Do you have a spending problem or an income problem? There is a difference, and, either way, there is hope for financial stability!
We were at our lowest point, financially.
After accepting a church scholarship to attend a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University Class, we became even more disillusioned.
It wasn’t the teacher and it wasn’t the material. It was that we just could not figure out how to make ends meet, and we did not know what we were doing wrong.
At the time, the sample budget in the curriculum was based on a $50,000 per year income.
We were living on less than $20,000.
One Sunday, after my husband walked out of class in frustration, the teacher and his wife offered to come to our house and pore over our budget with us.
Not only did they drive nearly an hour to do so, but they also brought us lunch. Back in those days, each meal was a treasured commodity, and their generosity filled both our stomachs and our hearts.
The couple spent nearly four hours combing through our financial statements. When they finished, the man looked over us and gave us hope: “Well, you don’t have a spending problem,” he said. “You have an income problem.”
“So we’re not doing anything wrong?” I asked.
“No, you’re not,” he responded. “You just don’t have enough money to live on. You need to increase your income.”
We had a toddler, a baby, and would soon discover I was expecting our third. But that afternoon gave my husband and I the motivation we needed to find some way to increase our income. It put us on the pathway to financial stability.
The difference between an income problem and a spending problem
When we were still struggling financially, it was not uncommon for me to hear others say they were as well.
There was the day that I confided in a new friend that the only way our little girl was attending preschool was through a scholarship. She whispered back that she wished to apply because her husband only made $50,000 per year, and they had a big house payment.
The cynical side of me thought this girl was crazy. If she only knew how little money we are living on, I thought, as we watched our children climb the monkey bars at the park.
I soon came to learn that financial struggles have different roots–and that’s OK.
For some, like us, it was a low income. For others, it’s crippling debt from student loans, credit cards, or medical bills.
And for others, it’s poor spending habits.
Whatever the cause of our financial challenges, we all need grace to get through them.
Grace for Those with an Income Problem
1. Restore the lost art of piggy bank savings.
After the recession, families are realizing the importance of saving versus getting buried under credit card debt. Many are returning to the simple principals of piggy bank savings and teaching their children to form positive financial habits.
A few Christmases ago, my husband made our girls each three different jarred “piggy” banks (pictured above). One of these is designated for giving, one for savings, and one for spending. It is fun to watch these financial principles starting to click with our kindergartener who is learning about money at school.
When we were low income, I said we barely had two pennies to rub together, but, really, those little pennies add up. If all you can save is what will fit inside of a piggy bank, it’s OK to start there!
2. Teach giving first.
This is the pillar of a biblically-based financial plan.
Even when we were low income, we still tithed to our church. At that time, it truly felt like sacrificial giving.
We also continued to support a missionary family for $30 per month. We had begun this support before we were low income, and at the time we made the commitment it was not hard to see that $30 go. During our lean years, that $30 might have looked like the widow’s mite to some, but it was a lot for us.
But guess what? God never ceased to provide for all of our needs.
3. Increase your income.
I know (believe me, I know!) that when you’re still in the tunnel you might not feel that this is even possible. You may feel like you don’t have any skills to take on jobs that can increase your income.
Let me tell you, dear reader: When there is a will, there is a way!
After our meeting with our Financial Peace teacher that day, my husband began working more side jobs. And I poured myself wholeheartedly into growing this blog. Now, I make an income from home.
If you are looking for ways to increase your income, I encourage you to check out this post on legitimate income opportunities for stay-at-home moms from my friend Beth at Red and Honey. Money Saving Mom is also an excellent resource for ways to both save money and earn income through side jobs.
Grace for Those with a Spending Problem
I admit that when we first got married I was frustrated with how my husband spent money. He was never a super spender (we never racked up credit card debt, etc.), but I wanted to save and scrimp every penny, and he just wanted to have a little more fun.
To this day, this can be a struggle with us, but saving and spending doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
Even those with spending problems can find hope and learn to save and spend more wisely.
1. Teach kids the value of money.
We are just now starting this with our kids. My parents never shared with me their exact income (and we don’t plan on doing that with our kids either), but we do talk about how mommy and daddy work to earn the money to pay for our house, food, clothes, etc.
2. Define wants versus needs.
This is HUGE. Especially in America, there are so many things we deem as “needs” that are really wants.
There are really very few things that we absolutely, positively need in this life. There is a lot we can live without if we exercise self-control.
3. Realize that saving is fun.
Saving money can enable you to accomplish so much more than the fleeting satisfaction of a quick spend.
When our firstborn was two, I began this blog with the intent to save for her to attend a university model school. I drove her to her first day of kindergarten with a huge smile on my face because of meeting this goal!
Our family has personally been saving for a big trip to Costa Rica this summer. We’ve been working really, really hard over the past several years to make this a possibility, and we cannot wait to go!
In the spirit of transparency, I will say that our family is still currently trying to figure out exactly what a decent budget should look like for a family of five. We have more money now, which gives us wiggle room to spend more, but we are still learning how to be the best stewards of our income.
Do you have a spending problem or an income problem? What is your biggest financial challenge?
“SAVE WITH ECCU” $1,000 GIVEAWAY! EXPIRED
I’m SO excited that ECCU–Evangelical Christian Credit Union–is offering Humbled Homemaker readers the opportunities to jumpstart their savings with a $1,000 giveaway!!
For most of its 50-year history, ECCU has been known for offering churches, Christian schools and other Evangelical nonprofits and ministries with specialized financial services. ECCU continues to expand this core commercial customer focus, while rolling out additional personal financial services:
- Personal savings account — a basic savings account for an emergency fund or savings for your kids that’s only $25 to open and has a 0.35% APY2 with no minimum balance.
- Money Market Savings account – a great opportunity to earn a higher rate (up to 0.95% APY2 on higher balances. Perfect for your family’s savings.
- ECCU is largely an online bank. This direct savings account — also called an online savings account — appeals to on-the-go consumers who prefer to be able to manage their lives online.
- Simple Math: Your savings + ECCU = More Ministry
- With ECCU, your money does more than earn a good interest rate for you. It helps fuel Christ-centered ministry worldwide by providing loans to churches and low-cost banking services to missionaries and Christian organizations. Together, you + ECCU = supporting and resourcing more ministry. Plus, if you open a Money Market Savings today, ECCU will donate $50 to International Princess Project to help fight human trafficking in India.
Although this is my first experience with ECCU, my husband and I have used a credit union for our personal banking for the past 7 years, and we feel very secure doing so. The benefits of using a credit union include customer ownership, fewer fees, and higher savings rates. ECCU is a part of a segment of credit unions practicing affinity-based banking — the intersection of faith and financial planning.
Enter below for a chance to win $1,000.Expired
The contest runs from March 5 – April 10, 2015. The qualified winner must open an ECCU Money Market Savings account where the $1,000 will be deposited. Click here for official rules.
Disclosure: Thank you to ECCU for sponsoring this post!