Money Anxiety During the Pandemic
During this season of the COVID-19 pandemic, life is just not the same. If you are one of the fortunate ones who has not been laid-off, furloughed, or terminated from your work, you are likely thinking about your money in different ways than when you started the year. If you are one of the unfortunate ones, who are not working right now, you are definitely living with higher concerns than ever about food, shelter and daily living. Getting through this is going to take some faith and some discipline.
As people of faith, we like to start dealing with challenges in that realm. We are spiritual beings living in a spiritual world, so we turn to the Scriptures for guidance in handling difficult times. There are two concepts that shape our thinking.
First, is contentment. The Apostle Paul wrote to the early church body often times about being content with whatever his/their circumstances were. In his letter to the Philippians (4:11-13), he said no matter how much he had or how much he lacked, in any and every circumstance, he learned to be content, knowing that he could “do all things through him (Christ) who strengthens me.” He made it even simpler to understand in his first letter to the young pastor Timothy (1 Timothy 6:1) saying, “if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.”
The second concept is trust in God, or faith. There are many, many stories in the Bible about God providing for His chosen people, the Israelites. The more they trusted in Him, the greater was His provision. Jesus often talked about money and possessions, and to trust in God to provide what was needed (our daily bread).
During these turbulent times, our beliefs about money are critical to shaping the appropriate behaviors with the money we have.
- Start with the belief that God owns it all and we are the managers (stewards) of His resources; we manage the account He has placed in our name.
- We need to have faith that He will provide and let that drive our behaviors.
- We can’t let money become an idol that maintains control over our lives; we need to put God first.
“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” – Corrie ten Boom
On the practical side of money, now is the time to be taking proactive steps to manage your personal finances well. If you do not have a budget (or spending plan if you cringe at the budget word, i.e. “permission to spend”), now is the time to create one. You need to tell your money where to go, not wonder where it went. That can only be done with a budget.
The top priorities in your budget should be what are referred to as the “four walls” of personal finances – shelter, food, transportation, and utilities. You will also want to prioritize savings, building some cash “margin” for the lean times.
Look for places in your budget where you can trim back expenses that are more “wants” than “needs.”
- Take out or delivery meals are wants, preparing food at home is a need.
- NetFlix, Hulu, cable television systems are wants, Internet connection in order to work from home or the kids to attend school are needs.
- If you have debt, some debt is higher priority than other debt. Mortgages and auto loans that are “secured” by the home or vehicle are higher priority than “unsecured” debts like credit cards. This might mean minimum payments only for a while on your consumer debt.
- Many of the lenders these days are taking a “kinder” approach to debt payments, so being proactive about talking with them is also a smart idea.
Be careful not to fall for the heavy marketing that is going on right now. While its great that so many businesses are willing to deliver to you (i.e. car dealerships), you have to ask yourself, “Do I really need a new vehicle right now? Is this a want or a need?” Yes, we want to help get American business moving again, but don’t let it be at the expense of your family situation.
If your income is particularly low right now, your main function is to create financial margin – having more money at the end of the month than you need. Focus on the four walls and savings.
If your income is stable or relatively high, your main focus is to determine how much you actually need and then using the surplus to helps others, thus honoring God in His provision to you.
Quick summary: Faith. Trust. Content. Budget. Margin. Priorities. Needs only. Help others. Honor God.
Look at U.S. currency… it clearly says, “In God We Trust.” So, should you and I!