About a year ago my husband and I went through the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University and it radically changed the way we see our finances. The concepts are simple, and I won’t go into too much detail here, but the basics are to pay off debt, secure a 3-6 month emergency fund, invest/save for retirement, save for your childrens’ college fund, pay off your house, build wealth & give like no other.
While it would seem like you should follow these steps in order, there actually is quite a bit of overlap. If you’re just starting out with budgeting, steps 1 and 2 are extremely important- you need to get out of debt and save up enough money in an emergency fund to support yourself and family for 3-6 months. There are tons of budgeting apps or programs you can use but FPU suggests the Every Dollar app and honestly, it has been super helpful for my family.
Only 1 in 3 Americans has a written budget so it’s actually no surprise when you see staggering stats like these:
Once you have secured yourself by getting out of debt (credit cards, car loans, student debt) and saving up an emergency fund, this is where you can start to intermix the next steps. Your budget can start to change as you free up more money on a monthly basis to start investing in the future.
I remember being in tears at one point during FPU because they were sharing stories of families who had followed all of the steps and were able to give tremendously because they set themselves up financially to do so. People were paying off their kid’s mortgages, donating massive amounts to their favorite charities and doing so without hesitation.
The biggest “aha” moment for us was when creating our budget based on the steps, we weren’t budgeting any money for monthly giving. We aren’t at the point financially (yet) to be able to donate tons of money but we were able to allocate a portion of our monthly budget to charitable giving simply by adding a Giving category to our budget. Now without having to bat an eye, we know a set amount of our income is going to our favorite charities/organizations. When we want to tithe at church, help a friend after a medical emergency, donate to our favorite nonprofit’s fundraiser we can do so without breaking the bank.
Now, if you’re thinking this isn’t a reality for you because you don’t make enough money, I challenge you to change your mindset. Budgets can work for any size of income and giving can come in all shapes and sizes. You don’t have to donate hundreds of dollars a month to make an impact. Even a simple $15 monthly donation can help make a huge difference for your favorite nonprofit.
Lots of nonprofits have adopted a monthly giving program that makes your donation as simple as signing up for Netflix. On a monthly basis, a specified amount is donated from your account without you having to click a button or mail in a check. I encourage you to look into this option for your favorite organization. Maybe writing a $300 check doesn’t work in your budget but I’d wager you could probably find $25 in your monthly budget to give.
Whether you’re at the beginning stages of budgeting or you are financially secure, I hope you see the potential you can have in this world if you allow your budget to work for the good of yourself and others.
To learn more about how your monthly donation with the Olivia Caldwell Foundation's Circle Of Hope monthly giving program can massively impact the future of children battling cancer and other serious diseases please check out our website.