Simple Financial Advice
Where do you get your financial advice?
Do you have good financial planning habits?
Can you learn some from the wisdom of the ages?
Biblical Financial Advice
"Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, `This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.' "
- Luke 14:28-29
How much money do you make? How big is your paycheck? Do you earn your living working for a local company? A large corporation? The government? Maybe you work for yourself. Is your income consistent or does it vary from week to week and month to month? The money you make is just the start.
How much money do you spend? What do you spend each day? Each month? Each year? How much of your regular spending is predictable? Your mortgage or rent payment? Your utilities, gas, electric, water, garbage, telephones, internet, cable? Do you plan ahead, paying your bills on time?
How much of your spending is unexpected and unplanned? The car needs new brakes. Your water heater died. The high winds and nearby tornado means you need $1000 for the roof repair insurance deductible. Do you have a plan in place for these bigger expenses? Do you expect them, or panic when they happen.
Planning ahead, knowing how much you make and how much you spend is a start. Wait for it now, here comes the expected ACTION STEP to know your cash inflows and outflows, and take control of them:
Make a BUDGET. Yes, that's the start. And to be effective, live within that budget. Having a good plan to make your money stretch each month only works when you follow you plan. Review it weekly or monthly, depending on your life, family, and needs. Add it to your calendar - what gets scheduled gets done. Work with your spouse or other family adult, and teach your kids the power of planning ahead and living within a budget at an early age.
Simple Family Budget Example:
Save Some and Don't be Lazy:
"Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest - and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man."
- Proverbs 6:6-11
Who do you look up to? Who do you emulate? Leaders, celebrities, teachers? How well do you know their stories? Thomas Edison is known worldwide for his inventive genius. He looked at genius differently: "Genius is one percent inspiration, and 99 percent perspiration." And his related view of work: "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."
Do you value your work? There is dignity in hard work. There is a sense of accomplishment in hard work. And there are rewards for hard work. If you are dissatisfied with your current work situation, what can you do about it? Life is much too short to spend day after day in a job you hate, just "to make ends meet". Get away and ask yourself: "Why am I going to the same job everyday, what could I do better?" "What else is out there for me that I would love to do?"
"Everyone seems to want to be somewhere they aren't. Choose to be where you are right now and you will be happier than 90% of humankind.
Do you think Bill Gates continued to go to work at Microsoft every day - after the first BiLLion DoLLars of income? Nope? More likely, he loved, and loves, what he does. When you are passionate about the work you do, for a few hours a week or full time every day, work adds purpose. Today is the day to take that ACTION STEP, determine what you really want to do, and how you are going to get there.
Simple Life Work Vision Worksheet:
Have a Long Range Financial Plan
". . . he who gathers money little by little makes it grow."
- Proverbs 13:11b
Are you a saver, or a spender? Are you married to a money saver or a money spender? Are you both savers, or both spenders (a dangerous combination!) When thinking about your finances and money, is the word "discipline" part of that conversation? Having a long range financial plan includes having the discipline to make it happen. And there are ways to get it done with modern technology to make it so much easier.
Your long term plan starts with your family budget. And you've already started creating your budget earlier on this page. And your financial plans include having income, from something you enjoy doing, at least most of the time. Now it's time to consider an age old formula for building long term financial security.
The plan starts with a very simple concept:
"Spend less than you earn." Always. Yes, this is the starting place.
Living paycheck to paycheck is highly stressful. Living within a budget is the first step in your journey to change your life forever. Finding rewarding work is crucial, it's what you do every day. If you are already in the red every month, too little income, too many expenses, make the temporary hard choices to change your circumstances:
- Stop eating at restaurants, or at least less frequently.
- Grocery store food, especially produce, is good for you and cheaper.
- Exercise and eat less, lose some weight? What ! ? ! ? !
Being overweight often comes from habits like eating prepared, boxed or canned foods. Read those labels, look at the high SALT content. That leads to high blood pressure, weight gain, and heart attacks. And therefore more visits to the Doctor and more Prescription medicines to wreck you budget even more.
Notice your habits. Do you often, "run to the store" instead of planning ahead. What would it do to your family budget if you made 3 less trips "to the store" each week (times 52 weeks = 156 fewer car starts/stops, wasting gasoline, and increasing car maintenance costs caused by cold engine starts.
And how about the little, personal expenses: A Starbucks Doubleshot Expresso each day on the way to work? A couple of packs of Marlboro's each week. Hersey's pure milk chocolate, you know, just a couple or three times a week. The point, little things add up. How about a cable bill of $124 a month ($1,488 a year), versus $0 - yes, ZERO, for Antenna TV and the local channels. Or add Netflix or Amazon Prime and still save well over $1000 a year. These are all your choices, just you get you thinking.
To continue the discussion:
Your Long Range Financial Plan
Did you notice the simple family budget worksheet had Charity, Savings, and Investing at the top of the expense list? That's on purpose. CHARITY is helping others, through your church, your community, and your personal touches. Setting aside the first 10% of your income is straightforward. If it's important to you, and you wait until all other bills and expenses are paid, it will not be there when you want it.
And putting aside 10% of your income for SAVINGS. Do the math and run the financial scenarios. When your teenagers springs it on you, "Mom, I need a Prom Dress!", or "Dad, it's the big game, I know it's across the state, I just need gas money, and some for food, and for the tickets!" And then REAL Emergencies, accidents, broken water pipes, emergency repairs and hospital bills. Are you going to pay for these with 21% Credit Cards? Or damage your credit score due to late payments, which leads to higher lending costs for your next big purchase. It's a vicious cycle. Planning your money and budget in advance cuts your stress and your expenses!
What about setting aside 10% of your income for long-term financial investments? Setting aside money for retirement. Will Social Security be there when you retire in the U.S.? What about expected pensions if you live in Greece, Chile, or other countries that face struggles - it's a world wide problem.
Planning your own long-term financial plan, your own retirement is wise and prudent. The best return on any investments is an employer matching 401k plan (or 503b) - are you taking advantage of it? When your company matches 4% of your 4%, that's a ONE HUNDRED PERCENT return on your money. Try finding that anywhere else. And your own long term investments, added to "little by little" as described in Proverbs, is sound advice!
The plan starts with a very simple concept:
Here is a comparison graph starting with the same $10,000. In the first case, you also add $100 per month to your financial nest egg, and put it in the mattress or hide it in the garden over the next 40 years. In the second case, your invest your hard earned $10,000 and let it work over the next 40 years. We'll keep it simple to demonstrate the power of compounding.
This is just an example to illustrate the impact putting a portion of your money to work for you. It is provided for educational purposes only. The specific actions, and investment and financial decisions you make are entirely your choices. Take the time to educate yourself more, and seek professional direction if needed.
Recognize the Source
"The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. - Psalms 24:1 Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine."
- Proverbs 3:9-10
What is a Tithe?
A Tithe, from the Old English "teogoþa " means one-tenth. Tithing one tenth, or ten percent of income, grain, and livestock for example, has a long history through the world and across history. There are tithing traditions and practices in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, the Babylonia Assyrians, and Sikhism to name a few.
Biblically, a TITHE is the first-fruit. As God is the creator of the earth, and all that is the earth, he owns it all. Honoring God with the first fruit is an expression of grateful thanks for what He has provided. For faith-based believers, including tithing in the family budget is part of their whole life financial plan.
Scripture references: THE HOLY BIBLE New International Version, (c) The Zondervan Corporation.
And on a lighter note:
Seeking Financial Advice
A man calls a financial planner seeking some advice and direction.
"Hello. My name is Bob. I'd like to invest some money."
"Hello Bob, this is Mike. I would be happy to meet you. You say you would like to invest some money. First, to help me better understand your situation, can you tell me where or how you currently have your money invested?
"Sure Mike. I am currently invested in Credit Cards, Car Loans, Student Loans, and the Lottery." "Is that a good place to start?"