FIRST-PERSON: When it comes to planning, learn from the ants
"Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest" (Proverbs 6:7-8).
So what is it that ants have figured out -- that some people just don't get?
It's called short-term planning. True, ants operate more out of instinct than intellect, but they still manage to put food aside during good times. Too often, people fail to take the same precaution.
For example, do you have cash "shortages" that force you to use credit cards? Short-term planning helps you avoid that problem and keeps you from going into debt.
Take utility bills, for example. Check with your gas or electric company to see if you're allowed to pay an average, constant amount each month. That way, huge bills won't overwhelm you in peak usage months.
You also can plan for clothing, medical and dental costs. If you set aside a monthly average for these needs, you won't get caught off guard, having to use a credit card to pay for a doctor visit or new shoes for the kids.
You can plan your vacations the same way. Set up a vacation category in your budget and make monthly contributions so that when it's time to hit the road, you can pay for your annual getaway with cash.
Also, set aside a little each month to replace appliances like the dishwasher or clothes dryer. It's not a matter of "if" something will break down, but "when."
And, of course, there's your automobile. Set aside something each month for repairs and maintenance and when you know something's starting to go, like the brakes, replace them right away.
With just a little bit of planning, we can all be as wise as ants.
Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries (Crown.org). His latest book, "The S.A.L.T. Plan, How to Prepare for an Economic Crisis of Biblical Proportions," is available now. To sign up for Chuck's free weekly e-newsletter, "Handwriting on the Wall," visit Crown.org/handwriting or call 1-800-722-1976. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).