Budgeting Made Simple

The Gotta, Outta, Nada System

According to a 2015 CNBC article most Americans are still struggling to make ends meet financially. I can only imagine the case is worse for families in small towns, and for many pastors who serve in these communities.


When it comes to managing finances, the answer seems simple. Spend less than you make.

As easy as this sounds, few people can seem to get it right. For the ones who do, tremendous benefits can be had.

But where do you start, and how do you prioritize?

I like to think about it in terms of gotta, outta, and nada.

There are some things that I gotta pay. There’s no wiggle room, no getting it around it. These are top priority.

There are also things I outta pay. Most of the time these are going to get paid, but if something comes up, I can cut these out of the budget with little consequence.

The rest are nadas. Things that are nada necessity. We may think we need to have cable tv, but in reality we could easily do without it.

To give you a better idea I’ve listed my gotta, outta, nadas below.


Tithe – People will have different opinions on this, but for me, tithing is something I gotta do. God has blessed me, so I can bless others. The church gives me the greatest opportunity to do this.

Pay Rent/Mortgage – The majority of us have one or the other. If we don’t pay it, we lose our home. This has to be at the top of the gotta list.

Have Insurance – Insurance has become a gotta. Home, automobile, and health.

Pay Utilities – Electric, water, gas, etc.

Eat Something – Groceries, kids’ lunches, we all gotta eat.

Wear Clothes – Clothes and shoes wear out, especially when you have children.

Put Gas in the Car – Very few of us live in an area that we can get away without having a vehicle. If you have a vehicle, you’re gonna have to put gas in it.

Pay on Debt – Car payments, student loans, credit cards.


Give Gifts – Christmas, birthdays, weddings. This seems to be the budget category that keeps increasing for me.

Have a Telephone – Contrary to popular opinion, a telephone is not a gotta. People got by long before phones were invented, but by this point you outta have one.

Have Life Insurance – I know way too many families financially devastated because someone died unexpectedly that didn’t have an insurance policy. You should have at least enough for funeral expenses.

Maintain House/Car – Every home and car is going to need repairs and maintenance. You outta maintain them.

Go on a Date – If you’re married, you need to continue dating your spouse. Plan at least one night a month to go on date, more if you can afford it.

Take a Vacation – I may be a bit biased here. I love traveling, so for me, this is something you outta do. In reality, this probably should be a nada.

Put Money into Savings – One of the hardest things for me to do is save. I outta do it, but I don’t do it enough.

Nada Necessity

Eating Out – This is the budget killer in my house. Fast food is easy, but it’s not cheap. And it’s nada necessity.

Hobbies – Golf, fishing, crafts, whatever your hobby is, it’s nada necessity, and chances are it’s killing your budget.

Buying New Things – The only thing you need to buy new is underwear. Every thing else is negotiable, and chances are you’re much better off buying used.

Buying Name Brand – Same as buying new, it’s nada necessity. Keeping up with the Joneses doesn’t work if you go broke in the process.

Having Internet – I didn’t get internet at my house until I started this blog. Does not having internet stink? Yes. But for most people it’s nada necessity.

Having Cable/Satellite TV – Same as the internet. Just because everyone else has it, doesn’t make it a necessity. Most people could save significant dollars by cancelling TV services and getting Netflix or something similar.

Addictions – For some people it’s coffee, for others it may be cigarettes. In many cases your addictions not only kill your budget, they’re also killing you. Give them up.

I know this isn’t a perfect system, but for those who are looking to better manage their money I hope it is a help to you.

If you like the Gotta, Outta, Nada system I’ve developed an Excel spreadsheet complete with all the formulas you need to make it work for you. Leave a comment below and I’ll make sure to send it to you absolutely free.

Communication in Leadership

Good leadership is essential to the success of your church. When frustrations develop in leadership, you can almost always trace it back to a break down in communication. For as good as we may be at speaking on a stage, it seems that many leaders struggle at communicating off the stage.


For this reason we sat down as a team and developed clear expectations for two of the most important roles in our organization: Team Leaders and Senior Team Leaders.

Team Leaders in our church are responsible for overseeing ministries and volunteers for a specific service. For example, a First Service Nursery Team Leader would be responsible for overseeing the success of the nursery during the first service. A Second Service Parking Team Leader would be responsible for overseeing the success of the parking ministry during second service. You get the picture.

So, we ask our Team Leaders to do three things. If they do these three things listed below, we consider that a success.

Team Leader

  1. Show Up
  • Be passionate.
  • Be on time.
  • Be a friend.
  • Be an example.
  1. Send Weekly Reminders
  • Create a schedule.
  • Gather contact info for each volunteer.
  • Set aside a time each week to remind those scheduled to serve that weekend.
  1. Care For and Encourage Your Team
  • Pray for your leaders and your volunteers.
  • Send weekly encouragement through the use of scriptures, devotionals, and stories.
  • Notice who is missing and check up on them.

Now, we expect more out of our Senior Team Leaders because they are responsible for the success of entire ministries. They are not just responsible for one service; they are responsible for every service.

So, the Senior Team Leader of the greeting ministry will work alongside the team leaders to make sure the ministry is successful.

Senior Team Leaders are expected to do the same three things as Team Leaders, as well as the following.

Senior Team Leader

  1. Recruit Volunteers for Your Team
  • The most effective way to get someone plugged in is through a personal invite.
  • Recruit volunteers with vision, not guilt.
  1. Schedule Your Volunteers to Serve
  • It is your responsibility to schedule volunteers to serve.
  • If a volunteer is going to be miss or be late, it is your responsibility to cover or replace them with another volunteer.
  1. Coach and Train Your Team
  • Share articles, emails, and personal experiences that demonstrate what your ministry should look like.
  • Have a training process that makes your volunteers feel confident and comfortable to perform their role successfully.
  • Evaluate volunteer performance as it happens, and coach as needed.
  1. Cast Vision to Your Team
  • Cast the church’s vision and values, as well as your ministry vision, to your team on a consistent basis.
  • Where there is no vision people perish, but when people embrace the vision people will flourish.
  • Casting vision is simply communicating the vision in a way that others make your vision their own.

My church now has two services on Sunday mornings, and we ask our Senior Team Leaders to make it a priority to be there for every service. Not all of them do that, but we find that the ones who do are generally more successful in their ministry.

Now, I realize your church may not have multiple services, and this system may not work for you. That’s ok. I just wanted to give you an idea that you can take and customize to fit your own needs. I hope this helps.

Do you and your team struggle to communicate effectively? How do you make sure everyone is on the same page?

The Good Samaritan

Great change always comes at great risk. This was something that Martin Luther King Jr. knew all too well. On the night before Dr. King was murdered, he preached a sermon called “I See the Promised Land.” In his speech, he expounds upon the Parable of the Good Samaritan and shares a unique perspective as to why the priest and Levite may have passed the man by.


“I’m going to tell you what my imagination tells me. It’s possible that these men were afraid. You see, the Jericho road is a dangerous road. I remember when Mrs. King and I were first in Jerusalem. We rented a car and drove from Jerusalem down to Jericho. And as soon as we got on the road, I said to my wife, I can see why Jesus used this as a setting for his parable. It’s a winding, meandering road. It’s really conducive for ambushing. You start out in Jerusalem, which is about 1200 feet above sea level. And by the time you get down to Jericho, fifteen or twenty minutes later, you’re about 2200 feet below sea level. That’s a dangerous road. In the days of Jesus it came to be known as the Bloody Pass. And you know, it’s possible that the priest and the Levite looked over that man on the ground and wondered if the robbers were still around. Or it’s possible that they felt that the man on the ground was merely faking. And he was acting like he had been robbed and hurt, in order to seize them over there, lure them there for quick and easy seizure. And so the first question that the Levite asked was, if I stop to help this man, what will happen to me? But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”

Many of you pastor or serve in a church where you know change is needed. You know that your church doesn’t appeal to those who don’t know Christ. Yet, you’re afraid to act because you’re asking the question, “What will happen to me? What if they don’t want change? What if they vote me out?”

I think its time we reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help, if I do not lead the change, what will happen to them? What will happen to those who don’t know Christ?”

The time to act is now. Stop living in fear of what might happen to you, and start leading the charge to save those around you.

Dr. King concluded his sermon with this: “I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

What change are you currently implementing in your church? What’s holding you back?