Brooke Bartlow on Saving

This month we chatted with Brooke Bartlow about the Biblical importance of saving.

Speak a little to the importance of saving for the believer.  Where should this fit in a budget? 

The question is not only the importance of saving, but also when should we stop saving –  never. When developing a Spending Plan, we recognize the need to save minimally 10% of our earnings each month.

Why save? For many different reasons, including (among others) home repairs, car repairs, medical bills, growing family needs, retiring family needs, an emergency fund (3-6 months of expenses), retirement and final expenses. So start at the top of your Spending Plan: after giving comes saving.

What are some pitfalls for believers in this area?

Obsession. Hoarding. Boasting.

These are harsh words to some but they have been struggles for centuries. Even in the area of savings, if we don’t recognize that God is the Owner, then we really miss the mark. Rather than focusing on how much is stored away, focus on God and praising him for his provision. Ask his help to decide how much is enough and his direction on what to do with any excess.

What are some of your own experiences with saving?

Consistent saving prepared our family for a financial detour. We made a conscious choice to move across the country, choosing to earn 40% less and selling a home in a down economy. Without our savings, we would not have been able to make ends meet, help prepare for the costs associated with the birth of our second child and cover the costs needed for our new home in our new state.

How do successful savers do it?  Can you share some tips on how to save effectively? 

We are playing a long game here. Start somewhere. Get creative! One idea is to save $1.00 each day; in a year you have $365 and in 3 years you have $1095 (the starting point for a good Emergency Savings fund). You can use apps to round up your change to the nearest dollar to have a small nest egg. Focus on meeting your needs, not your wants, to get started on the right track with saving. Buy nearly new items. Both local and online shopping have options that allow customers to purchase and sell items for a discounted price.

Another key is simply to wait. Yes, wait. Say no now for a later yes.  Many people have adopted a practice of putting a desired purchase item on a list and waiting for a period of time (like a month, 3 months, or 6 months) before purchasing it.  Often, they find that at the end of the waiting period, they no longer really want that item, and they can move it off the list in favor of another item.  Waiting like this is one great way to avoid buyer’s remorse. Finally, cut duplicative costs in your spending plan (i.e., multiple streaming platforms for entertainment). Remove any subscriptions not being used for an instant cost savings.

How can a church or stewardship ministry help believers understand saving from a Biblical perspective?

Churches need to teach, as part of discipleship, that none of what we have is ours; it all belongs to God.  And God’s Word teaches us over and over again to store up our resources wisely. Here is a link to just a few of the over 2,000 scriptures in the Bible, including verses on savings.

From a practical standpoint, our churches need to teach the values of working hard, giving first, saving second, and using spending plan for the rest.