Tough times hit every family!
For most families, there never seems to be enough money to cover all the unexpected expenses that arise. When hard times come, it makes it even harder to make ends meet and deal with surprise financial blows.
As I have taught economics in high school and counseling couples having financial difficulties, I have come to this conclusion: the economic cycle affects families, too. Every family I know has times where income is growing moving into prosperity, as well as times of financial trials where income recesses. If you see this cycle of growth--prosperity--decline--recession--recovery. Think about it. Sam loses his job and times are really tough for awhile, even after God provides a new one. It takes about six months for the family to get back on their feet.
Can we make it through hard times and come out stronger in the end?
Having had the privilege of many years of financial hard times some short and some extending for years, our family has learned a few lessons along the way that make life easier. Would you like some financial wisdom for hard times?
Use Secret Weapons
"I can't wait to move out on my own. I'll eat out every day and keep my apartment as cold as I want to," teenager Tom declared.
I laughed as i overheard a group of teens talking about how fun it would be to move out. I wanted to interject: "Don't you realize how expensive it is to live on your own?"
Maybe it would be better to show them.
And that is why I added the apartment project to my economics class.
It is one of the most popular assignments we do! The children have to choose an apartment to move into. They must find out how much rent is and what down payment is required. In addition students have to figure out the average electricity and water/sewage bills for the average renter. This will require research and phone calls.
Of course, if you move out there are moving expenses. Oh, and you have to furnish your new place. The sky of course, is the limit! Buy whatever you want. Just keep track of everything you spend.
Students loved shopping online or in store, taking photos or downloading pictures to print.
Each apartment was furnished and decorated just the way the students liked.
In addition, they made a monthly budget and from that budget, figured out how much money they would have to make each month to pay for their dream apartment.
It was so fun to see how everyone decorated. It was more fun to see their faces as they totaled up all their expenses and figured out how much money they would need a month to support their hearts' desires and how much money they would need to move into their dream apartment. No words required on my part about how expensive life is.
Have you ever bought a new pair of shoes because you are having a bad day?
Is this the best way to comfort our hearts?
Sometimes we spend money to reward ourselves for a job well done, but more often we spend money frivolously when we are struggling emotionally or just worn out from the cares of life.
Unfortunately, when we spend money we haven't budgeted for, it has to come from somewhere. It may postpone something we are saving for like a new house or family vacation. Or it may add to our growing debt. Then we deepen the frustration or sadness we are struggling with.
Hey, I get it. There's something that feels good about whipping out that credit card to purchase things you don't really need. But, like all quick fixes, the momentary delight soon vanishes.
I think we live in a battle zone. We face real pain, real discouragement. But those things are not our enemy--that's just the result of living in a fallen world.
The real enemies we face our satan and his demons who lie to our hearts and through the world we live in. We are bombarded with lies that buying something will help us feel happy. We spend our money on what is not bread--it will not feed our souls.
God has a different plan.
Many homeschooled teens will graduate from high school not sure what they want to do with the rest of their lives. That is okay.
Teens don't need to choose their career path or ministry call before they graduate, but they should explore options. Some will know when they graduate. Others have known for years. While still other teens will change their minds later.
The Lord has a call for each man or woman He has created. He loves us and we each have a purpose. No one will feel completely fulfilled if they are not in the center of God's will, so the most important thing you can do for your sons and daughters is to teach them to cultivate a strong relationship with Jesus so they can know His plan.
With that said, high school is a great time to explore careers. Teach your teens to show interest in the careers of all the people in their lives, asking questions and learning more about these careers. I created some simple forms for my teens to fill out on various careers by interviewing people they know whose careers interest them.
I even did some podcasts so my children could learn more about careers: Exploring Careers in Business & Rescue and Exploring Careers in Real Estate and the Pool Business. But, there's more that you can do than just listen to people talk about their careers. You can try careers out through apprentices and volunteering. You can also explore options through online surveys.
"Well Brian keeps the economy humming," I giggled to my husband as we talked late one evening. Our friend, Brian, had dropped in to show us his latest purchases that included a dart gun, a music CD, and a new amp for his guitar.
Where the money came from was a mystery. He worked for Kohl's, drove a motorcycle, and lived in his own house. His checking account hovered near zero and he didn't even have a savings account.
We are told by politicians that people spending money is a sign of a "healthy economy." But is it? What is a healthy economy in God's eyes? And what is economics anyway?
What is Economics?