Friday, February 16, 2018

Financial Margin

I have been through a lot of ups and downs in my first decade of adulthood. In my mid 20's I took a class that will forever change my life. Through my many broken moments, there was an aspect of my life that I didn't have to dwell on.

The less you have to worry about when you go through Broken Halo experiences the better equipped you will be to focus on the important decisions at hand. I hope this finds you before you experience deep brokenness, but if you're in the midst of trial right now it is not too late to get one major part of your life on track.

Divorce can not only break you emotionally, spiritually, even physically, it can and often does break you financially. When we break we have a tendency to stop caring about all the things we used to care about and when we stop caring about our financial health, it makes it that much harder to get emotionally healthy.

In Broken Halo moments, we can hide behind a new car to show others how better off we are. We tend to go out a little more, buy things for others we cant afford for ourselves. My Financial hero, Dave Ramsey says it best; "We spend money we don't have on things we don't need to impress people we don't even like"

Financial Peace class has "10 Baby Steps" and they are worth your time and efforts, but I want to talk about being in a financial place to get through your broken time.

1. Save something!
There is an enormous amount of peace that comes from just having something in your bank or in a shoe box that if something goes wrong you don't have to borrow money or cut back on your lifestyle to pay for it.

Your car no matter how new it is will need maintenance. I promise. Christmas is always on December 25th. Appliances do not last forever. Jobs come and go. Put something away, sell something you don't need, and stack some cash to ease the pain of unexpected or unplanned for expenses.

"But, I'm not a saver" become one!

2. Make a plan for your income
Yes, you need to have a budget, and the more detailed it is the more useful it will be if your life falls apart. There are a million apps and tools for budgeting online. I made my own excel spreadsheet that I have used and tweaked for the past 7 years.

Every year in December I plan where I want every dollar from every paycheck I expect to receive to go. That seems daunting, I know, but it keeps me from being stupid. When money comes in with a plan and I want to change that plan, and I often do, it forces me to make a decision of; "Ok I want item X, but what item in my budget will I take it from. Every time you say yes to something, you say no to something else. A budget allows you to identify what you are saying no to.

It also helps you identify the things you are saying yes to way more often than you realize. When I saw what cable was costing me each year in comparison to things I was saying no to or agonizing saying yes to. Kids activities are one of the things that I knew I wanted to say yes to more often but hadn't prioritized the funds to do so.
A comprehensive guide to cutting cable.

When I went through my divorce back in 2012, because of my plan, I was able to identify a late payment on my car 3 months in advance. I had squeezed every extra dollar from things I wanted to make the things I needed work and I was still in three months not going to be able to make one payment. Listen the bank is much more likely to treat you nicely when you call them three months in advance about a payment. I followed up with them every month. "I called last month said my January 13th payment will be late, just letting you know it still will be."

Everyone goes through hard financial problems, it is not an excuse to be a child. Put your big boy britches on and make a plan. You can email me and I can walk you through the process if you like.

3. End Your life of debt
When you get your budget in place add up how much money you are spending on things you already own or trips you have already taken. It made me want to puke! Here is what I know. I am much more motivated to save up for something I want than to pay for something I already have. Start paying off debt with every extra dollar you can squeeze from your budget.

It creates margin in your life. Margin is what brings the peace in having financial peace. I hate driving in construction zones. There are times I am not even sure my car will fit between those concrete barriers. The anxiety rises up when I realize that just one wrong move could end terribly. That's what I felt like before I decided to start treating my finances like an adult. When you create margin in your financial life it is so much more comfortable to navigate, especially when the rest of your life may be falling apart.


  1. Amen! My goal is to be debt-free before I retire. My only debt is my mortgage, and I hope to pay it off soon.