Lesson of the Week
Financially Fit: I am fiscally responsible.
Being financially fit begins with a healthy relationship with your self – valuing your self. The next step is to give. The hole through which you give is the hole through which you receive — or the whole you give will impart the whole you receive.
Throughout history there have been stories of people encouraging others to be financially fit. One of these people was Benjamin Franklin, author, printer, scientist, musician, inventor, and satirist. He grew up to believe that all people are created equal and that the true value of people lies in moral behavior, not class. He cultivated thirteen character virtues. His fifth virtue is frugality: making no expense but to do good to others or yourself; and wasting nothing. This is the first step to becoming financially fit or fiscally responsible: doing good to others. A person once said, “The hole through which you give is the hole through which you receive.” Being fiscally responsible begins with opening up a hole for giving – giving your time and help to a worthy cause or giving gratitude to a benefactor who is helping you achieve your goals.
An example of present day frugality and being financially fit is seen in the microfinance model of Muhammad Yunus, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient for his microcredit loans. He discovered that the poorest of the poor had the ability to become financially fit. He started making small loans to poor people without any financial security. Through Grameen Bank, he developed micro-credit, loaned small amounts, and the poorest of the poor became fiscally responsible.
For instance, during the Bangladesh famine of 1974, Muhammad Yunus made a small loan of US$27.00 to a group of forty-two families so they could make small sale items. The families were able to make money and pay back the loans. One family was able to buy a sewing machine, produce goods, and buy more machines that could help others earn an income.
Muhammad Yunus has shown how people are endowed with potential and that unleashing creativity in each individual is the answer to poverty. He has been able to promote financial interdependence among the poor. This has enabled families to have a source of income, build wells, and have an adequate food supply.
If the poorest of the poor can become financially fit, how about you on your mission? What will it take for you to be as Benjamin Franklin advised, frugal? Begin with a relationship with your self. Determine what your best quality is to offer. Find a way to express this quality. Give. Give. Give. The hole through which you give will be the hole through which you receive. Whole giving will impart whole receiving.
So why is the Lesson of the Week’s picture a penny? Because this penny will remind you as Franklin wrote, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” Earning and saving is a way to be financially fit. This penny was found on the side of the road and many people had passed by and left it by the side of the road. Why? No one deemed it valuable or worth their effort to pick up and save. However, this one little penny could be the start of a financial future of fiscal fitness. As you are on your mission, find what you have of value to offer, offer it, and pick up the rewards the universe is offering you – no matter how small they may appear. This will put you on the road to financial fitness.
“You need a very good financial person to keep you honest and to keep track of income and outgo.
- Bill Kurtis, American journalist, producer, narrator, and news anchor
Activity: The Financial Fitness Quiz
Materials: Paper and a pen or pencil
Time: Ten minutes for writing and ten minutes per person to discuss answers.
Number from one to twenty.
Answer the following questions either yes or no:
1. Are you 30 or older?
2. Do you have at least $3000 or three months of living expenses saved to cover emergencies?
3. Are you participating in a 401(k) or pension program?
4. Do you save or invest beyond your retirement plan and emergency fund?
5. Are you aware of how much you need to save each month to retire at the age you would like?
6. Do you have life insurance (at least enough to cover funeral expenses)?
7. Do you have health insurance?
8. Do you have insurance that covers disability (besides Social Security)?
9. Do you have a will?
10. Do you spend less than 25 percent of your income on your rent or mortgage?
11. Are you investing or saving money with each paycheck in a savings account, money market account or mutual fund?
12. Are you paying your credit cards in full each month?
13. Are you paying all of your bills in full each month?
14. Do you know the interest rates on your checking, savings, and credit card accounts?
15. Have you reviewed your credit report lately?
16. Do you balance your checkbook each month?
17. Do you track your monthly expenses?
18. Do you regularly read about improving your personal finances?
19. Do you have a financial plan?
20. Are you saving at least 10 percent of your gross income each month?
Give yourself five points for each yes answer and a zero for each no.
0 to 40 points: You are not finically flabby. You need to get your spending under control immediately. If you don’t have a monthly budget, draw one up and follow it. Put away your credit cards, and but out all unnecessary spending until you can answer yes to all or most of the question on the test.
41 to 75 points: E for effort. You are on the right track, but keep an eye on answering more questions with an affirmative.
76 to 100 points: Great shape. Keep up the effort of answering all the questions in the affirmative – even after future life changes.
After finishing the quiz and adding up your points, discuss the results in the group. Decide how you will become more financially fit and come up with a plan to do so – including goals and dates to accomplish these goals.
I am financially fit so I can …… We’d like to hear your story about being fiscally responsible. Write your story below.
- « Previous lesson: Prioritizing: I put first things first
- » Next lesson: A good listener: I am attentive and actively make efforts to understand others