Take control of your money (or it will take control of you). Money is one of those necessary evils. It is "Necessary" because it is the currency of exchange and the way we trade our skills for food. It is "Evil" because it becomes an all-consuming god. Eating up our time, longings, families and emotions. People get left behind when money becomes God. Those we love (including ourselves) get run over by money.
Money has a close connection to our spirituality. Awareness of how money controls us is vital for your faith. In a capitalistic culture, cash is king and it dethrones many good things.
So, here are a few of my thoughts on money.
- Do not carry credit card debt! Period. Pay off your credit card balances first and use them only if you can pay it off monthly. The interest rate on any credit card is horrible! It siphons off more money than you realize.
- Exist on LESS than what you earn. Seems obvious, but you have got to do it. Consider cutting your spending by 10-30 %. That means less expensive clothes, gadgets, services, movies. It also means living expenses are less than 70%
- Give some portion of your earnings away to a charity. Ten percent is a good figure. It seems high. But if you cannot give money away (living on less), then you will never be able to save money.
- Save at least 10% of your income. Start where ever you can. Even if it is $50 per month building up to 10% of your income. (Remember, that if you have credit card debt. Pay if off as fast as you can BEFORE you start saving. No savings account or mutual fund can recover the fees you are paying to carry a balance on a card).
- Pay off your debts (car, home, student loan, etc.)
I could go on and on, but I thought I might give you a few random tidbits. This year a law Congress passed goes into effect. You can view your credit report for free www.AnnualCreditReport.com. This is not a gimmick. There are three major credit agencies: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. We used to have to pay for access to our report. Now you can get one free per year per agency. I recommend that you spread your three freebies across the year. Get one first. Look it over. Check for errors in your report. You might need to dispute some facts. Then later in the year get another.
Do you get tired of credit card advertisements? There is a phone number you can call to opt-out of receiving these credit card solicitations. 1-888-5-OPTOUT. When people check your credit (called 'pre-screening') they have access to your information and can send you special offers. This phone number allows you to call and permanently or temporarily opt out of these offers. It works! I tried it more than a year ago and they have almost disappeared. Please realize they will ask you for personal information (like your telephone number, social security number and date of birth), but it is only used for the opt out process. http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/alerts/optalrt.htm
Can you imagine a world without telemarketing phone calls? The National Do Not Call Registry is wonderful. The Federal government made it easier for you to stop getting telemarketing calls you donÂt want. You can register online at WWW.DONOTCALL.GOV or call toll-free, 1-888-382-1222 (TTY 1-866-290-4236). Call from the number you wish to register. This is free!
Finally, I saved a fun one for you. The name is funny Motley Fool, the style is laid-back, but the information is seriously helpful. The website is www.fool.com. These two brothers (and now a huge staff) provide sound financial advice. Tons of free research is available on their website. They even provide free email newsletters depending upon your interests.
Make the money god bow down - before it breaks you in two! The spiritual consequences are devastating.