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10 Ways to Quickly Improve Your Finances, Part 1


Soon after graduating from college, I moved into a townhouse with a few guys. We had lots of good times in that place. We loved to be social and took advantage of every opportunity to get people together. We had to get creative sometimes, because we were just starting our first jobs after graduating and didn’t have much money. In fact, I remember our old voicemail greeting, “Hello, you’ve reached Andrew, Greg and Brad. If this is our friends, you probably owe us money. If this is our parents, please send money. And if this is a girl, we have lots of money.” That may have been the most ignored voicemail greeting of all time.

One of the biggest challenges for young adults today is handling money. Unfortunately, most young people have never had any real education on how to manage their finances. In fact, most of us think about and use money the way our parents did — for good or bad. If our parents were savers, we tend to save. If they were spenders, we tend to spend. Researchers have observed scary trends with young adults and money. Today’s young adults consistently have significantly more student loan debt and credit card debt than previous generations. Many struggle to find a good job or any job, causing anxiety and frustration.

I’m a firm believer that we shouldn’t wait until we have money to learn how to handle it. Scores of lottery winners who ended up broke can attest to the fact that if you are bad with money when you don’t have it, you will probably be bad with money when you do. Regardless of your current financial situation, here are a few habits that can help you steward your money well.

1. Start Giving

OK, I probably just lost some of you. Many young people feel like they don’t have money to give away, and I hear you. But you don’t have to make lots of money to get into the habit of giving. Start giving away a small percentage of everything you make, even if it’s just 1 percent or less. Make it a rule: For as long as I live, I will give away a certain percentage of everything I receive with joy and gratitude.

I recommend you give to your church first. Beyond that, give to causes and organizations you believe in. Every month, I give some money to a few organizations I believe are doing excellent work ministering to the poorest of the poor, like Compassion’s Highly Vulnerable Children fund. It gives me great joy to give to these children every month, because I know it pleases the Lord.

Even if you start by giving just a few dollars a month to meaningful causes and ministries, it’s great to establish the habit. I strongly recommend setting giving goals and working toward them month-by-month. Turn it into a regular habit, and take joy that you were able to give.

2. Put Your Money to Work

Many financial books aptly call this principle, “Pay Yourself First.” Take a percentage (like 10 percent) of everything you make and set it aside. This is money you will save, invest and grow for the rest of your life. Even if you don’t make much money and even if you have loads of debt, start setting aside a little money and let it grow. This is money you are putting to work; its job is to grow and grow and grow. Thanks to the marvel of compound interest, a relatively small amount of money can grow significantly over the span of a lifetime. Most books on finishing wealthy build on this very principle.

3. Never Pay Retail for Anything

In today’s world, there are coupons and discounts for just about everything. You can find great deals on anything you spend money on. The best deals are typically online. Several websites have emerged compiling the best deals available. Once you start looking, you’ll find deals are everywhere. I’ve recently started buying many household items I regularly buy on websites like Amazon or Most sites offer free shipping and have cheaper prices than you can find in store. And don’t forget you are saving time and gas as well.

Additionally, I often find great deals at garage sales. While this may not be everyone’s cup of tea, I’ve saved a lot of money on clothes, books and random household items. I use the website to search for garage sales in my area. If it’s Saturday morning, there are deals to be had at a garage sale.

4. Aim to Build Wealth and Give Generously

In the Christian community, many wrongly demonize success and wealth. They believe Christians should live as simply as possible and not try and make a lot of money. I agree we shouldn’t make money an idol or let it consume us, but some Christians may be blessed with the ability and opportunity to build wealth. Being wealthy isn’t bad, but being greedy and covetous is. We keep ourselves from the love of money by giving it away. I believe it’s wise and biblical to steward our resources, being as generous as possible along the way. Too many never learn to steward their money well, because they think it’s wrong to build wealth. The Bible says a lot of how to use money, and it’s wise to develop strong, biblical convictions. My aim is to build wealth and give generously.

5. Use a Budgeting Tool

You will never learn to control your finances until you understand where your money is going. There are lots of good budgeting products available today, and I’ve used many of them, but my favorite by far is YNAB (You Need A Budget). It is the perfect tool for budgeting and planning ahead. I work on my budget a year in advance. It’s easy to see how my current choices are helping me reach my financial goals in the months and years ahead, which makes it very motivating to stay on budget. Find a budget tool that works for you and get in the habit of taking time to plan how you will save, give and spend your money.

Read Part 2


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About the Author

Andrew Hess

Andrew Hess is a Sr. Communications Specialist at Compassion International. He formally served as the director of content at the White Horse Inn and editor of His writing has also been featured on the Gospel Coalition. He lives in Colorado Springs with his wife Jen and their young son. Andrew and Jen met at the very first Boundless Pursuit conference at Focus on the Family in 2014.

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