If you’re like me it seems like the moment when you stand across from the person you’ll spend the rest of your life with will never come. You spend countless hours daydreaming, making preference lists, praying and even secretly social media profiling (aka Facebook stalking) potentials. After you finally meet the person, it’s like nothing matters and together you’re inseparable. No obstacle is unconquerable and life is all around good. You spend months making decisions about flowers, friends and center pieces. Then, just as quickly as it takes you to say, “I Do” the day goes. You’re left crazy in love, and often times insanely in debt. So what do you do now? Here are five essentials if you find yourself young, married and broke.
Talk to a good financial counselor: Just because you’re currently broke doesn’t mean you’ll always be that way so it’s good to start getting advice. That means strategic planning with real numbers, real people about real life circumstances. As comforting as the “love conquers all” ideology is, it will not prove profitable if you’re facing foreclosure or sitting in the dark because of an unpaid utility bill. Having an objective perspective will give you the reality check necessary to understand and realistically assess the challenges faced by young, broke newlyweds. You can also attend classes on financial literacy and planning (see suggestions below).
Spend time discussing personal philosophy on money: I’m blessed to have a wife that shares the same fundamental beliefs about money, stewardship and its purpose in our lives. We both hold the central value that God gives us money as a resource, but it’s not THE source. Differences in opinion about how money is spent, how much and when it’s spent can create tension if not discussed in depth. Simple things like whether or not you will tithe, and or give can be the beginning of big disagreements if not talked about beforehand.
Volunteer: Martin Luther King Jr. once stated, “We must remember intelligence is not enough. Intelligence, plus character-that is the true goal of education.” There’s no better way of developing character than by serving others, and the great thing is there is no shortage of need. By serving others and volunteering, not only do you take the spotlight off your situation, you can also develop relationships that may or may not lead to great opportunities. Sincere service will inevitably enhance your capacity to lead, develop your leadership potential and help cultivate marketable experiences.
Start your own business: Starting your own business can be a very intimidating process, but it’s also very rewarding. There are many reasons why some people start their own business. Some want more time freedom, while others may seek financial freedom and more income. Depending on the nature of your business the payback for your investment can be immediate. There are numerous networking marketing opportunities that require a start-up fee, but give you access to great training and the potential to grow a lucrative business. There are also tax advantages to owning a business and you’ll be able to develop new skills and meet new people. Be wise and research smart to ensure you select the right opportunity for you. Home-based businesses can provide additional income and be a productive use of time in between landing a big gig.
Avoid moving in with your family: I know for some of you this one may be too late, but it’s ok. There’s still time to get out. This can sometimes be a sensitive subject, especially if you’re young, married, broke and running out of options. The reason I say avoid this is because as newlyweds you need time to learn and discover each other without the added pressures and expectations of family members. Leaving and cleaving is what bonds you together. If you leave, cleave and return, often times you get burned. The normal pressures of trying to create together time, facilitate conflict management and decision making can easily become exacerbated by well-intentioned, but boundary-crossing family members. If possible avoid it at all cost.
The wedding is only a day, but marriage is a lifetime. Unfortunately, seldom do young and madly in love folks invest as much time preparing for the marriage as they do for the ceremony. There are lots of things to think about after you say I do and you don’t want to find yourself making every major life decision based on your financial position. It’s not a pleasant way to live and ultimately creates an uncomfortable and tense environment in your marriage. Plan right, practice smart, listen to wise counsel and trust God. For more resources, please visit the following links: