With a new child, a new job, and a renewed sense of permanence, I’ve rededicated myself to my goal of achieving financial stability and peace. It’s not that I abandoned it, but I certainly pursue it in waves, and let’s just say the last couple months I didn’t pursue it as aggressively as I should have. This is normal, and it is okay, I’m not punishing myself in any way. My bills are paid, my tithe is given, our needs are met, and we get to have some enjoyment out of our hard work. But I want more than just to be okay.
As I know I’ve mentioned in the past, my financial guide is Dave Ramsey, and his books and lessons have led me true to the gains I’ve made in my quest, not to mention that his words continue to be inspiring and energizing. Recently I caught his radio show while I was driving, and he said something to a caller that really resonated with me. He was talking to a young man whose problem was that he saved too much. Ramsey said that there are three things you do with your money: give, save, and enjoy. You pay your bills and take care of your needs, yes, but beyond that, a healthy relationship with money requires that you tackle those three areas as well, something I am not always successful at.
You have to give. As a believer, this takes the form of a tithe, a ten-percent portion that I give to my church or to a charity cause as soon as I get paid. God provided for me and my family by getting me a job that pays, and I’m only giving back the portion that is His. I don’t play with this, and in the past, when I’ve messed up with my tithes, it has come back to bite me. Give. Even if you are not a believer, give. Find a charity to support, find a person or family in need, leave a ridiculously large tip to someone working a crappy job because they need to. Give. Give generously, and you will not lack.
You have to save. This is my Achilles’ heel, I’ll be honest. I am terrible at saving long term, and it’s something I continually struggle with. How much of your income you should save depends on your goal, although I repeatedly hear to save at least ten percent of your paycheck. If you’re following Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps, then each step will tell you how much to save and for what. As I rededicate myself to my financial peace goal, I’ll be saving for Baby Step 1: a $1000 emergency fund. I’ve done it before, I’ve spent it before, so here I go again. Whatever the amount, however, the point is to save for the so-called rainy day. Save. Save prudently, and you will not lack.
You have to enjoy your money. For most people, the problem isn’t that they’re not doing this, but that they’re doing too much of it. You shouldn’t go to the other extreme, though, and not have any enjoyment out of your work. Ramsey’s Baby Steps have parts that can be rough on the enjoy-your-money part, but it’s for a reason, and ultimately you get to decide what you do and how close you follow the program. I have problems with this area because I waver between complete austerity and a little too much enjoyment. Finding the right balance takes work, but it is possible. Have a little fun. Enjoy. Enjoy wisely, and you will not lack.
So here I go again, not for the first time, and I suspect not for the last time in my life. That’s okay. Different times will require different financial strategies, and when those times come, I’ll tackle them. Right now it’s time to get on the ball again and keep working toward financial peace.