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

Budgets – The Key to Financial Success

budget-planner

 

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!

Find all of Debbi’s award winning books on Amazon and BN.com.

Join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

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

5 Valentine’s Day Dates Under $10

IMG_0541

 

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!

 

Find all of Debbi’s award winning books on Amazon, BN.com and wherever books are sold!

Follow Debbi on Facebook and Twitter to join in the fun and conversation.

 

Posted in Budgeting for Everyone, Building Wealth, Buying Your Dream House, Debt Free, Marriage and Money, Saving for Your Future, You and Your Money

The Tiny House Phenomenon

image

This week is Tiny House Hunters week on HGTV.  I love watching all of the cool homes they show and how different they all are.  My husband and I have actually considered a tiny home for a lake lot in the future.  Would you ever consider living in a tiny house?  Here are 4 good reasons to include a tiny house in your future plans:

Saving money – When living in a tiny house, you are saving considerable money in several areas.  You save on the utilities, you save on the taxes and other home costs and you can even save on groceries (not as much cabinet or refrigerator space).  The money you save by choosing tiny house living can be used to pay off debts, invest in your future, or finally have the career you want.

Downsizing – Many people have way more home then they need or can afford.  Buying a tiny home might be just what you need to hit the reset button and start over.  What I love is that is gives you more nature and less house.  Who wants to clean a 3 bedroom/2 bath house anyway when you can be swimming, boating, hiking or making smores?

No mortgage – Most tiny homes are priced low which gives you the ability to pay cash and be debt free.  Can you imagine what it would be like to not owe a mortgage/rent payment every month?  Talk about financial freedom.  I saw nice homes last week that cost less than a 20% down payment for an average home.

Contentment – One of the biggest keys to wealth and financial freedom is contentment.  Owning a tiny house is the ultimate form of contentment.  You only have 200 – 600 square feet in which to put everything you own.  This makes you step back and look at what is truly important to you.  I think if you had to, you would be very surprised at what you could live without.

Tiny houses are not for everyone.  But like with any success story, you need to know all of your options and what it could mean for your bottom line.  For me, it could be a viable option in the future because of all of the reasons mentioned above.  I guess I’m showing my age, but sitting by the lake enjoying a sunset puts a smile on my face and cleaning a 1500 square foot home does not.  But everyone is different. My goal today was simply to give you something to think about and talk about around the water cooler.

Buy any of Debbi’s books at Amazon.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

http://www.debbiking.com