With so many items calling for our attention – impulse, planned, oh so cute, and even emergency – saving money can be a very hard thing to do. Believe me. I get it. I used to be horrible at saving money…both growing up and even when I stayed home with my parents with a full-time job. It was like I just adverse to saving money. I always found something to spend money on.
Post college, I had a few bills, but nothing drastic. Yet, putting money aside seemed like a faux paus. But, there came a time when enough was enough…and I’m not even sure when that time was. Probably after paying off credit cards and simply being broke. $100 in a savings account was just not what was up. However, I know I’m not the only person who has ever experienced this. The scary part, though, is that living like this is a sure way to to repeat the cycle. One emergency…and you can quickly find yourself deeper in debt. Yep…been there as well.
Now, I know that it’s not easy to get out of debt, but once you’re out, it is much easier to stay out of debt. I’d like to take this time to share with you how I got out of and work continuously to stay out of debt.
- I had help. I have very generous parents who put their children’s success and futures high on their priority lists. Therefore, they paid many of my bills in my teens and during college as well as paid off one of my credit cards during adulthood. I thought it was important to share this because I would be a fraud if I had you believing that I did it all alone.
- I work hard. While I don’t think higher education is 100% necessary to live a more financially free life, I do believe it helps. I believe that hard work in the class and daily on my job has set me apart from my peers. Now, I would be amiss to now give God the glory in this one because I KNOW that he sets me up for the opportunities I have and it’s mere obedience and diligence that allows me to be successful in the roles. I don’t deserve them, but he CONTINUOUSLY opens doors and makes sure I NEVER have to suffer financially. Literally, obedience and doing what he says is truly the game changer…which leads me to my next point.
- I follow God’s commands as it relates to money. I’m a giver and I follow biblical standards as it relates to giving to the temple. I was taught to give according to biblical standards as a young child, and I follow those standards as I have grown into adulthood. I believe in 10% and more…and I don’t play with that. This is my number 1 rule. Do what God says, and you will prosper.
- There are no Jones’s. You are the only one you need to keep up with. Point. Blank. Period. If you can’t afford it and it’s not a true necessity (essential food, shelter, or clothing), then you don’t need to worry about it. In fact, even if it is an essential, if you’re a child of God, he said to not worry about those things because He will provide. (Matthew 6:25-34)
- Read Matthew 6:25-34. Anytime I feel concerned about money, I go back to this scripture. Matthew 6:33 was prophesied over me as a young child, and I live by it to this day. Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you. Mind you, I have no need to want for anything. In fact, I’m blessed to have received both my needs and a TON of my wants.
- I live beneath my means. Just because you have the money doesn’t mean you have to spend it. And just because you were approved for it doesn’t mean you have to buy it. This is especially true for houses and cars. It’s your responsibility to manage your budget. Even if you were approved a $240K loan, $120K may be much more realistic and $100K may leave you some wiggle room for other things you’d like to enjoy. Remember the term “house broke” and try to not live that life.
- I don’t do credit often. Credit is not same as cash, meaning that a $15 purchase on a credit card could become a $40 credit card payment. That additional $25 was unnecessary money out of your pocket. Interest rates are no joke…especially when they aren’t in your favor.
- I save. A well-established savings account is a great way to be ready for financial emergencies as well as fun splurges. Being financially responsible isn’t as boring as it sounds. When you’re out of debt and allow yourself to save, you also allow yourself luxuries such as fun trips, shopping, or whatever your “thing” is.
- I paid off debt or made big purchases with and then saved non-routine money. This includes tax returns and bonuses. Yup. A living room set was purchased with my tax return in my 20s. And yup. A chunk of a credit card bill was paid with my tax return. And yep…I paid off a previous car note with some non-routine money. Believe me. The extra money you have at your disposal later is well worth it.
- Pay off debt aggressively. Pay more than the minimum due and don’t let it build up.
- I budget. When I made less money, my grocery bill was $37.50 a week. Though it is just me, that still seems a bit low…but the funny thing is that there were weeks I spent even less. I may spend more on groceries today, but I still budget almost everything I consider a bill down to gas and even my weight watchers monthly payment. When you know what’s coming out of your account, you know what you actually have to play with.
- I reward myself. Like I said before, I enjoy splurging. I like the fact that I can buy a dress when I desire or expensive makeup or something else a bit frivolous. It’s fun and makes me feel good about myself and about the fac that I have been responsible with my money. Heck, I just paid cash for a new car. Full disclosure…I have to pay my mom back some of the money. I could’ve paid full cash and was willing to take out a small loan, but this was a way for me to keep a decent savings account..and yes. I’m paying her back aggressively. I hope to have her paid off by some time next year so I can go back to more self-rewards 🙂
Anyhoo…I hope this was helpful and I wish you much success in your financial endeavors.