I loved speaking on the need to create financial margin this past Sunday at Restoration City. If the overall premise of this “margin” series is that mission requires margin, then the premise of this past Sunday’s message was that generosity requires financial margin. That’s such an important thought for our entire church to latch onto as we pursue God’s mission for us as a church. And, I believe, it’s an especially important thought for our 20-somethings to latch onto even though you’re young and poor.
The financial decisions you make in your 20’s will create a trajectory that will shape your 30’s, your 40’s and, in some cases, the rest of your life. Here’s why this is such a big deal for me: I made the worst financial decisions of my life when I was in my 20’s. And I don’t want you to go down that road.
So, let me give you four truths about money that I wish I had learned at 22:
I’m Not Going To Have My Parent’s Lifestyle
At least not yet. Yes, Mom and Dad may eat out regularly, drive nice cars, take great trips and live in a great house. You know the main difference between them and you? Roughly 30 years of working, saving and investing! But when we’re in high school and college, we get to draft of their lifestyle – their house is our house, their vacation is our vacation and their income establishes our lifestyle. But then we’re out on our own, just with less income. Guess what? That’s how it’s supposed to be! The problem comes when we don’t adjust our lifestyle. Debt comes when we think we’re entitled to eating out a few times a week, going to Europe once a year and living in a place with granite counter tops. Your 20’s aren’t a time to keep up with your parents in their 50’s. They’re a time to do in your 20’s what your parents did in theirs – live simply, eat inexpensively and save!
The More I Save Now, The More Options I’ll Have Later
I don’t know why I couldn’t quite figure out that 35 year old John would end up needing some of the money that 25 year old John was busy spending. But, as it turns out, all of those things you dream of in life are rather expensive – weddings, honeymoons, houses, kids, they all add up. No, I’m not suggesting you become a Scrooge-like hoarder. But the less you spend now, the less you’ll stress later.
If I Need To Spend Money To Impress Them, They Aren’t Really My Friends
Don’t blow a lot of money trying to keep up with people you won’t even be in touch with in 10 years. It’s okay to say no – to dinner at Chipotle, spring break in Cabo or happy hour. If they have a problem with that, they don’t really like you; you’re an accessory to their insecurity and lifestyle. Spend time with people you’ll be able to rely on when life gets hard.
Generosity Is About My Heart, Not My Income
You aren’t going to magically start giving money to your church, a charity or a missionary when you start making $75k a year. In fact, how generous you are when you make $35k is a pretty good indicator of what’ll happen at $75k. The issue isn’t your bank account – it’s your heart. No, you may not be able to give much now but the amount is no where near as important as the intent. So, find something you care about and start giving regularly to support it, even if it’s only $5 a month.
Don’t spend your 20’s killing financial margin. Spend your 20’s cultivating it. You’ll thank yourself for it later.