I was pretty proud of myself for graduating from my Bachelor of Science in Nursing with zero debt. Of course, always had a feeling that something was a little bit off with my finances. I keep trying to figure things out without much success. My siblings were starting to buy their dream computers, cameras and other gadgets while I was always broke. That was pretty weird because I usually was making the most in my family.
I picked up bits and pieces of financial advice like save 20% and don’t get into debt. I would dutifully keep these little rules, but I wasn’t flourishing financially. Then, I stumbled upon a niffy series of financial lectures by a personal finance blogger, Alistair Huong. It wasn’t the first financial seminar that I have participated in, but his explanations were so simple and straightforward. I finally was able to make some steps in the right direction.
I have by no means untangled my mess of finances, but I am taking steps in the right direction. I want to start creating great spending habits even before I have a regular salary. Here are a few practical things that I have learned along the way.
Return your tithe
My parents taught me how to return tithe as such as I received my first gift of money from a relative. It was simple they insisted.
“Just move the decimal place over one.”
$10.00 became $1.00 and that was the tithe. It belonged to Jesus. Indeed, God says in Malachi,
“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!”
For me tithe is the tax of the kingdom of heaven. It helps the heavenly government on earth expand and grow. Yes, it is often mismanaged, but that is between those inadequate stewards and their heavenly head of state. As I have been faithful, God has always come through. It might have sometimes only been the bare necessities, but I haven’t suffered dire need. God is always a step ahead of me.
Give Offering Regularly
Occasionally, I’ll feel impressed to give to charity when the spirit moves. I also give an offering regularly. When I am setting aside my tithe, I set the same amount aside in offering. I start with my local church (who should be focused on bettering the world, but often fall short) then extend to global missions. I keep branching out according to my financial state to other things that make the world a better place such as great music or solving world hunger. It will take more than just a tithe to finance the spreading of the gospel. Generously as I give, it is still not enough.
The act of giving trains my selfish heart toward generosity. It helps me fix my heart on heaven. It forces me to practice self-denial.
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Keep track of what you spend
I didn’t realize how important this was until I started tracking my spending with the Mint app. It is so easy to use. What do you know? I spent over $60 on food in February! With an income of $50 that is just not sustainable. Keeping track of my money has helped me to notice surprise charges like $6 service fee my bank sprung upon me. It looks like I’ll be shopping for a new bank. I was surprised to discover that I only spend $20 on gas every month. That’s not bad. Once you know where your money is going, you’ll be better able to manage it.
Make Saving Goals
The best way to be motivated to save is creating saving goals. This was a new concept for me! I have always been the person that tries her best to put away 20% when I can. However, the secret to living within your means when it comes to big things is saving ahead of time. Think a couple months ahead and anticipate.
It is important to have an emergency fund to keep you for a couple months. I flat tire or a broken phone shouldn’t cause your blood pressure to rise. Then, you can start saving for things you need like a new computer, a new phone or even a wedding or a car up grade. Just put aside the money at a reasonable rate until you meet your goals. I wish I had known about this when I was working!
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Only buy what you need
I used to have an if I can afford it policy. It helped me live within my means. Now that I am not living with my parents, I don’t have all the luxuries I am use to. I actually notice when I misspend money. If I buy something that I don’t use I regret it because that money could be used for something else more important. According to Alistair Huong, great questions to ask when you are buying something are:
If I don’t buy this, what will be the result?
Will this solve a pressing need?
Do I already have something else that could serve the same purpose?
Of course, you must be very honest with the answers. It also helps to send up a prayer for wisdom. God can see a lot of things you can’t.
What are you doing to be more financially healthy?