If you read the recent post on Money Matters, here are some follow-up thoughts for next steps. Senior EXIT/PSU alum, Adam Gante (‘16), shares some of his personal journey when it comes to managing money, including five steps he’s walked to find financial freedom.
5 STEPS TO FINANCIAL FREEDOM
As a college student, I didn’t think about personal finances a whole lot. I lived frugally with seven roommates, frequented free coffee shops downtown, and attended the events that advertised free food. Upon graduating from Penn State, I was fortunate enough to land a job, and I began to make ‘real’ money. This was something I had never experienced before. As I reflect over my first year out of college, here are some steps I needed to take and would recommend to anyone entering into the young professional life:
Step 1: Think about your relationship with money.
Everyone has a relationship with money (including you). Maybe just the thought of money makes you cringe. Maybe you are in the pursuit of money and believe it can buy happiness. Maybe you view money as a tool that enables you to align your priorities with your pocketbook. Maybe you’re not sure what your relationship status with money looks like right now. I fell into the category of not really thinking about how I relate to money until I started making a paycheck. It was at this point when I had to decide how my beliefs and values would impact my relationship with money.
Step 2: Relate to money in a place of stewardship (if you aren’t already).
Money is a heavily-covered topic in the Bible because it can be a cause of greed, pride, and/or fear. The good news is that Christ wants better for us. The things of this earth are temporary, and we are called to be good stewards of our possessions. Stewardship means to act responsibly and wisely with the things God has given us. God allows us to use His money; therefore, finances are to be managed properly so they bear fruit and grow. I began to experience a sense of freedom in my finances once I started to pray about my finances and sought wisdom in this area of life.
Step 3: Give away money.
Giving away money towards a meaningful cause is the next step to experiencing financial freedom. When we give a portion of what we earn (tithes and offerings) to the local church or other charitable causes, we show that we truly are blessed to be a blessing. We partner with the church to accomplish the good works of Jesus Christ. How cool is that?! Our tithes and offerings enable our hearts to enter a place of surrender. As we loosen our grip on money, we are saying “Lord, use this offering to further your Kingdom as your will be done.” What a great exercise of faith! It truly has been a life-giving experience to partner with the local church and missionaries to help further the Kingdom.
Step 4: Assign each dollar a purpose.
In step four, we align priorities with our pocketbook by assigning every dollar to a budget category. This involves accounting for all of our expenses (tithes, saving, rent, student loans, car payment, food, clothing, and so on) and then taking a step back to see if we are spending money in areas we enjoy and find life-giving. It is wise to be proactive with your budget. Think about the things that are most important to you and decide how much funds you should be spending in each area. Simply put, a budget is a summary of likely income and expenses. It helps you determine whether you can go out to eat or should head home for a PB&J sandwich. Creating a budget allows you to know how much money you can spend in different areas while still living within your means.
Here are recommendations when creating a budget:
- Pay yourself first (save!)
- Live below your means (you’ll thank yourself later)
- Spend less on things that are not important to you (align your priorities with your spending habits)
Step 5: Become friends with compound interest.
“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it.” – Albert Einstein
Compound interest is when your money is making more money. It means your interest earns you more interest, which is a beautiful thing! Time is one of the most important factors when it comes to compound interest. Fortunately, if you are in college than you most likely have a lot of time. How can compound interest work for you? You can begin by opening a savings account, starting an individual retirement account (IRA), or by contributing to your company’s 401k retirement plan. Do your future self a favor by becoming friends with compound interest.
Financial Freedom Can Be Yours
Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”. – John 10:10
Do not let money be a thief in your life; begin to view yourself as a steward of the money God has graciously provided you, partner financially with your local church, give a purpose to each dollar, and become friends with compound interest. You can get on the road to financial freedom by following these five steps. I’m so grateful for the way these steps have helped me alter my approach to finances, and I hope they can change yours!