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How to Change Your Bad Money Habits

July 15, 2009

If we were being honest, most of us would have to admit there are ways we handle and relate to our money that need to be changed.  Maybe you continually spend more than you earn, or you can’t get out of credit card debt because eventually you use them again to buy something you don’t really need.  Or, maybe you are struggling with heart issues like greed, selfishness, stinginess or a lack of generosity

Photo by Tom Lin

Photo by Tom Lin

This past weekend, I heard a sermon at my church entitled “Freedom from Staying the Same” and our guest pastor, Randy Patten, used Ephesians 4:17-24 to talk about how God wants us to be changing and growing to be more like Jesus Christ.  This is done by His grace working through our efforts to replace our old thoughts and actions with new ways of thinking and living. 

This was a great sermon about the power to change from the inside out and one that can be applied very well to our money issues.  It’s extremely important to learn how to change our bad money habits so we can handle our finances and our money attitudes in a way that brings the most glory to God.  Here are some practical guidelines to help you think through how you might be able to break free from bad financial habits:

 Understand that God Wants You to Change 

The first thing we must realize is that God doesn’t want us to remain the same.  This is a simple, yet profound realization that God is concerned about and wants to see us grow in how we handle our money.  I’ve heard it said before that God is in the business of change.  He doesn’t want us to continue in old patterns and habits.  He wants us to change our attitudes and our actions to become more like his Son (Romans 8:29). 

In relation to our money we could say that God wants us to break free from stinginess, loving money, spending more than we make or any other bad habit you can substitute when it comes to our cash.  In other words, He wants us to be the stewards he designed us to be. 

Accept Responsibility

Your parents may have been big spenders and perhaps you learned some pretty bad financial habits from them.  Or maybe no one ever took the time to teach you some basic financial concepts.  Maybe you think “this is just how I am” when it comes to over spending. 

  The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter how you were raised or where you learned your habits, you need to accept responsibility for your own actions. 

Recognize the areas you need to change. 

Craig at Money Help For Christians has an interesting post entitled Why Do People Keep Making Bad Money Choices where he talks about how the different personality types relate to their money and how we can be aware of what our potential weaknesses might be when it comes to our money personality.  

Recognizing where we need to change might be a tough pill to swallow, but being honest with ourselves and God is a humbling experience and will get us on our knees in prayer, which is precisely where we need to be.   

You can’t break a habit, you must replace it

Photo by Hendrian

Photo by Hendrian

If we really want to stop our bad money decisions then we shouldn’t simply try to overcome these things with grit and determination.  Although that might help for a while, it will simply mask deeper heart issues that need to be changed.  Bad financial decisions might reveal deeper heart attitudes like a love for money and material things or it may show we really are greedy or stingy or that our treasure is not found in Jesus, but in money. 

We can’t just change our heart attitudes like these, we need to replace them with proper attitudes.  For example, the tight-fisted person should stop, recognize the stinginess and replace it with generosity.  The Apostle Paul says it this way in Ephesians 4:22-24:

…to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrput through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Notice that we are to put off old habits, corrupt desires and wrong thinking and put on new holy habits, righteous desires and right thinking. 

Renewing our minds to help us change

In the verse 23 above, Paul says we need to be “renewed in the spirit of our minds”.  Elsewhere in Romans, he says to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renwal of your mind…” (Romans 12:2).  How do we go about renewing our minds?

  • Make it a daily habit to read the Bible.  Read passages relating to the money attitude that needs changing.  Commit to memorizing these verses and meditate on them throughout the day.  When faced with temptation to spend or to hoard your money you will be able to recall these verses to help you fight against the old way of thinking. 
  • Pray continually for God’s help to change you.  All change starts with Him and is a gift of his grace and mercy on us.  He works through our efforts to change, but we must rely on Him for the power and strength to do so. 
  • Finally, practice what you learn.  Apply the Biblical truths to your life and see how God changes you from the inside out.  True change isn’t simply behavior modification.  True change is the result of God’s grace working through a gentle and humble heart that is in submission to His will. 

Bible Verses on Money

Bob over at Christian Personal Finance has listed 250 Bible verses on Money that will give you a jump start for renewing your minds.  Check out these verses and start memorizing and meditating on them today to help you in your quest for truly changing your bad money habits.

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19 Comments leave one →
  1. July 15, 2009 8:12 am

    Identifying that you have a money problem is only a small part of the equation. Many people recognize the problem, but do nothing to change. Your post is helpful in giving a process to those who wish to change. I agree that the change in mind must come before a change in action. Thanks for the informative post.

    • July 15, 2009 8:18 am

      Agreed. And of course taking action is really the hardest part since it requires sacrifice, hard work, & many times pain. But it is well worth it. As Christians we can find comfort in the fact that God will give us the grace and strength to change.

  2. July 16, 2009 9:52 am

    Attacking the root cause of the problem ensues that it will never happen again. The first step to that is facing the problem, which can be the hardest step.

    • July 18, 2009 10:23 pm

      I agree Jon, it is vital to attack the root of the problem and not just symptoms. Thanks for the comment.

  3. July 26, 2009 7:12 am

    Great info. I especially liked comment about accepting responsibility. It all starts there.

  4. December 12, 2010 12:03 pm

    Pls all what I copy and read has help me spiritual I will pray to God to help me do my restitution openly and teach to others

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