They have no debt, an adequate emergency fund, and have amassed a decent amount in their retirement savings.
How did they get there, and how can I do the same?
Most people want a silver bullet that immediately leads to financial health. Unfortunately, those silver bullets do not exist.
But while I cannot provide you a silver bullet for immediate financial health, I can provide you a short list of ingredients that, over time, will get you there. These ingredients are not magical, but they are essential. Most will not do these things, but, for those who will, financial health can be obtained.
What are the essential ingredients for financial health? Here are four:
1. Trust in God’s Word.
God has a plan for you and your relationship with money. The plan is not complex, but it can be counterintuitive. God’s plan starts with generosity. Yes, the biblical foundation for financial health starts with releasing money, not keeping money. God has designed us, not to be hoarders, but conduits through which His generosity flows. We give, then save, and then live on the rest. Trust in God’s Word and let Him define financial health for you.
God has a plan for you and your relationship with money. The plan is not complex, but it can be counterintuitive.
According to the U.S. Financial Health Pulse Trends Report, only 36% of households plan ahead financially. What would happen if you went on a family road trip without an identified destination and plan to get there? For some, that scenario may sound fun. For most of us, it sounds like a stressful nightmare. So, why do we treat our financial journey differently? And why are we surprised when we find ourselves in a stressful, financially fragile mess?
Planning is a necessary ingredient for financial health. You must have a goal and a strategy to get there. The plan doesn’t need to be perfect, but it should be thoughtful. If you are looking for a guide, consider the 8 Money Milestones.
Once you have a plan, you must execute it. You will be tempted to do other things with your finances—spending it on a crazy vacation instead of paying off debt. A plan without discipline is bound to fail. Fortunately, technology allows us to automate much of our financial journey. Giving, saving, and paying bills can all be automated. So, take advantage of technology when you are able, and remain disciplined.
Once you have a plan, you must execute it.
I mentioned earlier that there are no silver bullets that lead to immediate financial health. Obtaining financial health takes time. It takes time to pay off debt, save for an emergency, and set aside money for retirement. Don’t get frustrated when your debt is not paid off in six months. Be patient. Those of us who are financially healthy did not get there overnight. Patience was a key ingredient. And it will be for your journey.