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Budgeting With A Low, Unpredictable Income? Go Figure – Part 1 of 2

“Are you kidding? How do you expect me to budget when I don’t know my income? Some months, my cash flow is zero. How do I budget?”

I hear these comments often. Certainly, many folks’ incomes are unpredictable. Several corporations, ministries, churches too, have uncertain cash flow. Should they forget about budgets, spend only in periods when they receive funds, don’t spend when they get no funds? Would this be good stewardship? I don’t think so.

Certain costs are fixed for a time, and like a freight train, they keep coming at you. If you have a mortgage, it doesn’t pause when you have no income. Your challenge? Accept reality, learn to handle unpredictable cash flows and adjust your lifestyle to fund needed expenses, orderly. That’s what Pharaoh appointed Joseph to do in Egypt–smooth the supply of grain over 14 years, so Egypt would have grain during seven years of famine (Genesis 41).

From this event, we can learn at least three practical lessons to apply to our circumstances. First, accept the reality of your circumstance. Second, your circumstance is unique to you, and third, plan for the reality, until God changes it.

Accept The Reality of Your Circumstance

Pharaoh and Joseph accepted their circumstance–they accepted there would be a feast followed by a famine.

If you surrendered your life to Messiah, He has promised to provide for your basic needs, when you seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness. Indeed, six times in Matthew 6:24-34, He assures you not to worry, but you do? Don’t you believe He will do as He says? Alternatively, do you think you haven’t adjusted your lifestyle to fit His requirements to provide for you?

When you think your prayers are not being answered, look at your lifestyle to see whether you need to adjust it in line with His way. Remember, He will answer your prayers according to His character, His values, His way, not yours!

Your Circumstance Is Unique To You

Often, we try to adapt a solution someone followed to a similar problem to ours. But it doesn’t work because we don’t look holistically at the other person’s situation. Though our friend might have a low unpredictable income, she might be starting with a solid financial base. Her debt load, while high, might be manageable because of help from her parents. Our debt load is similar, but our financial base is unstable, and we do not have friends or relatives to help temporarily! So, following our friend’s path to renegotiate debt, lengthen its maturity, and lower payments, might be futile, and costly.

In part two, we will discuss the third lesson–how to plan for the reality of a low, erratic income.

Copyright (c) 2011, Michel A. Bell

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