“Pretend for a minute that you started a company called YOU, Inc., and it’s your job to manage every cent that passes through the company. If you managed money for YOU, Inc., the same way you manage money for you now, would you fire you?”
Yes. I would.
That quote above was the introduction to a Daily Bible Plan that I decided would be worth my while to read. It’s called “Dave Ramsey’s Financial Wisdom from Proverbs” and it is a 10-day reading plan that uses the Book of Proverbs to provide a biblical and practical foundation for financial peace. The description alone was pretty cool so I decided to add it to my daily reading. However, I was NOT ready for a mirror to be held up to my face so quickly. After I got over my comical “How dare he start this way?” initial reaction, I was really able to focus on why I decided to start this Bible Plan to begin with. Like many of my peers, I’m broke and I don’t want to be.
By all accounts, I’m “successful” and I’ve made it but the reality is that I haven’t. I’m a “degreed” Black woman with a “good” job that provides me some benefits outside of a paycheck. I pay my bills on time and I dress nicely. I’m the picture of “getting it together” and this comforts the people around me because I’m relatively young (only 26 years old).
The reality is that I live paycheck to paycheck. This realization was something like a gut-check. It became very evident when I found myself needing to take six weeks off from work to heal from a surgery. With only enough Paid Time Off for 13 days (less that one month’s salary), I quickly realized I had to stop all of my automatic withdrawals for bill payments.
In simple terms, I had to go two months without paying all of my bills on time and I had no money to live on (no savings…at all). That’s not having it together…at all. What was most embarrassing was the realization that I took all of these steps forward in paying down debt and cleaning up my credit only to end up in a spot where I was afraid to once again answer my phone.
That “Financial Wake-Up Call” puts me in the same boat of roughly 40% Americans who also feel they are living paycheck and/or barely treading water when it comes to their finances. In a study conducted by Allstate Financial, more than four in 10 (41 percent) are living paycheck-to-paycheck while another 8 percent say they don’t earn enough each month to pay for essentials. The three points that struck me the most were:
- Only 46 percent of those in households making $50,000 per year or less have a retirement plan in place (compared to 89 percent of those in $75,000 or more per year income households)
- Of the households making $50,000 or less annually, just a quarter say they have money left over at the end of the month
- One-third of college graduates (32 percent) say they’re living “paycheck to paycheck,” compared to nearly half (48 percent) of non-graduates.
And at the end of the day, I hope to become one of those people who can share the steps I took in getting on solid financial ground with others. Perhaps, what separates me from my peers is that I am beginning to understand that thoughts really are the foundation of the lives we make for ourselves. Just think of the phrase “Thoughts Become Things” and then look at the evidence of this in your life. It’s there. But I want my thoughts to create more than just prosperity for myself.
With that, I invite you on this journey of my thoughts and the new habits I build as I create wealth my way and define my financial future!