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Fasting for a Financially Fit Future (Part 2 of 2)

Air date 05/29/2015

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Nationally-syndicated columnist Michelle Singletary explains how listeners can gain financial peace and freedom by undertaking a 21-day financial "fast." (Part 2 of 2)

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Episode Transcript

Opening:

Teaser:

Jim Daly: Michelle, what is one thing that a person living paycheck to paycheck, you know, they're goin' week to week or every two weeks. That's how it's happening for them. The bills are goin' out; they're barely keeping their nose above water, what's something they can do today to get started to reverse that?

Michelle Singletary: You know, I think initially, they have to have a plan. So, I would say get an index card. It sounds so simple. Get an index card and write down your No. 1 financial goal. [It] doesn't matter if you have enough money or you even think you [sic] gonna have enough. Just write down that goal. It could be, to pay off my house before I retire or to send my kids to college or to save enough for one month's emergency. And then write that on the card and let that be the beginning of saving for you .

End of Teaser.

John Fuller: Well, it sounds pretty simple, doesn't it? And Michelle Singletary has some more advice for you, even if you think "I can't get there" she'll offer ways that you can on today's "Focus on the Family" with Focus author and president, Jim Daly. I'm John Fuller and Jim, you mentioned living paycheck to paycheck. It's so easy to feel like the money comes in; the money goes out.

Jim: Well, it does and I'm shocked. You know, when I'm payin' the bills, I usually do that, Jean will augment that, but I'm lookin' at payin' for the car insurance and even, you know, heating and air conditioning, energy. Those costs have just gone up, up and up. And I'm sittin' there goin', wow! How do we all do it? How do we make enough to get it done? And that is a big question.

Money, whether you have a lot of it or a little of it, is a huge point of stress. I think it is the No. 1 contributor to marital strife. When we do the survey work here at Focus on the Family, people say money problems drove me to divorce. Now I don't think that's it. I think it's a symptom and we're gonna talk about how to at least take care of that symptom today.

John: You know, you mentioned the strife over money--

Jim: (Laughing) Oh, this is good.

John: --Well, there was just—

Jim: Come on; let me have it.

John: --there was a moment during the winter recently. I was looking at Dena and she was turning on this little supplemental heater for our bedroom.

Jim: Don't tell me.

John: And well, I just said, "What? It's not that cold in here." And she said, "I'm cold. I was cold all last night. I had the electric blanket cranked up." I said, "Yeah, but the bill, the electric bill (Laughter) was so high last month."

Jim: Well, that's my point, yeah.

John: And so, she looked at me and I knew I was in a no-win situation. It's very, very common to have difficult conversations about the finances, even simple things. Well, we've heard a little bit from Michelle Singletary and let me just tell you that she is a personal finance column writer for The Washington Post. She's written a number of books, including The 21-Day Financial Fast and she's a working mom. It's her first time here to Focus on the Family.

Body:

Jim: Well, Michelle, I welcome you to Focus.

Michelle: Oh, thank you. I'm so honored. Oh, my goodness, I'm so happy.

Jim: Oh, that is kind of you. Now you're workin' full time at The Washington Post, creating that column to help people with their money issues. What's something that you see in that position, working with a broad spectrum of people, what do they say is causing them heartache?

Michelle: I think two major things, their inability to save and the debt load. And it's just weighing so heavily on folks that they don't see a way out. And they just throw their hands up, because they can't save enough. And then they can't save enough, because they have so much debt.

Jim: Now are you, and I mean this sincerely, are you saying that when you look at a $130 energy bill per month and you're lookin' at a couple hundred dollars on auto insurance and you're tryin' to pay your rent, which varies around the country. I get that, but even here in Colorado Springs, I mean, you're payin', 8, 900, at least, maybe 1,400 to rent an apartment. Those are big expenses.

Michelle: It is.

Jim: How do you get ahead when you're again, barely makin' it? I mean, it's like you're bringing in $3,000 a month and you're spending $3,000 a month—

Michelle: Right.

Jim: --on those essentials.

Michelle: Right. You know, I actually want to use an analogy. At our church, we have altar call every Sunday. And lots of people sit there and they say to themselves, "I'm not ready to go. I'm not good enough to go." And they delay it.

And it's the same thing with your money. People think, "I just can't do it." And absolutely, the bills are high. The rent is high. Energy is high. But you can't wait till you're ready to do it, just like you can't wait [until you're] ready to accept Christ. So, you have to just leap out there.

And what does that mean? It means making different choices. It may mean that you can't live in that apartment by yourself. It may mean that your kid can't go out of state for college. They have to go in-state. And maybe they can't even stay on campus. So, you have to know that you've gotta make better choices, just like when you choose to accept Christ, you've gotta make better choices, but you don't come perfect.

And it's the same thing with your money and I have to remove that from people, that "I can't" spirit. You've gotta get rid of that, "I can't" spirit or you won't be able to do it.

Jim: Do you think it's fair to say that people live in categories? I hate to say that, but when you're, you know, just makin' enough to pay the bills and then there's those that have a little more discretionary income and they're making perhaps poor choices, and then even, you know, it's so funny, when you talk to financial experts and I'm sure you're right in there as a financial expert, you talk to people that make what seems like quite a bit of money, maybe six figures, $100,000, maybe $150,000. They seem to be strugglin', too.

Michelle: Yeah, everybody's strugglin'. (Laughing)

Jim: Now how does that happen? I know somebody making $50,000 a year—

Michelle: Right.

Jim: --would look at somebody making $150,000 and they'd say, "If I had that, I would be fine." But you talk to those that have it and they're goin', "We're squeezed."

Michelle: Right.

Jim: How does that happen?

Michelle: Because the more you make, the more you spend. And if you remember, all of us when we started out at our first job, we thought, oh, my goodness. This is your money. And then as soon as you start making more money, what did you start doing? You elevated your standard of living—

John: Uh-hm.

Jim: Right.

Michelle: --so that you started to live up to what you make. You know, I was raised by my grandmother and we called her "Big Mama."

Jim: Say that again, because there's a story there.

Michelle: My Big Mama, I—

Jim: Big mama.

Michelle: --was raised by my grandmother, who we called "Big Mama." The funny thing is, she wasn't a big woman at all. (Laughing)

Jim: Right, but big in your eyes.

Michelle: But big in my eyes. And she made minimum wage and she took in five of us. There was [sic] five grandchildren she took in and I was one of the five. And she made what we would consider, I mean, she lived below the poverty line.

Jim: Yeah.

Michelle: And yet, my grandmother was able to save and pay off her cars early. And when she retired, her home was paid off. And so, when I look at her and I think, oh, she could do it. Now mind you, she didn't do it back in the 40s. My grandmother, you know, passed away in the early 90's. So, we're not talking when, you know, bread was five cents.

Jim: Right.

Michelle: And I just look at her as the example, because she never elevated herself up to where her salary was. So, you could be makin' $20,000 and still find something to save. You can be making $200,000 and you absolutely should be finding something to save.

And I work with people at all income levels and it does astound me that people making six figures have less than people I know making 20 or $30,000 a year.

Jim: Well, and some of those big decisions they make, you know, ends up costing them a lot—

Michelle: Absolutely.

Jim: --because they're buying bigger houses, bigger cars and that trap, if somethin' falls apart like their job—

Michelle: Right.

Jim: --they're really in trouble. I do want to push you a little bit, Michelle with Big Mama. I love that. It's just so fun. In your book, The 21-Day Financial Fast, you reference though, kind of the residue of living and growing up in Big Mama's house, because she was very thrifty.

Michelle: Yeah.

Jim: And it made you, if I'm saying it correctly, fearful of spending and being poor. Talk about that and how you managed that.

Michelle: Right. You know, I always describe my grandmother as a cross between a drill sergeant and a guardian angel. And so, the drill sergeant in her taught me how to handle money amazingly so. I used to say (Laughter) that my grandmother could hold a penny and make Lincoln scream. (Laughter)

Jim: A drill sergeant captures it. (Laughter)

Michelle: Yes. And you know, the guardian angel part of her was, she showered down on me though however, was to be afraid. She was, even though she was a great money manager, she was always afraid of something happening. And when you live at that level, losing your job is devastating, 'cause you know, you don't … she had savings, but maybe not enough to raise five grandchildren.

And so, she did instill in me a fear, a fear of spending. So, even though as I made more money, you cannot grip money out of my hands. I mean, I just hate spending. In fact, I tell people this and they're shocked. My husband is the family CFO, because if it was left up to me to pay anything, we would not. We would be runnin' around buck naked. (Laughter) I'm being completely honest. You know--

Jim: You are pretty tight.

Michelle: I'm really tight. And I had to learn, because I know that there's [sic] some folks out there who are good stewards over their money. I had to learn that it's okay to spend, if you have all your financial ducks in a row, which I do. It's okay that when it comes time for your 15-year-old car, you know, even though it still runs, that it's okay to get another car and guess what? You could actually even get a new car. You know, it's okay to buy new shoes and (Laughing) …

Jim: That's good; I'm feeling good about my '05 Highlander (Laughter), which is what I drive every day.

Michelle: Great.

Jim: And I got five more years out of that thing.

John: Yeah, easily.

Michelle: So, you know, we all have yokes to break. And that's one of the reasons why I wrote the book. And my yoke was fear.

Jim: Ah.

Michelle: You know, I always had this little bag lady syndrome that I'd end up as a bag lady. Now I'm the product of Big Mama. I would never be that woman, but I was a little fearful of it. So, for me, I had to learn to be okay with the wealth that I've accumulated through the grace of God. And so, that's my yoke.

Now other folks have different yokes. And some people will think, oh, that's a great, you know, problem to have, but you don't want to be miserly. And I'm not miserly, but I always fight against that and so, that's the thing that I challenge myself to make sure, and my husband and I are very generous and we tithe and so forth. But you know, when I first started tithing, it was just like, "Ooh," you know, "Am I gonna have money for food?" which is crazy.

Jim: Well, yeah, no.

Michelle: And I do and so, that's what I've been struggling with and I still struggle. I'm better; I'm better.

Jim: Well, let me ask you this before I do. We are gonna get there to the—

John: The 21-Day Fast—

Jim: --21-Day Fast. (Laughter) I want to talk to you about that, but you know when you're coming from really tight resources, that was my mom. She was a single-parent mom after she and my dad divorced. We lived in some bad neighborhoods. I went to third grade in Compton.

Michelle: Mm.

Jim: And--

John: Compton, California was a pretty dangerous place.

Jim: It was a dangerous place and it's getting better. I do want to say that. I mentioned that during a speech and somebody living in Compton was kind enough and I say that in the right way, to come up and say, "You know, we're really workin' hard to improve that neighborhood." And for that reason, I always put that disclaimer on it now. I used to say it tongue in cheek, but it's good. I mean, they have pride in their city and that's a good thing. And I went through there and it is; it's improving.

My point in saying all that though is just whether you're coming from a poor white community, a poor African-American community, a poor Latino community, it doesn't, race doesn't matter. I experienced it. These things, these principles are important to embrace. But talk about that distinction. Sometimes we feel the load is too much.

Michelle: Right.

Jim: And we look for reasons as to why. And maybe opportunity isn't quite the same for everybody. I don't mind talkin' about that, too. But talk about just the idea of the poor and what we need to be thinking about.

Michelle: You know, I'm glad you asked that question, 'cause whenever I speak, there's always someone who will stand up, you know, in a way of challenging me. "Well, you know, there's a lot of poor people, so how can you tell 'em to save when they don't have any money?" Well, what would you say I should tell them as an alternative?

Jim: Yeah.

Michelle: Because no matter what you earn, you've gotta figure out a way to live within that means. Now I have different messages where I try to help them get a better education and better skill building. And I always think about it like Paul. You know, Paul said, "I have learned to live when I don't have a lot and when I have a lot." And that message resonates whether you are poor or wealthy. And that's the message I try to give out to folks. Listen, I know what it's like to be poor. I know what it's like to actually be hungry, not the kind of hungry people say when they open up the refrigerator, "I don't have anything to eat." I mean, where you open the refrigerator and there's nothing in the refrigerator. I know that kind of hunger.

And so, I know what they're going through. I went through it. I was raised with it, but I also know that I had a grandmother who had a minimum-wage job, five grandchildren. She did not take welfare and still was able to save and feed us. Now maybe we didn't have enough for seconds, so you had to hover over your food (Laughter) in case somebody, 'cause I'm a very slow eater and so, you know, if you didn't hover over your food, someone's gonna slip (Laughing) your chicken off your plate. (Laughter)

Jim: I know that feeling.

Michelle: So, I know, so we had enough, maybe not an abundance, but she always had food on our table and clothes on our backs. Maybe we didn't have two pairs of shoes, but we had a pair of shoes.

Jim: Right.

Michelle: So, I know where you're comin' from. And now that I'm living better, I don't talk from the advantage of someone who grew up with a silver spoon.

Jim: Right.

Michelle: And it's so funny, 'cause whenever I talk to people it's like I'm like the poster child for every possible demographic there is. I'm African-American. I'm woman. I'm married. I grew up poor. I'm wealthy now. (Laughter) You know--

Jim: Right.

Michelle: --You know, my son has autism so I know what it's like to live with a disability. I had a disability. I had to help my grandmother in her later years as she was dying. I've been a caretaker because my brother, one of my brothers had epilepsy so I had to take care of him both physically and financially. When I graduated from college my grandmother turned over the care of him to me.

Jim: Oh, my goodness.

Michelle: And I had to take care of him until he passed away in his early 30's from a massive seizure. So, I cross every possible demographic. And so I completely understand where everyone sits. I think that the message has to be both personal responsibility, but also compassion.

Jim: Right.

Michelle: And while they are helping themselves, we need to put things in place to help them.

Jim: Right.

Michelle: And then I speak to middle income and upper income and wealthy, because you know, if you're wealthy, you need to be giving back. I mean, there's lots of families in this country who are doing well for themselves. But I use the example of Joseph, not Jesus' father, but Joseph from Genesis, who saved. I always thought of that story as a financial story. People think of it as, you know, livin' your dream and following God. It's a financial story, because if he had not saved during the time of plenty, his father wouldn't have told his brothers, hey, they've got extra stuff up there in Egypt. Why don't you go get it, 'cause we're starving back here. Had they not done that, had he not saved during the time when he had it, they wouldn't have come. They wouldn't have been reunited (Laughing), you know. And we wouldn't have had the Joseph story.

Jim: Yeah.

Michelle: So, that's what I tell those families. Listen, you've got enough for yourself, but you oughta have more. You need to save not just for your family, but your extended family, for your community and for the world.

Jim: I love that. I mean, that right there. You just said so much that is worth talking more deeply about. We do get this out of balance, don't we? We tend to lean one direction or the other direction. And then it creates political battles, when it doesn't really need to be there.

I like that idea of maintaining generosity while teaching self-control and responsibility and those things. Michelle Singletary, our guest today on "Focus on the Family" with her book, The 21-Day Financial Fast. I think we've set it up. Now let's talk (Laughter) about it. Where did you connect with this ide about fasting and applying it to your money?

Michelle: Wow. Well, at my church, and I belong to First Baptist Church of Glenarden, Maryland, and the pastor is John K. Jenkins Sr., wonderful teaching pastor.

Jim: I love that.

Michelle: And so, a lot of the ministries that our church at the beginning of the year, do the Daniel Fast. And for those who are not familiar with the Daniel Fast, you basically fast from meats and sweets and artificial anything and it's just fruits and vegetables. It's just a healthy way.

And then during the fast, you're looking to God. You're praying. You're kind of recentering yourself. And you're getting rid of yokes and things that you have, things that tug on your life that you should get rid of. So, every year we do it at the beginning of the year. About halfway through I realized I was struggling'.

Jim: How long do you go?

Michelle: It's 21 days.

Jim: Okay.

Michelle: And I needed some meat (Laughter) halfway through.

John: You were tired of fasting.

Michelle: I was tired of fasting.

Jim: Fruits and vegetables were getting' thin.

Michelle: You know, man, I'm gettin' thin. (Laughter) You know, how many potatoes can you eat, you know? (Laughter) And I was thinkin' about how much I was thinking about food and how much I was thinking, you know what? This is really healthier and I'm okay, even though I was jokin' about [it]. And it's a balance, right? And that once I came off the fast, I wanted to be sure to keep the focus on vegetables and healthy eating.

And during it, I thought, I wonder if I could do something similar with people and their money. What if I had them fast from unnecessary spending and credit and plastic, so that you completely shut it down. Because when you shut something down, you start to really sort of think about what you've been doing with your life.

In one case, this is food, but another case, money. So when you're not, 'cause we are always unconsciously thinking about spending and not even realizing it, which [is what] our conscious means. And so, we're going out and get a coffee or getting a bun or getting chips or, you know, whatever it is. And we're running, taking our kids to stuff and so, we don't think to pack the stuff so that they're eating healthy. We're just going to fast food 'cause we're on a rush and we don't have time to think about money and what this is costing us.

And so, for 21 days you get shut down from all of that. Now people will sort of joke. You know, oh, do I pay my rest and stuff? No, no, that's crazy. Right, I'm gonna invent a fast where you don't pay your bills, right?

Jim: Right, that's called "go to jail."

Michelle: So you pay all your bills, including your credit card bills. You pay your rent, your mortgage, your cell phone and everything. What you don't' do is no unnecessary spending. And even grocery stores, because lots of people have issues. They overspend at the grocery store. So, you have to have a tight grocery budget.

And you can only use cash, because the thing about cash, 'cause people think, you know, debit is sort of the new cash people think. But a debit card is not the same as cash, because here's the thing. There's studies that show that when you use plastic—debit or credit—you spend more than if you had cash.

So, if you had to go to the grocery store, most of us take multiple runs during the week. And all those runs mostly to fill, you know, milk and vegetables, right? That's what we say. So, we go in. We just need a gallon of milk and some eggs and some veggies.

Jim: Don't forget that ice cream.

Michelle: And well (Laughter), there you go right there.

John: That's a dairy product, so it must count.

Michelle: So you go in with like three things on your list. You come out with 20 things on your list. And if you only had $20 you could only buy those three things. But because you have a debit card, because you have a credit card, you can overspend.

And so, I want you to get acquainted with limitations. And so, the fast is a shut-it-down. Limitations, limitations, limitations. And then credit obviously, to get you started thinking about debt. And people think, oh, it's easy. I could do that for 21 days. About day three I started getting e-mails from people like, "You are crazy. I can't work …" You know, because we just spend so much.

John: Uh-hm.

Michelle: And we don't prioritize our spending. And I hear people talk about how, you know, one woman said day three she stopped smoking, because she realized how much she was spending on cigarettes, which is an enormously expensive habit.

I mean, people would think, "I didn't realize how much I was spending eating out for lunch." Now here's the thing. Most financial experts will say, you know, cut out the expensive coffee. Cut out this, 'cause you'll save millions, which is you know, the math doesn't work.

I don't tell you any of that, because here's the difference with me. You decide what is important for your budget. And if getting that expensive nicely brewed coffee in the morning is what you like and it will keep you, if you don't mind, from slappin' your coworkers, 'cause you know, we got some… (Laughter)

Jim: Definitely get that coffee.

Michelle: Definitely get that coffee. But here's the thing. You can't get the coffee and eat out at your lunch and buy all the clothes and buy the car and send your kids to this and da, da, da, da, da. You can't do it all. Even Bill Gates, one of the richest men in America could go broke, because you've gotta put limits on it.

So, the fast helps you shut down everything. When it comes time to reboot, you have now figured out what really matters to you. Hey, I really like that coffee, but you know what? I can make my lunch. That's what the fast does.

Jim: Yeah, it's some tradeoffs. And man, you are goin' and I want to go (Laughing) no, it's good, 'cause I want to take you back to something you said. My mind is right there with limiting the amount of cash you take to the grocery store--

John: Mm.

Jim: --I think is what you're implying. I've never thought about that, 'cause you know, guys and women, too—purses and wallets. We have plastic; we got [sic] even cash we've got in there. But if I said to myself, I just need these four things and then take just that amount of cash, roughly, kinda calculate it—four bucks for milk, whatever else—and just put that much cash and don't spend the credit card that does give you the discipline.

Michelle: Absolutely, that's exactly what I'm talking about. And when I say "cash," people freak out. Well, what do you mean? I gotta walk about with thousands of dollars. Like, seriously? That's how we think these days. No, you take out just enough that you need for that day or that week and you only take that.

And the thing is, we've gotta get rid of this, I mean, think about it now. They have set up credit and plastic debit so, it's so easy that you don't remember, I mean, I'm kinda dating myself. Remember how they had to pull out the machine and they had to put the card in there and they had to (Swoosh, swoosh).

Jim: Yeah, yeah.

Michelle: Slide it.

Jim: Right.

Michelle: You know, and it took about five or 10 minutes. Now you can walk past machines with your keys--

Jim: Kinda just—

Michelle: --and pay for stuff.

Jim: --flash the card.

Michelle: We can flash our phones and pay something and it's not done without thought, because they have people who study how to reduce the amount of time it takes for you to pay for stuff. So, if it's really quick, you're not making that calculation in your mind, hey, this is kind of expensive. If we had to pay cash for our cars, most of us would be driving [a] Ford Focus. (Laughter)

Jim: Ford Focus's, they're relatively cheap.

Michelle: Relatively cheap, because if you had to lay out all that money, you know, like just take big-screen TVs. You know, you could get a big-screen TV for you know, $2,000 maybe, a nice one, $3,000. If you had to go to the store and hand out those hundred-dollar bills, probably about $500 you'd be thinkin', "I don't really need this TV.

And I'm not sayin' don't get the big-screen TV. I'm just saying we need to think about how much we are spending before we spend it.

Jim: Let me ask you this, then. With the 20- 30-somethings, is this more of a problem, because they're more inclined to use technology to pay their bills? Does it reduce their ability to say no? Are you seeing more of a need for financial counseling within that community than perhaps an older community that did it the old-fashioned way?

Michelle: You know, honestly, no. (Laughing) I see financial illiteracy and inability handling money from people who are 15 to people who are a hundred, you know. (Laughing) I mean, well, maybe out of 90, I think is the oldest I've actually helped counsel.

No, I think it's not the age; it's our society.

Jim: Well, what I'd like to do is come back next time. You talk about an acronym, PAY, and I want to start next time with that. But tell us now what PAY means.

Michelle: So, what I try to do is build in things that help people during the fast. So, you want to start out by praying about what you want. Because oftentimes we think we want something and we really aren't doing what it takes to get that. And so, you read one chapter a day. And so, at the beginning of each day and each chapter I want you to pray and ask, "What is God's will for your life when it comes to your finances?"

And then act. At the end of every chapter, every day, there's an assignment that I give you, because you know, sometimes as Christians, sometimes, you know, we go, "Oh, the Lord's gonna make a way." Well, you know, He's gonna make a way if you help Him" you know. (Laughter) I mean, I like though when they talk about the whole armor of God when it says, "When you've done all that you can," right? Then you stand.

See, people forget that first part, "When you've done all that you can, then you stand," 'cause God's got, He's got your back, but there's some things that you have to do. Um... and so, you've gotta act. So, for example, I think day seven when I talk about budgeting, you actually have to do a budget (Laughing), you know.

Jim: Right.

Michelle: You actually have to save (Laughing), you know. Cause in [case], you know, Proverbs it talks about the ants and how they work all year round, to store up. Why, the grasshopper, everybody's havin' a good old time during summer, and they're like, you know, "Look, winter's gonna come; we gotta make sure we have stored…" Same thing.

So you gotta pray. And you have to act. And then yield. Because what is God asking you to do? And here's the thing about that yielding. 'Cause lots of times, when I go to forums, people talk about entrepreneurship, for example, as if everybody should be an entrepreneur. I believe in entrepreneurship, but not for everybody, because maybe God's will is for you to be a teacher. Maybe God's will is for you to be a bus driver. Maybe God's will is for you to be a counselor. And so, you've got to figure out where you're supposed to be and then you handle your money accordingly.

For example, my daughter wants to be a teacher. She wants to be in education, so what's the first thing people say when someone wants to be a teacher?

Jim: How can you afford to do that?

Michelle: Right. But you know what? The people who made the biggest difference in my life were educators, so I am not gonna discourage my child from being an educator, because she may not earn six figures.

What I'm gonna do is teach my child to pray, to act and to yield and so, that she will have enough money for what she wants to do in life.

And so, that's what PAY is all about.

Jim: It's good. Michelle Singletary, author of the book, The 21-Day Financial Fast. Let's pick it up next time. I've got some more, hopefully, hard questions for you. (Laughter) And, can you stick with us?

Michelle: I sure can.

Jim: All right, let's do it.

Closing:

John: Well, what a fun and engaging conversation with Michelle today. And I hope you've been intrigued by her idea to take a 21 day financial fast to get your money in order. Get a copy of the book and follow the outline on doing that. You'll find daily challenges and journal prompts and it's a great road map to begin thinking of how you can save and get out of debt and make those financial goals a reality.

And you can find a copy of that book and a CD or instant download of this conversation and other helps at focusonthefamily.com/radio.

Michelle talked about the importance of giving to your local church and generously to causes that you believe in. We trust that FOF is one of those organizations that you're deeming worthy of your support. Every day we come alongside millions of people world-wide at their point of need and we offer biblical, trusted advice, but we need your help to continue that mission. Let me invite you to join the Donor Support Team by making a generous contribution today at focusonthefamily.com/radio or when you call 800-A-FAMILY.

And when you give a gift of any amount today we'll send a copy of The 21 Day Financial Fast to you as our way of saying "Thank You" and helping you get on that financial road to freedom.

Our program was provided by FOF. And on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening! I'm John Fuller inviting you back tomorrow. You'll hear more trusted advice from Michelle Singletary as we help your family thrive.

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Michelle Singletary

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Michelle Singletary is a nationally recognized finance expert and a syndicated columnist for The Washington Post. Her award-winning column "The Color of Money" is carried in over 100 newspapers across the nation and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Michelle has made guest appearances on many television shows including NBC's Today Show, CBS' The Early Show and ABC's The View. She has authored three books: The 21 Day Financial Fast, Spend Well, Live Rich and Your Money and Your Man. Michelle and her husband have three children and reside in Maryland. Learn more about Michelle by visiting her website: www.michellesingletary.com.