Facing Financial Challenges

Substantial tax increases and the imminent reduction of my husband’s work hours brought panic to our door. If that wasn’t enough, we unexpectedly had to replace a car. We bought used, but still, we now have a car payment. What would we do? How would we pay our bills? We were already living paycheck to paycheck, so this was scary! And yet, I knew fear is not from God. He is bigger than this. He is my provider and friend and invites me to sit with Him and face this with him.

“Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air: they do not sow or reap or store away in barns and yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:25 & 26

So, how can we live in this new reality?

Make a plan

First, begin with prayer for clear thinking and wisdom. Then survey the whole situation. What expenses can be reduced or eliminated? This might include eating out less or not at all for a while and refraining from buying items that are wants not needs. Even little changes can add up to a sizable difference like bringing a reusable water bottle or beverage from home when you’re running errands instead of going through a drive through or picking up something at a gas station mini mart. Prayerfully consider how God is calling you to use the resources that he has given you. Look for ways to stretch your dollars as well as exploring ways to serve that use our time and talents rather than your pocket book.

Give it to God

After exploring all that you can do to cut costs and stretch dollars, give it to God and rest in him. He loves us and will provide for us.

“Do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6).

God can be trusted to manage the challenges that we face. We can have peace as we trust in his provision for us.

Rally together

It can be easy to blame one another for the challenges but it is important in times of stress to circle the wagons to come together and care for one another. It is unhelpful to argue and fight about the new financial reality when you could be working together. Rather than argue and fight about your financial frustrations and fears, work together at finding ways to navigate the challenges. I know a couple who chose to work through a financial valley by getting rid of a car and learning to share one vehicle between them. They shared a bus pass and car keys for years and this brought them closer together as a team.

Offer support

Financial concerns can often lead to emotional insecurity. We often find our sense of self-esteem from our accomplishments. Loss of a job can undermine our sense of self-worth and cause us to feel anxious or depressed. Choose to offer one another support and encouragement during a season on financial instability.

Choose dollar stretching activities

Seek out free entertainment. Just because you can’t afford a big evening out doesn’t mean you can’t make your own fun in creative ways.

  • Explore your local library to borrow library books, audio books, and DVD’s to provide free entertainment. Library events and programs are great ways to connect with the community and find resources for navigating challenges.
  • Get outside and explore your neighborhood parks. Utilizing playground equipment, walking paths and space to run can enrich our time with family. A bench or blanket under a tree provides a nice place to relax or read. Enjoy summer movies and concerts in the community.
  • Get some exercise. Stepping out for a walk or a workout is beneficial in a number of ways. Biking and hiking provide both exercise and opportunity to enjoy the outdoors which helps reduce anxiety.

Make use of community resources

Consider the connections in your neighborhood, village or townships can offer. We all prefer to give to others, but there is grace in receiving. Put aside your pride and be willing to accept the help of others. Be open to resources that provide assistance with overdue bills or training classes to help you get back on your feet. Various villages or townships offer programs for discounted services. Many parks districts have classes, events and programs that are inexpensive. A township near me offers its residents the opportunity to get discounted health screenings. Local agencies have programs in place to help with a variety of needs.

Share your concerns

Friends and family can provide support if they know your concerns. Tell your friends that you can’t afford to meet them for dinner out at an expensive restaurant but you are happy to have dinner in with them. Most people will be understanding and accommodating. Your church family can support you if they are aware of your concerns. When we share about job concerns we give others the opportunity to be the body of Christ and extend compassion.

Practice Good Self-Care

Practicing good self-care is imperative to good health. Stress can not only cause emotional unrest, but can take its toll on the body. It’s all connected. Making space to rest, relax, and nurture our souls enables us to cope better and live more joyfully. Take time to de-stress on a regular basis. We live busy lives, which means we need to be intentional to create space to care for ourselves or it won’t happen. Below are some ways to practice good self-care:

  • Exercise
  • Prayer
  • Meditate on scripture
  • Practice Mindfulness
  • Take a Bubble bath
  • Spend time in nature

Choose gratitude

Keep a gratitude journal or mentally note 3 things you are thankful for each day. Looking for what’s good in your life and choosing to be grateful can counter the negative thinking that stress may bring.

Life is full of situations out of our control. You can, however, choose your perspective which makes all the difference. What if we chose to look at financial need and uncertainty as an adventure--an opportunity to see how our loving Heavenly Father will take care of us? What if we took this opportunity to grow, to pray and to trust the amazing God of the universe, who knows the number of hairs on our heads? Hang on to Jesus. It’s going to be alright!

About the author — Joy Bocanegra, MA, LCPC

Joy Bocanegra is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and works at Chicago Christian Counseling Center in their Orland Park location. She enjoys helping people work through various issues particularly anxiety, grief, codependency, relational difficulties, divorce recovery, and stepfamily concerns. Joy has a holistic approach to helping clients find healing and wholeness. Passionate about group work, she has facilitated groups on several topics including depression, body image, caring for aging parents, spiritual growth, and help for women whose partners have a sex addiction.

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