For many years my wife and I have struggled with our finances. It wasn’t that we weren't capable of managing our money but we never understood the correct concept of saving and spending. Over the last 6 years we have come to understand what it really means to tithe, sow, save and spend as God desires for us to do. We are still working at achieving many long and short term goals but now that we understand the importance of finances we can navigate through life learning from our past mistakes.
Over the course of our 6 year marriage we now understand what it means to save for retirement and having an emergency savings for rainy days. For us it was no longer an option but it was a demand that needed to be met in order to ensure a better financial security for our home. Being a stay at home dad has put much more of a demand on our household to ensure that we have enough money saved for the unexpected. Had we had a savings or emergency fund when I resigned from my job or before we decided that I would become a stay at home parent it would have been easier for us to prepare for that transition and would have caused me not to take from my retirement account. Had we had an emergency fund when our garage broke at the end of winter it would have been easy to let the company know that we were ready for them to install a new one the next day.
I understand that it may be difficult to save for people who are living below poverty or even for those whose bills are too much to manage. Did you know that about 76% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck with little to no money in savings or emergency funds? When I read this article on how 50% of the 1,000 people surveyed had less than 3 months savings and the other 27% had none at all, it was no surprise to me that people had not prepared if something unexpected was to occur. Although there are many people living paycheck to paycheck it's important to know that although it would be nice to save 10% of your income each paycheck it might not be that realistic for others to achieve that same goal.
For instance my wife and I recently started saving with a very small amount of savings and emergency fund each pay period. Although we'll begin to increase it over time what matters most is that we started and we’ve made an effort to ensure that no matter what we don't touch it. It’s become a sacrifice financially to save especially with one income but we know that using our credit cards are not an option. I do however understand there may be times when something does come up and you have to take from it although it has not reached the 3 months that is needed, but what’s most important it that you replenish what you take out. If you have children it's even important for you to start saving for them so that they too can learn good habits at an early age.
I’ve realized one of my biggest struggles with savings came from not knowing how money operated. I was never taught that when you earn money you save a portion of it. There were never discussions at the dinner table about saving and having enough stored for unexpected things. Being raised by a single mother who sometimes worked two or three jobs to provide for my brother never discussed finances because everything that came in went back out in order for us to survive. It wasn't until she reached her late forties that she began to understand how important it was to save for the unexpected and her future. Just a few years ago someone very close to my wife and I told use she knew we had a nice amount of money saved. It was pretty funny to us because we knew our financial struggles but on the outside we presented to not have those issues. It was nice knowing that someone thought so high of you financially but did not really know on the inside that we struggled to pay our monthly bills. We’ve always made it an effort to ensure that money never became an issue for our marriage although we struggled with savings it wasn't something that we allowed to come between our relationships because we believed we could make it through.
Although it took my wife and I 6 years to really understand the concept of money management it became easier to understand that it was needed not only for our household but to secure a better future for our son. Having a household with only one income makes a big difference as well making you appreciate the value of money that much more. We’ve decided just this year that we were no longer going to live paycheck to paycheck and you can to!!!
Best of Luck,
Matthew M. Gamble
Photo Credit: Tax Credit (Flickr)
Matthew Gamble Sr. is a father, husband, friend, and blogger. He writes about what it's like to raise Matthew Gamble II also known as M2 as a stay at home father. Join him on his journey into fatherhood with Mr. Daddy Duties!!!