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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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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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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Christmas Shopping Tips You Must See


This time of year, there are hundreds even thousands of blog posts with savings tips for your Christmas shopping – the biggest shopping time of the year.  I didn’t want to be left out.  However, I am sharing tips that I never knew about until my journey to financial freedom.  I hope these tips will be new and exciting for you and if not, at least a great reminder.

  1. Buy only what you can truly afford to pay cash for – This may mean that you buy nothing this year.  Maybe you only buy a thought gift for a few of your closest family members or you buy one big family gift that everyone can enjoy.  Whatever it means, be honest and authentic when it comes to gift buying and the Christmas season.  Society and even the people we love the most sometimes make us feel like we must buy something for everyone we know.  Etiquette  tells us to reciprocate gift giving – meaning if someone buys for you, you need to buy for them.  Many of us buy simply out of obligation or so the other person won’t “look badly upon us”.  This is all hogwash.  You have to live your authentic life and your authentic life may be that you can’t buy anything this year.  I am going to share tips on how to buy thought gifts and maybe that is all you can do.  But no matter what, buy only what you truly can afford to buy in cash and only what you really want to buy.  Christmas is not a time to see who can buy the bigger and better present.  It is a time for family & friends and reflection on who we are and where we are going.  So if you are getting out of debt or your budget simply can’t handle anything or just a small amount this year, I am telling you that is okay.
  2.  Buy gifts in sets and break them up – I have bought my mom, my aunts, and others like my hairdresser and staff gorgeous gifts that have cost under $10 – I’m talking brand names like Lenox and real pearl earrings like Honora pearls.  The first time I thought about this was watching @QVC, but you can find these gift sets anywhere.  And make no mistake – these gifts are not small or cheesy and they are not something that someone will shove in a closet.  They are gorgeous gifts that people will be proud to wear and display.  Sometimes we think that if we buy a gift set, we have to give the whole set to one person.  This is simply not true.  That is what they make gift bags for.
  3. Regifting is okay – You may be saying, “Oh Lord Debbi, now you are crossing a line.”  No I am not.  Listen, if you have something that someone, out of the kindness of their heart gave you, but it is just not your thing, then give it to someone who would enjoy it (just make sure it is not the person who gave it to you).  It is wasteful to have something sitting in your house collecting dust because you aren’t using it.  Many people would call this tacky but I call it paying it forward.  Someone thought of me, but I couldn’t use the item, so I am going to give it to someone I am thinking about who can use it.  This can apply to gifts or gift cards.  One year, my husband and I received a gift card to a place we do not go to.  However, my cat sitter did so we gifted it to her.  We didn’t announce it – we just gave it to her and she was very happy which is what matters in the end.  And yes, there are people who may do a follow up interview regarding the gift they gave you – don’t lie.  Just simply say “We haven’t had a chance to use it yet, but we really appreciate you thinking of us.”  This is one where you need to use your discretion, but don’t rule it out.  Do what is right for you.
  4. Handmade gifts are not tacky – One of the least expensive handmade gifts to give are the mixes in a jar.  It can be soup, cookies, hot chocolate or any other wonderful treat.  This lets someone know you were thinking of them, but it doesn’t break the budget.  One year, I went to Michael’s and bought unpainted wooden reindeer shapes.  I painted them brown, added eyes and a pompom nose and a string for hanging.  This cost me less than a dollar and I still have family members who hang it on their tree every year.  It may seem cheap to you (and yes it will come across cheap to some receivers as well), but they are perfectly good gifts and if someone has a problem, it is their issue, not yours.

For many of us, Christmas can be an extremely stressful time, but there is no need for it to be.  We are not put here to live our lives for other people and this includes during Christmas.  We are put here to be ourselves, to be true to ourselves and to live our authentic lives.  For you, this may mean using one of the tips above when it comes to presents instead of putting a strain on your finances by buying too many gifts for too much money.  It may also mean you finally bring your favorite Christmas tie or sweater out of hiding.  It also may mean that you spend a few less minutes at the family gathering this year.  Whatever it means, do it!  Do what you want to do, do what makes you happy, and have a very Merry Christmas (or whatever holiday season you celebrate).

Would you love to have Debbi add your church, organization, conference, or meeting to her “Living Your Authentic Life Tour 2016“?  Email her today at dking@debbiking.com and schedule now to make sure your date doesn’t get taken!

Prosperity Formula


As in many areas of our life, we tend to overcomplicate our finances.  I know I did.  But the reality is that money, winning with money, building wealth, prospering, and obtaining and maintaining financial freedom is really quite simple – spend less than you make, save and invest in your future.

We are instructed to put 1/10th of everything we make in the storehouse so that we may have food in the future.  This simply means save and invest 10% of everything you make so that you will always have what you need.  If you do this, you will prosper.  However, most of us do not do this.  We put it off thinking we have time, we are selfish and want stuff now and we think it will all work out in the end.

But when you think about it, it should be super simple.  For every $100 you make, you save/invest $10 and you get to do whatever you want with the other $90.  However, we tend to get greedy and want all 100 of the dollars (and more).  When you are looking at your finances and trying to figure out the issues, begin here – are you storing up your tenth or are you spending it now?

The bottom line is this – if you spend less than you make, you will be prosperous.  If you spend more than you make, you will be broke.  The problem isn’t how much you make, but what you do with it.  This is why most people who win the lottery are broke within the first few years.  Odds are if you are broke, more money won’t fix the problem.  However, a combination of more money and less expenses just might (setting aside 10% or more in savings/investments).

As long as you live on less than you make, you will always have money!



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Justifiable Homicide


My daughter just got back from a student leadership conference where she studied how to be a leader and learned about the field she wants to major in – forensic psychology.  So for the last few days I have heard a lot about murder and police work.  Now by this point you are probably thinking what does this have to do with money.

Everyday, many of us are committing what I call justifiable homicide with our money.  We make immediate decisions in the area of our finances without taking the time to think them through.  And in the process, we are killing our finances.  But that’s okay because we can justify everything, so don’t worry, right?

Wrong!  Justifying is simply making an excuse when you know you made a mistake.  It is okay to make mistakes – it is how we learn, but you can’t grow if you are not learning from them and instead you are justifying and making excuses as to why you did what you did.  Today is the day to throw out your excuse bag – no more excuses!

Homicide is bad, whether you have a reason or not, and if affects many lives, not just your own.  This is the same thing that happens when you make rash decisions in the area of your money.  The outcome is never good even if you can justify it.  So what does this mean and what is my point?  Odds are justification and excuses are playing a larger role in your financial issues than you think.  Now, part of my decision process when buying something is why am I buying it and if that reason has an excuse attached or is a justification, I don’t buy it.  When you have the money and it is the right thing, there is no need for excuses or justification.

In this country right now, there are a lot of homicides happening that fall under the category of “justifiable”.  But the consequences are still horrible and the life, an important life, is still lost.  Stop committing justifiable homicide in your finances.  It is hurting you more than you know and is probably hurting those around you as well.  Throw out your excuse bag, put on your big boy/girl pants, and change your finances!  I went from a single mom making $10,000 a year and being $200,000 in debt to financial freedom – I know you can do it!!

Find Debbi’s award winning books and programs on her website at http://www.debbiking.com and http://www.abcsofpersonalfinance.com.

Are There Any Advantages to a PayDay Loan?


The answer to the question is flat out “no”!  But you know me, I won’t say yes or no without a reason.  This particular no has many components to it.  But before I get to those, let’s discuss what a payday loan is and why people use them.

The What – A payday loan is just that – it is a loan to get your through a financial crisis until payday.  The problem is that once payday rolls around, unless you won the lottery, you still don’t have the money. It sounds easy because you know you will have money once you get paid again; however, what we tend to forget is that that money is spoken for already which means jumping right back on the hamster wheel for another ride.

The Why – When you are not prepared for the rain, you will get wet.  You need an umbrella – a rainy day fund – to cover you when it rains because it will.  Not having this rainy day fund makes us desperate when something happens.  We panic and we are attracted to offers like the payday loan lenders make – basically we will give you the money now and you can deal with it when you get paid.

Why “no” – The way payday loans really work is why there are no advantages to them.  They work like this – you take out a $500 loan.  When you get paid, your loan is due with interest (up to 1000% or more).  One of 2 things happen – either you can’t pay it so they reset it or you pay it and come up short again and have to take out another loan.  They have basically set you up to fail.  There are no regulations on the amount of interest that they can charge you in most states and it has been known to go as high as 1000% – yes that is 3 zeros.

Payday loans were designed to prey on the poor and the desperate.  When you don’t have the money to pay for something and you consider it an emergency, you will sell your soul to take care of it and they know this.  What you are really doing is just digging your hole deeper and deeper making it harder to get out.

How can you stop the “need” for payday loans?  First, you have to have an emergency fund in place, even $100 to start so that this doesn’t happen again.  Make it a priority to build it up so that when something happens you are prepared.  If you have a payday loan currently, pay it off as quickly as possible.  Sell stuff, cut back, eat Raman noodles – do whatever it takes to pay it off and stop the madness.  The sole purpose of these loans is to make money off of the hurting.  Put yourself into a position where you don’t “need” them and together we can put them out of business.

The ABC's of Personal Finance Book
The ABC’s of Personal Finance Book

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