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)”

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Let me guess: you have realized that you have debt. Most Americans due, but that does not make it a normal thing by any means. You know you have debt because there is more month than money, you can’t ever seem to “get ahead”, or that big minus sign in your bank account tells you so. It doesn’t matter how that you came to the realization that you have debt, it only matters that you do realize that you have debt and that you actually would like to get out of debt.

Checking Your Supplies

I point to Dave Ramsey as the source for the following advice: “put it on paper on purpose”. Use a spreadsheet program of your choice, or just a pad of paper and a pencil. The idea here is to know exactly how much income that you have coming into your house. Use your net income.

In addition to income, its time to see what you have packed into your wagon. Are there items that you could sell to lighten up your debt load? Evaluate carefully what you could sell, and the profit from that sell. Include this income on paper, and commit yourself to a deadline by which you will have posted the item for sell, or to have your yard sell.

Plan Your Trip

If you were going to take a huge trip across country, you would probably make a plan for your trip. Getting to the Land of Better Money Days is going to take preperation as well.  Just as one individual is different from another, every person’s money plan will be different from anothers. Make a plan. Make the plan realistic, though.

Know the dangers

Getting out of debt does have dangers: they are called tempations and lack of responisbility. Be firm when temptations come – remember where you really want to go (Debt-free-opia) and stay AWAY from things that try to stir you from that directions. Others may try to get you to splurge on something, but remember that just one little splurge will default your debt-free efforts. Be responisble. If you are wanting to get yourself (and family) out of the valley of debt, you must be responsible with your decisions. Don’t be a five year old and want, want, want. Disciple yourself, delay pleasure – be an adult.

Get Started NOW

Don’t put it off any longer. If you want to get to the land of Better Money Situations, start today. Any procrastinating, any excuses – are not going to produce real results. Start TODAY!!!

Open your checkbook up, and look at the check record.

Visa.
Cable Bill.
Electric Bill
Gas Bill.
That large Warehouse store that sells everything.

Is GOD in there?

I am not talking a literal check written out to GOD. HE owns the cattle on a thousand hills, so what would HE need with our meager pocket change? I am talking about giving to the things of GOD.

Tithe.
I’ll be blunt. As Christians, we should be tithing. We need to be tithing. I will not go into a long novella as to the plethora of reasons why we should tithe. I will refer you to Bible Money Matters. Pete has written two very good posts on the reasons for tithing: The Bible and Tithing: To give or not to give, Part One, and Part Two.

I will say that tithing supports your minister(s), Sunday School, Youth Programs and Outreaches for the Afflicted.

Large Ministry Support

There are many Biblically sound and Financially responsible ministries that could greatly benefit from the charitable giving of Christians. I heard a statistic recently that Christian people donate less than 3% of their income toward Charity. In a society where finding anything decent on television or radio is a rarity, Christians can best influence the media by giving toward a ministry that challenges others to be in GOD’s Word. Don’t be embarrassed if all that you can donate is $10 a month. There is not a single Biblically based ministry out there that would not take that $120 a year to help broadcast the Truth of God’s Word to the masses.

Local Evangelical Ministry Giving

Call a couple of local churches, food kitchens, or Associational Directors, and odds are that you will find many small local ministries that are desperate for even $10 a month. Donations such as clothes, canned food and service are always appreciated, too. The Local Evangelical Ministries are often the unrecognized – they minister to our neighbors, to our communities and to our hometowns. Big City and Little Suburb alike, these little ministries need a place in your checkbook as well.

How about you? What’s in your checkbook? Could you take the $5 or $10 you waste on candy bars a month and send to a ministry? Are you tithing – giving as it has been given unto you?

A wise friend once reminded me that our money isn’t ours anyways – GOD has just loaned it to us to be good stewards with it, and to use it toward HIS glory.