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My Top Four Tips For Those in Financial Despair

1) Put God first and recognize that all you have is given to you by Him. He is the Creator and Sustainer of life, we owe everything we have and are to Him. The least we can do is give back the “firstfruits” of our earnings to Him in gratitude for all He has given us. (By the way, if you are unfamiliar with your Creator and would like to know more, please email me. I’d love to tell you more about how I’ve found true peace and contentment in my soul for Eternity–something which all the money in the world can’t buy.)

2) Have a positive, grateful attitude. I cannot tell how much a can-do, cheerful attitude can affect your finances. As the saying goes, “Can’t never did anything.” If you sit there and sulk about how hard things are for you financially you’ll never get very far. If you instead seek to be thankful for what you have, to make the most of your situation, and to be creative with what you have, you might just be surprised at the possibilities.

3) Become a Dave Ramsey “junkie.” I know I talk about Dave a lot and some of you might get tired of me plugging his stuff till I’m blue in the face. I was once there, too. My husband had started listening to this “Dave guy” on the radio and kept telling me I really should listen, too. I didn’t get what the big deal was but I finally heeded my husband’s encouragement and I’m so glad I did! If you feel financially hopeless or like you are stuck in a hamster wheel, go get yourself a copy of The Total Money Makeover. You can thank me later. 🙂

4) Get on a budget. Read Dave’s book first, he’ll walk you step-by-step how to do it and give you all the motivation you need. You can also download a FREE budget spreadsheet here to help you out. And here’s a free 5-day Jumpstart Your Budget Challenge.

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  • anonymous says:

    I would also highly recommend Crown Financial if you (in the plural) are interested in what the Bible says about finances. My husband and I have already been financially smart, but lazy. Crown Financial gave us the Biblical motivation we needed to put everything we knew to do in practice. We have been using Crown’s methods- which are very similar to Dave’s- for about 5 years (around the birth of our first child). Our goal, Lord willing, is to be completely financially free within 7 years. (that includes our 3 kids’ college tuition, and my husband’s 401K) God truly will bless your efforts!

  • Kasey says:

    I see so many people that get so depressed about their financial situation, without realizing what a blessing it can be as a catalyst for their creativity! Having a positive, grateful attitude is everything! I have learned that being frugal does NOT mean that your life has to be stressful and dull, but it is an opportunity to step back and recognize the beauty in the world around you, and to find creative ways to make your own life beautiful. Thanks for all you do and teach us Crystal!

  • Courtney Wagner says:

    Hi Crystal, I so needed to hear this! We are at the beginning of this journey and as inspired as I get reading about what others have accomplished, it really helps to give a nod of encouragement to those of us way back at the starting line!!! I love your blog and have learned a ton here already. We are one week into our Total Money Makeover! Yay!!!


  • Lori says:

    Thank you so much for this timely post. I spent all of last night and all day today praying that my husband’s job would be saved. The company he works for was bought by a private equity firm 2 weeks ago. There was a very important meeting held today and the division for which my husband works has been bought by a third party. Although his benefits will change, he will still retain his position, unlike many others in the company. We have been blessed and God watches over those who ask for His presence in their lives!
    Now we will continue to stockpile basics for this winter as energy prices are expected to sky rocket. Thanks to your blog, I realize that we need to think ahead and be as prepared and organized as possible. I enjoy your daily inspiration.

  • michelle says:

    We bought the book and looked at it and actually read the first chapter. We vowed to make a budget and never did. That was 5 months ago. I really love your site and I try to work on saving. I don’t spend on myself but I have a hard time with the coupon game because I really don’t need the things on their every week. I laugh because I actually work for Walgreens and never take advantage of the deals. Even sillier is my husband is a pastor so you would think we could actually read a spirtual money saving book together. We lead a bible study and I always have to make him sit down and do our homework together. Oh well, there could be worse things. I would like to stay at home so I am very interested in your new series. Keep up the great work!!

  • Lorrie says:

    Thank you so much for recommending The Total Money Makeover. My husband and I have both read the book and have been on a really strict budget the last several months. Our family thinks we are crazy. We have a $1000 emergency fund, all of our hospital bills and credit cards paid off, and are on track to pay off the rest of our debt within 12-18 months. We have decided to sell my financed car and drive our paid for van. We will then only have the house, and we plan to pay it off within 6-7 years. Thank you again for all the work you put into this site.

  • Lyn says:

    Crystal, I’m so glad you reposted some of those posts, thank you.

    Having a budget really helps us, especially since we live on a smaller income. It has allowed us to pay off most of our debt. The only challenge with paying off debt on a smaller income is that it takes longer than those who have more disposable income. Otherwise, if you have a budget and a plan, it will happen for you. It does take some time.

    We have given up many things for the greater good (to become debt free). Sometimes it takes being willing to sacrifice the little things to reach your goal faster. We don’t have cable, eat out rarely, no salons of any kind, no vacations away – I could list many things. The point is that the sacrifice of these things (for now) to have the peace of being debt free is far far better to me.

  • Shannon says:

    Another great book packed full of biblical scripture on money is “Your Money Counts” by Howard Dayton- former president of Crown Financial. This book changed my life and helped me see that we are simply God’s money managers and he cares more about HIS dreams for me than the dreams I may have for myself (aka-the American dream).

  • Carrie says:

    Crystal, I was wondering if you know how much different “The Total Money Makeover” is from Dave’s book “Financial Peace Revisited?” We have that book (it came with our Financial Peace University kit which we are slowly working our way through) and I was wondering if it would be worthwhile to get The Total Money Makeover in addition. Thanks!

  • Abigail says:

    Dave’s books are on sale this week for $10. GREAT DEAL!!

  • james says:

    I’m tired of Dave. He’s always telling me what I cant do. We are having a tough time financially I read his book. Its a very good read. My problem is life also happens as well. I am great ful for reading his book as no on ever taught me how to handle my finances. Now I feel I know what I should do but life is happening so I have to sit tight for now.

    Daves book is great theres a lot of wisdom and good old fashioned advice in it. But for me right now man sometimes I wish i could turn off the Dave voice in my head..

  • rachel says:

    those were good tips….especially the dave ramsey part.. im waiting for my turn on the long list at the library 🙂 everyone seems to be wanting to read his books!

  • Abigail says:

    Carrie- I have read both books. “Financial Peace Revisited and “The Total Money Makeover”. I liked FPR better then the TMM. Total Money Makeover had more personal examples then Financial Peace Revisited. If you can get a used copy or one for $10 I would go a head and purchase it. It is still good information.

  • Dana says:

    I’m a fan of Dave Ramsey and Crown both. I did volunteer budget counseling for several years and loved seeing people get on a budget and out of debt. Even though I’m a numbers person, I get tired at times of constantly trying to stay on a budget and manage our money. I try to stay on track because it allows me to stay at home and enjoy the life God has given us.

  • Heather says:

    Every time I want to spend money on anything other than rent, debt or groceries, or am feeling depressed about our money situation (which is at least once a week), I listen to Dave’s radio show online. He has 2 weeks of archives on his website. I like to start with the Friday show because it’s about people who have just paid off all their debt. I listen and I cry with happiness for them and then find more of our stuff to sell online. If you listen often enough you’ll hear all the advice from his books, and more.

  • CCHHEETTAAHH!! DR fans here, too! Nine months into the program and…

    we have more money in the bank than we ever have had in our adult lives

    paid off over $16K in debt

    have had “Murphy” show up at the house a few times (DaHubby’s hours cut, his going back to school (only paying CASH for his classes) to secure our future against a failing industry, and several other unexpected “uh-oh’s”) and, we’ve sailed thru each one (relatively) effortlessly.

    I’ve got a 2 and a 4 yr old on commissions already and they recognize DR’s voice on the radio and yell “CHEETAH”! LOL

    And, we’re teaching FPU at our church to reach others with this info AND to keep us accountable!

    If you are considering this…PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do this!

  • Pamela Adams says:

    Crystal – I am starting to read Dave Ramsey’s book now and am making the note what my husband & I need to improve our financial with our son, 3 1/2 years old. I think Dave Ramsey’s financial method should help our financial and improve our spending too. Thanks for recommend and encourage us to read his book. God bless you and all other mothers too!!

  • Kristi says:

    Thank you. Just the post I needed to read this morning. While my husband goes to seminary full time, we frugally manage with several part time jobs and make up the rest on-line. Budgeting for July, we realized we will be $200 short this month. Woke up early to list on e-bay before the kids wake up. I really needed this post as encouragement through another tight month. Spending $70 to take Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Peace University” class two years ago, was the best investment my family has ever made!

  • Jeanne says:

    Hehe! I could have written Heather’s post!

    – We, too, paid off $16K in 8 months.
    – Had a few Murphy visits, including one stork visit *grin*.
    – Co-teaching FPU at our church.
    – 3, 4, and 12 yo are on commission.
    – The children recognize Dave. There’s nothing cuter than my 3 yo pointing out and yelling “Dave Wamseeeey”.
    – And most important, it’s all God’s doing. We’re so grateful for a loving and generous Savior. We’re fallible humans, making mistakes, yet we keep trying to live and spend our money the way God would have us and He continues to bless us.

  • Amara says:

    We are also Dave Ramsey “junkies” and his envelope system of budgeting has been so wonderful for us. I love to listen to Dave on the radio and my kids love to hear the callers screaming “I’m Debt Free!” (By the way, this has also encouraged lots of interesting discussions in our car!) Here are some other resources that were helpful in my frugal walk:
    Your Money or Your Life, by Joe Dominguez
    Frugal Luxuries (hmmm, author?)
    Frugal Luxuries for All Seasons
    America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money by Steve/Ann Economides

    I love to keep reading to keep my encouragement high. There are moments when it is tough to “live like no one else”, but honestly, the rewards of doing so for the past 18 months have been wonderful.

  • Alisha says:

    I’m glad we’re friends Crystal…even though you have no idea who I am. 🙂 Thanks for your blog.

  • Tammy says:

    Your ideas are great.I have one problem which nobody ever seems to talk about.Everyone assumes that the couple will work on this together.That is a joke in our marriage!

  • Tammy: While my husband and I try to be totally on the same page when it comes to finances and seek to clearly communicate about everything, I know that this is not common practice, sadly.

    Dave Ramsey speaks to many spouses on a regular basis who are struggling with this very issue. As he often says (paraphrased), “You have marriage problems, not money problems.”

    I wish I could give you some more encouragement or ideas, but not knowing the particulars of your situation and not being in a position to give marriage counseling, I will instead encourage you to consider reading Dave’s book or listening to his show to get some ideas regarding this. Also, if you are a Christian, I’d advise you to sit down with your pastor or another Biblical counselor and get some Godly advice.

  • Marsha says:

    I wish I could send this post to two people who are dear to me and who are really struggling badly.

    Sadly, they’re not ready to hear it and I think that strong encouragement to read it anyway would strain the relationship. For years they’ve never understood why I live the way I do when, when (in theory/on paper) I could “afford” what was thought of as “better”. I fear now any attempt to help them recast the challenge as opportunity would be interpreted as an “I told you so” moment.

    Sigh. Money mixed with love is *so* complicated.

  • Jenny says:

    Can Dave Ramsey help even if you have no debt to speak of? We have no debt, the problem is that we have very little money and stretch it from pay check to paycheck. Is it worth reading his book, will I get anything from it?

    Money Saving Mom here: Great question, Jenny! The answer is a resounding “YES!” We don’t have any debt and have never had debt, but Dave’s encouragement and ideas have helped to propel us onto a much better place financially than we were before we found him. And he’s certainly saved us more than a few thousand dollars by encouraging us to stretch our money farther, invest it wiser, and have a better perspective on money in general.

    I’d highly recommend his books/radio show to you as I believe it will encourage you as to how much more you could do–especially because you don’t have any debt.

  • Another Dave Ramsey fan here! My husband and I began our Total Money Makeover back in January. We are currently working Baby Step 2 (almost done with our first debt!) and should be completely debt free except for our house by early Spring.

    With all the news about rising food and gas prices, the slumping housing market and economic downturn, it’s so comforting to know that we have a plan.

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