The Stewardship Journey Waypoint 2: Setting Sail

by: Cassandra Laymon, CFP®, MBA

Last week we discussed some basic but very important steps to gaining confidence and becoming a good financial steward with your money:

  • Consistent Tithing
  • Pay Off Credit Cards and High Interest Debts
  • Obtain Adequate Insurance Protection
  • Create Basic Estate Plan

I heard that a second of my friends from high school passed away unexpectedly last week. Again, he did not have a basic estate plan in place. This will create unexpected hardship for his family. I cannot urge you enough to pick up the phone today and make an appointment with a family attorney to complete your Will.

Today we “Set sail!” As you have been making progress through the last two lists, you are likely gaining confidence about making good decisions about your money. This week’s steps will create some margin in your life for additional giving and saving:

Offerings Above the Tithe

If you have established a plan to tithe regularly, you have likely noticed the blessings that come along with it. Even though I had a fear of not having enough to tithe, once I started doing it – it always worked out! And I have more blessed by the giving than I ever have by receiving.

Have you ever heard someone express a need and think to yourself, “I wish had the money to help them out.” Once you are this far along on your journey, you can start to give offerings above the tithe. This can be both fulfilling and fun!  At this point you can begin to bless individuals and important causes with unexpected support.

Pay Off Consumer Debt

Investopedia describes consumer debt as “Debts that are owed as a result of purchasing goods that are consumable and/or do not appreciate.” Credit cards, car loans, and student loans are examples of debt that you want to pay off as quickly as possible. Continue to pay off your debts according to the “debt snowball” plan we discussed last week.

Increase Emergency Fund to 3 Months

Your first savings step was to save $1,000 in your emergency fund. For your next savings goal, calculate what it costs for you and your family to live for 3 months. This includes all of the minimums on your credit cards and loans, along with your mortgage, utilities, insurance, food and gas for the car. When you have achieved this goal, you will have peace of mind that you will not be derailed by an unexpected job loss or natural disaster.

Max the Match on 401(k)/403(b) and/or Start Roth Contributions

Here’s a topic we have yet to address: retirement savings. If you are working and are able to contribute to a retirement plan, you should. The money you put into these plans is not taxed now, but later when you take the money out of the plan.

Many times, your employer will also contribute to your plan to match what you are contributing up to a certain point. I call that free money, and you should definitely take advantage of that benefit, as it will help you to grow your retirement savings more quickly. After “maxing the match,” you might also consider contributing to a Roth IRA which grows tax free.

If you have questions about how to start your retirement savings, you should talk to your benefits department at work, or to your financial advisor. If you have additional questions, we are happy to help you! Email: or call 540-345-3891.