The pandemic has put many people on financial edge, whether through job loss or a significant decrease in business revenue due to lockdown measures. Managing your money wisely given the uncertainty and anxiety caused by COVID-19 has never been more important.
An experienced public accountant and author, Deborah Pegues sheds light on the emotional and practical side of putting finances in order while discussing her book “30 Days For Taming Your Finances: What to Do (and Not Do) to Better Manage Your Money” during a recent podcast on Focus On The Family.
Start with the Principle of Stewardship
Amidst the chaos and disruption caused by COVID-19, there is an increased challenge many households face in managing their finances. For some, the daily pressure can start to expose some underlying attitudes towards money that are not constructive and can lead to greater financial damage.
Deborah Pegues understands what it is like to have your mindset towards money challenged.
“Anytime you are going through a hard time, the amount of stress you are feeling is in direct proportion to what you are believing about God.”
She considers that the best place to start in renewing your financial mindset is to look at what God’s Word says about who God is and what He says about money, especially as it is a subject that Jesus spoke on frequently.
Deborah points to the ancient wisdom found in the Scriptures that everything belongs to God and so we need to recognise that our relationship towards finances needs to change from master to steward. We also need to recognise that God is a loving Father and will provide for all our needs which helps us to not become overwhelmed with anxiety, if we are facing a difficult financial situation.
Seeing Where You Stand
One of the first ways to get your finances in order during a pandemic is to assess your current financial situation- what is your monthly cash flow? If you don’t know that you are losing $500 or $1000 in revenue a month, it can be difficult to know the shortfall you need to adjust for.
When you have a clear picture of your current financial state of affairs, Deborah recommends identifying and eliminating behaviours that may not be helping you financially. She notes:
“You only have two options. You either increase your revenues or decrease your expenses.”
If cutting back on luxuries or things you don’t need doesn’t help you to break even then explore avenues to generate additional income. Do you have a skill that could be put to use? Are there household items you don’t need and could sell? One of Deborah’s favourite scriptures on money is to be found in Philippians 4:12 (ESV) where it:
I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
When we value contentment we will make every effort to not be lured in by every commercial that is designed to make us feel inadequate and in lack. You will be in a better position to lower debt, save strategically, spend wisely and trust God with your finances.
Set Common Goals in Your Household
For married couples, it is important to be on the same page when it comes to stewarding finances. Deborah recommends setting mutual financial goals together with your spouse such as saving 2-3 months of living expenses. It’s not enough to talk about money, you need to put pen to paper as Deborah explains:
“How can two walk together unless they agree. So you need to sit down with your spouse and write your agreed financial goals down.”
A clear path to communication can be difficult with our spouse, especially as money can be a source of tension in many households. But it’s a subject that no healthy married couple can avoid. If you are clear about your financial goals and approach to money, your journey can be a lot smoother, says Deborah.
Confront Your Emotions
To be honest with your spouse about your financial goals, you need to first confront yourself about what is driving your financial mindset including your spending and saving habits. Deborah says that it is not uncommon to approach money as a reaction to what was experienced growing up as a child. What is causing you to not trust God and His financial provision for your life now? For Deborah, living in a household where her mother was not empowered and her father was abusive created in her a need to hoard money rather than relying on God for financial provision. Deborah can identify that it was fear at the root of her saving. Deborah continues:
“Emotions are at the root of all spending, emotions are also at the root of all saving.”
There can be all types of emotions and psychological states that influence how we spend our money. Given the heightened anxiety and restrictions that many face with COVID-19, Deborah considers that people need to be on guard against spending money out of anger, frustration and boredom. These overwhelming emotions if not checked, can take you off course from a healthy financial position. Deborah cautions:
“To focus on where you are trying to go with your financial goals, you need to be truthful with your emotions so you can ‘stop, think and pray before you pay.’”
Prayer Leads To Breakthrough
Living out of the faith realm, Deborah believes that it is essential to guard your prayer life as it will influence you on how you see God and his provision. When you are at rest in God, you are not so vulnerable to the different types of bait that can cause you emotional and financial harm. Deborah uses the analogy of life being a stool where the base is your spiritual beliefs and the four legs: physical, relational, emotional and financial depend on your spiritual outlook.
Given the constant stream of negative news, Deborah warns believers that thought management is key right now. She recommends people use Phillipians 4:8 (NLT) as a sifter to see where there thoughts are leading them. As the scripture says:
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
Godliness with contentment is great gain. If we guard our hearts and ensure we are living out of a posture of gratitude then discontentment and bitterness will not take a foothold. When we discipline our thought life and live out of thankfulness Deboarh assures listeners that they will be a positive witness to the Kingdom to those around them.
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About Deborah Pegues
From her humble beginnings as a Southern maid to a Fortune 500 V.P. to bestselling, award-winning author, Deborah has maintained an intense passion for “walking the Word of God”. A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the University of North Texas and an MBA degree in Finance from the University of Southern California, Deborah is also a Certified Behavioral Consultant.