Your Finances & Your Spiritual Cornerstone

What do my finances have to do with my spiritual cornerstone?  Each and every faith based or religious organization has a way in which you can contribute to the cause.  This is just one way in which your finances impact this cornerstone.

For me the bigger issue in this spiritual cornerstone is what you believe about what money represents in your life and how you use it to go into debt, finance property, finance stuff, advance a cause, pay your bills, invest in your future, your child’s future, your retirement, your stewardship of those hard earned funds that you worked so tirelessly to earn.  Now I just threw out there quite a few trigger points in most people’s lives. What are my “agreements” with money and my spiritual cornerstone?  Let’s look at them in light of this cornerstone.

What are my own agreements with money and this cornerstone?  Only you can answer this question.  May I interject here that whatever was modeled to you in terms of how your own parents thought about money and what you were shown or not shown in the area of managing money from a young age is probably how you handle your own money.  Handling money is more than just living penny to penny and maxing out your credit cards.  This is the number one reason for all divorce in the US – trouble with money. 

If you are not the strong one in the area of finance, and your spouse is then let that spouse handle the day to day finances, and take the opportunity to learn. 

Here’s a great tip if you are  bombarded by children who have the “I want….” .  The most important thing to teach you children is financial responsibility.  I have recently observed that news reports are saying that parents are going without in order to give children their wants and desires.  What does this teach the child?

If you are faced with these things you have several options open to you:

1.  Do not put yourself in a position of having to purchase, make an excuse or to say NO in the public arena.  In other words do not take your children to a place that is loaded with temptation or where the items that they are clamoring for are on the shelf.

2.  When they are old enough…around 10 and older and you are faced with these “I want…”, have your child sit with you and open the bills, get out the check book,  show them how to balance it, let them tell you how much money is in the account and then begin to organize and pay the bills together and see what is left based on your budget.  This is huge in driving home the point about finances.  Children are never to young to learn.  Keep repeating the process weekly until they understand what “financial responsibility” looks like, sounds like, feels like and so on.  If you are worried about the bills, don’t hide it, be transparent and show that you are concerned.  Ask them where the family can save money.  They might just surprise you.

3.  Make a list before you go out shopping and put the exact amount you have budgeted into an envelope and then go shopping.  Have one child hold the list and to mark it off.  Stay focused on what you came to purchase and then leave.  Let the children see that you had a plan, a budget and that you followed the plan and budget and have them help you with the putting away of the items.  What you are modeling is “Respect” for your money, the items that you purchased and the process. 

4.  When you have extra monies that you want to spend; try having a family meeting on whether to spend it on something for the family or to save it for something that is more expensive and that is out in the future.  Even having a “piggy bank” of some kind with a photo of what is being saved for and have it out so that everyone sees it can go along way to achieving it. 

Go Into Debt:  Ask your child, where does money come from, where does it go, what does credit mean, how do we get into debt and how do we use the credit card?  All of these items are things that they see everyday that you do.  Do they really understand what is going on?  Ask your elementary school or middle school children what the ATM machine is and actually how it works.  You might be surprised at the answer.  If it is not correct….that’s what they know right now….it is your responsibility to educate them.

Finance Property:  When does a person learn this?  When did you learn?  If you are unsure then how can you teach what you do not know?  What do you believe about owning property?  Who taught you?  There is no time like the present.  Exactly when will your home be paid off?  If you have recently lost your home, will you be able to purchase again?  If you have not purchased a home in the past 5 years did you know that you qualify for the $8,000 first time home buyer option?  Where would you go to find out if this is true?  Someday your children may want to purchase a place of their own.  What will they know?

Finance Stuff:  Today, college kids are bombarded with every kind of credit card imaginable when they arrive.  Only recently did a law come into place where a young adult under the age of 21 must have a parent or guardian co-sign for a credit card due to the abuse of charging “stuff”.  When is charging OK?  What have you taught your children about credit cards and how to use them?  Do they know the difference between a credit and debit card?  Again, you are the role model here in the lives of your children and other members of your family.  What are you modeling?

Advance a cause:  If you are a person who is active in the public arena in terms of a “cause” then this is a teaching moment for your family and those in your community.  This means that you are financial solvent enough in order to give from your overflow.  This is a very honorable place to be in.  In is also a wonderful teaching point in terms of this cornerstone.  If you believe the the concept of a “tithe” then teaching this early on in the life of your family is key.  Do not assume that they know that you do it.  It must be taught.

Pay My Bills:  This goes back to the teaching moment described above in #2.  If you are having trouble making your monthly payments, pause in needed and a tough look at the budget and the have to vs the it  would be nice to….

Invest In My Future:  This will look different to different people and from family to family and what you were modeled as a child.  You will have agreements which no longer serve you and where you are in your life at this moment.  You may decide to put off something in lieu of investing in your own future in some way.  Keeping the goal in front of you in the form of a photo, magazine cut out or something else is a great visual reminder of why you are investing in your future.

Invest In My Child’s Future:  There are times when, this is just not possible, and yet it is very possible through education.  If you are suffering hardship during these hard economic times, this is the perfect teaching opportunity for you and your family.  If you are able to invest in your child’s future, then show him/her what you are doing.  If you are to a point that the child is old enough to do something themselves with those investments, then take the time to make an appointment with the investment officer and you and your child go together for the education that is needed.  Nothing means more to a child than active participation in the financial health of your family.

My Retirement:  This is something that weighs heavy on the minds of everyone these days.  Set aside a day and go over your finances and see where you are and what you can do going forward.  Sacrifice is the word and space where most of us find ourselves today.  You can do something about it.  You can vote!  You can get involved in your community politically and educate others.

My Stewardship of My Earnings:  Each of us has to or wants to work and we each need to have “Respect” for the money that we earn.  It is not a given that a paycheck will be there.  Too often the “sure thing” is no longer sure.  The pension, retirement and other programs are now reaping the consequences of poor planning and decision making that happen decades ago.  Do not fall into this same trap.  Stewardship is all about being thankful, minding the store, and spending wisely to meet your obligations and to meet the basic needs of yourself and your family.

Finances and your Spiritual cornerstone are very connected and deserve you attention.  What will you do today?