It All Starts with Savings
Any successful financial stewardship begins with savings. In fact, savings is the foundation of all material civilization. Yes, it is true that labor is a critical component in our material advancement, and there is dignity in any honest labor.
What then makes labor possible? Initially our brawn, simple manual effort. As we know from history that does not get us far by way of a standard of living. To raise humanity’s condition labor needs to be more productive. In fact, increased productivity is the only means by which humanity can increase its standard of living and become materially wealthier. As a species, we can only consume what we produce, so we must produce more to become wealthier, that is raise our level of productivity. We must produce more with the same or less effort to do this. How then, given the same 168 hours in a week and humanity’s physical abilities capped can we produce more?
Tools are the answer, of course. If we have more and better tools, then we can produce more and better things. Economics gives a fancy name to these tools, capital. The more capital we have the more we can produce. The more we produce the more we can consume. Voila, the wealthier we are.
So, where does the capital come from? Savings, that’s where. We must defer some of our consumption to build tools that will allow us to produce more later. The foundation, then, of all material wealth is savings. So, as we can logically see, the wellsprings of wealth come from savings which produces more and better tools which allows us to produce more and therefore consume more.
This is true for each of us as individuals. The first thing we must do to save is to understand what we spend, and to control that spending in an intentional way. To that end there is an array of resources below to help you get ahold of your spending. There are differing tactics, and formats available. No one is the right way; it depends upon what is most comfortable for you. The common denominator is that every tactic entails spending less than you earn. Please browse and see which one of these tools might help you to best get a handle on your spending and assist you in saving.
Budget Resources to Help You Save
This is my favorite Christian financial ministry. They have a variety of resources, some free, some for a reasonable price, to help you in all areas of your financial life. They have great tools for budgeting and gaining control of your spending
Dave Ramsey is probably the best known Christian financial figure in the country. His site offers a variety of tools and resources, mostly for sale, that can assist you in all areas of your financial life. Best known among these is “Financial Peace University”
Mint, which is owned by Intuit (Turbo tax). Mint may be the most well-known of the internet and smartphone-based budgeting applications, and it offers comprehensive services at no cost.
Mint users can link multiple financial accounts to the service, which then tracks and categorizes spending. It includes a payment tracker with bill reminders, and its calculators allow people to see how their decisions may impact progress toward goals.
SoFi Relay is another free budgeting app. It allows users to link accounts, review balances and set spending targets. It aggregates accounts and makes it easy to review spending by category. The app also provides access to VantageScore 3.0 credit scores and makes it simple to connect with a professional to discuss financial goals and strategies.
This budgeting software is intended for those who like the idea of an envelope cash management system but don’t want the hassle of carrying physical envelopes. Instead, Goodbudget lets users fund virtual envelopes that are used to track expenses and sync and share budget information across devices. The free version includes 10 regular envelopes. The pay version gets you 10 more envelopes, one year of account history and access to community support forums.
Free budgeting tools may be as close as your bank’s website. Bank of America, Chase and even local credit unions are among the institutions to provide customers budgeting resources that can track expenses, run spending reports, and export data to spreadsheets or computer software.
Here is an article from Investopedia that reviews several budgeting software solutions
Don’t forget old fashioned desktop applications like spreadsheets. MicroSoft Excel and Apple Numbers have templates for budgets that you can customize for your personal situation.