I had the pleasure of visiting with the Nashville Fellows over lunch a few weeks ago. Monthly guest speakers are invited to share wisdom of some things that they’ve learned about life, love and success.
I asked them what questions they had for me, “What was something you’d heard in the past year that was most interesting, or caused you to re-think your position on a topic?”
After a few moments of silence, one gentleman spoke up, “Nobody has talked to us about finances. We’re ready to embark on our careers. What advice do you have for us?
What an interesting question from both the world’s view as well as the Christian’s! It took a few moments of reflection, but I shared with them two thoughts of mine on financial security:
I. Put 6-months of living expenses in savings. Most financial advisors will tell you that you should have 6-months of living expenses in the bank in case you lose your job. I agree completely and that was the first thing I “saved” for. But rather than thinking about a forced job loss, I shared that it allowed me to never have to compromise my values in a workplace. I always knew that if I was forced to make a decision that I couldn’t live with, or co-workers were being mistreated in an unsolvable situation, I knew I could resign and I had money in the bank to live on until I found another job. We are all faced with situations in the workplace that don’t honor our Christian values. In some cases we can speak up in protest and change the situation. Other times, things don’t change and we have to leave. I was never trapped by worrying about not having money to live on if I had to take a stand.
II. Live on 70% or less of your take-home salary. When I was in an entry-level job, it wasn’t much, but the 70% figure was right for me. It allowed me to tithe to my church, support non-profits for causes that I believed in, put some money in savings, and have some fun. I’ll admit that this has been a life-long goal but not an absolute. When I moved to Nashville, we ran into financial difficulties with two children in college, a job transfer, and a house that didn’t sell. We went in debt to pay college tuition, but it was worth it, and we knew that it was for a limited period of time.
Financial security isn’t about how much money we make, or how much we have in the bank. As stewards of God’s money, we are more the bookkeeper than the owner.
We have an opportunity to honor God by the way we spend His money.
Do you have other advice for these wonderful young Christians who are just beginning to earn money on their own? What advice would you share with them?
*The Nashville Fellows Program is a nine-month Christian leadership and discipleship program for young adults. It offers recent college graduates a holistic opportunity to enhance their understanding of who they are called to be in Christ, and engage with their calling to advance God's kingdom in both their future vocation and every aspect of life.