Happy Friday, RISERS! I hope this week has been good to you. To quote Charlie Brown from It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, “Another Halloween has come and gone.” It always amazes me how quickly the year seems to go after my children start school in the Fall. Here we are already on the first weekend of November, and my husband has been retired for almost a week. Trees display their brilliant colors while leaves fall lazily to the ground. Another great quote from It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is, “Never jump into a pile of leaves with a wet sucker.” Take time to enjoy your candy stash and the great outdoors.
Quote of the week: “Wear gratitude like a cloak, and it will feed every corner of your life.” –Rumi
Book of the week: I recommend a book called Smart Money, Smart Kids by Dave Ramsey. The author is a financial expert who teaches people of all ages to make their money work for them…not just the other way around. Money is one of those things in life that we need in order to survive, so it is essential to know how to manage it. We’ll look at that idea more in the Nugget of Wisdom section below.
Joke of the week: What did Han Solo say to Luke Skywalker on Thanksgiving? May the forks be with you. (Yes, I know that’s bad.)
Nugget of Wisdom for the week: I mentioned Dave Ramsey in the book section above. Money is…a potential cause of sorrow or happiness. When my husband worked as a utility service advisor, making trips to people’s homes to investigate high energy bills, he heard people say they couldn’t afford to pay their bill because they were on a “fixed income.” Seniors usually use that expression to say that once they retire, they have limitations because they don’t earn the same as they had in the past. But let me tell you something important that you may not yet realize: Everyone lives on a fixed income.
Dave Ramsey teaches how to take control of your money, not the other way around. At the beginning of each month, write down how you plan to spend your money. Of course, that will look different for everyone. You may have a car payment (or at least gas expenses), or you may be responsible for buying your own clothes. This first step is called establishing a budget, telling every dollar you have where it is going for the month. Dave suggests having a “zero-based” budget, meaning you’ll have nothing left over at the end of the month. You must learn now that if you don’t have the money for a particular thing, you do not buy it. People get into debt (and trouble) when they spend money they don’t have. I have a son who LOVES to buy shoes—to the point that he gets short in his budget money for other categories. He often forgets to make sure he has money to buy gifts for people for their birthdays or Christmas.
I once heard about a great way to decide if you really need something or if it is something you just want. Write the desired item on a sticky note and post it where you can see it regularly. If a reasonable amount of time passes and you don’t think of it very much, it was probably something you wanted but did not need. By the same token, if you decide after a while that you do need to purchase the item, chances are you have a good use for it. The older I get, the more I realize I don’t need more stuff.
Happiness doesn’t come in things for myself, but in what I can do to make others happy. This ties in with what I mentioned at the beginning about money being a cause of sorrow or happiness. When I have money left over after meeting my budget, my favorite way to use it is to be generous and help others. I love making others happy, so I become a “treat fairy” who secretly gives special things to people when they need cheering up. I love it when I hear someone talking about how they don’t know who left the surprise for them and that it really brightened their day.
Since everyone has a different earning level, be sure to focus on spending what you must to cover your needs first, then move on to your wants and desires. In one of Dave’s books, he talks about how if you begin at a young age and put a certain amount of money in savings and don’t touch it until you retire, you could be a millionaire. The time frame for aggressive saving is only about seven to ten years, but investing that amount yields financial security later in life. If you have already made mistakes with money and feel like you are failing, there’s hope. Dave talks about creating an emergency fund of $1,000 to start. Then, he advises you to write down your expenses from least to greatest. Pay off the smallest one first, then move on to the next one until all the debts are paid. This is called debt snowballing. Once you have paid off one, you add the money that was earmarked for that to the payment of the next debt and send in the extra until the debt is gone. Money can be very intimidating if you don’t tell it what to do. Good luck…you’ve got this.
Have a great weekend. Remember, you are most awesome, and YOU ROCK!
Marion Rhines is a foster-turned-adoptive parent. She lives in Knoxville, Tenn., with her husband and five children. She has written and published two children’s books as well as two foster-care-themed novels. She has a Facebook blog, Tips from the FLIP Side, and enjoys working with children of all ages.