2011 is winding down. Yes, I know … that’s hard to believe! It seems as though every year comes and goes faster than the one before.
But, as you wind down this calendar year, it could be easy to get discouraged. Maybe you haven’t seen a lot of “upward movement” in your financial life. While my family has made some progress, the numbers aren’t where we thought they might be. Looking over those numbers, it can get so frustrating that you just want to scream, “What’s the use? Why are we trying so hard?”
Today’s post is really simple: it is encouragement to keep going! I want to encourage you to be the tortoise in a society filled with hares. But, how? Financially, when things are not going the way you might like, and you feel like you aren’t making the kind of progress you might have though, how do you keep going forward?
Let me offer 5 very simple, but very important areas in which you need to keep going.
Keep looking at the big picture.
This is the overriding principle of this article of encouragement. Just because the last few months might not have gone the way you thought they would, that is no reason to give up. Where were you financially 5 years ago? What about 10? Each time I look at our money and get a little discouraged, I try to think of where we used to be financially, and the progress becomes clear.
If you have made that type of progress in a time when the markets have been volatile (to put it mildly), think 5, 10, 15, or even 20 years into the future. Think long-term and keep your eyes on the big picture, not just on today’s stock market report of last month’s check register.
Keep avoiding debt.
This is especially important at this time of year, as consumerism around Christmas can completely overwhelm us. It continues to be true, though, that debt will rob you of achieving long-term goals. If you follow the old maxims of “living on less than you make” and “living within your means,” you will avoid going into debt just to support lifestyle.
I don’t want to be a slave, and “the borrower is slave to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7). If you’re trying to pay off debt, keep going! It is hard (believe me, I know), but it is also worth it (I know that, too).
Keep saving and investing.
This is where my wife and I get frustrated. We have faithfully put some money in accounts for several months now for retirement and for the funding of our two children’s college educations. However, it seems that the only money in the account is what we have put in.
When you see those “If you had put $1000 in this account in 1945 it would now be worth $56,000,000″ charts, it gets frustrating that your small investment is…well..stagnant. And it can get easy to just give up. But we all know that, over time, those who have money for emergencies, purchases, retirement, college, and other long-term goals are the ones who win financially. Again, look long-term.
In other words, don’t give up on thinking about your finances. You don’t have to be the king of charts and graphs, but you should take a few moments to budget each month, and you should also keep up with some simple records (check records, a will, etc.) that will help you in the long run.
Many get behind in one or more of these areas and just give up. Don’t give up. If you have to, put a “financial review” time on your calendar. It doesn’t have to be a weekend; in fact, it’s probably better if it is just an hour or so each month for some simple review work and budgeting.
No matter what happens financially, giving needs to always be an essential piece of the puzzle. Whether or not you receive back the amount of money you have given, you need to give. Givers are blessed, and it is the best long-term investment you could ever make.
Yes, this finance stuff can get frustrating at times. We are fed a steady diet of consumerism and wealth by the TV shows and movies we watch, and we see more advertisements every day than previous generations saw in a decade (or more). We know what we want, and we want it now! But, sometimes, we don’t get it right away.
My encouragement to you is simple: keep going! You’ll be glad you did. After all, the tortoise wins the race every time.
Do you have a quote or thought that keeps you going when times get rough? Meet us in the comments and let us know!