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Budgeting Toward the Sweet Spot

James Clyburn August 29, 2017

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It’s about that time again. Time to enter your ministry budget, get everything just right and hold your breath during the approval process.

Oftentimes, it’s the unforeseen things that can wreak havoc on a budget. Even those of you who have been budgeting for years could run into new experiences. Is your church growing rapidly? How’s your plumbing?

When creating your budget, think of it as the speedometer in your car. If you budget too high, you run the risk of overspending on things you don’t need and wasting what you could otherwise reserve. If you budget too low, you create limits for yourself that could hold up the traffic of church projects.

There’s money in the bank. Pay attention to the money you have in the bank now. That total will help you find that sweet spot in your budget and allow for more wiggle room to cruise through the year.

You can’t see the future. It’s best to first stick with what you know. Water, electric, phone and internet — consistency is your best friend when creating your budget. Even routine lawn care and bug extermination are much easier to set and predict throughout the year. These create a baseline for the rest of your expenses and show you exactly how much money you’ll have in the bank after the fact.

What do you expect to earn? If you’ve handled your church budget before, then you can roughly gauge the amount your congregation is giving. Is your church gaining new members at a rapid pace, or are more people becoming disengaged? Reviewing your giving trends helps you estimate your profit for the following year and shows where your ministry is flourishing or could use a boost.

Set goals. In essence, that’s what creating a budget is — goal setting. Each month, you set your goals and hope to meet them. They need to be realistic, so take into account any events, salary increases, trips, foreseeable repairs, etc.

If after you’ve set your goals, you find yourself with a surplus of money, great! Save those reserves for things you can’t plan for like a leaky roof during the rainy season or a broken window from the annual church softball game. Things happen.

Goal setting is planning for the best but preparing for the worst and making sure you have what you need if the worst is met. After all, you can always adjust.

You might already know all of this, but I hope this checklist will help you breathe a little easier, even if you’re a seasoned pro. Once you find the sweet spot in your budget, the rest of your year will be even sweeter.

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