Thursday, January 31, 2008

FPU Session 3: Cash Flow Planning

This was the session I was most looking forward to. I am a believer in the effectiveness of consistent budgeting and cash flow planning. At the core I think cash flow planning makes or breaks a financial plan. Successful businesses always focus on day to day cash management (Where's cash at?). Why not apply the same principles to personal financial planning? My belief in practice though seems to be an inch deep.

Going into this session my expectations were not to really learn anything new in the way of techniques but to catch a vision. Yes, catch a budgeting vision. I feel as though I have a lot of knowledge in how to create a budget and how to work it. Where everything falls apart, when money is tight, is my ability to re-focus and laser in with motivation and discipline in order to keeps things form getting worse. In other words, I tend to fall off the wagon, a lot . I wish I could apply the same drive I have for working out and lifting weights to my financial situation. I recognize I think differently in that I have much less hope for success in my financial life than I do in exercise and fitness. The solution is to change my thinking and achieve small steps to success so that confidence increases, motivation deepens, and the drive to persevere becomes top priority. Successful personal budgeting requires perseverance. These were my thoughts going into Session 3.

Session 3 was definitely typical in the way of Dave presenting principles so that the participants get motivated. This session was not much detailed how-to's as it was big picture: 1) Why you need to budget, 2) Why you don't want to budget, 3) How to get started creating a budget....etc. The how-to was a very basic introduction to very basic budgeting forms. There was even a very, very basic discussion on how to balance a checkbook. This is all great information and certainly required learning. Dave teaches a principle of baby steps and the ins and outs of personal budgeting in this session were presented as the first few essential baby steps to take. Good, but I was left wanting for more. I've been in this spot before with other venues into personal budgeting.

If nothing else, listening to Ramsey explain concepts that I think I already know, it forces me to consider then...deeply, what the heck is wrong with me! I am understanding more and more how deep, or rather how shallow my thinking is. Techniques do not change me. Techniques do not motivate me although learning new ones provide a spark. In the end, my thinking is even more messed up than I want to admit. Budgeting is a means to an end - to put more cash in my pocket, to get control over my spending and save more. Great stuff! But ultimately...not the greatest way to view budgeting. Budgeting is not a means to any of my personal ends. How I live out budgeting principles on a day to day basis exposes where my heart is at in relationship to God on a day to day basis. The money that comes in and out of my hands is from the Lord, right? That's what I believe. But functionally, I am not living it out. How aware I am now of the tension between what I want to be verses what I really am. If I were living out what I want to be, my motivation to diligently keep a budget would be rooted in biblical stewardship and thus the promises of God. But instead, I think to shallow and focus only on getting a little bit more excess cash in the checkbook so that things don't seem so tight.

I will persevere though. In fact, one spark from this session was when it seemed like Ramsey spoke directly to me. He gave me permission to struggle with a budget for at least three months. He told me to drop all expectations of success of failure and just work the system. I can write more about this in another post but in my black-or-white-all-or-nothing world hearing Ramsey's encouragement to start again and press on is very motivating to me. I know the system and I have decided to just put my head down and press on - work the plan and in that I will be honoring God!

Next week is Dumping Debt.


Anonymous said...

I am really enjoying your posts on FPU. It sounds like our class is about a week a head of yours.

You are able to put into words most of the thoughts I didn't know I know what I mean?

Thanks for stimulating my thoughts...and I look forward to seeing your thoughts on dumping debt. I thought it was one of the best sessions yet.

Pat Stream said...

Thanks for stopping by Anonymous. Where are you taking FPU?

Anonymous said...