Women Should Be Financially Savvy
- Whitney Hopler Live It Editor
- 2002 6 May
Here are some ways you can establish and achieve your own financial goals:
- Realize why it's so important for you to manage your own money. God wants you to be a good steward, and you can't do so if you're not informed. Also, you may not be married very long. Women generally live longer than men, and many women are marrying later in life than previous generations. Many marriages now end in divorce, generally leaving women in much greater financial trouble than men.
- Be encouraged. Women now enjoy greater career opportunities and purchasing power than at any other time in history. There is no reason why you can't successfully set and meet financial goals.
- Consecrate your finances to God. Tell God that you want to honor Him by how you manage your money, and ask Him to give you the wisdom to do so well. Confess whatever fears you have regarding your finances, then commit to trusting God to help you.
- Create a master list of all your important financial paperwork. Include information about checking and savings accounts, investments, wills, insurance policies, all regular bills, mortgages, and tax returns. If you don't regularly handle any of these transactions, ask whoever does to explain them fully to you so you'll be able to take over should that person (perhaps your husband) pass away.
- Calculate your debt to income ratio. Divide your monthly net income after taxes by your total monthly debt. If the result is 10 percent or less, that's ideal. Anything over 15 percent reveals that you're carrying too much debt.
- Establish a budget, and stick to it. Think and pray about how you should allocate your money, and ask God for the grace to carry out your plan each month. If you're married, work in partnership with your husband to establish a mutual budget. Be sure that you're saving and giving away some money consistently, rather than just spending. Keep a log for a 30 days to track how you spend every cent of your money, then study it. Consider how you can cut your spending or increase your income to pay down your debts.
- Explore money issues about which you'd like to learn more. Research information on the Internet, talk with friends, and ask professional financial counselors questions.
- Establish your own credit if you haven't already done so. Obtain one credit card with your name on it that you can use occasionally and pay off in full every month. Not having any credit record in your own name is just as bad as having a bad credit record.
- Obtain a copy of your credit report and study it. If it reveals any inaccuracies, have them corrected. Be sure you know how your husband is using credit, since, as his wife, you are also legally responsible for the debts he incurs.
- Don't be afraid to dream. If you'd like to purchase a big-ticket item such as a house or a car, just plan well for it. Over time, you can likely make the purchase in a way that won't create an undue burden on your finances.
- Try to pay cash for as much as possible to avoid incurring debt. Remember that if you can't afford to pay cash for it, you probably shouldn't buy it, unless it's an item such as a house that will likely appreciate in value.
- If you're in financial trouble, don't file for bankruptcy until you've tried every other option. Devise a plan for paying your creditors what you can as often as you can; they will likely work with you. Let a creditor know as soon as you know that you won't be able to pay your entire bill (such as after being laid off from your job). It's important to communicate directly and honestly with creditors and explain that your situation is only temporary.
- Invest for the future. Plan for expenses such as retirement and your child's college education.
- Study causes you can potentially support with your money, and make informed decisions before you give so your donations go where God would have them go.
Adapted from Financially Secure: An Easy-to-Follow Money Program for Women, copyright 2002 by Deborah McNaughton. Published by Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tn., www.thomasnelson.com, 1-800-251-4000.
Deborah McNaughton is the founder of Professional Credit Counselors. She is a nationally known credit expert and financial coach who has been interviewed on hundreds of radio and television talk shows talking about credit, mortgages, real estate and automobile purchases, and financial planning. She is the author of several other books, conducts financial seminars nationally and publishes a monthly newsletter.
Are you confident in your current knowledge of all the details of your finances? If not, what challenges do you face in this area? If so, how does your knowledge and confidence help you manage your money well? Visit Crosswalk's forums to discuss this topic: