First of all, let me tell you this post is not professional advice but experiences I’ve had and lessons I’ve learned in the past 4 years living on one income in California. Now back to the post.
You just had a huge unexpected expense. Your car needed new tires. There goes $800. You wonder why you even try, you feel like you’ll never reach your financial goals.
Maybe you follow financial gurus like Dave Ramsey and you just feel like a failure because you just can’t get ahead. Dave Ramsey’s system is excellent, but sometimes you have a lot of work and growing to do before you can even get to the point of following his method. Everyone has a different situation and sometimes credit cards and loans are the only way to get through it. And you know what, thank God for credit cards and loans! There are places in the world where people don’t have access to credit so it is a blessing to have this kind of tool. Of course it is important to use these tools wisely, but it takes time.
So don’t beat yourself up. If it took you 10 years to dig the hole, assume it will take you just as long to get out. In a perfect world, you would pay everything with cash, but in a perfect world you would have already understood that before you got into this mess. Sometimes you have to go through a mountain of debt to learn how to use money wisely. After all, where do you learn in school about managing finances? That’s right, you don’t.
But you have to take time to look back and see where you used to be. I have had times in my life where I was very irresponsible with money. Before I got married I would use credit cards frivolously all the time ,for clothes and eating out. I’m not proud of it but at least I’m honest! I was depressed and shopped for emotional reasons. Then I’ve had times where I’ve been extremely responsible with money and there just wasn’t enough for the basics and I’d have to wait till the next month to buy some razors. But you know what? I had to go through those times to learn.
Look At How Far You’ve Come
Some signs of progress that you might disregard because they aren’t huge things like paying off a whole credit card:
- You no longer use credit cards regularly
- You are actually putting money in savings
- You don’t have to use credit cards to get through the month for just groceries and gas.
- You have what you need.
- You bought a house.
- You completed your degree (yes you may have debt but finishing your degree is a huge step on the road to financial freedom.)
- You have read books and materials about finances.
- You keep track of your spending.
- You have a budget.
- You have paid off some debt.
- You have a plan.
Dave Ramsey is great, but I am really enjoying Fun, Cheap, or Free.
Jordan Page has a big family and she gives all kinds of tips for living on less than you earn and for frugal living (especially how to save money on groceries). She recommends living off of 70 % of what you earn, and the rest of the money goes to savings, debt, financial goals, and giving. Sounds crazy? I thought so too. But since I like the idea of it, I want to try it. But this is where wisdom needs to come into play. I tend to want to jump right in, instead of easing into something with baby steps. My husband is better at this than I am. If you are struggling to stay within your income, your best bet would be to shoot for 90 % to start off with instead of 70 %. Also, I like how Jordan Page recommends taking one week at a time. This way you have enough money for the whole month and don’t end up having to pull from savings unless there is something unexpected.
Here’s one of Jordan Page’s videos:
I love watching the Clutterbug’s Youtube channel as well as listen to her podcast, I especially enjoyed her podcast about wanting less. Here is the link: Wanting Less.
She’s talking about simplifying your life, but in the process of doing so, it will include buying less, wanting less, and therefore saving money. She also talks about practicing gratitude. Guys, this works. I try to write 5 things I’m grateful for every night. Her talk about simplifying and wanting less reminds me of the spiritual life, as we are called to “build up treasures in heaven”. I found this prayer:
” Father, it is Your will that we do not lay up material treasures on earth for ourselves, where moth and rust can destroy and where thieves can break in and steal; but lay up treasures in heaven for ourselves, where neither moth nor rust can destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. Your word states that our lives do not consist in the abundance of the things we possess: therefore, we will beware of covetousness. The one who lays up treasure for himself is not rich towards You. Where our treasure is, there our heart will be also. Lord, we confess that life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Therefore, we declare that we, as a church body, will seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness and all things will be added to us. Lord, we confess that we will not trust in uncertain riches but we will trust in You, the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. We confess that we will be a church that will continue to do good works and we will be ready to give and be willing to share. “
You Can Do This!
Getting your finances in order is a worthwhile goal, but realize it’s a process and give yourself grace along the way. Seek out resources that work for you, set goals, and remember the things that are truly important in life and stop comparing and get off social media. Get busy doing what you can with what you have and you will feel much happier and more at peace.
What is working for you and your family? I’d love to hear in the comments!