Alright, in my house are three kids, two Nintendo DS, a Wii, an iPad, and several computers. Needless to say, a lot of video games get played in our home. So, we have all the parental concerns regarding the amount of time spent playing, and how to protect our kids from negative messages in the content they’re viewing. What should a good parent do?
Well, first let’s hear what the folks at Extra Credits have to say about it.
It’s tempting, when your kid is consumed by an activity that seems to isolate them from you, to cut it off. You want to protect them from the pain of their decisions, and that can blind you to the opportunities that you have to teach them and bond through their new obsession.
Ideally, games are meant to be played together with others. With a little work on the parent’s part, they can be one of the “others” for their kids.
What do you know about that game that your child is playing? If the answer is “nothing,” you’re in luck. You live in the age of the Interweb tubes. Go watch a couple of walk-through videos on YouTube. Find the game’s wiki and do a little reading. Research more about the game so you can talk with them about it. Even the “bad” games out there can provide you a chance to interact and talk about life in a meaningful way.
It just requires your patience and involvement.
When you’re first beginning the process of trying to take control of your finances, it can be totally overwhelming. In a world as complicated as ours, you find yourself having to juggle so many payments and fees and bills that it’s hard to know where to start.
But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers.
1 Timothy 5:8
The right way to start is by building your financial household first. Get to know what your core basic needs are and take care of them before you worry about anything else. Unfortunately, our complicated world has begun to confuse what a need is, so let me elaborate. Basic needs can be limited to three categories, which make up our roof in the picture below.
Healthy: The stuff that keeps your family alive and in reasonably good condition. This will include groceries and any medicine your family must take. (i.e. medicines for high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic depression, and the like. My acid-reflux medication wouldn’t make this list.) It might also include health insurance and/or co-pays.
Safe: The stuff that keeps you out of the elements and a reasonable amount of security. This will include your basic utility services (such as electricity and water) and your mortgage or rent. You might want to include the cost of necessary home repairs here as well. Don’t include every possible security measure, though. No amount of money can make you 100% secure.
Productive: The stuff that keeps you generating an income and ready to work. This will include transportation, which could be a car, a bus pass, or a good pair of shoes. It will probably also include a phone of some kind. It might include Internet access and an email account, a reliable cellular phone, and a reasonable clothing budget.
In all cases, the goal is to determine a reasonable number for your basic needs. Keep your numbers realistic, and don’t overload any of the categories with fluff you really can do without. For example, a young couple, just married, probably shouldn’t be spending $800 each month for groceries. A $200 per month cell phone contract with all the bells and whistles doesn’t qualify, either. And an Xbox will never be a necessary component to maintain productivity, no matter what anyone says.
Also, you’ll have to plan for different types of expenses.
A good example of a fixed cost expense would be your mortgage or rent. It’s a bill that’s due every month, and the amount owed doesn’t change very often, if at all. They’re predictable costs, and we wish that every core item was a fixed cost expense. Unfortunately, they’re not.
A variable cost expense would be things like gasoline for your car, or your electricity bill. Each month the amount spent on this item is going to change, either because the price of the good is constantly under change (gasoline), or your use varies (electricity). The is the simplest thing to do is put down a number that represents a high average for that item that month. It’s rare that you’ll find yourself at risk of going over.
Items like car maintenance or clothing would be a non-monthly expense. It’s a cost you know will be coming eventually, and you’re socking money away for it now so it won’t break the bank later. Use a savings account and put a little aside every month for each of these types of expenses.
Making sure that you’re covering your basic needs gives your budget a foundation to build on. It shows you that, no matter what else happens, you can keep the lights on, put food on the table, and stay employed. And if you’re not covering your needs, then it’s clearly time to improve your income. Without any margin, you’ll never be able to move beyond the struggle of living paycheck to paycheck. Every dollar earned above that core is the fuel to be used for reaching financial goals, but you have to build your financial house first.
This is the form I built based around the information in this post. I’m using it to help people start getting their finances in order when they’re struggling. Feel free to share it, or this post, with others.
The total you figure from your core needs can be used as a base number for your emergency fund. How many months can you live off of your savings when you’re just taking care of your basic needs? How many months do you want it to be?
I’m ramping up to coordinate my second Financial Peace University session for the year. The Spring session I had the privilege to coordinate was amazing, with 20 families completing the material and over a $100,000 turn around of their finances. It’s great to be able to be a part of a life-changing event for so many people.
If you’ve never taken Financial Peace University, I recommend it. It’s a great first step for families who are struggling with money issues and don’t know where to start. If you’re in the Tucson area, and you’re interested in joining a class, you’re all welcome to join mine.
We’ll be starting with a short orientation meeting for anyone interested in finding out more about FPU. We’ll be going over the class schedule and format, talk about what we expect from class members, how childcare will be handled, and answer any additional questions. That will happen on May 21st at 6:00 pm, and it shouldn’t last more than forty-five minutes.
The schedule breaks down as follows:
- May 21 – Orientation
- June 4 – Super Saving: Why you should save money, and why you need to start now.
- June 11 – Relating With Money: Why families must work together to achieve financial goals.
- June 25 – Cash Flow Planning: How to develop a monthly budget that really works.
- July 2 – Dumping Debt: What myths we believe about debt, and how to become debt free.
- July 9 – Buyer Beware: Why marketing is so powerful, and how to reduce it’s influence.
- July 16 – The Role of Insurance: What insurance you need to have, and what to avoid.
- July 23 – Retirement and College Planning: How to plan for the future.
- July 30 – Real Estate and Mortgages: How to buy or sell a home.
- August 6 – The Great Misunderstanding: Why you should live a generous life.
All meetings, including the orientation will be held at Saguaro Canyon Church at 10111 E Old Spanish Trail. Childcare is provided each time with a suggested donation.
If you want to find out more information or register for the class, you can check out the class page on DaveRamsey.com for all of your answers. Hope to see you this Summer!
Have you taken FPU? What was your experience? What was the most important thing you learned? How did it change your life and your finances?
How many airline flights have you taken in your lifetime? With all of the family vacations and business trips, jumbo jets and puddle hoppers, multiple legs and layovers, all in over 40 years worth of air travel, I’m incapable of calculating a reasonable number. Suffice to say, except for TSA checkpoints and waiting for my ears to finally pop, flying the friendly skies is pretty uneventful for me.
Even so, on my last trip, that phrase from the title stuck out at me. Make sure you get your mask on and secure before assisting those around you. What’s the big deal? You’re an adult, why shouldn’t you take a few seconds first and just help that small child next to you before selfishly grabbing for your own bright orange breathing tube?
Well, the logic goes that if you take care of others before you secure your own safety, you risk sacrificing yourself, and then neither of you is saved. While it’s true that no one has ever died from not using one of those safety masks, the logic is still sound, and we should apply it elsewhere.
I believe in generous giving. I encourage others to be charitable. It’s one of the two primary reasons I’ve invested in becoming a financial coach. However, I would never coach someone in the midst of a money crisis to give more. Paying for rent, lights, and groceries takes precedence.
But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
1 Timothy 5:8
Broke people can’t help other people financially. Broke people can’t pay for a widow’s electric bill. Broke people can’t buy groceries to feed hungry children. Broke people are limited by the few resources they have available.
Stop making broke people choices.
This is a big dang deal. Get your house in order first. Get yourself back to a place where you can fill your cup to overflowing and be free to bless those around you. It takes resources to provide assistance.
Whoever multiplies wealth by interest and profit gathers it for him who is generous to the poor.
I need to end with a caveat: Tithing is an exception. Returning a percentage of your income back to God isn’t about generosity. It’s about attitude and perspective. It’s about recognizing the source of your income, and reminding yourself that you are just the manager of what you have.
Manage it well, so you’re ready to help others around you.
Question: You may not be able to help out financially, but there are still ways you can help others when you’re struggling. You can donate your time to them. You can encourage them. You can pray for them. How have you helped other around you?