8 Tips for Stress-Free Finances During the Holidays

By Kevin Camon

Read Time: 4 minutes

Churches play an important role in our society. They offer support and comfort emotionally while helping people strengthen their faith. Even though these organizations fill a different role than big businesses, they operate with similar expenses. And when you're trying to run a ministry, you don't want to be worrying about budget deficits and running out of money, especially during the holiday season.

Whether it be decorating the church, putting together a Christmas musical, Christmas Eve services, or even year-end financial budget goals—the holidays can be stressful.

Below are a few tips to limiting stress in your life and keeping the church focused on the "reason for the season" —Jesus Christ.

1. Share The Load

Are you the only person responsible for your church's money? As a pastor, you wear many hats. From hospital visitations and counseling to cleaning and preaching, at some point, you'll do everything that needs to be done. And this is okay. Servant leadership is a hallmark of being a pastor. However, you're not called to do everything every day. In other words, if you're assuming sole responsibility as your church's treasurer, it's time to share the load. Depending on the size of your church, you may need to lean to the help of a volunteer to manage your church's books or consider outsourcing your accounting needs with a bookkeeper at StartCHURCH.

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2. Plan Your Holiday Budget

Part of your responsibilities as a church leader is to be an excellent steward of church finances. Events tend to be a significant portion of church ministry. Therefore, it makes sense to budget for church events and monitor them closely. Facilitate a meeting with your budgeting team and put all potential events on a large wall calendar (erasable is best). This is a great visual that helps you see what the month might look like and can help you see where you can cut expenses. Before you start significantly reducing costs, work through your church's current budget, income, and expenses as a team.

3. Save on Day to Day Needs 

A big expense for churches is your office needs. From printing to wardrobe to computers to phones, you may be able to find new, creative ways to save money. You may want to consider simple adjustments like printing your bulletins in-house for a lower price or stopping phone services for the office when everyone uses their mobile device anyway. One area you may not consider as an expense is a wardrobe for your pastors and church leaders. Robes, neckbands, and clergy stoles are all pieces with historical and sacramental value and are therefore essential. But just because they're needed doesn't mean you have to break the bank to find them. There are discount clergy robes and other items you can purchase at a lower rate while still looking like a leader.

4. Re-evaluate Giving Numbers 

Saving money starts with knowing how much you have. A church budget comes from congregational giving, which can fluctuate with different seasons. Be sure you're estimating a reasonable amount that will be coming in. Constantly check-in and re-evaluate your congregation's pledges and tithes. Being aware of how much you have will help you budget effectively, not overspend, and save on costs.

5. Make Use of Your Volunteers

Staffing is a big part of your church expenses, taking up 30-40% of your budget. Of course, letting people go is not the best way to save money, but you should consider volunteers before hiring anyone new. Rather than paying an outside company to teach Sunday school or re-paint the sanctuary, ask your church members if they can help. The message of the church is one of service and giving, so your congregation should be happy to help out as a service to the community.

6. Capitalize Savings on Building Expenses 

Even though the church doesn't need a building to exist, they sure do come in handy. Owning and operating a building can get pricey, so see if there are areas where you can cut costs. Adjust your thermostat to each season, use energy-efficient lighting, refinance your mortgage, and be sure you're getting the best rate for property insurance. Learn to cut costs surrounding the building itself so you can focus funds on outreach.

7. Start a Fundraiser 

Fundraising is an important part of any organization. Tithes and offerings are the lifeblood from which the mission comes to fruition, and when they take a dive, it can be hard to recover. Fundraising can help supplement income in low seasons, and it's generally pretty simple to begin a fundraising campaign if you know where to start. Make sure to provide enough avenues for your community to donate or purchase through. This can be accepting cash or using online platforms such as Stripe or Square. Making your organization flexible will help you when most of the country uses electronic forms of payment.

According to Internal Revenue Code (IRC) § 513(a)(3), "[T]he selling of merchandise, substantially all of which has been received by the organization as gifts or contributions," is not subject to unrelated business income tax.

Therefore, whatever the thrift store receives from the sale of donated items is tax-exempt income a church can receive. Selling drinks and meals before and after services or operating a bookstore or coffee shop can also be an easy way to generate revenue before the holidays and help you remain in a stress-free mindset.

8. Trust In The Lord 

In the end, keep your eyes on Jesus. Stress of any kind has an uncanny ability to lead you to become distracted by what you see—not in who you believe. Throughout this process, the Lord will guide your steps, lead your church, and give you His peace so you can enjoy the holidays.

At StartCHURCH, we know you just want to fulfill the calling on your life, and managing finances can get burdensome and overwhelming no matter the season. If you would like to learn more about how the StartCHURCH Bookkeeping Service can help alleviate your financial stress and help you fulfill your goals, please give us a call at 877-494-4655 or click the link below to schedule a call!

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