Managing Your Finances – The Basics

While I’m writing this with my friends who are in college or about to spring forth into the “real world” in mind, these resources are useful for anyone. Debt seems to be the reality for the majority of Americans. Scratch that, it doesn’t just seem like it, it is. As of September 2017, outstanding student load debt grew to $1.36 trillion. Credit card debt increased by $24 billion. Household indebtedness is up to $12.96 trillion! I wish that I was making these numbers up, but you can read the full report here. Most starting out their adult lives, begin in the hole, and instead of climbing out of that hole, it only grows deeper and deeper as time progresses. That hole is one of the contributing factors to why people are getting married later in life and why many marriages end in divorceOnce the hole gets that deep, it can feel like you’re being buried alive with no chance of getting out.

Fortunately, there is hope! There are some things that we can do to get out of the hole. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. 

  1. Keep an Expense Journal.

    Before you can budget, you have to know how much money is required for you to live. Chances are, you’re mindlessly spending money in certain areas, or could manage to cut out a few things.

  2. Set a Budget.

    Each month, write out your income and then allot money for each expense. Work from your expected income and work all the way down to zero to make sure that each dollar is accounted for. You can create a free account using a website/app like EveryDollar and/or download these printable budget sheets and expense journals here

  3. Set up an Emergency Fund.

    Your goal should first be to save $1,000. You’ll rest easier knowing that you have some contingency money and won’t be thrown off too bad when the unexpected happens.

  4. Start Paying off Your Debt 

    Tackle your smallest debt first, paying the most on that while paying the minimum payments on the others. This article and this other article offer advice in greater detail. 

  5. Save 3-6 Months Worth of Expenses 

    Once your debt is paid off, take that money that you were using to pay off loans and save enough to cover you for a while in case you lose your job or some other emergency happens.

While this is not an extensive and detailed list for financial management, we didn’t even talk about retirement funds and investment options, it is a starting point for getting out of the hole and moving forward. I want to encourage you to check out sites like EveryDollar (by Dave Ramsey) and experiment with some of their tools. They also have tons of articles to help you budget, cut spending, and save. Sign up for their e-mail list and they should send you a free budgeting guide. If they don’t, e-mail me and I’ll send it to you. Set up savings funds through a bank like Capital One 360 Savings that offers a higher interest rate for your savings. The accounts are free to open with no minimum balance required and they are FDIC insured. If you have questions, don’t be shy about reaching out!

First Baptist Church
First Baptist Church