Planning to Succeed
Finances can produce stressful situations for families and cause conflict between spouses. However, finances can also be a part of family life that is carefully managed together to ensure positive outcomes. Financial planning should be a priority for every family, whether you are just starting out or already have grandchildren. Regardless of your wealth, you can plan accordingly and take steps to achieve or maintain financial stability. Consider the following areas as you prepare for financial success:
Tithe and Offerings
God has blessed every one of us with so much. Often we have so many blessings that it’s hard to even begin to count them. God has provided everything that we have. When we look at our personal finances with gratitude and love in our hearts, the first thing to remember is to return our tithes and offerings to God as an act of our love for Him.
Additionally, this is an important principle to teach children. If your kids earn an allowance or make some cash by helping your neighbors, teach them the importance of tithes and offerings. As this becomes part of their way of life, they can mature to become grateful adults who understand the concept of returning to God a portion of His blessings to us.
Make a Budget
With money, just like everything else in life, you should begin with a plan. A budget is a plan of how you will use any funds that you receive. Many people don’t want to take the time or effort to create a budget, but when families work with a budget they will be more likely to meet their financial goals.
Developing and following through with financial plans together can also help strengthen your marriage. If you don’t know where to start with a budget, check out the free Christian online budgeting tools at EveryDollar.com and Crown.org. You may also want to consider going to seminars and classes on Christian finances.
Wait Until You Have the Money
Along with having a budget, have a goal of never making a purchase that you don’t have the money for. Many times a low monthly payment on a loan, rather than paying with cash on hand, can be enticing, but I would challenge you to save for those purchases instead.
It is easy to become overextended financially when taking on too many monthly or long-term obligations. When purchasing a home, the best practice is to save for a down payment that would allow for a 15-year or less mortgage.
It may seem that your children were just learning to crawl and walk, but in no time they will be ready to go to college. Start saving for college now—regardless of their age. One of the best ways to save is to set up a 529 account. It allows you to set aside funds for qualified college expenses. The growth of the investments, and qualified withdrawals, are tax free. A 529 account can be set up with almost any investment company.
Save For Retirement
It is important to systematically prepare for retirement and the unexpected expenses that can come with it. If your employer has a retirement contribution matching plan, take advantage of it by contributing your part to receive the full employer match. Regardless of your age, sit down with a financial planner to look at your individual needs. Retirement may be quickly approaching and the earlier in life you can contribute, the more time your money has to grow.