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Start Right, Finish Well

2013 Financial Action Plan

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” – Phil. 4:13

It is a New Year!  Let’s declare, “Out with the old – 2012 financial challenges and frustrations; and, in with the new– a plan of action that will improve our financial outlook for 2013 and beyond!”

Financial problems can erode our emotional, physical and spiritual well-being if we allow money to have that much power over us. But based on both man’s perspective and God’s Word, past financial failure is not predictive of future financial success as worldly and spiritual solutions are available.

The first action step for your plan is simple but highly important. Order your credit report from at least one of the credit reporting companies (Equifax, TransUnion, Experian) either online at www.annualcreditreport.com or via phone at 1-877-322-8228. Yes, you know who you owe and how much you owe; but, the credit report reveals much more information and many details. There may be accounts you did not open, especially if identity theft has occurred. The amounts owed listed on the report may be inaccurate.  Additionally, credit reports show late payments, collections, charge-offs, bankruptcies, judgments, tax liens and other information. Looking at this written record of your credit history should be motivation to correct errors and/or submit a statement explaining the reason for the delinquency (job loss, illness or other reason). Although credit approval decisions are primarily computerized, prospective creditors and employers, insurance companies, and rental companies need to know that your financial situation resulted from circumstances beyond your control.

Ways to improve your credit rating range from do-it-yourself credit repair to credit counseling. The credit reporting company and the information provider (person, company, or business that submits credit information to a credit reporting company) should be notified when there is inaccurate or incomplete information on your credit report. See “Correcting Credit Report Errors.” Paying bills on time over time will certainly improve your credit score as payment history accounts for 35 percent of the FICO scoring model. Reputable credit counseling organizations can advise you on managing your money and debts, help you develop a budget, and offer free educational materials and workshops.

Regardless of past financial mistakes do not despair (Psalm 42:5). Ask the Lord to give you strength to deal with the consequences of those mistakes and wisdom for your future decision-making (earning, spending, and saving money).   Take advantage of the various ways you can learn how to become a better money manager (books/magazines, financial websites, seminars/workshops); and, affirm a prosperous future (Prov. 13:12; 3 John 1:2). “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he….” (Prov. 23:7a)  Those who have excellent credit can thank God and mentor a family member or friend on money management.

Making a budget for spending and saving your money is the next action step for your financial plan. Reflection, time, and commitment are required.  Reflection involves thinking about your financial priorities (goals) and putting them in writing. Time encompasses recordkeeping. Track how your money is being spent on a daily basis for at least a month; prepare a statement of all money coming in and going out of your household (current cash flow); and revise your cash flow to align with your spending and saving goals (planned cash flow). Commitment is measured by consistent action to achieve your financial goals.  [See Wealth for the Righteous newsletter – Money Management Basics (http://wealthrighteous.net/join/newsletter-subscription)].

Indeed there are more steps to changing your financial situation. However, you can be assured that your journey towards financial stability is on the right track once you have ordered and reviewed your credit report, corrected any errors, and made a spending plan to control your money. Research reveals that planning leads to higher levels of wealth accumulation. And the Bible states: “The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.” (Prov. 21:5)