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Broke Again?

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When I was a teenager, my mom took me to the local bank to help me open my first checking account. Along with the thrill of getting the seed money to help start it from my parents, I was also given some instruction in how to take care of the account. I learned things like maintaining a minimum balance, avoiding bank fees and keeping my checkbook balanced by keeping good records of all my deposits and withdrawals. I thought keeping my own record of those things seemed pointless, since at the end of the month my bank would send me a statement showing all the activity of the account. That’s when my mom gave me some of the best financial advice ever: Take care of the nickels and dimes, and the dollars will take care of themselves. What does that mean? In essence it was good advice to make sure to budget and track where I was spending my money, and as a result I would have money to spend on what I liked.

How can you take care of the “nickels and dimes”? A proven method for those learning to manage money is the “envelope” method. In this method of budgeting, you create separate envelopes (or empty cans or whatever works for you) with labels on them for different things. Each time money comes your way, you divide it up among these envelopes. So what are these different envelopes labeled? First we must be obedient to God’s law, and in regards to money, that means tithing. As you probably already know, a tithe is one tenth. We give two tithes. The first is for the work that the Church does today. The second is for us to spend at God’s feasts. Tithing should always be our first priority (Deuteronomy 14:22-26 Deuteronomy 14:22-26 [22] You shall truly tithe all the increase of your seed, that the field brings forth year by year. [23] And you shall eat before the LORD your God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of your corn, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herds and of your flocks; that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always. [24] And if the way be too long for you, so that you are not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from you, which the LORD your God shall choose to set his name there, when the LORD your God has blessed you: [25] Then shall you turn it into money, and bind up the money in your hand, and shall go to the place which the LORD your God shall choose: [26] And you shall bestow that money for whatever your soul lusts after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatever your soul desires: and you shall eat there before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice, you, and your household,
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After our first and second tithe envelopes are taken care of, what’s next? Well if you’re in college or otherwise out on your own (or very close to it), you’ll need envelopes for things like rent, food and maybe tuition (make this a big envelope). If leaving home is still a few years off for you, you have some freedom to choose, but it’s a good idea to think about what the priorities are of the freedom you have. You might be thinking about college or other training after high school and how a car will be useful for your future plans. Is it worth saving a few dollars for those? You bet! You might label these envelopes “college” and “car.” Of course spending money on entertaining yourself is not wrong, so an envelope for “summer camp” and “entertainment” would probably be a good idea too. Anything else you’d like to save up for? A new phone perhaps? There’s another envelope to add to your collection.

As you grow older, you may or may not choose to use physical envelopes and cash. You might choose to use a spreadsheet or even an app. You might even consider opening multiple savings accounts at different banks. This can be a good option, and one that can often bring cash rewards for starting a new account (think: signing bonus!). Perhaps you’ll choose to use a mix of the envelope method for some things and savings accounts for bigger ticket items, but any way you do it, you’ll have taught yourself an important principle on budgeting and saving.

One final thing to consider: Save money when you can. The story of the industrious ant in Proverbs 6:6-8 Proverbs 6:6-8 [6] Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: [7] Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, [8] Provides her meat in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest.
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reminds us that we need to work when we are able to put something away for the future. For the ant, that was food and shelter. As humans, it’s typically money used to buy things, whether it’s food and shelter or phones and movie tickets. If you have an allowance, you can begin using the envelope method to divide up your allowance accordingly. As the summer comes along, there will be more opportunities to make and save money—mowing lawns, cleaning homes, babysitting, etc. So when you wind up earning money, make the most of it by using the envelope method or other budgeting tools and setting aside some for the future!