Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Financial Plateaus

When I quit my job a dozen years ago to become a stay-at-home mother, I made it my personal mission to learn about money and financial matters. Although tracking expenses, saving for emergencies, and living within our means hasn't always been fun, I can truly say it has given us peace of mind.

Experts claim we've been out of the recession for eighteen months, yet many people are still struggling. Have any of these scenarios stopped your finances from working for you?

Did you stop contributing to a retirement fund?
Do you own a house you can't afford?
Are you one of many who are unemployed?
Has your household income fell, maybe significantly from before the financial crisis?

These questions can halt the staunchest saver. However, doing nothing won't get you off the plateau.

Saving for retirement is confusing. Even the experts get it wrong. Start reading articles about investment options in magazines such as Forbes, Money, Kiplingers and eventually you'll have a basic understanding of possible retirement plans that are right for you. In the meantime, you can always contribute to an FDIC insured account until you're ready to make decisions.

If you own a house you can't afford, research your options. Is there a government program designed to help you? Is your region a good rental area? Could you rent out your home and move into something less expensive? Could you sell your house for a loss? Talk to local real estate agents for advice.

If you or your spouse is unemployed, check with your state about benefit extensions. Also, the holidays are coming up and many local businesses hire part-time help. Any money coming in is better than none. If you're receiving unemployment, any part-time pay could affect it--research the effects before you accept a part-time job.

If your income has fallen, have you adjusted your spending? Are you experiencing too much month, not enough money? Be ruthless about your spending. Tell yourself it's temporary. Cut cable, ditch your expensive cell phone for a pay-as-you-go one, cook simple meals, borrow DVD's from your library, and try hard not to look at this as deprivation. Remind yourself you are spending less to avoid debt, to stay in your house, to pay for your kids' piano lessons, or whatever else is important to you.

The most effective way to get off a financial plateau, though, is to pray. God will provide. He might not provide exactly the way you want or expect, but open your eyes and you'll see His amazing gifts.

When times are turbulent, it's difficult to plan our finances, but even small steps can get us off a financial plateau and on our way to a healthy financial future.

Join me on Friday when we discuss style plateaus.


  1. Before I was a single parent I didn't even know how to balance my check book! Now I use monthly cash flow sheets and income statements but still do spend beyond my means from time to time. To make money your friend, not foe is tricky but a relationship worth fighting for! Great advise Jill. Recession in Canada is different than our American friends but still a shared experienced.

  2. Excellent advice, Jill! I wish more people would think about this.

  3. Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Jill. I like the final note about praying and trusting the Lord.

    After 35 years of being in ministry, we've learned how to live within our means, but I did stop adding to my 401K, and would like to start up again.

  4. Lynn: Getting into financial shape takes courage--good for you! Cash flow sheets work for me too!

    Jessica: Thank you! I think learning about money is neither glamorous or easy, but it's worth it.

    Jen: Even when I don't get an answer right away, praying takes the edge off any anxiety. When the time is right, you'll get back into your 401K!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  5. I'm thankful I tend not to need much. And I work hard. I find ways to bring money in to help.

    ~ Wendy

  6. Great tips! I really need to cinch my wallet or I'm never going to get my addition!

  7. Excellent post, Jill. I also think that when we are mindful about where we spend our money we become more thankful for those things we choose to spend it on because we are making a conscious choice to spend or save up for something rather than purchasing on impulse.

  8. Wendy: Two wonderful traits. Your husband is a lucky man! ;)

    T.Anne: Did someone say addition?? I want to hear all about it! It's so fun to dream!

    Amy: Thanks!

    Linda: I agree. When I'm thinking about a purchase, really thinking about it, I'm more thankful of all I have.

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  9. Great post...I think about money all the time. When I was a teacher I didn't make a fortune, but I did contribute. Now I don't contribute anything financially. I worry about spending. It seems like everything costs so much...groceries in particular. We are still able to save, but no wonderful holidays for our family this past year.

  10. Wonderful advice!! It amazes me that we hear there's nothing wrong with th economy now yet people around me are worse off--if not the same--as they were a year ago. Breaks my heart sometimes to see so much financial suffering.

    LOVE your last tip--too true that God will help us see our blessings as well as ways we can improve our financial strategies.

    Thanks for sharing, Jill!

  11. Hello there,

    I have a inquiry for the webmaster/admin here at

    May I use some of the information from this blog post above if I give a backlink back to your website?


  12. Sharon: I'm in the same boat, and everything you said is true for me too. It's very hard to transition from bringing a check home to not contributing financially. I could probably write an entire book on the emotional upheaval!

    Jackee: I recently read the headline that the recession has been over for 18 months. My eyes popped wide open, like really?? Maybe it's a trickle down effect? I agree with you. It sure doesn't feel like it's over.

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  13. Charlie: Feel free to reference this article, and yes, I require a backlink to the post and attribution. Thank you.

  14. Great info here, Jill! I'm reading a book right now, Your Money God's Way by Amie Streater. It's a wonderful read from someone who's been through it all, financially speaking. Because I help people with their money/taxes for a living this book interested me, but I'm finding it very interesting for my own finances as well.

  15. Oh, and Amie Streater has a great blog I try to visit every so often as well. Not just about finances. She tells it like it is, which I think we all need sometimes.

  16. Lots to learn through times like these! One thing is for sure, God does supply our needs as He promises. Some days it just takes me a little longer to remember that:)

  17. Heather: Oh! Thanks for the tip! I'll check her out. And it's great to read books about finances. I always learn something new and get inspired!

    Karen: It takes me longer somedays too. :)

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  18. Jill:
    My son has been unemployed for 19 months, with no response to his applications he sends out.
    My husband and I are on a fixed income (Soc. Sec.) This coming year is the second year in a row we won't get a raise.
    Gasoline is hovering around $3.00 a gallon. (It wasn't that high this summer.)
    A friend of mine's ex daughter-in-law lost her job recently. It came out in the unemployment hearing that the company was going to hire all people who will work for peanuts, who might not have to pay taxes, and who will send all they make back to their homeland.
    I don't believe the recession is over for all of us. Just the ones at the top.


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