Struggling with Money? What To Do To Turn Things Around
I was an accountant who was bad at managing her own money. Embarrassing. Pitiful. And I felt so much shame around that. I was struggling with money, what to do about it, and who to turn to. How was that possible?
What I later discovered was I had a mindset issue around money.
How My Relationship with Money Began
I grew up just above poor. We weren’t on food stamps but we were shopping at discount stores.
The good thing is I didn’t know as a child that we were poor-ish. My parents did a great job at providing for all of our needs and I, along with my two sisters, went to private school (which was the main reason why we were poor-ish).
I just knew that I mostly wore hand-me-downs, and I sometimes had to take sandwiches for lunch that were made using the bread ends (imagine!). We didn’t eat out hardly at all and entertainment was all at home or church.
Most of my friends were pretty well-off and had new clothes, went out to eat, and took family vacations to fun places like water parks and amusement parks. And what my young mind was recording at that time was, “you’re not enough as you are,” and “you need to have newer and better things to fit in.”
My parents were good about teaching us how to tithe—which I did religiously. They also tried to teach us how to save, but I never seemed to have enough money to do that. I later learned that my mom was a remarkable saver even though she had little to work with. Somehow I missed those skills growing up.
And so I dreamed of having fancier clothes and snack-filled lunches (with no bread-end sandwiches) all through grade school. When I turned 16, I got a job at the mall and my toxic relationship with money began.
In my defense, I was disciplined enough to tithe—not out of obligation, but because I really loved God and I wanted to do what was right. However, that’s where the discipline stopped. After tithing, I spent the remainder of my meager paychecks on—you guessed it—clothes and food.
Things took a turn for the worse…
When I was around 18 years old, a credit card company came on the campus of my college. They were offering credit cards to practically anyone who wanted one. Even though I had never seen my parents use a credit card (they only used cash and checks), I saw this opportunity as my way to get more things. Things I felt I deserved. I reasoned that I had a job and would pay my monthly payments on time, so it would all be okay.
But this one act started a very negative and dangerous relationship with money—getting things I couldn’t afford at the time with no guarantee I would have the money later to pay it back.
Okay, let me stop here. I’m sure there is at least one person reading this who’s thinking, “she should have known better,” “I would never do anything like that.” Please spare me the judgment. We make decisions based on the knowledge and experience we have at that moment. And we should be careful to judge others when we haven’t walked in their shoes.
Now, back to my story.
I Was Struggling Financially
Honestly, I did pretty well with keeping up with the monthly payments all through college even though I only had a part-time job. However, I didn’t realize how much MORE I was paying in interest than the cost of the items I purchased.
It wasn’t until I was in my 30s that I was able to really see how my relationship with money was affecting my life negatively.
I was married by then and my husband also had his own issues with money. And though we were making six figures as a household, we were drowning in debt.
And even though I could create financial spreadsheets and budgets, and reconcile our bank account to a T, I was lousy in sticking to the budget.
That’s when Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University began and we decided to attend one of the seminars. It. Changed. Our. Lives. We left there with a new resolve and a new plan, and we never looked back.
I then began to use my accounting skills to our advantage. I created zero-based budgets and financial plans that pulled us out of our dark financial pit. We cut up our credit cards and went cash only. We used the debt snowball method to climb out of debt. And we added more to our savings accounts and 401ks.
It was a long journey but I’m so grateful we considered and followed God’s call to become better stewards of our money. As a result of the changes we made then, I was able to, years later, stay afloat, at home with my kids, after my husband unexpectedly passed away.
If we hadn’t downgraded our lifestyle and assigned the majority of our money to paying off our debts—including both cars—I would have struggled financially while grieving. I would have had to find a job outside the home just to make ends meet.
Instead, I was able to continue running my home business which covered the day-to-day expenses and stay at home to homeschool my kids.
Tired of Struggling With Money
So what is the point of this somber story? Why am I sharing this with you?
Because we live in a society that tells us that more is better. We’re bombarded with ads that plant a desire within us for bigger, better, and newer. And our relationship with money, for many of us, becomes unhealthy.
When you’re struggling with money, what to do about it seems like a distant dream. But it’s not. The answers are close at hand—in God’s Word.
What God Word Says
We are called as Christians to be content with what God has already blessed us with. It says in His Word:
It’s not that God wants us to be poor—look at David, Solomon, and Abraham. He blessed them immensely. God just wants us to be responsible in stewarding the money He has given us. Here’s what God’s word says:
- God blesses us when we make money through honest work (Proverbs 13:11).
- He tells us to flee debt (Proverbs 14:23)
- God calls us to plan ahead—to tell our money where to go and not just watch it go (Proverbs 13:16, Proverbs 21:5)
- He encourages us to save for future times of need (Proverbs 30:24, 25)
- And He calls us to tithe with an added promise of His blessings (Malachi 3:8-12)
And let me tell you, He can be trusted to fulfill His promises. I can tell you that over the years when I was faithfully tithing, God has blessed me and my family over and over with money when we needed it, our cars lasting longer without major problems, and our clothes and shoes not wearing out. Did you know that’s a blessing from God? He did it for the children of Israel as they wandered in the wilderness (see Deuteronomy 29:5).
Struggling With Money — What To Do
So what are the steps you need to take to develop a better relationship with money?
- Confess any faults around money to God and ask Him to guide and help you in this area.
- Get a clear picture of your financial situation:
- How much income do you get monthly?
- What’s the total amount of your debt and who do you owe?
- How much do you have in checking and savings?
- What are your monthly expenses?
- Discuss your financial situation with your spouse and create a financial plan for how you will spend, save, and invest your money going forward. If needed, identify any nice-to-have-but-not-a-necessity expenses you need to cut out (i.e., streaming services, cable, etc.). Do you need to make extra income? Start a home business? Get a work from home job? Talk all of this over and make a family plan.
- Do the plan. You must take action. Do the work. It’s not enough to have it written down on paper. You actually have to take the necessary steps forward. It may seem scary and you may doubt yourself and your ability to do it, but don’t allow yourself to think. Just do. You did all the thinking in Step 3. Ask all of your questions and resolve all your doubts then. Now that you have a plan, it’s time to act on it.
Give yourself at least three months on the plan before stopping or changing. That’s one quarter. Then you’ll have enough data to evaluate. Did you save? Did you have enough? What needs to be adjusted? Ask those and other questions and make changes as needed but stick to the plan.
- Learn to ask for help. Find a mentor or a course to help guide you. We chose Dave Ramsey to begin our journey to financial freedom. Since that time, I’ve found a few other resources.
Who can help me with my financial problems?
If you’re struggling with money, what to do may not be as unattainable as you might think. I’m here to help you take your first steps towards financial freedom.
One of my favorite financial resources is Jordan Page’s Budget Bootcamp. I found it when I was looking for a way to have a zero-based budget BUT without using cash. Her budgeting method is built around BASIC financial principles and SIMPLE budgeting methods that are very effective and practical. Now, following her methods, I use my debit cards and several bank accounts to budget my money and it works beautifully.
It’s a budgeting system made for real families with real financial situations. Check out Jordan Page’s Budget Bootcamp and use my discount code “Roz” to save 10%!
This is the budgeting system I use now which has helped me to cut out unnecessary expenses, save more, and better manage my finances. Find a system that works for you and commit to it. Let this be the year you stop struggling with money.use