Budget.

It is almost a fowl word in many households. People rationalize their resistance to the budget in many ways. However, there is nothing scary or intimidating about a budget.

Putting it in Writing

Dave Ramsey often says the budget must be “on paper, on purpose”. I agree. Budgetting is essentially putting everything in writing. A basic notebook, calculator and pencil will work. If you are more technologically inclined, then Microsoft Excel, QuickBooks, and other financial software does exist. The key is to pick something that you will actually feel comfortable using and USE it!

Income –

Begin by listing all money that comes into the house. This includes salaries, bonuses, tips, gifted money or found spare change. Every copper coin that comes into your household must be writen down. If you are a single adult, then you are accounting only for yourself. if you have a spouse, children, or other tendents, then their incomes must be recorded.

What MUST be paid

Now that you have on paper or spreadsheet all income that comes into the house, you must begin calculating what MUST be paid. Dave Ramsey often refers to this as “prioritized spending”. Home, food, and utilities must come first. To insure that my family has shelter, the first thing I list in my budget is the payment on our home. Secondly, the second thing on my list is food. We have a family of 4, so I have slated about $100 a week on our grocery budget. Thirdly, we pay our utilities. Every other bill falls somewhere else in the list.

This part is about the barebones minimum. I am not saying that other bills should be ignored, or that this number will not change. This is being real about what is the bare amount that has to be paid, no matter what.

Tweakin’ It – Or the Emergency Budget Committee Meeting

Once you have placed in writing what comes in and what must come out, then things will begin to get hairy. Realize that your first, second, or even third spending plan/budgets will need some tweaking. Let’s say you estimate that your family will only spend $50 a week on groceries, and that come 2 weeks into the month, you are finding it impossible to do. Don’t give up on your budget. Just Tweak it. Look at how you can adjust or sacrifice in one area to give yourself some extra in another. The key to the tweakin’ is in not giving up. My husband & I are in our 4th month of living “on paper, on purpose” as Dave Ramsey says and I suppose we have had about 6 “emergency budget committee meetings” since.

The key is not to give up. Find a system of record keeping (budgeting) that works best for you and tweak it until it becomes second nature. It is the budget that has helped to put my household on track to getting out of all debt.

Links:

Gather Little By Little: “Create a Budget and Follow it”

Christian Personal Finance: “How to Budget”

Bible Money Matters: “Cash Flow Planning (part of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University)”

Advertisements

Vision: 1 year & 5 years

August 18, 2008

(Note: Instead of writing on what works for me and what has worked for others in the aspect of personal finance, I am writing today on what my current situation is and what “vision” I have for my family’s financial future. Enjoy, for what it is worth.)

NOW

  • $21, 000 in debt, exlcuding our home and cars.
  • 4 years payments left on vehicles
  • Paying on our $100K home, which is completely interest free.

In One year, I have the vision that we…

  • Will have paid $10K on our general debts, through budgeting and selling what we do not need.
  • Continuing to pay off the vehicles… (sigh) and home.
  • Living on a tighter budget, and possibly taking on side jobs to throw at our debt.

In 5 years, I have the vision that we ….

  • will be out of debt other than our home!
  • have a small amount of “rainy-day/murphey is coming” fund started
  • will be financially sound enough that giving to “Faithful following of JESUS” will not be an issue.

The Balancing Dance

July 29, 2008

There can be various reasons why you may want to get out of debt. You may want to do it because you are tired of being being owned by credit cards, or because you want to give your family a better life. Perhaps you have a multitude of reasons.

As for myself, I want to get out of debt because I am tired. Tired of arguing about money. Tired of Worrying about money. My motives are pure – but I still need to be cautious to have a balance in my money walk.

What is there to balance?

I’m not talking about balancing my checkbook or even balancing my budget. Those things are essential to making my family’s debt-free dream a reality. The balancing that I need to be cautious of comes in three forms: my LORD, my family, and myself.

Balance with my LORD

If I do not live my life in balance with my LORD, all my debt-reduction efforts are dung. Cutting back my lifestyle, cutting out splurges and cutting off unnecessary spending cannot get in the way of my service to The LORD. I must continue to tithe my money to helping the church. I need to make an offering of my time and talents to CHRIST JESUS first. Throwing everything I got at my debt cannot include throwing my relationship with CHRIST JESUS out. Ultimately I know that HE will ” supply all {my} need according to HIS riches…” (Philippians 4:19, emphasis mine)

Balancing my family

I agree that any/all debt-reduction efforts must be a family work. However, I cannot allow every moment of my time be so consumed that I neglect my husband and two sons. By working together to annihilate our debt, I can still spend time with them. I also must take time to just love on them with one-on-one time. There must be time to play, laugh, and enjoy the time I have with them.


I will make you a promise: If you marry, you will at some point in time disagree with your significant other concerning money issues.

When My husband & I first married 10 years ago, I had the naive notion that money would not play as big of a part in our relationship as it actually ended up. 90% of the disagreements we have ever had have some root stuck in the troff of economy. I am very fortunate in that my precious husband has endured those disagreements. Alas, the foundation for this entry.

Prenuptial Understanding

Being a simple country girl, I am not one for prenuptial agreements. I do advise to those Brides & Grooms to be that before the Minister says, “Dearly Beloved,” that the two of you sit down and have several talks concerning finance goals. Be open with one another about money mistakes that you have made and make a written plan to prevent those same mistakes from infiltrating the joys of married life. Also, I would advise that the money talks go further and deeper than just money goals. Take the time to discuss your money heritage (how your parents handled money as well as how they taught you to handle money). It will play a part to some degree in how you handle money yourself. Talk openly, unhurriedly about money before you are 2 months into the marriage with $1600 worth of bills that you don’t know how to pay.

Budget from the Beginning; If your past that, START budgeting TODAY!

If you are able to begin your marriage with a mutual budget in mind, you will certainly obtain your financial goals more peacefully. Budgeting in the early months of wedded bliss may help pay for that second honeymoon in 20 years. However, if you are like me and did not begin your marriage with a mutual budget in mind there is hope. Married folks, sit down and start that budget today. Don’t procrastinate another day. Work together and realistically to make a budget that works for you as a couple. Every couple’s need and budget style will be as different as you and your spouse probably are.

One sided boats sink. Either way.

Perhaps you are reading this and saying, “Hay, I agree with you. I love budgets, BUT my spouse is throws money away like gravels…” Hear me now, a one sided boat sinks. What does that mean? If you are the budget/ frugal minded one in your marriage, your efforts alone are not enough to save the both of you. That is why a MUTUAL budget, with MUTUAL financial goals are essential – or else you’ll be bailing water out of the boat while the money-happy honey drills holes in the boat. The person you said “I do” to is your partner – in life and in finances. Together, you will make a doubly dynamic duo than you would alone.

Yes, it is worth being in agreement about

Do a couple of web searches and you will find many articles that show the link between finances and divorce. Throwing out the big D, other reasons that MUTUAL money goals are essential may be:

  • reaching financial goals more wuickly
  • less conflict on money-related decisions
  • better intimate relations with your spouse (and I ain’t just talking THAT kind of intimacy either)
  • clear plan = less confusion for all
  • teaching children and other family that money itself is not a terrible thing

It is worth the talk & the time. Although I have only been married to my darlin’ almost 10 years, I will say from my experiences so far that finances have been a big part of our hayride and probably will be. Only thing is that now we know where we’re going and how to get there.

OTHER ARTICLES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

I realize that my recent negative experience with a credit card company is non-unique; I am constantly reading on how individuals are being taken advantage of by the powerful mograls of credit.

My experience is with Macy. My husband & I made a recent commitment to pay it off, since we owe the least on it. Recently, we began to get many phone calls from Macy’s, claiming a $25 past-due fee. Each time that the credit card company has called, it is always JUST before the next billing cyle. Not wanting to contest, my husband sent off the $25 last month. Guess what? 3 days before this billing cycle, I received yet ANOTHER call, claiming ANOTHER $25 past-due fee. That has pushed my buttons!!

My solution? My husband & I are going to take whatever means necessary to pay it off by the end of the year, and cancel the card.

I’m curious.. Are we the only ones that MACY’s has polished out of $25 a month, month after month??