As you look back on what you’ve accomplished so far this year, do you cringe?
I have some encouragement for you.
I want you 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 desire, how do you keep moving forward?
Let me offer some very simple, but very important things in which you need to keep doing.
1. 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 five 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 or last month’s check register.
2. 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” (see 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).
3. Keep Saving and Investing
This is where my wife and I have seen frustration. It can feel like, even after adding money to investment accounts, the only money in the accounts is what we have put in.
When you see those if-you-had-put-$1,000-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.
4. Keep Up
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.
5. Keep Giving
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!