How to Make Your Finances Add Up

Tasheka works in finance, managing millions of dollars each month to keep her company’s yearly goals on track. But two years ago, she realized she wasn’t putting as much thought into her own financial goals.

“I had been in my profession for over six years, and I can’t really say I saw where I had made a major impact as far as saving, tithing or giving back,” she said. “Those things were always secondary to paying monthly expenses and entertainment, especially living in the tri-state area, where all social events involve happy hour, brunch or etc.”

After changing jobs in October 2015 and realizing she’d now be paid on a monthly cycle, Tasheka knew it was time to take charge of her finances. A few months later, she signed up for Financial Peace University, eager for a budget breakthrough.

Offered several times a year — including this fall — FPU is designed to help you gain control of your finances by managing money God’s way. The average Hoboken Grace household has experienced a more than $4,000 turnaround in their finances during the nine-week course itself.

The class is structured with different steps, teaching you how to prioritize tithing on a consistent basis, paying off debt, creating an emergency fund and saving for retirement. It also covers investments, mortgages and more.

“I actually learned a lot about insurance, especially health,” said Kristin. “No one had ever explained the most logical way for me to figure out what I need and how to save money doing it.”

No matter how much you already know about financial planning, everyone can learn something in FPU, said Kristin.

As part of the class, Tasheka began creating a monthly budget, allotting for how each dollar would be spent. Within months, she’d paid off most of her credit cards, was growing her savings account and was tithing as soon as she got paid (instead of after paying her bills).

But following a budget can feel restrictive — or at least that’s what Ben thought when he signed up for the class with his wife, Amy.

“The class really gave me a new perspective on that,” he said. “Budgeting actually enables us to do the things we want to do most.”

By setting up a monthly budget, Ben and Amy can ensure they’re not overspending in one category, preventing them from having enough money in another. It might seem basic, says Ben, but it requires being intentional each month. It also requires communication, which Amy and Ben say has increased since taking FPU. They talk about budget changes, track their spending and discuss long-term savings goals more than they’ve done in the past.

“We have less stress by being on the same page,” said Ben.

More than a year after taking the class, Tasheka also says seeing her budget written out each month is a huge help. Her goal is to be debt-free by the end of 2018, and she’s well on her way. She paid off more than 45 percent of her debt in just a year.

“It’s been a conscious decision I’ve made of what percentage of my monthly income I will give, save and live on,” Tasheka said.

She still faces curveballs — unexpected circumstances that sometimes prevent her from paying off as much debt as she’d like each month. But she’s also grown comfortable with making changes in her plans to accommodate those situations. She knows how to find extra room in her budget, without touching her emergency fund or reducing her tithing.

And in the meantime, Tasheka says she recommends FPU to everyone she knows. She’s already encouraged nearly everyone in her dinner group to take the class.

“If you find yourself working hard and are still unable to save, give and live like you want to, I strongly recommend you try out FPU, even if you are not a Christian,” Tasheka said. “I promise you, if you stick with the principles you are taught, you will see a drastic change in your finances.”

This fall, there are two opportunities to take FPU at Hoboken Grace: classes will be held on Sunday afternoons and Wednesday evenings. Please note, it is strongly encouraged that married couples attend together. For more information and to register, click here.

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