In 2003 my wife and I finally got serious about our finances. Twelve years later, I want to share with you three moments that led us into financial wellbeing, which can help you as well:
(1) 2003 - We asked for help. We walked into our pastor's office and told him we had no clue what we were doing. He gave us a one-year financial plan, and we stuck to it. If we'd remained silent, we'd still be stuck. Usually, broke people don't talk about money. Those who have money and know how to use it wisely, for God's Kingdom, talk about it respectfully and honestly as part of their spiritual formation. People who know what they're doing will want to help, and they'll usually do it for free. For solid, practical financial next steps, I recommend Financial Peace University. Or, find an older person who seems financially healthy and willing to help, and invite them out for coffee.
(2) 2004 - We read, a lot. For one year I read everything I could get my hands on that helped me improve my financial literacy. Honestly, I've never really stopped. I asked trusted advisors to recommend books, and I read them. I can think of two financial books that literally altered the course of my financial future. One was on real estate investing and the other was on mortgages. The titles are less important than the principle: read reputable books and improve your financial literacy. They're not all dense and boring. Most of the bestsellers are very readable. Avoid gimmicks and books that offer instant success. As they say, "Easy come; easy go."
(3) 2005 - We planned. We found a certified financial planner, one with a teacher's heart, and we took what meager resources we had and made monthly contributions to our financial future, all toward a solid financial goal that still allowed us to live and give generously. Further, we made funding our financial future not only a priority, we made it automatic. The habit of paying yourself, funding your future, need not be developed when you can afford to invest large sums of money. Start small, and start now.
We're not wealthy people by North American standards. We just started where we were, were willing to learn, and lived intentionally. Most importantly, we welcomed our finances into our faith, and we asked God for help. Thankfully, God has some good people around to offer a way forward.
You're about to enter a new year, filled with resolutions and promises you'll make yourself that, if you're like me, you won't keep. Avoid all of that and start tomorrow. Take some small step toward financial wellbeing, perhaps based on one of my three money moments above.