Joel Alex gives shares some practical financial steps on how to manage money and save for future

Being a young adult can be exciting as it is the start of an independent future. However, each of the decisions made during this time can have an impact – short term or even in the longer term, especially when it comes to financing. I started working at the age of 15, and been working ever since doing a variety of different jobs. I am now 24 years old, working as a peace officer. About nine years of ‘self-money management’ has taught me several great skills.

I recently started on my dream-job career after my Fulltimership placement in Uganda with Jesus Youth. Before my Fulltimership, I was able to pay off my $40,000 student loan within a year of working. That itself was a miracle as I was doing my internship with a $24,000 salary. However I told God, “If you want me to do the Fulltimership, I need you to pay off my student loan.” I had faith that His Will would be done, and that is exactly what happened. God paid off a $40,000 student loan by allowing different possibilities to work in my favour.

Starting my current dream job, with no debt to pay off, allowed me to start thinking about the next phase of my life. This includes buying a house, furthering my education, preparing for matrimonial life, saving for retirement, everyday expenses and the list goes on. All this requires financial planning. The one financial advice I go by is – evaluating my spending and building a budget. Having had the experience of spending money lavishly, as well as of experiencing poverty in the past, has allowed me to understand the value of money at both ends of the spectrum.

I budget my money currently with a saving mindset and I try to plan in advance for things I need to spend money on. I focus more on my needs than my wants. This is because I am single and have no other major financial burdens currently. When I receive my income, I split my finance like: savings: 65-70%, fixed expenses (phone bill, entertainment, utility, insurance, food and etc) – 15-20%, emergency/travel fund – 5%, and tithe – 10%. These numbers are just an approximation as unexpected spending can occur, so it is important to prepare for those as well. I also re-evaluate my finances every few months to see if there needs to be a change.

One of my favorite things to do is travel the world. Many people believe that if you have to save money, you cannot have “fun”. I completely disagree with that as I am able to travel more as I have financial security. Therefore, find out what you would like to save money for, whether it is buying a car, social life, new clothes, house, and then instead of spending the money recklessly, plan where your money goes according to your priorities.

I am not in favour of having any outstanding debts. I only spend what I have as this prevents one from going down a slippery slope. If you have any outstanding loans, I encourage you to pay them off soon instead of making the minimum payments, or even adding to it. If this means you have to sacrifice a little on your wants, it will develop financial discipline. When I paid off my student loan, I had to make a lot of sacrifices, such as limiting social life, reducing purchases, etc. However, when I finished paying off the loan, I understood the stress of having a student loan and what it takes to pay it off.

God gave us money to meet our needs, but more importantly, to help others that are less fortunate. Everything is a gift from God and if we do not use it wisely, we are the ones to answer for our own actions. I encourage you, to help others whether it is by donating money or even dropping off items such as non-perishable foods, clothes, hygienic products, and such at the homeless shelter or to someone in need. We have to help and love one another.

Money can be very appealing but it can do good or bad. What we choose to do with the money will have its own consequences. To conclude, try not to spend money that you do not have and pay off your debts as soon as possible. Spend some time to plan and write spendings and targets, and put more discipline into your financial life. But the most important advice is to ask God before you make any financial decision or even before spending big or small amounts, ask for God’s input. God will show you clarity as He is the best manager and is always ready to help those who ask. He’s got your back.

 


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