The Difference Between "Need Money" and "Seed Money"
- Friday, September 08, 2006
For anyone serious about getting his or here money under control there are a few basics. Frequently when I arrive at a church to present the No Debt, No Sweat! Christian Money Management Seminar I run into people who have given up hope. They’re convinced that their money troubles are so deep and so unique—no one can help them.
While this isn’t true, if you hope to control your money, a good starting point is to know the difference between "need money" and "seed money." The first dollars we all deal with is our "need money." This is the money we "need" to live and function on each month. These are primarily the dollars that make up the regular budget items. This includes the dollars we spend on housing, giving, clothing, food, recreation, transportation, debt service, insurance, etc.
The second category is our "seed money." These are the dollars we save and invest for the future. It is the "seed" we plant anticipating growth and future abundance. This is the money in our Murphy Account (don’t worry, I’ll explain this a little later), retirement accounts, college savings, etc.
I want to give you some ideas on how to plan and prioritize your "seed money." These are only ideas for your consideration—thought sparklers if you will. My hope is to inspire you and help you catch a vision. I’m not suggesting that any given idea is going to be right for everyone. Feel free to read and ponder these concepts. Then accept, modify, or reject them as you see fit.
When it comes to allocating our "seed money," a planned attack is vital. I like to refer to my "seed money" plan as the Wolf Barrier. I get that name from the expression that was so prevalent with the depression era generation about "keeping the wolf from the door." I like to think of building a wall (the barrier) to keep the wolf from the door. The barrier I use is based on a 10-step hierarchy with the ground level block being the starting point. Gradually, by stacking one block on top of another as we build the barrier, we go from those "seed money" expenditures that are vital, to those that are more discretionary. The progression that works for me may work for you, too. As you review the way I prioritize my list, decide if it makes sense to you. Would you do well with the same priorities? What would you change or modify? Would a different progression work better for you?
Reviewing the Ten Stones of the Wolf Barrier
Let’s spend a few minutes discussing each of the ten stones that make up the Wolf Barrier:
Stone #1) Crisis Cash. I hope this first step isn’t necessary in your case. But, there are a lot of folks who literally don’t have two nickels to rub together. They are living so close to the edge that tomorrow’s lunch money isn’t even certain. They don’t have enough cash to get a tetanus shot at the public clinic for one of the kids. This is a horribly stressful way to live. For peace of mind and a sense of personal dignity, every family should have a little "crisis cash" handy. I suggest at least $200 to $300.
Stone #2) The Murphy Fund. We’ve all heard people joke about Murphy’s Law. It’s the famous adage that says, "If something can go wrong—it will go wrong." Over the years I have become convinced that Murphy’s Law must have been written with financial issues in mind. I know of no other sphere where this little proverb is more appropriate. Just about the time you have all the bills paid—BOOM!!! That’s when the washing machine floods the floor. Or, the transmission gives up the ghost. Or, one of the kids breaks an arm. Suddenly you’re hit with an unexpected emergency that is going to cost you money. And, there you are smack in the middle of a budget-busting mess! Now, you have essentially three choices: Leave the problem unfixed, borrow money (usually on high interest credit cards), or dip into your Murphy Fund.
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