It is one thing to learn something about personal finance in a book and quite another to start managing decisions on spending, saving, etc. With that in mind here are several important insights to help begin making wise money decisions.
1. If you have not already started, begin tithing on a weekly basis. Honoring the Lord with the first of your income sets the most important priority when it comes to handling money—putting the Lord first. (Cf. Proverbs 3:9-10; 2 Cor. 9:6-8)
2. Immediately plan to avoid borrowing money. Debt is easy to accumulate and very difficult to pay back. Debt creates stress and often contributes to missing God’s best in your life. Instead of a debt cycle begin a savings cycle!
3. Be very careful about borrowing money to attend college. Student debt is out of control in America totaling an astounding 1.5 trillion dollars. Create a path of study that limits student debt. There are ways to do this including the option of pursing a trade that does not require a four-year degree. Quite frankly it would be better if many students worked and earned 80 to 100,000 dollars over four years as compared to going in debt to the tune of $50,000.00 or more over four years of college. Starting life out at age 22 or 23 with a student loan debt in excess of $50,000.00 is simply not wise for most students.
4. Establish the discipline of saving money each week. Without this habit your financial future is going to suffer. The wise among us save about 20% of their income and live on 70% of their income (assuming one tithes). Deciding to “pay yourself first” before you spend the balance of your money leads to a great measure of prosperity. Much needs to be said about this subject, however, do not spend all you earn. SAVING MONEY PREPARES YOU TO DEAL WITH NEEDS WITHOUT BORROWING MONEY. SAVING MONEY GETS INTEREST WORKING FOR YOU INSTEAD OF AGAINST YOU. SAVING MONEY IS THE WAY TO PROSPERITY.
5. Establish a spending plan, better known as a budget. A spending plan empowers you to reach goals as opposed to no plan that leads to out of control spending.
6. Avoid get rich quick schemes as it is usually someone else who becomes rich at your expense!
7. Seek godly advice when it comes to handling money and making wise decisions. Create a “Christian cabinet” of advisors which might consist of your parents, your pastor, several older, successful believers who know how to handle money (some might be business owners), and someone in the area of your decision. For example, before you buy a home talk to a trusted real estate professional who is not selling you the potential home.
I recommend any graduate visit Crown Financial Ministries website crown.org and use their resources to gain a wealth of insight into Biblical money management. Also, their Career Direct tools can be a great help as a young graduate seeks direction for a job they love.
I conclude now with a word of encouragement to all graduates from Proverbs 3:5-6 which says: “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”