How Can We Improve Our Finances?
Each morning as I open my email this is a question I’m starting to see more and more of – “I read your site, here’s our situation, how can we improve up on it?”
Yesterday was no exception. Wendi in NJ is a DFA reader, a wife, and a stay-at-home-mother – not necessarily in that order!
I’ve read just about everything on your website. It’s been a wonderful “kick in the butt” for me and ultimately for my husband and family. So, thank you.
My question for you is one that we’ve struggled with for a very long time and will continue to struggle with until we can figure out something different. 🙂
My husband is self-employed. Right now, I’m putting about $700/month away in savings. I have an automatic withdraw into two Capital One 360 accounts. Since March I’ve managed to save about $5000. It’s been quite easy and unobtrusive in our lives. No one really knows but me.
When my husband has a slow week or travels on business and doesn’t work, we don’t get paid, of course. We struggle to be organized enough to not fall behind in our monthly payments.
I’m a SAHM and homeschool 4 of our 6 children with another on the way. We do have quite a bit of credit card debt from a “flip house” gone wrong. Lesson learned. 🙂 We’re working on all of that.
If you could pass along any advice to help us improve our financial situation it would be greatly appreciated.
Wendi in NJ
Steering Toward the Scriptures
Never fully knowing anyone’s situation, I will always point them to the bible. My general and solid suggestion is to read Proverbs every day.
Here was my advice to Wendi:
Thank you for the thoughtful message… I always love it when people take the time to write and say hi. 🙂
I would be remiss if my advice to you was anything other than encouragement to focus on Christ and his word. Like Solomon said in the last 2 verses of Ecclesiastes:
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”
Most of the time we all focus on making money instead of focusing on why God put us on this earth. We are all here for a reason, and we all have been given gifts, health, time, and resources – the question is – what are we doing with them?
So open your bible, make sure you and your husband are aware of each others spiritual gifts, then encourage each other to walk more closely with the Lord. If you want SHEER wisdom, read 1 Proverb and 5 Psalms every morning. If that is too much, just do 1 Proverb… you will not believe the sound financial wisdom you’ll find.
I hope this helps Wendi, and I hope that God blesses you and draws you closer to Himself.
What additional advice do you have for Wendi?
I will list a few specific and general steps people can take to improve their overall financial situation, but would REALLY like to see some DFA readers pipe up with some solid advice for Wendi that I may have overlooked.
Other Specific Ways to Improve Finances
The more of these financial fundamentals we use, the better off we stand to be.
- Read the bible – In and of myself I lack Godly understanding, knowledge, and wisdom. The Lord promises us in his scriptures that if we obey his word and ask for his help, he will in no wise turn us away. The bible says we should seek knowledge and wisdom more than fine silver and gold… so this is always the first place I point people.
- Get on the same page – If you have a spouse, this is paramount. Most of the time one spouse will handle nearly all financial family matters – this is fine, but at the very least you need to be on the same page. I highly recommend attending Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University together. I eventually hope to have my own curriculum, but right now Dave’s is the one that I recommend. You can also read finance books, but this step is about getting on the same page with your spouse, and Dave’s program will help you do that… it helped my wife and I.
- Budget your money – Your money is going to go somewhere, wouldn’t you rather tell it where to go? I know I would. This was a concept that escaped me much of my life, which is probably why I am on a debt free adventure today. I will not lie, it is hard – but only at first! Once you get your budget in place (it took us several months) it is one of the most peaceful places to be.
- Formulate financial goals – Again, you need to tell your money where to go. Do you have savings goals? Do you know what you are saving for? Do you know how long it will take you to become financially free? Do you want to be debt free? These are all questions that you need to answer ASAP. Sit down with your spouse and write down your answers. Remember that these are living answers… you can – and should – tweak them as time goes by.
- Give more – I am a firm believer in giving and think we could all stand to give more. It is important to give your time and to give financially. Nearly all financially successful people are huge givers… I was very happy to read in a 2nd email from Wendi that her and her husband are involved in giving – way to go Wendi! We all need to start doing the right things if we want to start seeing the right results.
- Read more – None of us know all that we could or should, and that is because we have become a society of TV watching couch potatoes instead of a society of learned readers. That needs to change. Remember… readers are leaders! If you have very little time for reading, then read the bible, but think about making more time for reading. Turn off the TV, get yourself a few good personal finances books, and cozy up to them with a mug of hot cocoa! Mmmm, doesn’t that sound good? 🙂
- Spend less than you earn – This is what having money boils down too. It is really this simple, DO NOT over complicate the situation. If you spend less than you earn then you will eventually be out of debt and saving for the future!
Did I Miss Anything?
Is there a solid concept that I forgot to mention, or do you have any specific advice for Wendi? Please do not hesitate to help her and her family out by leaving a thoughtful comment… I know she will be immensely appreciative!