What is your health like? Are you considered healthy or sickly? Or are you one step away from a heart attack because of clogged arteries? If you could rate your health on a scale from 1 to 10, what number would you rate it?
Let’s apply that same principle to your financial health.
What is your financial health like? Would you consider yourself financially healthy? Or are you one paycheck away from a financial breakdown?
If you had to rate the health of your finances from 1 to 10, what would you rate it?
In Incredible Ways to Transform Your Financial Health, we will take an honest look at your finances, the variables that are affecting it, and what you can do to make it better.
Since the age of 16 I have been on my own, raising myself, and my daughter-Lexi. We were homeless – living from house to house until finally, a church family took us in.
When I turned 18 and started the local community college, I started the work study program and was able to get a tiny studio apartment for $384 per month.
However, that was after we were living in what I called a “roach mobile” studio apartment.
My sweet baby gurl-Lexi was classified at age 2 and a teacher on the Child Study Team ran me down outside and told me to move to the next city over because they had the best programs for kids with special needs. So I went home and began to pack to move.
In PRAYING FOR OUR CHILDREN, my first published book I shared our story.
Because of receiving public assistance of $322 per month, along with food stamps and the few dollars from working in the work study program, I was able to maintain that apartment, always having a phone, lights, and other necessities.
I wasn’t able to afford cable but was thankful for the few stations that we could get without a cable box.
My daughter and I stayed in that little studio apartment until I completed community college, transferred, and attended a 4-year university. I was still receiving public assistance and was making a few more dollars in work-study.
Once I graduated, I took the first job that I found, paying approximately $17,892 per year. I stayed in that same little studio apartment until I completed my 90-day probation period, then stayed there a little longer while I checked my financial health to see what my next step would be.
Then, about a year later, I moved from that little studio apartment to a 1-bedroom apartment for $550. I gave my daughter the bedroom, while I slept on a futon for 4 years.
After about 2 years on the job, I got a promotion to assistant manager, paying me $23,000 per year.
About a year and a half later, I applied for a government job and about a year later, I got the job and started there – making $42,000 now per year.
I stayed in that apartment for awhile, and then later found another 1-bedroom apartment that was bigger, nicer, and in a safer neighborhood. The landlord was asking $750, but I told him that I could only do $700 per month. He agreed.
Once again, I gave my daughter the bedroom and I slept in the living room on a futon.
Since it was just my baby and me, my thinking was that if I wasn’t able to work, then $700 was doable, based on my savings, etc.
You see, in every financial decision I made, I would check my financial health.
At the writing of this post, it was over 11 years that I was at that job. Over the years there were raises, plus we earned sick, vacations, and personal years. I used those days sparingly and scheduled my time off around Lexi’s school schedule and saved as many days as possible.
When I was on maternity leave in 2015, I had saved up enough time to receive pay for almost 2 months. Therefore, I was able to stay home for almost 6 months with my baby, versus rushing back to work after 6 weeks.
I stayed in that apartment while I worked my plan, paying off my student loans, saving, investing, and most important, working toward my goal of purchasing my first home.
What does all of that have to do with 7 Ways to Check Your Financial Health? I’m glad you asked. Read on.
I wanted to share my story because it goes back to the saying, “It’s not how much you make, but it’s how much you spend.”
This is also about setting a goal and working towards it. That is why checking your financial health is important to see if you are meeting your goals.
All of those years, from my first job out of college making less than $20K per year, I was saving, investing, had life insurance, paid my bills, we were never hungry, lights were always on, and I had a little car that my father bought me.
That first job had a 401K, and thank God for the wisdom of my godmother who just celebrated her 94th birthday, I started to invest. Because of her wisdom and guidance, I also had life insurance. My financial health had turned around.
I stayed in those one-bedroom apartments because I was working on something.
You see, I had a plan. A plan, to try my best not to get into debt, and to also one day own my own home and have my daughter grow up in a home of her own.
That plan took me 19 years, but I eventually met my goal.
We are finally in a home, where my daughter has her own space and bathroom.
While I was in the process of working on purchasing my first home, attending the first time home buyer classes, saving up and working on my credit, I met my husband. My plan was to purchase at least a multi-family home so that we could live in one and rent the others.
This is another way to check your financial health. Will the next decision you make hurt you or help you financially?
My then fiancé asked me if I really wanted a multi-family and I said no, I really want a 1-family home, just for our family. We began the planning process to reach that goal. But, since we were only courting, I continued to look at multi family homes.
However, sure enough, we purchased a beautiful 4 bedroom, 3 full bathrooms, fully finished basement, with a driveway, and enough land to put up another house – if we wanted to.
To some, this might not be a big deal.
But when you have been homeless, and homeless with a baby as a teen mom, to finally be in a home of your own is a big deal and a blessing.
And now the Lord has blessed us to go ahead and purchase income producing property.
How Did I Do It?
Giving of tithes and offerings to the house of the Lord is something I believe and do. Yes, even while on welfare and getting food stamps, I still paid my tithes.
I wanted to make sure my financial health was good by giving God his portion.
I have countless stories of how God showed up for me and my daughter because we were tithers.
Some people say they can’t afford to tithe, but for me, I can’t afford to not tithe and give.
- When you tithe, you are telling God that He is over your money.
- God rebukes the devourer from attacking your finances.
- When I added up my monthly expenses, it was more than my income. So I know that it was God who was making a way for us.
- All of our needs were met.
- I remember once, I gave or planted a seed of $100 to a church that had a Christian school and Alexia was able to attend that school from K-2 (they only went up to grade 2), for the summer and aftercare, until she was 12 years old. FREE OF CHARGE!!!! You see when you give God promised that he would give you and harvest.
- When I was closing on my house, do you know how much I needed to bring to close? $21. And I forgot to give it to the lawyer. I called him and told him I was bringing it back, and he said don’t even worry about it.
- That’s what being a giver can do!
- I stayed out of credit card debt. While I was in college I had 2 credit cards. I eventually closed one and later got another. From my time I was in college, to this day, at almost 40 years old – I have had the same 2 cards, and the whole amount has been the same for both cards.
- One of the things I LOVE ABOUT my husband when I met him was that he was a tither. I would not have married him if he was not a tither because that’s not a fight I would want to have. One too many women marry men who are not what they want and then try to change them. Which only make their lives and marriages full of misery, unhappiness, unfulfilled and fruitless.
2) I Continually paid off my student loans.
3) Avoided store credit cards.
4) Pay cash for as much as I could.
5) I drove the little car my dad had bought me, and when that one died, he bought me another.
6) At almost 40 years old, I am about to purchase my first brand new car. I don’t feel bad or begrudge anyone that has a car, but a home, savings, investments, etc., was more important to me. And a new car would have hampered some of those goals for me.
7) Remember, you need to set a goal and work towards it. Goals require sacrifices.
So What Can You Do About Your Financial Health?
The professionals have come up with a method that shows you how much you need to save, invest, live on, etc.
But, I don’t want to go that route.
As a single mom that had to make many sacrifices for my daughter and myself to survive, I know that sometimes you only have enough to pay the rent and put food on the table.
So I want to ask you, what can you do? How much can you begin to sacrifice?
It will help you get on the track towards a healthier financial future.
But sacrifices will need to be made.
Can you put away $20 per month? You might think that $20 is not a lot, but you will be surprised what $20 will do. And $20 per paycheck, or per month, is better than $0.
If you begin with $20 per paycheck, considering you get paid biweekly, that is $520 for the year. Imagine putting that away at a high-interest rate? The interest you will earn is not a lot, I can hear you say, but it’s more than what you had before.
Always try to look at the glass and see it half full, versus half empty.
If you begin by having your job take that $20 per paycheck, and invest in the stock market and you just keep at it, in no time it will turn into a nice little nest egg.
Remember though, that consistency is the key. If you keep at it, it will grow.
Every time you get a raise, instead of spending it, save it. Just pretend that you didn’t get it and put that away.
Where to Begin?
I knew what I wanted. So I worked toward it. The same principles you use in other areas of your life, are the same principles you can use to apply to your finances, faith, health, and relationships.
Just think about it.
Every year, I go to see my doctor for a physical to make sure my health was good, got my blood checked to make sure I didn’t have any STD’s, make sure my organs are functioning correctly, and so on.
I also visit the dentist at least 2 times per year for cleanings, and to check for cavities.
That same principle is the same one I apply to my finances.
Every year, I check to see how far I’ve come, check the progress I have made to meet my goals, and compare it to where I want to be.
How Do You Check Your Financial Health?
There has to come a time when you need to say to yourself that something is off about your finances.Perhaps you are drowning in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and an emergency happens.
You then realize something needs to be done.
Think about it this way. You go to the doctor. The first thing they do is check your blood pressure.I was stressing about something some time back and I was getting dizzy, not seeing straight, and not feeling myself.
At first, I thought I was pregnant, so I scheduled an appointment to see my doctor.
When I went to the doctor and the nurse checked my pressure, she almost fainted. The nurse asked what was going on with me, why was my pressure so high.
She even had the doctor come in and check me, and she talked with me to figure out why my pressure was so high. She has been my doctor for over 20 years, so she knows me very well.
I had to go back to see her for about 3 weeks straight a few times per week until my pressure got back to normal.
The first thing you need to do is check your financial blood pressure. This will show severe your finances are, and if they’re in a state of total chaos and need intervention, immediately. This will tell us a lot about what’s going on in your finances.
With your financial blood pressure, you need to know where you are.
Do you need to be admitted to the hospital because your pressure is too high? If you are admitted, will you be in intensive care or a regular room?
Are you about to have a financial heart attack? Who is your emergency contact? Who will the medical professionals call if something happens to you and your financial health?
1) Emergency Fund
- Are you one paycheck away from being homeless and hungry?
- If something happens to you and you’re not able to work, how will you survive?
- How will your children eat? Where will they live?
- Are you depending on family and loved ones to take care of you and your family?
- If you are not able to work, do you have an emergency fund that you can survive on for a month or 3 months?
- Put your emergency fund in a Money Market Account where it will be growing interest, and you can get it at any time. There are several out there, just do a search and see what’s available.
2) Disability Insurance
- Do you have disability insurance?
- When I first started working, I signed up for everything they offered, because I just wanted to make sure that I was prepared and plan for my daughter’s and my future.
3) Life Insurance
- Are you prepared to the point that if something happens to you, your children will be taken care of because you planned ahead? None of us wants to go, but it’s better to plan than not plan.
- You might think that you can’t afford life insurance, but it’s only a few dollars per month.
- Are all of your legal papers in order: will, power of attorney, etc.
As mentioned earlier, I have had the same doctor for over 20 years. Every year when I do my blood work, I ask for everything. I don’t care if I need it or not, I get the works done.
Your blood work tells you everything that’s happening on the inside. Any sickness in your blood: STD, are you anemic, do you have high cholesterol, are your organs functioning properly, etc.
Tip: Ladies, my doctor told me that getting married does not mean I needed to stop doing my STD tests. Unless you are with your husband 24/7, you do not know what he is doing.
Do a search on the number of wives who have contracted STDs from their husbands who swore were being faithful. So do your blood work every year. If you have insurance it doesn’t cost you anything but an extra tube of blood.
Go ahead and get your blood tested. Your life depends on it.
- This is what you have been consuming, adding to your financial health, what is dragging you down and keeping you from being your best self financially.
- Where are you financially?
- Are you in debt?
- How much debt?
- What are you doing about your debts?
- Do you want to do anything about your debts?
- When was the last time you checked your credit score?
- Do you know what’s on it?
- Can it be better?
- What can you do to fix it?
- Do you want to fix it?
Full Body Check Up
Let’s check and see what else is going on with you. When you get a physical, the doctor checks everything: eyes, ears, motor skills, private parts, and stomach.
The same way many health issues can get better with changing our eating, a lot of our financial struggles can be solved by looking at how we spend our money and how we can do better.
- Are you spending more than you make?
- Are you ready to make a change?
- If you do not get your spending under control, it will be very hard to move on with your financial checkup.
- How often do you shop?
- Can you cut back a little?
- Why do you shop?
- Is it a stress thing?
- Are you a shopaholic? Do you need to go and talk to a counselor if you are?
- Keeping up with the Joneses thing?
- Do you need everything you buy?
- Can you buy more affordable things, clothes, shoes, etc.
- Is there anywhere that you can cut back?
What Can You Do?
Now that you have the results, what do you need to do to begin to work on some of these things that showed up in your blood work? How can you take action if you would like to make a change?
Eating & Exercising
As I mentioned earlier, many of our health issues can be solved by eating better and exercising. So we need to eat better for health changes, like eating those vegetables and fruits, drink lots of water, cut back on those sugary juices and sodas.
Cut back on all of the foods you love to eat but you know are not good for you, like chips, pasta, rice, pizza, etc. Eat more veggies and lean meats.
You might not like it at first, but it’s good for you.
Same thing with your finances – you need to begin to do those things that you may not enjoy or be comfortable with, but you know are good for you.
How can you begin to make a change for your financial health?
- Have you been saving?
- Do you have anything saved?
- It’s not about how much you make, but it’s about how much you spend.
- What can you do to adjust your finances to save a little something?
- Begin small. Every time you get paid.
- There are many online banks that have a high-interest rate, some beginning at 1%.
- You might think that’s not much, but it’s better than the penny you are getting from your local bank.
- How about a high-interest CD, for a few months to get you in the attitude of saving and having money you cannot touch.
- The time to begin to think about your future is in now. You cannot afford to wait until you are 60 to begin to think about how you will live when you retire.
- “I can’t afford it!” you might be saying, but the truth is you cannot afford not to be able to afford it.
- I don’t care if its $10 per month, begin to save towards your retirement today.
- 401k, 457B etc, Roth IRA’s, etc. are great ways to do this.
- Are you depending on Social Security?
- Answer this question: Can you live on what you would get from Social Security now?
- You don’t have to make a lot of money to begin to invest. Does your job have a retirement plan: 401 k, 457, etc?
- Can you investigate IRA and ROTH IRA’s?
- At the publication of this post, my little guy is 2 years old. We started saving for college from the time he was born, and we got life insurance for him, for final expenses.
- How do you plan on sending your children to college?
- Are you depending on financial aid or scholarships?
- Wouldn’t it be such a blessing if, when your babies graduate, you can give them a card that says your college bill has been paid in full?
- They can begin their lives free of debt and don’t have to worry about getting into debt.
- I had a guy friend that was interested in me that had over $350,000 in college loans.
- Someone said he would make that back.
- But then he got laid off from his job, so who would be paying that debt and how would he live with the monthly payments of that debt?
- Personally, that’s not a man that I would be interested in, and that is too much debt for my comfort.
The Fun Part
What life is worth living if you can’t have a little fun, right? If you’re not able to afford to save, invest, and get a life and health insurance policy out of the money you have, then it’s only time for you to begin to create multiple streams of income.
You need to make some more money. But how can you make some extra income?
- Sell some of your clothes?
- What is your gift? Can you write, sing, play an instrument, fix computers, etc.
- Can you get a second job such as Uber or Lyft?
- Sell things on Amazon
- Other sell-your-things apps such as: Macari and Postmark
- Have you checked your community for any flea markets, etc?
- Facebook SWAP Groups (search FB in your local community
Well, that’s it for now, hope you were blessed and encourage, hope that some thought was provoked. I would love to hear about any efforts you have made to a healthier financial future.
What ways are you working towards a better financial health? I’d love to hear down in the comments!
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