with guest contributors Jonathan and Amanda Teixeira
What does it mean to be a good steward? Why does managing money intentionally matter? How can I create a mission-driven budget instead of having my mission be limited by my budget? These are a few of the most common questions we get from faithful Catholics.
If we haven’t had the honor of meeting, we’re Jonathan and Amanda Teixeira, founders of WalletWin. We help Catholics gain control of their money so they get out of debt, build savings, and change the world through generosity.
We teach methods and strategies to manage money not because money in and of itself matters but because of what money can do or bring to fruition…namely your “yes” to God’s will in your life aka your mission. When money stress isn’t the constant backdrop of life, you have the ability to show up more fully, serve more deeply, and live more generously. You get to lean into your unique mission and pursue maximum fruitfulness within it. Sounds pretty great, right?
The good news is that you don’t need a million dollars in the bank to get there…all you need is a financial game plan, consistent action, and discernment. While we could launch into many practical directions, let’s focus first on living with a mission-driven budget.
First off, let’s acknowledge the fact that budgeting can get a bad rap. It’s been portrayed in the media like a straight jacket. As if life without a budget means getting to do whatever you want whenever you want and life with a budget means saying no to everything you actually care about and simply paying “bills” like an adult.
But what if budgeting was the key to unlocking every result you’d like to see with your finances? What if budgeting protects your mission instead of restricts it? The truth is that budgeting is giving the money entrusted to you a specific role to play. It’s permission to spend money according to your goals, dreams, values, and mission. It provides peace of mind simply by raising awareness of what your money is up to. It also offers freedom to prioritize what you value and where God’s calling you to (instead of accidentally Target-dollar-binning and Chick-Fil-A-ing them away.)
Practically speaking, how can you get started budgeting?
We encourage budgeting one month at a time and hosting what we affectionately call a “Budget Party.” This should be something you and your spouse (if you are married) look forward to and attend together. Don’t worry – this won’t be an hour of looking at old bank statements where each of you keep exclaiming, “You spent WHAT at Costco?”
We can’t recommend using the software YNAB* (You Need a Budget) enough. It keeps budgeting simple, easy, and automated.
List your categories where you plan to spend money. Yes, you’ll include the basics such as mortgage, cell phone, water, gasoline, etc. But this is where your unique call should start to show up.
Has God blessed you with incredible culinary skills and a desire to host others to build community/evangelize? Your grocery category will likely be larger than the average bear…and that’s OK. If you’re married, the budget can protect money for dates so you can keep prioritizing time together. Has God called you to lead a local ministry? By giving your time there, the budget may need to include help like cleaning, childcare, or takeout. Perhaps you’ve been open to life and blessed with many children – the budget can ensure you set aside your maximum healthcare deductible…since you’ll need it! LOL
The budget will also reflect any financial goals you want to see happen. Maybe you’re trying to get out of debt, so extra payments towards credit cards or student loans will be the priority. Or you’re trying to save a Rainy Day Fund for emergencies, and instead of waiting to save what’s “leftover” after you spent all month long, the budget helps you set aside money from the start so it’s still there at the end of the month.
The categories in your budget will be unique to your circumstances so don’t sweat it if your budget categories or amounts don’t match someone else’s.
After you’ve got your categories set up, it’s time to assign the money you have available. Give every dollar a job until they’re all accounted for. At the end of the budgeting process the goal is to have no money left unassigned. This process helps you visualize ahead of time where you want to be spending money…which helps you eliminate overspending, underspending, or wasted spending.
Throughout the month, consult the budget to inform your decisions and keep YNAB up to date by approving expenses imported. You’ll need to roll with the punches if reality turned out slightly different than what you thought it would be (which is always!) Grocery store inflation took you slightly over budget? Find another category you didn’t spend as much as planned and shift the funds around. No big deal.
Wash, rinse, and repeat the above steps the next month.
We do go into more details in regards to budgeting in our book How To Attack Debt, Build Saving, and Change the World Through Generosity: a Catholic Guide to Managing Your Money so if you’re ready for a deeper dive, feel free to grab a copy. But can you see how the budgeting process can change everything? It’s a simple task that brings immense amounts of peace and freedom because it helps you be intentional with the money entrusted to you. Instead of wasting brain power wondering where your money went, you can rest at ease, knowing it’s working hard for you and protecting what’s most important.
When done right, your budget can empower you to live mission more deeply in our world. Instead of feeling financially stuck, like you can’t say “yes” to God’s will in your life, your budget can help you gain momentum towards living your unique vocation to the fullest. No, it might not all happen overnight…but with a budget, you have the knowledge, skills, dreams, and tools to lean in and see it all happen in a lifetime.
If you’re ready to tackle not only budgeting but you’re ready to live out your call to become a good steward in every aspect of your finances, click here to start your free trial inside WalletWin Academy.
*You can start a 34-day free trial over at WalletWin.