Hot Tip #72 – Get Financial Peace – Part 3
In addition to (1) establishing a small emergency fund, (2) paying off all debt except our house, and (3) putting aside 3-6 months’ worth of expenses in a savings account, we followed Dave Ramsey’s 4th and 5th baby steps toward Financial Peace as well, which are:
- Invest 15% of your income for retirement
- College funding for your kids
It’s so easy to coast through the first years of marriage thinking, “We’ll be able to save for retirement and college funds later! Right now we’ve got more pressing financial concerns!” (like that big screen TV your husband wants, or that new landscaping you’d like to have done in front of the house)
But guess what? Retirement and college creeps up on us much faster than we realize! It seems like yesterday I was wiping my kids noses and butts, and today my kids are a freshman and a junior in college! And retirement once seemed like forever away, but my husband is only 15 years away from being the proverbial age 65.
Basically, we decided that investing 15% of our income toward retirement wasn’t an option. It was a requirement. Why? Quite simply, because we don’t want to be a burden on our kids, or on the government, or on society. We don’t want to be eating Alpo in our old age because we can’t afford ground beef.
You may think I’m exaggerating, but think about it. For those who choose to retire (or are forced to because of health reasons), we may have a LOT of years between our last gainfully-employed paycheck and our last breath. Will we have enough money saved to be financially independent? Or will we be at the mercy of our adult children who’ve got enough financial stresses trying to raise their own children… or at the mercy of a government welfare system that is collapsing a little more each day?
Come on, Ladies! Let’s put on our big girl panties and not leave all of the financial responsibilities and concerns up to our husbands! We’ve got to WAKE UP AND GET A SNIFF OF REALITY! Money doesn’t grow on trees… not now, nor in our old age! We’ve got to start saving for the long-term future TODAY! So pay YOURSELF first (after taxes and tithe), and make sure retirement funding is a serious priority in your budgeting process!
As for college funding, we have a special friend (whom shall remain nameless) that I’ll forever be indebted to because of the wisdom she brought into our (and our children’s) lives. Basically, she chose to attend a private Christian college for all 4 years of her education because they offered her a 50% scholarship. Sounds peachy, right? But those peaches had a lot of pits in them. Each year still totaled $20,000 in tuition. Multiply times 4 years and you’ve got $80,000 worth of student loan debt (not to mention the interest that accrues on that debt each month, which is astounding in and of itself!). Then she married a guy who’d done the exact same thing. So together they have $160,000 worth of student loan debt! In researching ways to relieve some of that debt load, she learned that there is NO legal way out of it, not even declaring bankruptcy. In fact, the suicide rates among post-college graduates are exorbitantly higher than other segments of the population, and my suspicion is that it’s because of the depressing job market combined with the overwhelming burden of heavy student loan debt.
So we sat our children down and said, “Here are your options… we are very fortunate to have two great schools in our back yard, Tyler Junior College (less than $1000 per semester) and University of Texas at Tyler (approximately $3,000 per semester). Or there are tons of schools to choose from away from home (ranging in price up to $30,000 per semester). We will try to pay your tuition and books as best we can, but whatever the difference is between what you choose to spend and what we can personally afford will be YOURS to finance and pay off in the future. If you attend a local college or university, you can live at home for free with few rules or responsibilities other than live a moral life and keep your grades up. If you choose to go away to college, your living expenses are your own. You’ll either have to work a job and pay as you go, or you will have to figure out a way to finance those expenses and pay them off later as well.” (Translation: We don’t have a silver spoon to stick into your mouth, so don’t expect a “free ride” through college.)
Funny how children can do math much better than we realize, especially when it is THEIR money they are spending. Today my daughter is working on a bachelor’s degree in fine arts at U.T. Tyler, hoping to pursue her master’s degree and teach art on a university level someday. My son is knocking out his basics at Tyler Junior College, hoping to study international business down the road. Neither of them have ANY student loan debt at ALL. And we hope to keep it that way. Can you imagine how FREE they will feel on graduation day, with their whole career in front of them, and NO student loan debt behind them? That will be a grand and glorious day for the whole family!
All that to say, help your kids make responsible choices when it comes to college. Don’t overpromise financial assistance, then under-deliver, leaving them to hold a heavier financial bill than they can comfortably manage. Then you’re setting THEM up to have a rough and rocky marriage due to money woes! Teach them to be financially responsible by modeling exactly what that looks like, Mom and Dad!
Again, you may wonder what all of this has to do with sexual confidence since these are my “Hot Tips for Sexually Confident Wives!” Do you realize how difficult it is to have a strong, vibrant, healthy sex life when your marriage isn’t feeling so strong, vibrant, or healthy? And when we let debt pile up and money issues stress us to the max, our marriages are definitely going to be stressed to the max as well!!!
I once heard a comedian use the slogan, “Happy Wife, Happy Life!” I’d also add, “Stress-free wallet, stress-free marriage, stress-free marriage bed!”
Wishing you tremendous financial peace,