Dave Ramsey has the right idea. But just like finances, life itself is a series of baby steps. And we have the 7 Baby Steps of Life here to help you make your way around the potholes and through the detours. All too often, we try to take too big of a bite, or we become so overwhelmed with the mountain in front of us that we become paralyzed and don’t move at all.
Complex problems, though, are nothing more than a series of simple problems that we can prioritize and tackle one by one. A small step is better than a big intention. Using Dave’s financial baby step model, here are good practices for preparing for life’s curveballs.
Because, as we know, life happens. Are you ready?
1. EMERGENCY RESERVES. This includes friends, family, funds, energy. It would help if you had this in your back pocket. A friend or family member you can call at 2 a.m. Extra money in your emergency fund. Get your required amount of sleep and rest. Take care of yourself for the short term. Find a friend you can count on.
2. PROCRASTINATION SNOWBALL. Get back to square one, get the monkey off your back. Includes projects, finances, work, family, school. In other words, those things that have been on the bottom of your to-do list for the past year. Or two, or three. This is a need thing, not a want thing. It includes financial debt and things like a will, insurance review/update (life, health, home/auto), home projects, and past-due schooling or training. Start with the smallest and quickest things to finish, tie up or accomplish.
3. LONG-TERM EMERGENCY RESERVE. Now we can look ahead. Like your finances, this should help you if you have a 3-6 month downturn: a job loss, a death in the family, a move, or another challenge. If you have friends, money, emotions, mental stability in the bank, you can keep moving while you get back to square one. Deepen your relationships with friends and family, strengthen your inner circle and ensure your health is solid.
4. LONG-TERM PREPARATION. Where do you want to be in your job, home, future, church, long-term projects, family, retirement? Here, you can put 15% of your time, energy, money and resources into investing for your future. What are your goals, who do you want to become, where do you want to go in life, and how do you plan to get there? Invest in those things spiritually, physically, mentally. Take an hour a day or a percentage of your time each week to work on this.
5. TAKE CARE OF YOUR KIDS. “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he grows older, he will not abandon it.” Proverbs 22:6. This is more than your daily requirements and, it’s more than money. Part of good training is setting up your kids for success, which means preparing “the way he should go.” In other words, you can take time for your kids and family today, but this baby step involves preparing for the future. Prepare the path, lay a good foundation before they get there.
6. PAY OFF THE FOUR WALLS. “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the Law.” (Proverbs 13:8 NASB). It’s more than the money. Pull everything together for your life. Make good on all the investments in yourself. Health, finances, family, friends. Forgiveness, restitution and reconnection.
7. ENLARGE YOUR TENTS. “Enlarge the place of your tent; Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, do not spare them; Lengthen your ropes And strengthen your pegs.” Isaiah 54:2. This is where the fun happens. You have your inner circle; you’ve given and invested there. Now, look outward to how you can influence and help others. This is legacy and paying it forward. Expand your tents.
Take an inventory and start at the beginning. You can’t care for others before you take care of yourself or your family. Remember the basic flight rule: In case of an emergency, put your oxygen mask on first. If you don’t have oxygen, you can’t help the person next to you.