I told them about the project I’m working on for this month (October 2013) and asked them what they thought were some of the most important topics to mention for growing up.
This was one they mentioned unanimously! I hadn’t planned to get into this topic because it is so huge…but I decided to very briefly discuss some very basic aspects of finances because it is a very important aspect of growing up.
I plan to also pass on some resources. If you know of others, this is definitely NOT my area of expertise, just add them to the comments.
My personal background regarding money
Here goes…I grew up in the days when there weren’t credit cards. My parents grew up during the Great Depression and two World Wars. When it comes to money and understanding what consists of needs and wants, those are major advantages.
Unfortunately, I was not taught how to manage money. The only thing I was taught was, “If you don’t have cash, don’t borrow to buy what you want.” During my years in high school I had an impossibly meager allowance sent to me while I was in boarding school and my parents were missionaries miles and miles away!
There was no managing of the money. I never bought snacks or had extra snacks to eat in my room. There was rarely enough money to even buy needed supplies much less anything that could be considered extra. There wasn’t enough to divide into saving and spending and tithe. I usually tithed and sometimes even gave a little more than that for the many pressured pleas for giving…which I don’t recommend!
I don’t want this to sound gloomy or anything. I’m sharing where I came from. I learned many positive things from the experience but NOT how to manage money! I don’t consider myself to be a great manager of money either. It’s one of a number of reasons I don’t write about money management.
I was given almost nothing as a teenager and no options to earn money for myself. I had no help learning to manage money. In college, I had more opportunities to earn actual cash and have some options. At that point, I started learning a little about managing money. My husband likes dealing with the books so he manages it…fortunately, for our family. It would drive me nuts!
Fortuantely, he worked with our daughters and helped them learn how to manage money enough that when they grew up and married, they have all done well managing it with quite a variety of life circumstances. They definitely have a better understanding of the whole process than I for sure!
Now you know one aspect of my brokenness when it comes to money. We each have our own brokenness in this area. It’s important to know where your areas of brokenness are…and most of us have more than one area that is broken.
Spend less than you take in; Give away some to GOD and charities; Save some for the future.
So, in terms of money, the basics are that we need to take in more than we spend. We need to not spend all the money we take in. Some of it needs to be saved for the future, some needs to be given to GOD and charitable work, then we have some to spend. There are many resources available now to help us learn how to manage money. There are also people who can help you manage the specific resources you have.
The only way to control spending so the money goes where you want it, is to have a plan. That plan is called a budget. There are also many ways to find help making one up and sticking to it…all of which require growing up!
If you are in debt, start paying it off NOW
From everything I hear, the most important thing to do if you are in debt, is to start paying your bills down…starting with the smallest one first…that way, you will feel you are making progress. One highly recommended resource is DaveRamsey.com There are many very practical resources there to help you catch up if you are behind financially…but also to get into new, good spending habits so you won’t get behind again…at least for reasons of poor financial management. Obviously, long term job loss is something few of us can plan for.
Another resource is Crown Financial Ministries. One friend who has done a lot of work on finances and checked out quite a variety of programs sums up the differences between the two this way: “Dave Ramsey is the extrovert’s version of Crown Financial.” I’m sure that is a bit oversimplified, but if you have ever heard the two radio programs, that assesment will certainly bear her out!
On Dave Ramsey, when they pay off their debt, people call in and scream into the phone that they are debt-free. I’m enough of an extrovert that I could go for that for sure! The Crown Financial radio program is much quieter, more reasoned. Both sites have some great tools so look them over and see which one is most helpful to you and your situation.
Be aware that there is nothing more emotional than how you handle your money. Get to the bottom of that aspect of your money management style.
Remember this, money management is a very emotional proposition…very emotional. Why do you think so many couples fight over money? They both have different financial baggage related to money and often are unaware of how emtional their attitudes toward money are!
Remember to pray for a solution to your financial problems as you work to resolve them
One final aspect of money management I will mention here in this very brief comment on money and finances is this. For some of you, your financial situation is dire and feels extremely overwhelming. This is a time to not only learn how to manage your money and your debt, but especially to pray and maybe even ask your church for help. This is a situation that you need outside help with…and it is one that is difficult to ask for help with. Don’t underestimate the changes that can come about as you pray together both as a family and as a small group in church, for a solution to your finances. There is hope, there are resources and people who can help you. It will not be easy, but it will be worth it! Make use of those resources…all of them!
If you are in debt: Pray for help in resolving your debt. Check out the websites mentioned as well as resource people and make a concrete plan/budget along with your spouse. You both will have to agree to it in order for it to work! Then start paying off the debts one at a time as part of a budgeted plan to live within your means.
If you are current on expenses: Make a plan/budget if you never have before. Get help from the websites to make a budget and help your family get on a solid financial footing so you can plan for your financial goals as well as make plans to give more.
Pray together about your giving and finances. Maybe GOD is trying to stretch you in a new area of giving or saving or ____. Pray for wisdom as you work together in this area of your life.