Monday, September 12, 2011


One of the things that I'm striving to do as a single person is to have a healthy financial status. That comes in the form of (in my case) self discipline: knowing when I can and can't afford something, differentiating between a want and a need, putting aside money for a rainy day or unforeseen circumstances, and tithing. Today's feature helped me to gain a better understanding of how to be more financial responsible. If you need help in this area, this is just for you.

Dr. Taffy Wagner, Financial Consultant

What is your definition of financial responsibility?
Financial responsibility is living within your means and not falling to the pressure of peers, media or even sales once going into the stores.

How do you encourage your clients to maintain a healthy financial status?
In order to maintain a healthy financial status they have to stay focused, set realistic goals and continuously monitor their accounts (bank, savings, investments and retirement). Sometimes when people are doing good, they want to step back and stop doing the monitoring and that is when something inevitably slips through the cracks. I encourage them to keep a track of the small achievements as well as the big ones.

What are some things we should prioritize to help maintain a healthy financial status?
First: Savings should be either number one or number two. Why? Because people often do not save money - some have not been taught how to save and others are so overwhelmed with life, they don't even know where to start.

Second: Be knowledgeable of exactly what all the income is that a person has coming in as well as what the expenses are. Then knowing what their debt is whether it is credit cards, student loans or even car loans. Tracking is key whether you utilize an online spreadsheet, accounting program or ledger. When you are tracking income and expenses it helps you determine where you can trim extraneous expenses.

Third: Plan your spending for large ticket items. That means put the cash away in an account or purchase at a place that offers a lay-away plan. There is nothing derogatory about layaway. Once you are done paying for the item(s) - you OWN them! People need to get in the habit of being owners instead of renters or buying on credit today with tomorrow's money from a job that is not promised to you.

How can financial irresponsibility now affect future endeavors, including marriage?
Financial irresponsibility hinders home ownership, parenting, furthering education and even automobile purchases. It sends a message that you are not credit worthy to lenders. That may not necessarily be true because sure enough life happens, however, there are times when people do not take responsibility for their lack of financial knowledge or behavior.

When it comes to marriage, let's be real - many people do not want to marry someone that is bringing a lot of debt into a marriage. Unfortunately some people have a bad financial history and they are looking for a spouse with bank to bail them out. Let me be clear – a husband is not a financial plan! Whatever your financial situation, it is your responsibility to develop a debt removal plan and/or credit clean up.

How important is tithing as it pertains to financial responsibility?
Tithing is an individual decision and is based on individual's faith. I would not say that the people reading this must do it or they shouldn't. What I will say is this, when it comes to tithing and financial responsibility - understand that 100% of all the money you make belongs to God. Don't just be a good steward of the 10% and the 90% be out of order. IF you are going to follow the BIBLE, then know that the BIBLE also says in Ecclesiastes 5:5 - It is better not to make a promise than to make one and not keep it.

When people buy on credit, they promised that store or credit card company that they were going to pay that bill! Do not get caught not paying your bills. That's not a testimony to GOD!

I am speaking from experience and was caught in the 10/90. Unfortunately many people get caught up in the 10/90 and not paying their bills and end up facing lights being cut off, foreclosure, cars being repossessed etc.

What advice would you give to someone who is trying to live beyond their means, and is struggling financially?
If it is your goal to struggle financially, a lack of money affecting your health and job performance and not be able to have a decent quality of life, then continue doing what you are doing. However, if you desire to be debt free, have a savings account, maybe one day purchase a home and much more then set your sights on the bigger picture. Stop caving in to the pressure of sales, peers and the JONESES! The Joneses are broke and you will not know it because you are not in their home at night when they are fighting about overspending and a lack of money to pay the bills. Sure people can always give the appearance of having it altogether and inside everything is crumbling. Focus on your own household and finances, so that your financial future is bright and not gloomy. Set yourself up for financial success and not strain.

Visiting Dr. Taffy on her site Money Talk Matters here

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