Time for a sort out...

By Fiona Mearns | 17 August 2016

 time for a sort out

It generally happens once a year or so.  My husband and I will take a look at the expanding pile of financial paperwork in our home office, and utter the words “it’s time for a sort out”. 

The ‘sort out’ is no small task and we take a very deep breath before approaching the piles of mouldering paperwork armed with a hole punch and shredder.  This year I even managed to overheat and break our trusty old shredder by overfeeding it with a diet of old statements, insurance schedules and gas bills. 

But several hours later, with a few breaks to maintain our sanity, we felt lighter and able to breathe again – paperwork filed, finances reviewed and a plan (of sorts) for the next 12 months.  We know it’s good to do this regularly – not just as an exercise in tidiness but to establish where we are; what changes there have been to our finances; to give thanks to God for the things we’ve been blessed with and properly consider how we can bless others with our giving.

For the last few years we’ve used the Stewardship BudgetBuilder to create and update our household budget.  Although I’m no spreadsheet geek, I love the fact that it guides me through all the areas of expenditure so I don’t miss anything, plus it includes a whole section on giving which I can personalise.  If you’re into pie charts and percentages you can revel in those to your heart’s content.  Personally, I just like to see a final figure that isn’t red.  I’ve come a long way from my old jotter and pencil, but for anyone who prefers a bit of paper and a biro, all is not lost.  You can still do it the tried and tested way by printing off the Painting by Numbers budget planner which has a step-by-step budget sheet included.

So budget sorted, we can then take time to pray, discuss and formulate a plan.  This can take as long as it takes but at least now we’ve got the facts at our fingertips.  Once the decisions are made, the next bit is very straightforward—get on and make the changes.

If we do decide to make changes to our giving, I just hop online, login to my Stewardship giving account (I now have those details off by heart which makes it really easy) and within two minutes I’ve adjusted a couple of regular gifts and made an anonymous one to a Christian Worker we wanted to surprise.  The anonymous donation facility is a revelation to me – it’s the online equivalent of posting a surprise gift through someone’s letterbox but without the inherent risk of being discovered.  I’ve even used it to make one-off donations anonymously to major charities for a specific appeal if I don’t want my personal details to enter on their radar.  I’ve also recently cottoned on to the fact that I can set up regular gifts on a quarterly or 6 monthly basis which can work well for some situations and saves me having to remember to do it myself.

So that’s it for another year although because we have to complete a tax return, I know that we’ll inevitably end up scrabbling about in January to make sure our accountant has all the right paperwork.  Still, at least it’s a relief to have all our giving recorded in one place and we can print out a statement at the touch of a button.

So, time for a celebratory coffee and peel the paper off a large chocolate muffin – now that’s the kind of paperwork I like.


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Posted by Fiona Mearns

Fiona Mearns is the Resourcing Christian Workers Coordinator at Stewardship and part of a team committed to helping individuals build and maintain strong, sustainable support networks.  She loves to write whenever there’s an opportunity and is a fan of a well-used apostrophe.

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