The Business section of a recent Sunday newspaper was headlined “The Age of Austerity.” The subheading read “Young or old, people are worried that the recovery is not for real and likely to be short-lived.” Then the economic column on that same front page started out “Few things cause more generalized public anger than a spike in gasoline prices. This has been especially sharp in Minnesota, and we are still in the unusual position of having prices higher than the national average.” Living here, in the St. Croix Valley, gas prices have an immediate effect on our personal finances because we are so reliant on our cars with few or no mass transit options.
Yet, there is an imbalance and discomfort because we continue to be immersed in a culture of consumerism. We’re encouraged to want more, new, better, regardless of need, and we’re led to believe that everyone else is on that path and probably ahead of us.
Despite the overpowering role of money all around us, it remains the one thing that has been extremely hard to talk about in church and in personal relationships. We can talk about and support each other in our pain, disappointments, illness and heartaches of many kinds. If we are weighted down and burdened with worry about our personal finances, it can be hard to see and feel God’s abundance. We should be able to talk about that too, without shame or judgment or question of motive.
What if we really live and support each other with our sixth Characteristic of Vibrant Stewards? “Vibrant Stewards embrace financial health as an expression of faith. We allow money to flow to and through our lives in ways that nourish us and our world.” God calls us to be disciples as whole persons, all the time, engaged in all aspects of life on earth. And in this day and age, life on earth involves money.
So, this month, consider this question: Who is your financial advisor? Or, do you think you don’t have enough money to have a financial advisor?
Each of us should have a financial advisor, no matter how young or old we are, how much or how little money we have. For some it can be parents, but for others it can be grandparents, aunts or uncles, or special friends and mentors. Five- year-olds need financial advisors. New graduates and college students need financial advisors. Young people getting married face all kinds of new financial challenges as they combine incomes, desires, needs and different experiences with money.
It has been proven that money does not create happiness. Not having enough to meet daily needs, or not being able to manage money well can, however, result in a great deal of angst. Having wise and knowledgeable counsel and mentoring support in financial matters – a financial advisor – helps us to become financially healthy.
In this column and the “Living in Gratitude” section of Trinity’s website, we will continue to share resources for financial health. We strive to become as supportive to each other in financial matters as we are in others.
In the summer, most of us are involved in some way with weddings, high school and college graduates, and students home from school. All of these situations present opportunities for us to either be or seek out a personal financial advisor. There are wonderful free resources on the website www.smartaboutmoney.org (look in the “resource library” or “tools & resources”). This website is a program of the National Endowment for Financial Education, a nonprofit, noncommercial foundation dedicated to inspiring empowered financial decision making through every stage of life.
I am going to create opportunities to share some brochures from that website with the young people who mean so much to me:
– 40 Money Management Tips Every College Student Should Know
– Marriage and Money
– Your Spending, Your Savings, Your Future
We are stewards, on behalf of God, of all that we have and all that we are. Being financially healthy frees us to live a productive and joyful life in service to God. We would love to begin a dialogue about how we can develop the courage, comfort, trust and resources to better support each other in financial matters. The Vibrant Stewardship Team welcomes your thoughts, contact Julie Jolivette at firstname.lastname@example.org or Ann Wolff at email@example.com.