Do you feel like you’ve spent a lot of time poring over various books intended to help you reduce your budget or at least get a good handle on your spending merely to find that the only real difference among them is the catchy title? While the intentions of these books are all good, I feel like they all say pretty much the same thing. Adjust the thermostat, clip coupons, keep the tires properly inflated, skip the fancy coffee, etc. But what do you do then? What if you are already doing all those things (or never had a daily fancy coffee kick) and you still find yourself scraping by or even falling further behind? Many families have lost their jobs, their homes and their peace of mind because they don’t have the proper tools to manage their finances.
Growing up, we didn’t talk about money. If I had a question related to the cost of something, I was told to mind my own business, unless I was suggesting that I was able to step up and pay for it. As a result, I’ve had to learn a lot of things on my own.
When I was single, I thought I was doing pretty well navigating my finances. Of course, naïve youngster that I was, I thought you could only pay the minimum balance on the credit card every month…whoops! By chance, I was sitting next to a friend of mine in the college dining hall while he was paying some bills and noticed he paid more than the minimum on a credit card bill. I asked him why he was making a “different” payment than what was in the payment box. He was very kind and politely explained that the amount in the box was the minimum which had to be paid, and patiently explained you could pay any amount over that, up to the full balance. Wow! To this day I am thankful that he was kind enough to offer that advice and didn’t tell me to “buzz off” or “mind my own business.”
When I entered the workforce, I had no idea what a 401(k) was. I remember hearing about it in orientation at my first job, but there was no explanation. They were simply making us aware that it was available along with our insurance options and all those other H.R. “i’s” that needed to be dotted and “t’s” that needed to be crossed.
When my husband and I were engaged, we went through the prescribed marriage preparation classes, but again, finances weren’t given much attention. As we began our lives together, we were left to put our limited knowledge and differing opinions about money to the test. Granted, we’ve stumbled across nuggets of financial wisdom over the years and have been able to accomplish some decent financial goals such as setting money aside for retirement, investments, and even purchasing a home. However, perhaps because of learning some lessons the hard way, I’ve always been a little intimidated by money and leery of people that seem to be so casual about it. Given the recent state of our economy, I’m thinking I might not be the only one.
These days, there are a lot more great resources on the Internet and in our local libraries than when I was starting out. My learning curve has expanded exponentially with these tools, but nothing has had a greater impact on our family finances than the tools provided by Compass Catholic Ministries. It is my hope that everyone can find a new nugget of information, a different idea, or something they’ve never thought of before from the blog posts, our Bible Studies, workshops, and even the most recent resource, “God, Marriage & Money” for engaged couples. I pray that these will become solid references and treasured resources for many families to come back to again and again.
“Every young man who listens to me and obeys my instructions will be given wisdom and good sense.” Prov. 2:1