Over the course of my adult life, there have been times I have had money and there have been times I have not had money, and believe me, it is better to have it. Through my adult years, I have both lived on my own and as a married man and as a dad. At each stage, I have had to alter my view of money to some extent.
At one time finances was a big issue for my wife and I. Finances are typically the biggest fought about issue in a marriage. We have learned some lessons and principles to make those fights less often and less intense.
Here is what we have learned about managing money, making money, and saving money:
We have learned to follow the Dave Ramsey plan. It is simple and it is biblical. Here is a quick summary of his plan…our plan!
- $1,000 to start an “Emergency Fund”
Emergencies will happen. Dave has this as the first step because no matter what financial plan we have if an emergency comes up and we do not have an emergency fund then the whole plan goes bust. We started with a $1,000 “Emergency Fund”.
- Pay off debt using the “Debt Snowball”
Begin paying off every debt from smallest to largest (except the mortgage) and make a commitment to never go into debt again no matter how much sense it may make at the time. We have thoroughly bought into the concept that “debt is dumb.” I actually refer to debt as financial cancer because it will kill you…financially. (Possibly even physically. Check out Maxed Out by James D. Scurlock.) My wife and I made a commitment when we got engaged that we would be debt free before we got married and remain debt free. Other than a mortgage we had for 13 years we have held true to that commitment. It is very freeing.
- 3-6 months of expenses in an “Emergency Fund”
This is not unique to Dave Ramsey. Almost every financial coach I have ever listened to agrees that a fully funded emergency fund is between 3-6 months of expenses. My wife and I choose to go with six months rather than three.
- Invest 15% of household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax Retirement
Once we have debt eliminated and a fully funded emergency fund we are ready to prepare for the future. The future is coming, we best be ready. If we fail to plan then we plan to fail.
- College funding for children
At this point, we plan for our children’s future. If we save ahead for our children’s education they are less likely to go into debt when they go to college.
- Pay off house early
Get that last monstrous debt out of the way. A mortgage is the only debt that Dave Ramsey is sort of lenient on. However, after being freed from a 13 year mortgage I seriously doubt my wife and I will ever have another mortgage. We might, but it is unlikely. It is just too freeing to not have any debt. My hate for debt is stronger than my love for a house.
- Build wealth and give
In the words of Dave Ramsey, “If you live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.” Zig Ziglar puts it this way, “When you do the things you need to do when you need to do them, the day will come when you can do the things you want to do when you want to do them.” In other words, “if you play now you pay later, if you pay now you can play later.”
What we have learned about making money can be summed up in Galatians 6:4-5; “Make a carful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life” (The Message).
What my wife and I have learned about saving money is that when it becomes very important to us to save money we will find a way to do it. Whether we are saving money for an emergency fund, to make large purchases so we will not go into debt, to build wealth so we can give more money to worthy causes, or maybe to one day purchase our dream house with cash; when it becomes important enough to us we make it happen!
What have you learned about managing money, making money, and saving money?
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Tommy Lanham is a dynamic, award-winning speaker who has been training individuals and organizations to reach their God-given potential for 25 years. With a unique blend of Ziglar motivation and ragamuffin faith, Tommy delivers powerful, life changing messages filled with humor, hope, and enthusiasm.
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