Christian Finance – A Blueprint For Getting Your Financial House in Order

by Jason on June 9, 2010

This was an original post I did over at ChristianPF - you can check it out in its entirety there.

My wife and I recently built a new home and moved in a few months ago.  It feels good to be done with the process!

There are some good financial lessons to be learned from building a home.  If any of you have done it, you know what I’m talking about.

There’s a lot that goes into building and each step needs to be done in a certain order otherwise nothing will get accomplished!

The same can be said for our personal finances.  We need to have a good plan and make sure things get done correctly, otherwise we’ll be spinning our wheels.

So, here are some lessons learned from the building process and a blueprint for all of us to build our financial house:

Footings

Under every house is a foundation, and under most foundations are footings. Footings are extremely important because they are the basis on which the foundation is laid.

Improper footings will not allow the foundation to withstand the give and take of the soil.So what are the footings in personal finance?

Giving

A heart of generosity and a willingness to let go of our own stuff to meet the needs of others is one of the footings on which we build our financial house.

Why? Because God was so generous to us – therefore that characteristic should flow through us as well.

I know what some of you are thinking, “But I don’t have enough money to give” – well certainly there are other things you can give, like time.  But let me ask you – how much have you prayed about your giving?  Have you considered selling things you do have to help meet the needs of others?

Giving is a critical footing that we must not simply ignore.

Proper Attitude

An attitude of stewardship – not ownership – should be a key footing as well. In other words, as stewards we should desire to make more money, get out of debt, and get our spending under control because we are handling God’s money – not ours.

When we realize that we are to be responsible managers for God’s currency and that our money is simply a conduit of grace, we can begin to have the proper motivation to get a handle on our money.

Foundation

The foundation is the next crucial piece to building a house.  The foundation for constructing a well-built financial house are things like cash flow, emergency funds and a commitment to getting rid of non-mortgage debt!

Cash Flow

This is simply your income minus expenses.

Why is this so important?  Because the secret to getting ahead financially is that there is no secret – spend less than you make.  Everything else hinges on this very point.

Emergency Funds

This also is extremely important because inevitably things come up.  Cars break down, roofs leak, furnaces go out.  So you must have the ability to pay for the emergencies without racking up credit card debt.

Framework

Framing is one of the exciting parts of building a house.  You finally get an idea of what the house will be like.  It’s also key because you need the proper beams in the right places to support the house.

Paying off  Non-Mortgage Debt

Credit cards, car loans and the like are mole hills in a garden.  Working hard at getting rid of those types of debts will help free you to give more, save more and invest for your future.

Insurance

Proper insurance coverage is your support beam for your financial house.  This includes reviewing and acquiring proper health, home/auto, disability and life insurance.

Let’s take for example life insurance.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions when purchasing these policies, so you need to make sure you ask the right questions before you buy life insurance.

Exterior Shell – Roof, Brick and Windows

Now this is where building really gets fun and the house begins to take on the character of what you were envisioning when you began the process.

In personal finance the exterior shell would be things like:

Saving for Retirement

Funding your 401k plan, IRA or Roth IRA is a big step toward getting your financial house in order.  This is the fun part!  Seeing these accounts build up and realizing that you are saving toward a long-term goal is exciting.

Saving for Other Goals

This could be college savings for your kids, saving for a rental home or even your first house.  Having the ability to sock some cash away for these things is a great feeling.

Final Touches

Getting the drywall in and painted, the flooring and carpet in and making some final touches on the inside is when the house comes together and you’re just about ready to move in.

From a financial standpoint some of these final touches may include things like:

Tax Diversification

This simply means utilizing your investment accounts from the best tax perspective so that you’re not left holding a huge tax time-bomb in retirement.

You may want to consider shifting your savings around to help diversify yourself from a tax stand point.

Investment Strategies

At the beginning, it’s good to just get saving.  But as you progress and your account balances begin to grow, you may want to re-evaluate your portfolios to determine if you should employ more sophisticated investment strategies to help maximize your returns and minimize losses.

Something to Remember

Building a house is a process that takes time, effort and energy – and things don’t always go as planned.  Don’t get discouraged, and keep plugging away.  The end result will be well worth it!

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