I bought groceries yesterday.
Is anyone else wishing an oxygen mask would drop down in your car after going to the grocery store? This inflation thing is for real. I just paid $4.86 for a bottle of canola oil. Rising prices make it easy to start a downward spiral of hopelessness and panic.
We recently went on vacation to visit my mom, and my son and his wife joined us. Caleb had just downloaded the You Need a Budget (YNAB) app, and my eyes lit up. We’ve had a budget for most of our married life, but this whole credit card thing has been a bear. For a long time, we went all cash, but then our son moved to Texas and we needed sky miles. So, we switched to using credit cards for everything, but it’s so easy to tap those little suckers and spend more money than you’ve got. All that to say, this rapid inflation has made me sit up straight and start paying better attention to our finances. We decided to copy our son and try out the budget app. (Side note: there comes a time when the adult kids set the good example for the parents.)
I think this YNAB system is going to be just what we need. It’s pretty cool, although I admit I’m still in the trial period and making sure I like it. But the reason I’m telling you all of this is because a main philosophy built into the app made me think of a simple Scripture verse. They both present a common principle that is helpful for us in this current financial climate.
In the You Need a Budget app, you don’t “forecast,” as they call it. You don’t look at the money you’ll have coming in for the whole month and allocate your resources accordingly. You look at the money you have in front of you today and allocate only those resources you have in hand. You’re not allowed to spend future money. For me, this is an extremely different way of approaching money management. I’ve always looked at a whole month and all of the income we would earn, and then I have budgeted accordingly. To stop forecasting and be limited to allocating only this week’s paycheck is shocking in its abrupt limitation but also surprisingly a mental and emotional relief.
Thinking about this principle took my mind to Jesus’ prayer, when he instructs his followers to say to the Father, “Give us today our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11 NIV) This simple perspective in prayer fits in perfectly with YNAB budgeting.
My budget app says I’m only allowed to spend the dollars for bread that I have in front of me today, and Jesus says I’m only supposed to pray for the bread I need today. This is opposite of panic, which is all about forecasting doom. What if I can’t afford to buy groceries next week? Cue hand wringing. Hyperventilating. Meltdowns. Forecasting and panic go hand-in-hand.
But no forecasting is allowed as a follower of Christ. After Jesus’ sermon on prayer, he continues to say we’re not to worry about tomorrow’s grocery budget allocations. He says tomorrow has its own grocery budget problems. (Hasn’t it always, even before a world crisis of inflation came upon us?) No forecasting doom (i.e., worrying about how you’ll pay for things next week and next month and what about in an apocalypse?) We live wisely and dependent on God today.
Ask only for today’s grocery budget.
Budget only with the dollars God gives you for today.
Today’s food needs. Today’s dollars.
Let me interject here that you need a budget. I mean, we must pray for provision, but we also must wisely manage the resources God has given us. If you’ve never used a budget, it’s time. Use the YNAB app, look up Dave Ramsey resources, or find someone at church who is budget savvy and ask for help. We cannot thrive in these challenging times without good financial management.
In my lifetime, there has never been an easier time to freak out about how to make ends meet and whether there will even be food on the shelves if I do happen to have money to pay for it. But I want my faith to be more real in this era I’m living in that it has ever been before. I’m sure you would say the same thing. There has never been a better time to make a sound budget and then lean all of our mental and emotional weight on Jesus’ instructions to stop forecasting and ask only for today’s bread. We can do this.