Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.Jim Rohn
To recap the lessons on financial wellness I was learning: The first was to remember God, have faith in him and to pay 10% tithing to the church in addition to contribute to those in need. The second was to give more of my time to helping others, to serving in the church and in the community.
Although not the lessons I thought I would be learning, I think it set a good foundation to change my way of thinking and open a new and lasting approach to my troubles.
The next lesson, I have known since I was a teenager and quite frankly if I had just done this one thing throughout my life, I would not be in the mess I am in. I remember back then reading a book called “The Richest Man in Babylon” by George S. Clason and anyone familiar with its wisdom knows that you are supposed to pay yourself first. Seems straight forward and when I first read that I thought that is something I can do and so I did it. I took all of my lawn mowing earnings and put 10% of it in a savings account. Before I knew it, I have $200 in my account. This was the first money I had earned that I did not spend immediately. It worked! Then I saw a new gaming system coming out, and I just had to have it. Not only did I have to have it, but I could afford it with my savings. That was the end of the experiment and I never tried it again. What a waste!
So, what did I feel impressed to do? I have never saved any money for the future. The current is too demanding of my money, so how can I save for the future? If you recall, I currently do not make enough money to pay all my bills, eat, and everything else. I was already feeling squeezed by adding contributions to those in need and now I had to find money to pay myself.
I was already changing my perspectives on what I though I should do, verses what a partnership with the Lord entailed. Once again, I had tried it my way and it was not working, so I listened to the impression and thought of two ways to pay myself first:
Even though I did not think I could afford it, I decided to show an act of faith and contribute 1% of my income to the company Roth IRA that would be matched. It was not a great deal of money, in fact, not enough to make any difference, however it is getting me in the habit of living on less and paying myself first.
The other thing I decided to do was to take the upcoming tax return and put $1,000 into savings for an emergency fund, as suggested by Dave Ramsey in the “Total Money Makeover.” This would give me some leeway and added security, as I moved forward.
I want to stop here and just relate that I have read hundreds of finance books and I know this approach and order do not fit nicely into all of them, or perhaps any of them. That is OK. Again, I needed to heel, and the Lord knows exactly what I need to do so. This was His way of showing me how I could not only change but have lasting change. This was not about following a program, though many of them are really good and really necessary. It is about my relationship with my Savior and His individual approach with me, so that I could open myself up to receiving the principles of finance found in the wisdom of others.