Posted in Budgeting for Everyone, Building Wealth, Debt Free, Financial Freedom, Marriage and Money, Winning with Your Money

Budgets – The Key to Financial Success



When you hear the word budget, do you think freedom or prison?  Many people lean on the side of prison, but as I found out, a budget is the key to financial success and freedom.  For the first 28 years of my life, I never did a budget – I mean I didn’t even write a list of my bills down each month.  Then, as many of you know, I found myself $200,000 in debt, a single mom making $10,000 year.  In order for me to get out of that situation and move forward in my finances, many things had to change.  The first thing was budgeting.

All budgets need to be written – at least until you reach the level of financial freedom where you automatically have set limits and can always stick to them.  I know millionaires who still write down budget items such as donations, medical expenses, etc. – items that they need to keep in check to make sure they don’t go over what their boundaries are.  And that is all a budget is – a list of your expenses and what your boundaries are in each category.  Your true boundary is your income – if you spend beyond that, you will head into dangerous territory.  The best way to avoid doing that is to set up a list of every dollar you are bringing in and where you want it to go including savings, retirement, fun, etc. – a zero budget.  Everyone can do this – whether you have regular income or irregular income.

Regular Income – When you get paid the same thing every month, it is easy to do a budget.  You know ahead of time what your take home will be so you can sit down a week or so before the beginning of the month and write out your budget.  You can use pen and paper like I do, or you can use a spreadsheet or one of the many apps out there.  It doesn’t matter how you do it – the important thing is that you do it.  As I mentioned before, make sure you do a zero budget – this is where every dollar has a home.  If something changes throughout the month, you can switch money around, but when you leave extra money floating out there, you have a tendency to forget about it and spend it on something you shouldn’t.  You are in charge of your money and if you don’t tell it where to go, it will literally go and you will never see it again.

Irregular Income – It is a little more challenging to do an specific budget when you have different amounts of income coming in each month.  However, it is just as important that you do one.  The first step is the same – write down all of your expenses.  Then rewrite them in priority order – let me help with this one – food, housing, utilities, transportation come first.  Then you can worry about credit cards, debt, etc.  Never pay a credit card before your rent/mortgage.  When your money comes in, simply start at the top of the list and pay down the list until you run out of money.  Everything else gets moved to the next check.  Here is a major tip that will help you if you have irregular income:  Have a cushy emergency fund.  If you have one, you will be able to cover all your expenses every month no matter what the income.  And when the months are good, you can rebuild the fund with the extra.  This will keep you from missing payments, being late and racking up extra fees.

Many people don’t like doing budgets because they believe that doing one will make them have to say no to something.  However, not doing one will make you have to say no to a lot of things in the near future.  A budget is a wealth building tool.  A budget is you being the boss of your money.  A budget is your key to financial freedom.  If you are scared to start budgeting, I understand.  I was right where you are.  Let me put your mind at ease – you will fail multiple times.  Not because you can’t do it, but because budgets are emotional things.  You will have to face your truth doing a budget.  You will have to say no sometimes doing a budget.  But without doing both of these things, you will never reach the financial freedom you so desperately want.  Start by doing a spending journal.  Learn where your money is actually going.  Then use that spending journal to do your first budget.  And I would also suggest continuing the spending journal in conjunction with the budget for several months or forever.  It is a great tool to have in your wealth toolbox. And my last tip – add a G.O.K. (God Only Knows) category to your budget.  All you need to put in it is $20-40 per month, but this will help you with those tedious expenses that pop up out of nowhere.

Budgets are not hard, but they are emotional.  Just remember, with a zero budget, you only have what you have.  Therefore, if something changes, the money has to come from somewhere – either another category or the future, meaning it may have to wait until next month.  After a few months, you will begin to build your muscles and you will get stronger with each month – and wealthier too.

Always remember – budgets are our friend!

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Posted in Financial Freedom, Marriage and Money, You and Your Money

5 Valentine’s Day Dates Under $10



It is that time of year again.  The day on the calendar especially designed to show your significant other how much you love them.  Of course we need to do that everyday, but on February 14th we like to kick it up a notch.  How can we do that without breaking the bank or mortgaging our future?  Here are my top 5 ideas to get you started:

  1. Cook an expensive tasting dinner at home – Notice I said “tasting”.  It doesn’t cost a lot of money to make an expensive tasting dinner at home, but would cost a small fortune if you bought the same dinner out.  My favorite is my recipe for shrimp scampi.  (You take a stick of butter, melt it on the bottom of a casserole dish, add a pound of shrimp (the smaller the better) and sprinkle with Italian dressing mix.  Add a cut up lemon if you wish and bake at 350 degrees for 15-17 min).  See how simple and inexpensive it is, but it is beyond yummy.  You can also do lasagna or anything Italian and so much more.  A great place to look for recipes is on Pinterest.  Once dinner is cooked, set up a romantic table setting or have a picnic on the living room floor.  Romance is not about spending money – it is about spending time together.
  2. Movie night – A night at the movies can cost two people $40 or more.  And who needs the crowds to ruin the romance.  Rent a movie, pop some popcorn, grab some wine, soda or water, and cuddle up on the couch.  Even if you rent from your cable company this date will only cost around $6.  And if you live in a colder climate like I do, you can add a fire and kick the romance up a notch.
  3. Skate your way to romance – Cold and warm climates alike generally have ice skating rinks around.  Whether inside or out, join in the fun.  Grab your cocoa, your partner and skate the night away.  There is nothing more romantic than falling into your partner’s arms as you wobble around the rink.
  4. Take a dance class together – Most communities have a least one dance studio.  Find one that offers couples dancing and join in the fun.  The rumba screams romance and the salsa screams sexy – covering all your bases.
  5. Local events – This obviously will differ from community to community, but Valentine’s weekend is a great opportunity to get out and explore local events.  My husband and I love the home show and this year it happens to be in Philly on Valentine’s weekend.  For us, this is romance and only cost $8.  Ask around, check your local newspaper, news shows and internet to find awesome events in your area that you can enjoy together.

These are my 5 favorite, but of course they are so many more things you can do that ooze romance without breaking the bank.  I have found through my financial journey that the less something cost, the more meaningful it is.  For example, a card from my husband is much more meaningful than candy, roses, jewelry, etc. because he went to the trouble to look through all of them to find the right one.  There were many years that we couldn’t spend but just a few dollars on this commercial holiday and we learned that that is all we need to spend.  Everyday is about loving your spouse, everyday is about romance and you don’t need to spend a fortune just because the calendar says you should.

Happy Valentine’s Day – wishing you a lifetime of love, romance, and happiness!


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Posted in Building Wealth, Debt Free, Financial Freedom, Saving for Your Future, Winning with Your Money, You and Your Money

Why Lord Why?


We ask this question a lot whether we are a person of faith or not.  This morning I am, as a person of faith, asking it about the death of a loved one.  We ask this question when we are stressed, depressed and don’t know what to do.  Many of you have asked this question recently in the area of your finances – “Why Lord why is this happening to me?  Why do I owe so much, why are the creditors calling me, why is nothing good happening to me?”

The answer is more simple than you think when it comes to your money.  This is going to hurt, but it has to be said – you are where you are because of you.  Ouch!  Now I’ve pulled the Band-Aid off so let the healing begin.

You may be praying for a miracle, but you don’t need a miracle.  You just need to make a decision to get out of debt and do it.  You are probably saying, “But Debbi, you don’t know what I’ve been though.” “Debbi, I had no choice but to go into debt”.  Hogwash – on both counts.  I do know what you have been through and I know you did have a choice.  The only way I ridded myself of $200,000 in debt was to realize I did have a choice and to understand that the answer to the question “Why Lord Why” was because I made bad decisions.  I mortgaged my future for something that I had to have even though I didn’t have the money to buy it.  This holds true whether it is credit card debt, a car loan, or even a student loan.  You can go to college debt free, but you chose not to.  You can buy a working car with cash, but you chose not to.  You can live without a computer, iPad, iPhone, etc, but you chose not to.

I cannot say this enough – you are where you are because of the choices you made.  The good news is you can get out of debt the same way – by the choices you make.  You can choose to sell your car and buy one with cash.  You can choose to not take a vacation this year.  You can choose to get a prepaid cell phone.  You can choose to rent a movie instead of going out.  You can choose to cook at home instead of eating out.  Getting out of debt is a choice, just like getting into debt is.  And it can be done – I’ve done it and so have countless millions.

So here’s the real question – “Why am I not choosing to get out of debt?”  What is holding you back?  If it is knowledge, then get it.  We offer coaching programs, I have two award winning books, and so do countless other  great personal finance experts.  The knowledge is out there.  If it is excuses, throw them out.  Every time you find yourself making an excuse, replace it with a positive choice.  If it is because you think you can’t, I am here to tell you you can!  If it is because you don’t want to sacrifice, then I can’t help you.

You are the answer to the change you want to see in your finances.  You are the answer to the question “Why Lord Why?” in the area of your money.  Maybe you’ve had some bad luck that was out of your control – lost a job, etc. – but if you had money instead of debt, it would have worked out much differently.  You can’t change the past, but you can learn from it and change the future.  I hope today you will choose to make that change and begin your journey to wealth and financial freedom.


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