True public confession: one of the areas of my life where I lack the most peace is in my finances. I frequently worry that I will not have enough money for my monthly expenses, much less my emergency situations that seem to pop up. This weekend at a youth retreat, we were playing a game of going around answering a variety of questions and I was the “Debbie Downer” who answered “what is your greatest fear?” with “not having enough money.” Everyone else was going with “snakes” or “the dark.” But there it is.
But there it will not stay. In my small group, we are reading a book called Simple Life and one of the areas the book touches on is finances. As part of our discussion last week, I shared that I thought part of my fear stemmed from a lack of education about money matters. For a long time, I didn’t care to know about money issues. I wasn’t interested. It was confusing and/or over my head. Well, we are all young and dumb at some point in our lives, aren’t we? It’s time to get to a-learnin’, my friends. I started with a Dave Ramsey book called Total Money Makeover. It talks about getting out of debt and living in financial peace. The chapter on finances in my book for small group talks about being stewards of money given to us, while living with it with an element of detachment. That has been an intriguing concept for me to think about.
Can I really have detachment about my money while stewarding it wisely? Certainly to steward it wisely I need to be better educated. I believe that education will help to bring me peace. It’s not going to magically increase the dollars in my bank account. It isn’t going to keep me from getting sick and needing surgery when I didn’t anticipate it. Education won’t pay my grocery bills. But I believe it will help me manage my money better. It will help me be more detached, I bet. And detachment might help move me along to reducing my Time Warner bill or my phone bill – to give up things that I think “I have to have.” The education may help diffuse some of the emotionality that I have attached to money along the way.
On the bright side, February is my last car payment and I am SUPER STOKED about that! Hallelujah! 🙂
At the food/money intersection, I came across this .pdf in a blog today. It is the USDA’s average cost of food, at four different levels, for eating at home, by gender and age. Cost of Food Nov 2011 pdf
According to the “Thrifty” plan, I “should” be spending $158.90 a month on groceries for all the meals I eat from home. Y’all, my monthly grocery budget is $120 and I make it work every month. It’s been quite a eye-opener for me to contemplate that I am eating on less than what the USDA considers to be the poverty level for a single woman in my age range. It makes me wonder what kind of groceries I could afford on a budget of nearly $40 more a month. I don’t really know where that $40 would come from, but I think it certainly would impact the kind of groceries I buy, where I buy them from, and so forth. And yet, for someone else, that really is the poverty level. It’s a strange dichotomy. In the meantime, you all should take a gander at Lisa’s blog where, among other things, she is chronicling her adventures in feeding her family of 3 at the “Thrifty” aka poverty level for the entire month of January…shopping at Whole Foods. She talks about the concessions she’s making, the worries she has, and how she’s making it all work. I’ve thoughtfully sent you to the page where the tagged blogs are listed so you can choose which of them you want to read. I’m helpful like that.
If you have suggestions on how to further educate myself in the area of finances, I’m open to hearing them. I’m also open to hearing any tips you have on general money management so that it doesn’t stress you out. I’m in the business of seeking peace for my finances.