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As we end Financial Literacy Month, I wanted to reflect on what it takes to achieve your financial triumph. Over the past few weeks I have covered the mechanics and importance of budgeting, saving money, paying off debt, and giving which I believe are areas we need to master to win with money.
But I also believe that there are 3 key ingredients you will need to achieve victory in your journey towards financial wellness. You need to have time, tenacity, and teamwork.
Regardless of what your financial situation is today, you did not get here overnight. The truth is that you need time to restore order to your finances. There are two dimensions to this time element.
First, you need to spend time preparing a budget, tracking your expenses, balancing your checkbook, etc. In other words you need to start to pay attention to what’s happening to your money.
Second, it will take time to learn how to budget, to build a beginner’s emergency fund, to pay off debt, to build savings for retirement. There are no quick fixes, no magic formula. To give you an example, my wife and I have been on our personal journey just over 7 years now. We have made great progress but it did not happen overnight. I took us 29.5 months to pay off our consumer debt and a 7-8 months to finish our full emergency fund.
After that, it took a few years to catch-up on our retirement savings. So we have done it, but it took time. The good news is that since we did it, you can do it too. Be patient!
A tenacious person is someone who is not easily pulled apart. In addition a person like this is persistent in maintaining, adhering to, or seeking something valued or desired. As you go through your financial wellness journey, you need to remember the end game. You are working to change the financial destiny of your household, of your family for generations to come.
Where does tenacity come in? Well, you might finish your beginner’s emergency fund and then immediately the car breaks down. You need to fix the car so you use your savings. Now, you have to stop paying extra on your debt so you can rebuild that small emergency cushion. Then a few months later the water heater and the water softener go out in the same month and your emergency fund is gone again. You have to rebuild and keep going.
Tenacity also comes in when you pick up that dreaded second job or you are working extra hours to generate more income. It is a pain and it takes you away from your family, but you keep going. You show tenacity when you use cash at the grocery store when swiping your debit card would be a lot easier. But you know using cash keeps you within budget so you stick with the cash.
You see, a tenacious person will not stop until they win, until they reach the end game. You need tenacity to stay in the game for the long haul.
If you are married, you and your spouse have to be in the process together. If you think it might be hard to restore order to your finances, it would be nearly impossible if you and your spouse are not pulling in the same direction. You both need to be engaged in the decision making process. Working together on your money will bring you to a new a level of intimacy in your relationship.
If you are single, you need some good friends around you. You need a trusted friend that loves you well and that will tell you the truth. Someone who will challenge you. Find someone who is doing well with money, someone you trust and ask that person to help you along on this journey.
And finally, whether you are married or single, it would be wise to find a community of people that are on the same journey as you are. For example you could join a financial class. You could also find on-line communities on Social Media devoted to helping people with their finances. Join the conversation. See that you are not alone on this journey.
This past week, I heard best-selling author Jon Acuff say that “fear fears community“. When you find others going in the same direction as you are, the journey gets easier.
So, what do you think? Do you have what it takes to reach your financial triumph? I believe that you do. Keep at it, don’t give up, and if you need help, you know where to find me!
“No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful!
But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.”
Hebrews 12:11 (NLT)
Wherever you are on your financial journey, share your experiences below on what it takes to win with money. I would love to hear from you!