10 Years of Financial Peace

10 Years of Financial PeaceDo you remember what your financial situation was 10 years ago? I do and very vividly. It was not a good situation at all. Let me share with you where we were:

I had a very good stable job, with a great income. But we like many people, were living paycheck to paycheck.

We were using credit cards to make up the difference at the end of each month.

We also had almost $50K in consumer debt (car loan, credit cards, student loans, medical bills, etc.) and had no savings for emergencies or retirement and no plan to pay for college for our son.

Worst of all, my wife and I were not working together as a couple and we also realized that we were not honoring God in managing the money He had entrusted to us.

However, and most importantly, we also realized that we needed help to change our situation.

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What Did We Do?

It is true that the first step in solving a problem is admitting that you have a problem. Once we did, we turned to God for help. I prayed for a way to change our situation and He answered in a big way.

In September of 2005, our church offered Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (FPU) course and I attended the course (which back then lasted 13 weeks).

I started learning and applying biblical principles for sound financial management. My wife joined me in the process and we began a life transforming journey for our family.

What Happened?

The changes we made paid off. We are still living on a budget. We still have a plan for our finances. We have learned to live on less than we make.

In 29 months we paid of all of our consumer debt ($50K). We now have a 6 month emergency fund. We were also able to pay for our son’s college education without borrowing money and without him borrowing money.

We have a structured plan for retirement savings which we know will give us options and control of when and how to move on to the next stage in our lives when the time comes.

More importantly: we are honoring the Lord with our financial management and we are working together as a couple in every area of our lives including our money.

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What Have We Learned?

As I reflect on how our lives have changed over these past 10 years, several thoughts come to mind.

First of all, I am always going to be thankful to Dave Ramsey for his FPU course and his financial teachings.

You may not agree with him on everything he teaches or on his methods and you may not like his personality, but for us, what he does was life changing and I know that he has helped millions of people more. So Dave, thanks for what you have done for us and what you continue to do for others.

You truly led us to have financial peace. I hope I can join you in helping others to win with their money.

Second: once I understood the incredible power of learning to control your money I knew I had to share what I learned with others.

That’s why I became a financial coach. That’s why I blog. That’s why I do a Podcast.

I want you to have hope for the future!

If we could achieve victory with our finances, you can too! All you have to do is decide that you need help and that you will do what you need to do to change your financial destiny.

Third: I am fully convinced more than ever that if you are married, you need to work as a team with your money. You can’t have the view that it is “my money” and “your money”. Or “your debt is your problem”.

You have to be all in as a couple. If you are engaged to be married, start talking about money now. Your goals and dreams. Your fears about money. Your mistakes with money. Your view on money.

Put it all on the table and begin your life journey together by getting together on a plan for your money.

And finally, the most fundamental lesson I have learned is that we are to honor and serve God by managing our money well.

It is not only about giving tithes and offerings although that’s important for those of us who claim the name of Christ.

It is also about honoring God in how we use our money. How we save, how we plan for the future.

And it is also about having a lifestyle of generosity. If you are in a position of strength, you are in a position to really help those who are in need. Only the strong can help the weak.

We are designed to be givers. To be rivers through which the blessings of God can flow to others.

Regardless of where you are today, decide that generosity will always be an essential element of your financial plan.

So what about you? Where will you be in 10 years with your money? Or where will you be in 10 months?

Will you have financial peace? Will you be in your way to financial peace or will you simply stay where you are?

The last lesson I have for you: It is all up to you!!!!

Question: What would financial peace look like in your life?

Declutter Your Finances

Declutter Your FinancesRecently I began to tackle a project that I had been thinking about for months: re-organize and clean my home office.

It needed to be done because it was no longer a good working space. Since I work from home, this was an essential project.

I am very organized person so I tend to have everything in folders and binders, but even for me you can easily accumulate more than you need over time.

But with the summer just starting I found myself with a little time to finally tackle it. So a couple of weeks ago I spent around 4 hours just getting rid of old documents and other items that were not longer needed.

I also changed the location of my printer and my filing cabinets (optimizing space) and made some room for books that were just in a pile in a corner. Finally, I bought a new and much needed wireless keyboard.

I ended up with a much better work space. I have some more cleaning up to do, but finishing at least the first part of that project gave me a great sense of control and peace.

It also put me in a better frame of mind to work.

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Is it Time to Declutter your Finances?

When we talk about managing our personal finances, clutter can also become a part of the experience.

It is possible that you have not taken a hard look about what you are doing to manage your money in a while. It is possible that this neglect has made things more complicated and perhaps less pleasant.

And you are not in a good frame of mind to work on your finances, you progress can be hindered.

With that in mind, I want to give you a few tips that I have picked up over the years to organize and operate our financial management system.

Bill Management

We are 15 years into the 21st century and we are in the midst of the Information Age. We can use this to our advantage.

  • Go from paper to online/e-mail delivery.
    • If you are adept at using a computer and the internet, this is a great option to eliminate paper clutter in your house.
    • Most service providers give you this option. Of all our monthly bills only one comes to the house via regular mail and that’s because the service provider does not offer the electronic option. Everything else comes to us electronically.
  • Use financial management software to manage your bills and track your expenses.
    • Set monthly reminders of when bills are due. It is easy if you have a busy schedule, to forget when every bill is due. Perhaps you are used to just waiting for that bill to be delivered in the mail. Take control and set some reminders for yourself.
    • Plan when bills are going to be paid. You probably already do this in your head. For each pay cycle, you know which bills get paid. In my case, I get paid twice a month. With the 1st pay check we cover the mortgage, the cable/online bill, and our cell phones. With the 2nd pay check we cover utilities and auto insurance.
    • I have setup our money tracking software with those dates as monthly reminders to make sure that payment goes out on time.
    • By using software you can easily produce are report of you are tracking against your budget for the month.

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Online Banking

In this Information Age, we can also take advantage of online banking. Most banks and credit unions offer this option. Here is a few of the things you can do:

  • Always have access your accounts online and keep track of when payments and deposits are processed.
  • Get your monthly statements online and easily reconcile them.
  • Pay your bills via your bank and avoid delays associated with regular mail. You can also set some recurring bills to be automatically paid for you every month.
  • Easily transfer money between your accounts.
  • Most banks and credit unions also offer applications (Apps) for your smart phone so you can do everything you normally would do on your computer via your phone.

Stay in Control

One of the keys to winning with your finances is gaining control over what’s happening to your money.

You can have more influence in the outcome of your finances if you stay on top of them.

I have shared some of the tips that have helped me stay ahead of the game.

I hope they help you stay ahead of your financial management game.

Question: What steps could you take today to declutter your finances?