From Goal to Action: Finances

Like most people I know, talking about money is not my favorite subject. In fact, I’ll often go to great lengths to avoid conversations about money. As someone who can be a bit of a perfectionist, handling money, saving for retirement, and making wise financial decisions in midst of a “keeping up with the Joneses” society, can often feel like a minefield of failures. Like many of us, I’m doing the best I can with what I have, while still learning how to do better.

This feeling of running a minefield when it comes to finances is one reason that I chose the word “steward” in my goal for the year. As I break down what it means to steward something well, I realize that there’s an assumption being made.

Steward (verb): to manage or look after (another’s property)

The assumption here is that the finances that we are stewarding do not belong to us. My husband and I operate under the belief that everything we have belongs to God, not us. This belief informs decisions we make regarding our family, our careers, and our finances. It frees us to follow what we believe God has called us to, regardless of financial sacrifice or gain. It’s quite amazing, really.

I intentionally kept this goal simple this year. I don’t have lofty dreams about being debt free in 30 days, or becoming financially independent so that work isn’t a thing anymore. Not that either of those are bad, I just know they aren’t currently attainable goals for my current life situation. And setting goals that aren’t attainable feels like walking back into that minefield and purposefully stepping on one.

There are a lot of voices out there that will give you advice about what it means to steward finances well, where to focus your money, and those can all be really helpful. But what I’ve found in nearly 27 years of marriage is that the most helpful thing for stewarding finances well is to be on the same page as your spouse when it comes to spending money.

For us, we’ve tried to find a balance of enjoying nice things and paying down debt. We lived on ramen and frozen pizza for many of our early married life, and while going back to that type of diet might help us pay off our house faster, we also recognize that healthy eating and quality of life (ramen for dayzzzzzz, ugh) are also higher on our priority list than they used to be. We’ve also had some unexpected medical bills this last year that took priority over some of our plans. And when life happens, you adjust.

Ultimately, this goal comes down to making wise decisions as we spend our money this year. Here are two action steps that I’m implementing this quarter:

  • complete one “getting ready for taxes” task each week (finish by February 28)
  • continue making regular monthly payments toward debt, including extra payments as we are able

That’s it! Those are my easy action steps for this goal. How about you? Do you have any financial goals this year? I’d love to hear what actions you are taking to make your goal a reality!

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