If there is one thing I’m passionate about (other than my faith), its money! I’m that weird chick in the group who absolutely loves budgeting, looks forward to coding expenses every single week, and would rather save money than spend it (most of the time lol). A couple of years ago, I shared my 6 Steps to Financial Freedom on the blog and I haven’t shared much about finances since then. It was hands down my favorite blog post to create, and I’m realizing I want to start sharing more of the things I’m passionate about. If you want to learn more about the personal finance values every 20 something should adopt, this post is for you!
Today I want to share some of my personal finance values with you. These are the things that drive many of my financial decisions. Such as budgeting, saving, and my personal finance mindset, as well as how I shop for everything from clothes, home decor, and everyday life essentials. Over the years, I’ve learned many of us have different beliefs when it comes to finances. These beliefs are certainly not universal and I believe drive the way that we handle our money today. It’s possible you’ve learned some from your family and friends, and there may even be some you need to unlearn! My hope is that this list will get you thinking and help you identify your financial values. Let’s dive in!
1. MONEY DOES NOT BELONG TO YOU
The first core belief I have regarding money is that it doesn’t belong to me. Now you might be thinking, hold up! Are you crazy? I totally understand this sounds a little crazy, but I believe God gives and He takes away. For that reason, I don’t hold a tight grip on my money. I strive to give generously to others, support our church family, and be open to however God would call us to use our finances to honor Him. If this means giving away money I would really love to spend on home decor, then that’s what it means!
I will be the first to acknowledge that this isn’t always easy. But when my heart is in the right place and money has the right role in my life, I am able to make the sacrifice. It also helps that this is the first thing that comes out of our budget every single month! At a minimum, we set aside 10% of our total monthly income to give to our church. We recently also added a flat amount to our budget for giving to others as we feel led.
1 Samuel 2:7: “The LORD sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts.”
Proverbs 3:9: “Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops”
2. YOUR MONEY SHOULD SUPPORT YOU, NOT DRIVE YOU
Another thing I strongly believe about money is that it should support you, not drive you! It’s so easy to allow money to take an unhealthy place in our lives. When it becomes something that you believe is the answer to everything, it becomes consuming in a very unhealthy way. My coworkers know I am a huge proponent of work-life balance and the reason for that is deeply ingrained in this belief! If I am so busy working and making money that I don’t have time to go to church, spend time with my husband and family, or enjoy the life God has blessed me with, my priorities are wrong.
I never want to be a slave to my job and I don’t think you should be either. When money has the correct place in your life and you learn to budget it well, it’s a benefit, not a slavedriver.
How is your money mindset?
Ecclesiastes 5:10: “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.”
3. DEBT IS NOT MONEY
When you get to know me, you will learn relatively quickly that I am not a debt supporter. Tim and I have noticed a huge weight lifted off of our shoulders since we paid off our debt. We prioritize a debt-free lifestyle by using our credit cards to purchase the things allotted in our budget and paying them off every month. If there are any big-ticket items we want to purchase (such as furniture, computers, cell phones, cars, etc), we save monthly for them and buy them with the cash saved.
We simply use our credit card as the in-between so we get points and cashback on our purchases. If you don’t have the cash for the item, my opinion is that you can’t afford it right now! Very black and white, I know. It sounds harsh, but the clear line helps me know when I need to say “no” to a purchase. Plus, the long process to save the cash to buy larger items really helps me to get clear on whether or not it’s something I value.
Deuteronomy 28:12: “The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none.”
The one exception to this rule for me is a mortgage. As much as I would really love to save and purchase a house in cash, I’m just not sure how possible that will be! After a lot of back and forth, Tim and I decided we are okay taking out a mortgage on a home when the time comes to purchase. We just set a few parameters to ensure we take on the least amount of debt possible. The first is that we will only use one of our incomes when calculating how much we can afford. And the second is that we aim to put down 20-30% at signing. Not sure how all of that will play out but I will be sure to update you all when the time comes!
I’ll be sharing more in-depth about this in an upcoming post. In the meantime, check out Dave Ramsey’s mortgage payoff calculator to start to understand what a home will actually cost you including interest.
4. LIVE BELOW YOUR MEANS
Along the same lines as debt, it’s important to live within your means! Doing so keeps you from going into debt and helps free you from the pressure to work more and bring in more money. For Tim and me, this practically plays out in our decision to live on one of our two incomes and save the rest for future financial needs. We also made the decision to live in a small two-bedroom condo for the last 5 years instead of purchasing a home, so we could save for a down payment. Living within your means takes sacrifice! It’s not going to be easy every day but the lack of financial stress makes it so worth it.
Tip: Remember that most banks and financial organizations are going to push you to live outside of your means. A great example of this again, is purchasing a home. Many popular financial experts suggest that housing should comprise 30% of your total take home pay (after taxes). Since this is typically the largest monthly expense, it’s easy to allow it to get out of proportion. Tim and I see this category as the largest impact on our savings goals. Currently our rent, utilities, and internet total 15% of our total take home income each month and our goal is to maintain that percentage when we purchase a home. For us this probably means waiting longer than most to purchase a home and we are perfectly okay with that!
5. FOCUS ON ONE GOAL
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase- “Go all in on one goal”. It goes without saying that history shows the impact of focus. It can be easy to take on several goals at the same time and get frustrated by the slow pace. Trust me, I’ve been there, but it’s important to stick to one financial goal at a time.
Other than putting money aside to retirement every month, Tim and I work on one financial goal at a time. Our first was to pay off all of our debt and every extra penny each month went towards that. Then we moved on to building up our emergency fund. Next, we added our babies’ savings fund, and now we have moved on to our house savings. The order of your goals will depend on your personal goals. Just remember to focus on one at a time to see the most progress!
Note: I am referring to big savings goals here. For example, buying a new car, having a baby, buying a house, or planning a big vacation. These are different from small monthly savings towards true expenses. Examples of these are car maintenance, medical care, and other recurring expenses that are going to happen no matter what. Want to learn more about true expenses v.s longterm savings? Visit this post to learn more about true expenses and why they should be built into your budget before you start saving!
So there you have it! These are the personal finance values I believe every 20 something should adopt. Tim and I have seen exponential growth in our finances since we have gotten really clear on them and I hope you will too.
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Great post. What is so wise and key, is that you know your values and you have applied them to your finances. It takes some work to think through how our values impact each area of our lives and this article is a great way to prompt us to think about whether money is impacting our values, or are our values impacting how we approach financial matters. Thank you!