In 1995 our family immigrated to America. At the time, it was just my dad, mom, older sister, and me, two suitcases, and $2,000. I was just a kid, and didn’t understand everything that was going on around me, but now looking back I see my parents had a hard task at hand. They had to start completely over, in a new country they did not know anything about. Growing up I always felt my parents were busy or gone, but now I understand that they were both working to set the foundation for our family so that we can have an opportunity to succeed in life. They both worked multiple jobs, and went to school, and were very conservative with their spending. At the time it was tough because it felt like we always had less then everyone around us; but again, I now understand that my parents were more concerned about building the foundation than they were about having the nicest things. Looking back now, I thank God that I had parents who were able to have the discipline to make those decisions. Now that I have been married almost two years now, I am working and praying to adopt the same values in our family.
Make sure that you are being obedient to God first by tithing, and giving Him what He requires of us. If we don’t give to God, it will be hard to keep everything else in order, because it is He who leads us and establishes our path.
Make a Long Term Plan
As you start anything new, whether it is a new family, new business, or a new job, you always need to make a long term plan. Evaluate the purpose of what you are doing, what you want to accomplish, and what you want to prioritize. After you make your plan, you can start working backwards from your goal, and set certain milestones that you want to achieve along the way as a check to make sure you are on the right path. This will also give you the ability to re-evaluate your long term goal.
Build a Foundation
Make sure you have a foundation that can weather a storm. The Bible talks about the wise man building his house on a rock. I think it is very important for a family to have basic protection to weather storms. Things like a death in a family can create problems, but making sure that there is adequate life insurance can protect you from possible disasters.
Establishing a retirement plan from the beginning, to make sure you start preparing for the later years, is key to enjoying those years. Also, if you can’t put a little money away when you are in your prime working years, it will be even harder to do after you have already developed life habits that don’t include contributions to a retirement plan. In the markets, time can be your best friend, or your biggest enemy. If you start early, time and compounding growth can make your small contributions mean a lot. So making sure you are slowly working at protecting yourself in the future, for when you get beyond working age, is important.
Have 3-6 months of savings available in short term investments that don’t lose value. For example, have short Term Certificates with staggered maturity dates just in case an emergency comes up, or an economic downturn occurs. Having that buffer available will help lower your stress because you aren’t constantly worried about what can happen. You know that if a problem occurs you have time to adjust and make a wise decision, instead of being rushed because you have no savings.
As you set out on your path, make sure to keep your priorities in order. Every decision that you make has an after effect. Every time you buy something you don’t need, you are trading it for a resource that you have earned, or will have to earn. That trade usually involves exchanging your time that you spend working for the items you buy. So make sure you are buying things that are worth your time. Don’t spend carelessly, because in doing so you are trading your time for those items which could instead be spent with family, kids, or grandkids, by adding work years on the back end of your work life.
Luke 6:48 “he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.”