Early in our marriage, my Lovely Wife and Life Partner Lois and I did what lots of people do when it comes to money. We did “the best we could.”
The problem with this method is it never works. Without a plan, your money is like air. Just floating around. You know it’s there, but you’re never really sure how much of it there is. The difference is you’re not likely to run out of air. Not true with money. It always goes more quickly than you think it will.
The following are tangible, simple steps you can do. Simple in that they’re easy to understand. But they’re not easy. They take discipline. The key is to get started. Start small. With baby steps, you’ll soon start making progress. These guidelines helped us get rid of all our debt except our house, and took away a mountain of stress. They come from best selling author Dave Ramsey, but I’ve translated them a bit to fit us. Make these principles your own, too. It’s peace of mind!
1. Make a budget to help you reach fun goals.
Write it down! How much do you make every month? If it varies, take your best guess. How much do you spend every month? Write everything down you can think of. It won’t be perfect. In fact, your first month won’t even be close, but it’ll be closer than you were last month! With time you’ll get better!
2. Give yourself some fun money so you’ll stay on budget.
Even after you get the hang of it, it’s never going to be exact. There are just too many variables. So give yourself a cushion every month. Keep some money out for stuff you like to do. Not too much or you won’t make any progress. But if you don’t leave something out for fun, you’ll get discouraged and quit.
3. Get on the same team with your spouse.
Separate checking accounts may work for some, but it made sense for us to simplify to one. No secret stash. Accountable to each other. You’re one in marriage. Be one in all areas. If one of you is naturally better at keeping records, that person should do it. But both must be involved in the decisions. It’s critical to meet monthly.
4. Be prepared for emergencies.
Stuff happens. The car breaks. The roof leaks. Christmas comes. As soon as possible, gather as much cash as you can and put it in savings for “emergencies” ONLY. (Not a boat. Not curtains.) Don’t quit until you have at least $1,000 put in savings for that unexpected expense. Add to it every month.
5. Embrace the power of cash.
Many will argue for credit cards. “I pay them off every month.” “They’re good for your credit score.” “I get points.” Chances are if you’re having money hassles, you haven’t used great discipline. So simplify. Use cash. No worries about paying anything off, you don’t need good credit if you don’t borrow, and points are way overrated.
6. Be generous.
Over all of this, make it your goal to give. We’ve found 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 to be a solid truth. “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
I encourage you to look into professionals like Dave Ramsey for solid, faith-based teaching on this all important area in our lives. Read the book of Proverbs. It’s amazing how much financial wisdom is right there in the Bible!
Pray about it. Make it a priority. Within a few months you’ll start to see great progress! Let that momentum carry you. Depending on your circumstance, you can be completely debt free within a couple years or less! Millions have!
Praying for your blessing!