Let’s look at ways you can discover the good news about your personal finances, and start moving toward better outcomes. We’ll call these “Feel-Good Money Moves.”
Margaret Marcuson is an ordained minister who teaches and writes about church leadership and money matters. In her blog and in her book, Money and Your Ministry, she urges us to be kind to ourselves when confronting personal shortcomings around finances. “Most of us need a lifetime to work on moving toward greater freedom in relation to money,” she says, “but we can start simply, where we are, with what we have been given.”
So give yourself a break. Everyone, yes, everyone, stumbles and falls when it comes to money. We spend when we should be saving. We see our next logical move, then do the exact opposite. We make promises that we can’t or won’t keep; and hold on too tightly to our money out of fear. Yet for all of us, there is a way forward.
2. Lower your anxiety by focusing on God’s abundance.
If you haven’t already, bring prayer into your life with money. Renowned priest and author Henri Nouwen says that to pray is to listen to the voice of love. Out of that love come endless blessings. Nouwen goes on to say:
God is a god of abundance, not a god of scarcity. Jesus reveals to us God’s abundance when he offers so much bread to the people that there are twelve large baskets with leftover scraps (see John 6:5-15), and when he makes his disciples catch so many fish that their boat nearly sinks (Luke 5:1-7). God doesn’t give us just enough. God gives us more than enough: more bread and fish than we can eat, more love than we dared to ask for.
Think about asking God to help you change your focus from what’s not working, to what is working.
3. Set goals you can feel good about.
Have you ever made New Year’s resolutions that you weren’t able to keep? Certain kinds of resolutions – those that are vague, overambitious and hard to account for – are nearly impossible to stick with. It’s the same with financial goals.
Say your goal is “to get out of debt.” If you have a lot of debt and no particular strategy for reducing it, you’ll kick yourself for falling short after a few months, then probably throw in the towel.
But if you break your goal down into small, specific, and achievable chunks, you’ll prove to yourself every month that you can keep your pledge. So instead of saying you’re going to “get rid of credit card debt,” commit to paying an extra $70 per month (or whatever you can afford) on your smallest interest-bearing debt until it’s gone. See more here. Aim for frequent, achievable victories; and celebrate them.
4. Compound interest is a gift from God. Put it to work for you.
Need some good news about money? Watch this video: Compound Interest Explained in One Minute.
Most of us already have an intellectual understanding of how compound interest works. But there’s something about watching the numbers accelerate in a real-life example like this one, that will make you want to give thanks, and sock away more money in a savings or retirement account right away.
For a good compound interest calculator, go here.
And here’s the thing about watching your nest egg grow through compound interest. It gives you willpower you never knew you had. Find more good news here.
5. Spend time with a retirement calculator.
Financial planning – all of it – is ultimately about getting ready for the time when you will no longer earn a paycheck. If you’ve been putting off retirement planning, afraid of what you might discover if you run the numbers, consider this: Math is not the enemy. In fact, the math can be comforting. It provides the answers you need in order to move forward financially.
Many people – even those of modest means – find that once they add up the income they’ll receive from social security and a 401K or pension, subtract the expenses that will diminish as they get older, and factor in the power of compound interest, they are able to achieve a comfortable retirement.
Personal finance writer Paula Pant says this: “There are plenty of ways to make retirement work, you just need to play with the numbers to see what's possible for you. So if a $1 million portfolio isn't in your future, figure out what is, and adjust your lifestyle based on that.”
To get started, pull up an online retirement calculator. They’re all over the internet. This is a good one.
There’s also an online calculator to help you estimate the amount of your monthly Social Security check in retirement.
We hope this helps.
Like everything else we worry about, our financial future is seldom as bleak as the picture we paint in our heads. You’ll find your good news about money matters, as soon as you change the way you search.
This content is not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice or indicate the suitability of any financial product, service or advisor for your unique circumstances. You are encouraged to consult with a qualified legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professional based on your specific circumstances.