Twenty-first century America is a pretty amazing place to be managing your money.
I know that it doesn’t always seem this way. The economic downturn of the past five years has given us all a challenge. But when you consider the whole of human history — and the incredible opportunities and tools that we have at our disposal — you have to admit that we’re in a pretty plum position.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we thought we’d take a moment to enumerate some of the great financial blessings that we enjoy as modern people. But this article is not about giving thanks for all of our obvious financial blessings; rather, it’s about identifying and appreciating some of the small things that can have big impacts on our financial lives.
So, what are we thankful for? Here are five things that we wouldn’t want to live without.
America has long been referred to as the Land of Opportunity, and that label is no less true than it was 100 years ago. Just ask the thousands of people that flock to our borders from overseas every year.
In the United States, we have an incredible wealth of financial opportunity. Career opportunities are abundant. Most Americans can be anything that they want to be, and even change careers numerous times over the course of their working lives.
Beyond employment, we have all sorts of other opportunities. There are many, many ways to make money in this country by investing. There are hundreds of thousands of opportunities to change the world by giving, and millions of ways to use the money that you do have to buy things that you will enjoy.
There’s no lack of opportunity to succeed in this land. The question is this: What will you do with the opportunities you’ve been given?
If you were born after 1990, you may have a hard time imagining a world in which information wasn’t quickly available whenever you wanted it. Those of us who grew up in the analog age, though, remember the days of having to go to the library and use archaic research methods to find the data we were looking for.
What does this have to do with your money? Well, there’s a wealth of information on smart financial strategy available today. Much of it, like this site, is available free of charge.
Whether you want to learn about the best ways to pay off debt, find a new job to increase your income or figure out the best way to invest for your retirement, it’s never been easier to find quality financial advice and information as it is today. And there are more great financial teachers, coaches and bloggers out there than ever before.
If you don’t have good information on how to handle your money, it’s only because you haven’t gone looking for it.
Closely related to information, modern technology is a 21st-century innovation that has made financial management much easier and more convenient than it use to be.
I remember growing up in the ’80s and ’90s and seeing my dad spend several hours each weekend “working on bills.” Now 20 years later, many of the tasks that he labored over have been automated or otherwise made obsolete by technology.
Auto-pay, direct deposit and electronic fund transfers have made the physical act of paying bills much easier. Websites and applications allow you to build a detailed personal budget on the web, and then tie your bank accounts into the app to track your financial progress in real time.
With a quick click of a mouse, you can get real-time access to all of your bank account and credit card information, and move money around between accounts without even so much as a phone call. And investors today have access to up-to-the-minute information and on-demand trading tools that not even the most powerful Wall Street players had fifty years ago.
Technology has removed all of the barriers to great, detailed financial management. Whatever it is you want to do, there is a tech tool to make it quick and easy.
4) Divine Direction
Even with all of the tools and conveniences that we enjoy today, it’s easy to be overwhelmed about our financial lives. Fortunately, we are not left to fend for ourselves — God gives us detailed instructions about what to do with our money in the Bible.
You may not realize this, but the Bible has more to say about money than almost any other subject, mentioning it more than 2,000 times in the Old and New Testaments. If you study what the Bible says, you find a whole lot of wisdom that can help you navigate through the world of finance.
God has a plan for your life, and He also has a plan for your finances. We call it God’s Master Plan for your money. He wants you to work to support your family, tithe to support your local church, give generously to help those in need, build wealth for future generations, and enjoy the money that you have leftover.
If you want to know more about God’s plan for your money, there are hundreds of articles on this site that will get you started.
5) Financial Freedom
If you take advantage of the opportunities, information and technology available to you, and use God’s wisdom to make decisions about your financial life, you’ll soon arrive at a beautiful destination: Financial freedom.
Financial freedom doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re rich. It means that you’re not a slave to money: You’re not in bondage to debt; you’re not plagued by worry; you’re not obsessed with comparing yourself to others.
When you achieve financial freedom, you find yourself able to give freely. You find yourself able to enjoy your money, because you don’t feel guilty about what you’re doing with it. And you find yourself free of stress.
Financial freedom means making your money serve you, instead of you serving money.
So, there’s our list of five surprising financial blessings that we’re thankful for this year. How about you?
Photo by Gabe Rosiak. Used under Creative Commons License.