Growing up, I had very little idea what it took - from a financial standpoint - to live. For example, as a teenager, I wanted a car. I assumed the costs involved were buying the car and buying the gas that would make it run. I was shocked to learn about car insurance, license plates, and ongoing maintenance and repairs. This is just one example. I could go on with similar examples about what it costs to go to college, own and maintain a home, have and raise children, and more. For me, it wasn’t until I was a young adult making bigger financial decisions, earning money and paying my own bills that I learned what it takes to manage finances.
Now full disclosure, I’m a mom, wife and communicator/writer. My husband helps people with disabilities have access to technology. We are not financial planners. We are not stock market or investment gurus. Just average folks. Doing our best to make the most of our resources. So, I’d like to share what we’ve learned about our finances - and managing our finances - throughout the years. These are straightforward tips and practices for anyone to consider.
We knew we needed help.
As recent college grads (nearly 20 years ago), we recognized that we needed to learn more about managing our finances. We had college debt. We had modest entry-level salaries. We were making financial decisions that we knew would set the course for our adult lives. We knew we needed help. And we were lucky enough to have a trusted friend who was a financial advisor. He had a track record of helping others. And we could tell after meeting with him a couple of times that he would both support us and push us/challenge us to manage our money well for the long-haul. We have now been working with that same financial advisor for all of these years. We are thankful.
It isn’t about how much money you make. It’s about how you manage what you make/have.
We were challenged to start young. Or, I’d say start today. Whatever your financial goals are, start as soon as possible (ideally, when you’re young) to aim toward your goals. We had goals to pay down debt, live comfortably, save for the future, and give to support our church and other people and causes. So, we got started to make these goals a reality. We didn’t wait until we were older or made more money. We made the most to manage and build financial habits trusting that it would be a good thing (it’s like choosing to eat broccoli instead of ice cream or spinach instead of Doritos!).
A promise from God.
A significant concept about our finances has become more clear to me as I’ve gotten older. My money? You know, the money I earn? The money I work so hard for? The money I want to control and decide what to do with? It’s not mine. Everything is God’s, and what I have is only mine to manage for God’s glory. So while my husband and I use the minds God gave us to manage our finances, ultimately, it’s all up to Him. What we will earn. What we will spend. What we will give. Our house. Our cars. Our goals. Our bank statements. It’s all God’s. So we often pray and ask God to lead us in our finances, and then we just sit back (or we try to, as much as possible). The pressure is off.
God even tells us in the Bible (in Malachi 3:10), to test him with our giving and with our finances. That if we give and surrender to Him with our finances, He will bless us. And while we may not know exactly what that blessing will be, we do know that God is always at work for the good of those who love Him. (He says this in Romans 8:28.) So this is what we’re holding onto. To us, it’s even better than having more money in the bank!