Here are some eye-raising statistics on the web when it comes to how people in America relate to money. Where are you and your family in these statistics?
- 70% of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck in middle-class — 80% in high-income. (DaveRamsey.com)
- A little less than 1/3 of American families prepare a monthly household budget each month (Gallup.com)
- One out of every five people (20%) worries that they will never get out of their paycheck-to-paycheck rut. [source: NerdWallet.com]
- After adjusting for inflation, household debt has grown 15% faster than household income since 2003. [source: NerdWallet.com]
- 23% of people with a credit card say they have been surprised at least some of the time by their bill. [source: NerdWallet.com]
When I was younger I had a problem with ambition. My parents wondered if I’d ever graduate high school, but I did. Then four years later, I graduated from The Ohio State University. My problem was that I was foolish and I didn’t want to rely on others showing me what to do. I thought I had the better plan and my plan was always on my terms.
In my earlier years, I lacked wisdom and my planning was a theory without any practical application. I didn’t really have a plan, I had an idea of a plan. When we don’t have a solid, practical financial plan we can get caught “skinny dipping in a low tide”. I used to live life in the low tide while forgetting that my clothes were on the shore. Maybe you know what I am talking about and your financial life is represented by the statistics above.
It isn’t necessary to live like the majority, especially not in the richest country in the world. We aren’t entitled to the riches of our land, we must take an active role in staking a claim. Making money is a noble effort because earning wealth is not really about the accumulation of dollars, it is about the development of our character!
We, as characters, grow through experiences including the trials and the triumphs. Did you ever play a video game where the mission gets accomplished by the building of your character? In these games, you measure how far the character is growing through the acquiring of XP, or experience points.
Such is our financial lives. We all have to start somewhere. To do this in video games, you have to turn the video game console on, pop in the disc and press the start button. Growing in our understanding of money management is no different.
Here’s a quick list to help you build up those experience points (XP):
- Identify the WHY you will be building a written budget by starting with a vision statement.
(example: “I will build and live on a budget so I can have margin in my life”)
- Determine the time that you and your spouse will create and discuss a budget
(example: “Sunday nights at 7pm after the kids go to bed”)
- List out your monthly income sources (jobs, commissions, child support, bonuses)
- List out all your monthly expenses (give, save and spend categories)
- Balance to Zero for the budget month (spend it all into the give, save and spend expense categories)
- Review the monthly budget with your spouse. Also with a mentor, trusted friend, accountability partner or accountant
It is clear that to win with money we must tell it what to do. We earn it, we manage it and we must direct it. The written monthly budget helps us to do. We must have a family budget for each month.
The family battle cry needs to change from
“I owe I owe so it’s off to work I go” to “I will live my life on purpose with a budget that works!”
I used to be in the “chasing my tail” mentality, like many Americans. To remember to not go back there, I review my saved notes from my times of financial struggles and in the times of victorious transition. I like to look back and reflect on where the change occurred in my life.
It was when I enrolled in FPU. At that time, I was done saying, “enough is enough”. This was a pivotal moment.
Once the first class began, it didn’t take long for me to get excited about having a plan for the first time in my financial life. Since 2007, I have planned my money in advance through the creation and execution of a monthly budget. The budget saved me from continued financial misery and ruin.
After just 3 months of budgeting, 84% of people say they feel more in control of their money (source: Dave Ramsey). I couldn’t agree more!
From teaching and leading people in their finances, I commonly hear “I feel like I got a raise” or “I am able to give and save more than ever before.” You, my friend, can start NOW with budgeting! You can live now, as Dave Ramsey says, like no one else, so later you can live like no one else.
When I first started FPU in March 2007, I had 37,000 in debt. With the help of Jesus Christ in my life, the tools in Dave Ramsey’s FPU program and some sweat equity, I was able to pay those debts off, including my student loan, in 16 months.
Fast forward to today, my wife and I create and live on a written budget every month. It has strengthened our marriage, assisted us in raising our family and helps us live the life of purpose that God intended!
What does God want you to do with the finances He provides you?