What I wish I had known about money

I often remind my husband to “Eat like you’re 40” if I don’t see a serving or two of vegetables being prepared with supper. It’s a reminder that we both need to watch what we eat more than we used to when we were 20 or 30 and could have licorice as a meal. Life changes as we age and I’ve learned a few things that I wish I’d know sooner. Here’s a couple:

*Understand the full cost of your purchases. I purchased a house in my late twenties and was told by the realtor and the lender that I could easily afford it. And I could easily afford the house payments but the additional expenses were a lot more of my paycheque than I anticipated. It was a few years of very lean lifestyle before I felt comfortable financially. Taking more time to understand the full costs might have helped me make other plans for those expenses or delay the purchase for a few years so I could save additional funds. The same holds true for cars, education and minimum or partial credit card payments. Lesson: investigate the entire cost before committing.

*We’re all going to die someday. I was in my thirties and married a few years before I prepared a will but I should have done so much sooner, especially since I owned a home. I presumed that it would somehow be sorted out if I died but I didn’t know (or bother to investigate) the details. It turns out that since I wasn’t married and didn’t have any children, my estate would have gone to my Mom as my only surviving parent. It would have worked out eventually, but no one would have been in charge of the estate until appointed by the courts as estate trustee, which could be a few weeks or more and would likely involve hiring a lawyer. No one would have been able to access my bank accounts or pay my bills until appointed as estate trustee. This would have made a difficult time even harder for my grieving family. If you are an adult, own anything, love someone or think you might die someday, you should probably have a will. Mennonite Foundation of Canada has some free resources available to help. You can find them here. Lesson: make sure you’ve made plans that protect those you care about today and in the future.

*Being generous makes you feel rich. I’ve given to my church and other charities for years but was not always as generous as I could be. Actually, I was not generous at all. I was living with a closed fist and holding tightly only money. It took a conversation at church to help me begin working on money issues in my heart and my head. We determined how much we wanted to give away and just started doing it. At the time I was nervous, because it seemed like more than we could handle. Even while unemployed for a few months, we were able to continue to give and had enough – more than enough – to live on. We have so much and it’s a delight to live with open hands and share with those around us. Lesson: It was through giving generously that I finally learned how rich we are.

Sherri Grosz is a Stewardship Consultant with Mennonite Foundation of Canada. She loves to talk about money & faith with people of all ages.

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