My grandmother always warned me against credit cards. When I was growing up, I saw my grandmother have only one card – her bank card. Other than that, she paid bills and bought things with cash only – even with large purchases. I saw her write out her check numbers on the back of her checkbook to monitor spending. I saw her go to the bank monthly to take money out to keep in her wallet so she wouldn’t overspend. She always made me save money. Even when I didn’t want to save anything. When I reached about 16 or 17, she impressed upon me the importance of having a balanced financial diet – save right, live right. So when I got my first apartment last year in October, I was upset that my lack of budgeting and undisciplined spending came to spew its karma. It has definitely been a difficult couple of months.
I don’t mean to complain. I mean, for 23, I am living what some would say a good life. I have my own car, my own apartment, a good job, and a great education to back me up. So imagine my surprise when I would see negatives in my checking account because of impulsive spending or having to pray extra extra hard for God to back me up with His riches.
Being on my own has been more difficult than I could imagine. Extra prayer and greater sacrifice is what is important. Just last month, I overspent on stupid things and didn’t save properly only to find myself afraid to peek into my Chase account to see the pennies I own. UGH. It’s the most annoying thing in the world. Also, after getting a new job making much more money than before, it makes no sense that I find myself in these negative situations.
Mo’ money, mo’ problems.
In Galatians 6:7, Paul writes about how everyone reaps what they sow. So think about it. If you’re not sowing anything, you’re not harvesting anything. Similarly, if you’re sowing impulse and bad choices, you will indeed reap those consequences. It’s directly reflective of who God is too. And it is said that your finances are directly linked to how you live your life and your relationship with God.
I think for me, I got my new job, my car, my apartment and I felt like I was doing it all. I was independent! Forget God. Forget leaning on Him and anything He has to offer. Although I would never explicitly say so, that’s what my actions illustrate every time I make the choice to buy something just for the sake of buying it without being intentional or setting financial goals.
So what can I do to do better? What financial things am I planning to actually do so I can save money?
- Honestly budget. I always put my tithes first (10%) before anything. Even when I was a student, I always paid tithes. What are tithes? They are God’s due (as if we can ever give Him anything that would compare to what He has given us.) [Malachi 3:10] We are to give back to God because He is our provider and He is the reason we are able to live and do anything. Also, we give so that we can support the church and its presence and initiatives in the community. After tithes, I plan to write out all of my expenses – all of my utilities and bills and food expense. Whatever is left, I can put toward any debts I have.
- Pay off debt. It’s so appealing when a credit card company offers you a free first year card without any interest for 12 months. Credit cards aren’t bad but the abuse of them can be. So, I plan to use whatever money I have left over toward payment of this debt.
- Stop impulsively buying. No more bogo sales on shoes or clothes, no more buying breakfast lunch and dinner out, no more barnes and noble bookstore let me drop $100 runs either. If I don’t save for it, I cannot have it. Which leads me to my next point …
- Plan out financial goals. I know I want to travel, I want to go to law school, I want to own my own home and a few properties in the Bronx and all over, and I want to invest. Those are my long term goals. My short term goals besides getting out of debt are to fix my car, buy a new tv, and buy another lamp for my living room. Each thing comes with its own price tag but if I don’t value these things then I won’t save.
- Be intentional with saving. I have an automatic savings split happen every time I get paid. I sectioned off $100 to be deposited into an account I do not have access to no my app or online so I can begin to build my savings up. I would have to physically go to the bank to take money out of that account. Unfortunately, I have slipped up here and there and taken out my savings to take care of poor choices the month before. From now on, I plan to put even $50 away or $20 – something – to signify that I’m thinking about my future. If it’s not in my budget, then I am not dipping into my savings unless it’s an emergency. Which leads me to my last point…
- Learn to say no. Rev. Dr. Sampson preached about finances a few years ago. He said that when planning out resources and finances, you are never broke and you don’t have to proclaim that. Instead, you must be mindful enough of what your financial goals are to say to some things “that’s not in my budget.” Granted you could actually have the money for the thing but ..if it’s not part of your financial goals, we have to cut it loose. That’s what I plan to do. I have to do that. If I don’t have the money, I should not feel ashamed to say that I can’t go out or buy that shirt or get those gorgeous new shoes. Having a plan works ..and it feels good to complete something after making sacrifices for its completion.
So there you have it. Hopefully the list above will be helpful in deciding to make better financial choices. My boyfriend and I often talk about our future together and have begun making positive strides now to save together and hold each other accountable. After reflecting on our choices, we also know, for example, that as a couple we have a bad habit of spending so much money on going out and food that we need to be healthier and cut back on eating crazy which will save us money. Overall, you have to take a moment to honestly reflect on what you put your heart and money to because it’ll tell you so much more about where your mind and thinking lie as well.
Good luck and happy saving! I plan to keep you all updated about my progress on the things listed above. Let me know what you plan to do to save better!