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FIRST-PERSON: Low income help

GAINESVILLE, Ga. (BP)–When there doesn’t seem to be enough money to make ends meet, it can be very frustrating trying to live on a budget. But a budget’s even more important for those with low incomes. We have to be good managers of what we have, especially when we live on a limited income — and a budget helps you do that.

There is no question that it is hard when you first try to make a budget work, because you’re playing catch-up and probably do not have funds set aside for the different budget categories. But, the important thing is this — you must start and not give up. It might take awhile to get on solid ground with a budget, but your discipline eventually will pay off. And when you chip away at debt and live within your income on a budget, God will honor your obedience.

Difficult as it might sound, if you’re married, low-income couples should try to establish their budget based on the husband’s income only, and apply the wife’s income to one-time purchases, such as debt reduction, vacations, furniture, cars, or to savings.

It may sound easier said than done, but there’s a good reason for doing it. If the wife’s income is interrupted by illness, pregnancy or a change in the husband’s employment location, financial problems can follow quickly. And, while this suggestion won’t be easy, it will eventually provide relief toward debt freedom.

Proper budgeting is especially important for the single parent. The average single mother lives on a very low annual income of less than $20,000, sometimes a lot less. That’s tough even for someone who’s frugal. If a single parent, or anyone on a very low income, is handling their funds the best they can and still can’t cover basic living expenses, they should share their needs with their church.

In 2 Corinthians 8:14 the Apostle Paul said, “At the present time your surplus is available for their need, so that their abundance may also become available for your need, that there may be equality.”

Of course, hopefully you will need only temporary help. But if you have a legitimate need you should feel free to share it with your brothers and sisters in Christ.

In addition, you may want someone to help you with an in-depth evaluation of your whole financial situation, including your income, spending, debt, savings, giving and so on. Crown has hundreds of trained volunteers who work with married couples and individuals, helping them achieve spiritual and financial freedom to serve Christ.

Crown’s volunteer Money Map coaches are located throughout the country and offer their services at no charge to Christians who want to establish budgets that’ll help them get out of debt and honor God with their finances.

I suggest that you meet in person with one of Crown’s volunteer Money Map coaches. These coaches are available to help individuals develop a personal budget, apply biblical principles of stewardship, build a plan to get out of debt, and provide practical and godly financial counsel.

Low income is a serious difficulty for millions of people. But all of us need to adopt an “Apostle Paul attitude.” He said that he knew “how to have a little, and … how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content — whether well-fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need” (Philippians 4:12).

The amazing fact is that this was written at a time in Paul’s life when, materially, he had nothing.

So, while living on a low income is never an easy situation, you must do what you can. When you do, God will certainly step in on behalf of His children to meet their needs. I encourage pastors and churches to take a more sensitive and proactive approach to single parents and other low-income people in their congregations.
Howard Dayton is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries. Dayton and the late Larry Burkett joined forces in 2000 when Crown Ministries, led by Dayton, merged with Christian Financial Concepts, led by Burkett. The new organization became Crown Financial Ministries, on the web at www.crown.org.

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  • Howard Dayton