Tax season brings a mixed bag of emotions depending on your level of financial fitness. For many, it’s nervous time because you haven’t taken the steps you intended to take after last year’s tax appointment to get your financial act together. Take heart. Tax time could be your time to get better control of your finances. Here are a couple ideas to get you started.
If you get a refund...don’t rush out and spend it on whatever it is you’ve been living without for the last year anyway. Make it catalyst to start saving by putting it in a new savings account. After you open that account, step two is to adopt a simple plan to build those savings. And wouldn’t you know, someone has already come up with a wise approach for you.
In his brief video Should Missionaries Save, missionary funding coach Scott Morton suggests five simple steps:
- Recognize that saving is a stewardship issue.
- Save every month.
- Take savings out first, not after all your other expenses are covered.
- Put savings somewhere where you won’t touch them, like a savings account.
- Set your budget high enough, plus a little extra so that you have the funds to save monthly.
If you need a creative kick-start...because saving is one of things that’s just too easy to put off forever, then brainstorm a list of savings goals that could actually inspire you to get started. For example:
Home assignment. Who wants to be pinching pennies when you need to be getting refreshed and reconnecting with supporters? Plus, Scott Morton is quick to remind missionaries that several dynamics of home assignment make it imperative to start yours with sufficient savings to see you through. One of these dynamics is that some of your donors will probably stop giving when you’re off the field.
Big events. Whether it’s birthdays, Christmas, weddings or vacations, it’s much easier to cover these costs if you’ve saved for them. Your alternatives are to dip into other budget categories, which may already be limited, or to borrow money, which is never your best option for things like this.
College. Yes, there’s all kinds of financial aid out there, but it’s highly unlikely your daughter or son will be able to access enough to cover the complete cost of a college education. This is one of those savings targets that is best set when the kids are young and one of those savings accounts that, once started, you should contribute to regularly and never touch.
The unexpected. Did you know that nearly two-thirds of Americans have no emergency savings for things like a $500 car repair? To learn how and why saving regularly can keep you from becoming part of this statistic, check out Linda Carlson’s blog Most Americans Are Way too Close to Financial Ruin. Are you?
Sacrificial generosity. In the same way some people choose to sacrificially support your ministry, why not start a savings account that enables you to do the same for others? The creative ways those funds could be invested in the kingdom is endless. Maybe you get to send a family on vacation who never has the funds to take one!
ECCU member missionaries have a variety of savings options designed especially for them. You can learn about them here.