Money is a huge issue with regards to an individual. For some, it’s their ticket to freedom or barrier to success. It’s what shatters dreams of college, causes significant anxiety and grief with bankruptcy, and yet we can end up turning into gods instead of our focus on God the Father.
For others, money is an issue. My wife and I took the Prepare & Enrich Marriage Assessment and our biggest need for growth? Money. Dave Ramsey has a research company and last year reported this:
According to a new survey by Ramsey Solutions, money fights are the second leading cause of divorce, behind infidelity. Results show that both high levels of debt and a lack of communication are major causes for the stress and anxiety surrounding household finances.
So the question is two parts: how do we reduce our debt which causes stress, but also how do we reduce our stress about money and debt?
The snowball method is a Dave Ramsey solution which talks about how instead of incurring new expenses, you need to pay off all the debt you have in a way that compounds your payments. When one bill is fully paid off, you take what you would normally pay to that and add it to the next debt you want to pay off. By the end, you have multiple amounts that have snowballed into several hundred or thousand dollars a month payments.
In some instances, this requires cutting a lot of extra expenses to focus for a short period of time on all the debt you currently have. No movies, only free date nights, and quit the Starbucks. For others, they need to actually take on a side job to increase income to help add to the snowball effect to help pay things off faster.
For those that are looking for more practical tips, there is a Christian non-profit organization called Bright Peak Financial whose mission is to help people get out of debt and spend wisely. They have four other ideas on how to avoid debt. Definitely a must read.
Removing Stress of Money
The fact of removing debt is only step one. From here Bright Peak Financial has a LONG AND IN DEPTH article on budgeting tips to avoid going back into debt. They offer their Illuminate app, but I haven’t used it so I’ll let you be the judge of it, but there are way too many good tips, I don’t need to replicate it here.Part of the stress with money is the unknown…
One thing that is iterated by both Bright Peak Financial and Dave Ramsey is to have an Emergency Fund. Part of the stress with money is the unknown, including if someone gets hurt and has medical bills, someone loses their job, a car needs major repairs, or something happens to stocks and bonds. The general rule of thumb seems to be to have $1,000, though others would say after your debt is fully paid off, to have 3-6 months of monthly bills in savings as well.
From here, money is all about intentional conversations, keeping up with the budget, and knowing what each dollar is going towards. The more people you add to this conversation, a spouse and children or other dependents, the harder it can become and the more diligent you need to be. I say this as someone who regularly puts together a budget, gets a month in, and needs to start over.
I encourage you to begin talking to someone about this. A financial planner, a friend, your spouse. And then get to putting it together. Dedicate some time and energy towards this. And be open.
Now you’ll have to excuse me, I have to go readjust my budget for the third time this year.
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