Dave Ramsey’s calls for “emergency savings” and “no consumer debt” don’t seem too crazy right now.

If you’re struggling financially – I’m not trying to salt the wound. We’re all either burning through savings, collecting unemployment, or bracing ourselves for the worst economy yet to come.

But the reality is that Ramsey’s call for 3-6 months of savings for an emergency fund would have helped save a lot of struggling families right now.

Imagine you had 6 months of savings in your bank account, what would your stress level look like? How would it change the anxiety you have about the Corona lockdowns? Or losing your job?

I’m sure it would all be positive and empowering to have that financial security.

But how could we save that much we were barely making it by as it is?

It’s true that there are many folks who work day and night and still struggle to cover their basic needs.

But likely, this isn’t you. You enjoy lots of “splurging.” There’s nothing evil about enjoying the fruits of your labor. We’re not called to poverty.

But because we’re NOT called to poverty we must make personal finance decisions that set us up for success rather than failure.

My pastors always described this as “delayed gratification.” We must build systems in our life and behavior that prepare for the worst in the things we can’t control, by doing the most in the things we can control. We can’t control the job market or economy, but we can decide how we spend, save, and invest our time and resources.

We can build budgets that balance our real needs against our natural vanities.

Imagine the agony that millions of Americans feel when they open the bill for their car note. Do we have any regrets in buying that new car? In a time when we’re not allowed to go anywhere millions are paying a huge percentage of their income on these bloated car notes. Or if it’s not your car, maybe it’s the MasterCard bill for shoes and clothes that you’ve swapped for sweatpants this past month. Or perhaps as you struggle to piece together your grocery budget, you regret each Caramel Frappuccino that destroyed your savings $5 at a time.

When we’re out of work and everything’s shut down, no amount of saving will rescue us. But the habits we choose today will form how much future crises affect us.

Our great grandparents who lived through the Great Depression lived markedly different lives after experiencing national poverty. Will we continue to recklessly risk a future for our families by counting on tomorrow to provide some magical windfall?

Or do we reevaluate what our priorities are and begin building things that matter for people that we love for the future we want.