I've been fortunate over the last several years to have had the opportunity to correspond with and get to know financial author Mary Hunt.
I consider my time conversing with Ms. Hunt, in fact, to be one of the three or four best benefits (among a great many) that I've received from this blog and web site. I have tremendous admiration for her work. Her book Debt-Proof Living is a must-read, in my opinion, for those of us working out of debt. (That's why it inhabits my Recommended Reading list.) And honestly, I could only aspire to produce half of the amount of great advice Mary has consistently and graciously generated over the years.
The following version of Mary Hunt's "Debt-Proof Principles" can be found in her 2003/2004 book Debt-Proof Your Marriage. I wholeheartedly recommend it for anyone who might be having financial difficulties within your relationships. Mary does a better job reconciling "marriage and money" issues than any other author I've read.
Mary Hunt's Debt-Proof Principles
- God Is the Source
- Money is Not for Spending
- Never Keep It All
- Never Spend It All
- No More New Debt
- More Money Is Not the Solution
I'm going to pretty much leave this alone, because I do my best to leave religion out of my writing ... and out of my financial picture. I understand, however, why authors like Mary Hunt and Dave Ramsey make it an integral part of theirs, and I don't hold it against them. As long as they don't go overboard with the religious references and admonishments, I can glean value from what they have to say. What works for me, though, might not work for you.
In any case, Mary suggests that what wealth you have is always a result of your brainpower, abilities, and talents. These traits, while technically "yours," were initially God-given. Thus, what wealth and financial resources you have (and will have) are also God-given. (I might argue that perseverence is often as responsible for wealth, if not more so, than brainpower and talent ... and that it's a trait which certainly can be developed even if one were not "born" with it.)
"Money," Mary writes, "is for managing first, and then for spending." And I agree one hundred percent. I plan my spending, and while some months work out better financially than others, even the worst months now are better than my best months 7 or 8 years ago. And I'm pretty certain I have my spending plans (yes, monthly budgets) to thank. To a large degree, at least.
I have come to believe that you cannot know the true value of money until you give it away to someone (or something) who needs it more than you do. Our world is one in which despair, heartache, and the want for simple and basic necessities are all too rampant. No matter how bad your or my situation may be, we must understand the fact that there will always be someone, somewhere, in worse straits.
When we work to lift that person, we work to lift ourselves.
Look: We all know we should save. Some of us make it a way of life (although we may have learned to do it later than sooner). Conversely, some of us will never find a better time to save than tomorrow. Always tomorrow.
Like the ING Direct slogan says: Save. Your. Money.
Here Mary actually specifies "no more unsecured debt," and I wonder if this might be leaving the door open just a bit too far. But I can't argue the point too much, as my own debt paydown, while void of unsecured debt, still represents a financial (and, to be honest, somewhat emotional) weight which I want released as soon as possible.
Oh, if I had a Snickers for every time I heard this: "If I could just make [insert negligible amount here] more per month, my life would be so much easier."
In reality, that's just never the case. More money in the door will simply equal more money out the door ... unless strong action creates a contrary effect. Saving substantial money, paying off debts early — these things don't "just happen." They require effort, discipline, determination. (There's that perseverence thing again.)
So there you have it. I consider Mary's "Debt-Proof Principles" to pretty cover a nice chunk of your (very) Basic Financial Puzzle.