tech to organize and calculate. One way to make "adulting" goals more motivating is to identify how those goals will leave more room and peace in your life for new things. For example, it's not exactly thrilling to set aside money for car repairs (Trust me, I know), but you can encourage yourself by planning a small road trip within your budget once you save a certain amount. Then when you do go on an adventure, you won’t have to stress about something going wrong.A few other incentives you can give yourself are:Pay yourself "interest." Figure out a percentage that works for your budget, and for every dollar you add to your savings account, add a percentage to a "fun fund."Take a day off work after your first month of meeting your budget.Treat yourself to your favorite dessert or iced coffee every time you reach a milestone.Plan free activities to give yourself leisure time.
It may seem like we can't do the things we want unless we spend more money, but that's often not the case. If you use bargain hunting tools and reward programs, you can find deals to bring travel or activity costs down to a fraction of the price. There are even opportunities to have your costs covered if you're open to putting in some work while on your vacation. And when it comes to nights out around town, you're bound to find coupons and freebies in your area if you know where to look. Some places will even host you for free if you write a review! You can also try selling your skills on Fiverr or offer to do odd jobs around town. Make yourself a promise that if you don’t raise enough money for what you want to do, then you’ll rework your plans and treat your savings as if they don’t exist. Worst case scenario, you can put the extra money you’ve made into enjoying something less expensive.
You won't always have the resources, whether that means time, money, or energy, to share all the experiences your peers have. Sometimes you might even have other things you'd rather do, and that's okay. You can have boundaries without rejecting your friends or feeling embarrassed. When you start to doubt yourself, remember that God gives you the tools to seek contentment and sow good for your future. Who you are is in how you follow Him.
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” - 2 Timothy 1:7
Especially when you're close with people, it can feel necessary to explain your thought process, but a simple approach can help you stick to your boundaries. So, the next time you're invited to participate in something you know you need to pass up, respond with something like this:
"That sounds like fun! I have other things I need to focus on right now, but I definitely want to hangout soon."
You can conclude by offering a suggestion that works for you, such as inviting friends over for a game night or a weekend hike. At the end of the day, genuine friends care about the way you love them, not whether you go to the Bahamas or not. And they may even be inspired when your saving methods are successful!
Written Content Coordinator at Sun Valley Community Church. An avid writer since the age of 5, who loves to explore new ideas and places. Inspired by Jesus, books, and travel.