The one thing about life is you never know what can happen. Matthew 6:34 (NLT) says, “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
But what you can do is to be prepared. When I was in corporate America, I had a great job, made 6-figures per year, and I thought the financial good times would last forever, but they didn’t. Next thing you know I’m dealing with workplace bullying, it’s impacting my health, and then I made the decision to leave my well-paying job before I planned to because I needed to preserve my health and well-being. I wished I were totally financially secure and had more savings than I did, but life didn’t work out that way. I took a temporary job, and once it was over, I was a full-time entrepreneur. As I started to think about how I was going to grow my business and replace my income, I learned that I was pregnant….pregnant??? Really?? I looked at my income, my dwindling savings account, and I started to worry. How was I going to take care of myself and two children on a shoestring budget? I started to worry about how I was going to pay for the hospital delivery. I worried about how I would pay my bills, keep a roof over our heads, and have transportation. I looked at what I could see and I got scared. I started to worry as anyone would do. However, I knew that I needed to stop worrying and start focusing on the day in front of me and Matthew 6:34 became my go-to verse to stay focused, because not only was worrying pointless, but it also added to increasing stress in my current day. I needed to stop because the current day had enough going on already.
In this post, I’m going to share how you can get prepared financially and also what you can do if you encounter hard times. At the bottom of the post, I also provide a cheat sheet to help you to identify costs that you can quickly cut in a time of need. Here’s how you can be prepared financially:
Already be prepared
I know that sounds really obvious, but stay with me. The Bible tells us in John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart: I have overcome the world.” What we learn in this verse is that there will be trials and tribulations…not if but will. The key is that if you know that they may come, then doesn’t it make sense to stash money away, develop a plan to sustain yourself as you work through the difficulty, and constantly pray to the Lord to be your provision always?
How do you get prepared?
Manage your windfalls wisely
What are windfalls?
Windfalls are things like tax refunds, bonus checks, etc. It is anything outside of your normal pay.
Why are windfalls important?
Windfalls are important to your financial plan, because if you are budgeting, then you are budgeting based on your regular, predictable pay. Anything above and beyond that is something extra that you can use to shore up your finances. The beautiful thing is that if windfalls are used strategically they can be a guilt-free, way to do something for yourself and improve your finances without deprivation. Imagine not having to ask yourself what you can cut or delay to pay a bill or increase your savings. Windfalls allow you to do just that.
How can you use windfalls?
Since your bills and expenses will already be covered in your budget, you can use your windfalls to increase your savings, pay off debt, catch up on bills, invest, or even do something nice for yourself. Check out these two posts (here and here) to learn how you can use your windfalls wisely. The key is to know what you are going to do ahead of time with the money that you spend so you don’t accidentally overspend and then be unable to make progress on your goals.
This may sound counter-intuitive because if you don’t have enough then why would you give 10% to the church? The reason is that everything that we have is through God’s grace and generosity. He lets us keep 90% and He only asks for 10% back.
Malachi 3: 9 – 10 (ESV), “You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.”
The book of Malachi gives a great explanation for why we should tithe. Tithing shows that you trust that God is the source and that you understand and trust in His ability to provide. When I got pregnant, I was worried that my health insurance would expire before I gave birth, but it didn’t. I was worried about how I would pay for everything that I needed for my twins, from savings that were on fumes, but all of my needs were met right at the right time. I literally had everything that I needed. I attribute this to my tithing and faith in God.
Therefore, I want to challenge you to respond to this question. Are you facing struggle longer than you think that you should? If the answer is yes, then maybe you should first look at your tithing to see if the lack of tithing is blocking your blessing. I can tell you from personal experience that tithing will change your life, your experiences, and your entire outlook on life.
Develop a support system by being a giver
Don’t turn your nose up at this one. I know some of you reading this are thinking, “What’s the point? When I need them they probably won’t be there for me.” However, that’s the wrong mindset to have, because it isn’t about them. It is about you. It’s about the energy that you put in the universe. Galatians 6:7 (ESV) says, “for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” Therefore, if you aren’t a giver, then how can you ever hope to have someone be there for you in your time of need? I want you to understand that I’m not telling you to give so you can get. I want you to understand the point that so many of us expect to receive but we never think to give. We ask other people for favors, but make people jump through hoops in order to get anything from us. That’s not how life works. It’s interconnected.
The best example that I can think of is in Luke 16:10-13. “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?” Think about small acts of kindness and charity along with practicing good financial management. I’m not saying go broke and give all of your money away in order to help others. When I am saying is to look at ways and things that you can do to help make someone else’s life better. Show the Lord that you are responsible and trustworthy with what you have. Let the Lord guide your actions, and allow the Lord’s presence to grow in you.
When you have a giving spirit, things will just happen for you without you even needing to ask, because God will orchestrate everything for you –> Tweet This. I had an amazing support system when I was pregnant which included help with preparing my nursery, help cleaning/organizing my house, pre-cooked meals, an amazing baby shower, more baby clothes than I knew what to do with, babysitting when I needed to teach, covering of prayers, and amazing family and friends who were there for me. I attribute that to my faith in God, treating people with kindness, and my willingness to serve, listen and be there for others. I never anticipated the trial, but I’m glad to know that people were there for me when I needed them. That was faith and works being practiced.
Manage what you have wisely
I wrote a lot about faith in this post because I truly believe that faith is so important to overcoming financial setbacks and life’s challenges. However, there are some practical things that you need to do as well.
“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.” 1 Peter 5:2-3 (NIV)
Therefore, if God allowed you to have the money, the children, and blessings that you have, it is your responsibility to shepherd over it, manage it wisely, and be a good example of what to do when God has blessed you. This is where the core financial planning principles come in. In order manage your money wisely you should:
- Save something out of every check
- Pay off debt
- Invest wisely
- Operate according to a budget so you can make solid financial decisions
- Pour into yourself, your children, and your future by saying “no” to more stuff and “yes” to more that is of God
I also share some tips on managing your money wisely in this interview. Now that you know how to get prepared, now let’s explore what you can do if you are in a difficult situation.
What happens if you encounter hard times?
The good news is that if you have been managing what you have wisely and saving for a rainy day, then you will already have something to use. However, what happens if you run out of money? Depending on your setback, this is entirely possible, and believe me, I understand the fear and even the helplessness that you may be feeling right now. If this is the case, then there are some other things that you can do:
Liquidate your investments
The thought of this may really suck, and it’ll cost you money to do that in terms of capital gains from investments and taxes/penalties if you make an early withdraw from a 401K, but if you have to do it, then do it so you can pay your bills. Be grateful that you have the money to withdraw. This is why it is important to not invest in depreciable assets or things that have no value, because if you encounter hard times, then it’ll either be hard to sell or hard to make anything from it.
Be sure to get your checklist on how to quickly cut your expenses at the end of this post or click here.
- Move in with family or friends
- Reduce your student loan repayments by changing your payment plan or suspending your payments through forbearance or grace
- Negotiate payment plans for outstanding bills
- Cut the cable
- Reduce your food budget by cooking more, eating out less, reducing food waste, and practicing frugal grocery shopping
- Eliminate hair, nails, massage, and personal care spending
- Reduce entertainment budget by doing more free activities
- Use coupons
- Watch your utility usage
Look for ways to earn extra income
- Sell your clothes and stuff around your home
- Look into local, state, or federal programs that can help you through the hard times. Don’t let pride get in the way.
- Think about a side business that you can start that requires little to no investment
- Check out the post 7 Basically Risk-Free Ways To Earn Extra Income because I go into detail about 7 ways to earn income
Stay close to God in prayer
Prayer changes things. Therefore, if you are in the midst of a storm or challenge, then humble yourself before God in prayer. Ask for His guidance.
Give more of your time to help another person in need
Giving to someone else shows that you know that God is in control of what you are going through –> Tweet this. It also tells Him that you aren’t trying to hold onto everything that you have with a clenched fist. You are letting go. You are letting God, and you are blessing someone else in the process. This is one thing that I have been committed to doing. It doesn’t matter what my finances or my time look like. I always find time to be generous and to bless someone else. I believe that it brings honor and glory to God, it allows me to focus on what is good, and it shows God that I’m not trying to work in my own strength.
It’s not about making the “flashy” choice or living the “flashy” life. It’s about making the best decisions for yourself and your family –> Tweet This. For example, think back to the Great Recession, when so many people lost their jobs and life savings. Just imagine how many more people would have been able to weather the storm a bit better if they had made different decisions about their money. That’s what I am encouraging you to do today – think before you spend. Think about ways that you spend or invest your money in a way that protects the long-term future of your family. You have the power to do something different and create a new, better legacy for your children.
Also, check out this interview here where I am asked about how single moms can build their emergency savings.
Leave a comment in the Phenomenal Moms Facebook Group to let me know how this helps you!
Aisha Taylor is a single mom of twins, personal financial coach, work from home entrepreneur, and #1 Amazon Best Selling Author of the book “5+5 FNPhenomenal Ways to Save $100 This Week Without Killing Your Lifestyle.” Aisha has been featured in ESSENCE, Jet Magazine, and Black Enterprise. She is also the Founder of FNPhenomenal (Frugal –n- Phenomenal), a movement designed to help single moms create a vision for their lives, craft a financial strategy to support that vision, and show them that phenomenal living is possible. It’s time for you to be Financially Phenomenal!