Proverbs 27:23 (King James Version)

23Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds.

Individual Sheep sticks head out of flockI am a Quicken slave.  Every payday I spend at least an hour entering my paycheck info and planning how to pay our bills at least until the next paycheck.  It’s ongoing and never ending.  However, I see it as my duty as a steward of God’s resources that He has entrusted to me.

So what does this have to do about knowing about sheep, goats, and other farmyard critters?

Gold vs. The Sheepfold: The Baa-Baa-Balance Sheet

In Old Testament times, wealth was often measured in terms of the size of one’s flocks and herds (e.g. Gen 24:35).  The  animals often rank higher than gold or silver when a person’s worth is summarized.   In the account of God’s material restoration to Job (see Job 42:10-12), the count of each type of animal is given but there is no such specificity in the amount of money or gold received.

Even though farm animals are not part of the typical family household budget sheet, adopting a sort of animal husbandry mindset can help us become better financial managers.  The first task in reining in your finances is knowing the size of your herd.

Do you know your net worth? Can you quickly add up your assets and subtract your liabilities to arrive at a (reasonable) ballpark amount. Is this total based on verifiable facts as opposed to an “off the top of my head” guesstimate? (Maybe this calculator will help.)

Jesus referred to Himself as the “good shepherd.” He said that he knows his own sheep by name. In Bible times, individuals knew very well the size of their flocks as this was their livelihood. (Money and animals provide food and clothing.)

So, whether you use Quicken, Microsoft Money, or some other personal finance software, or even paper/pencil; you need to know the size of your herd so that you can take care of it properly.

The Care & Feeding of Your Finances

Be “diligent” and “look well” to your herds. Taking the shepherd and rancher analogy further, we know that these animals require regular feeding and hygiene. If you feed your goat a sumptuous, nutritious meal and then cancel future mealtimes, that goat will die. Neglect will kill these creatures through starvation or disease

Ok, so what does that have to do with me?

Like animals, our finances require regular provision and protection. Similarly, financial instruments require monitoring to prevent atrophy through lack of regular investments, tax penalties, portfolio reallocation, insurance, etc. Are you letting your financial managing slide? Are you persistent in those necessary – if irritating – financial chores such as paying bills on time, budgeting, filing taxes? Don’t allow the manure to pile up!

Luke 12:48b (New International Version)

… From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

Keeping your animals\finances healthy will enable them to gain healthy weight and have babies\enjoy investment returns. So if you are frustrated at the amount of time you’re spending using Quicken or balancing your checkbook, etc; be of good cheer. It’s not easy being a shepherd but your diligence will pay off.

With financial prosperity comes responsibility.

Proverbs 12:10-11 (New King James Version)

10 A righteous man regards the life of his animal,
But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.
11 He who tills his land will be satisfied with bread,
But he who follows frivolity is devoid of understanding.

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6 Responses to “Applying the “Herd Mentality” to Your Finances: The Care & Feeding of Your Money”

  1. I must say this is a great article i enjoyed reading it keep the good work :)

  2. I am a quicken outcast. Budgeting seems to be one of the most elusive animals for me to tame. What is the first step in taming that beast?

  3. Proverbs 16:3 (New International Version)

    3 Commit to the LORD whatever you do,
    and your plans will succeed.

    First, take it to the Lord.

    There are a TON of resources out there. My buddy Bob at ChristianPF has a forum in which his visitors (me included) discuss this very issue. They have some good insights. You might even consider joining if you want to engage in a dialogue with that community.

    There are a lot of folks out there that use Excel (or Calc, the freebie alternative) or even — gasp! — paper and pencil. If you’re married, be sure and get your spouse on board.

    Try to find something that works for your household. Feel free to come back and let us know how it is working out for you.

  4. I followed your link to a free :) downloadable spread sheet/budget. We’ve tried budgeting before to no avail. So this time I asked my wife to join me in screwing up another budget. She understands my sentiment. Our goal is to try and fail on the first months budget then do better on the next until we sort out our living and reconcile it with our income. Hopefully in 3-4 months we’ll be all systems go.

  5. Killerpuppies:

    “for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again …” (Proverbs 24:16)

    Hang in there. Budgeting is a reiterative process. It’s great that Mrs. Killerpuppies is involved with this process. You have the power of agreement working for you. Her input, no doubt, is invaluable. You can also keep each other accountable.

    This process may be frustrating but be of good cheer. The orderly often precedes the miraculous. Before Jesus miraculously fed the multitudes, he instructed the crowd to sit in groups of 50 (Luke 9:14). He had a distribution system set up before the divine increase took place. God is very efficient. That is one reason that he encourages discipline in our finances: so that we can be in a position to receive more and use it effectively.

    Another illustration from this biblical scene is that Jesus looked toward Heaven and gave thanks. You (& Mrs. K) certainly can’t go wrong if you would do the same. Who knows? You might also experience an increase of bread as well! When you do, please let us know! (Feel free to use the Donate button if you need a place to deposit leftover crumbs! ;-) )

    Psalm 115:14

  6. Well…here’s an update. My anticipation was to struggle through budgeting for a month or two then be flying high with the budget of all budgets. Since that time my job has changed and came with a new compensation package. We are still earning a good wage but not what it once was as of yet. Our budget is merely a dry erase monthly calendar. We write how much is due to whom on the day it it due. That and we talk more day to day about our fiances. There have been several weeks where there was more needed than in the check book. God has been faithful and is meeting our every need. Thank you for maintaining this resource.

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