Less is More

This last month I’ve been discussing a scary word.  Budgeting.  It is a subject that is on my mind quite a bit and funny enough, comes up in many of my daily conversations.    I enjoy hearing the perceptions of others on this topic.  One conversation, really got my wheels turning.  It started with one sentence.  “I don’t budget because I want to enjoy life now.”   I’m sure you can see where this is going, already.

The world today tends to push us into the “I want it now!” behavior.  Yes, that spoiled child syndrome that makes us all cringe.  Does anyone remember who fell down the rotten egg chute in the original Willy Wonka movie?  Yup, the “I want it now!” girl.  There was a time when this type of behavior was frowned upon and actually quite embarrassing to those around that self-centered and demanding person.  Now, the world has embraced this behavior.  Why save, when you can use a credit card?  Why put away for your old age, when you can travel the world now?  Television, radio and the internet are always pushing some new and grand thing for you to throw your money away at.

Take a step back and take a look around you.  The race to have more is really not worth jumping into.  The more things you acquire the less time and money you have for the truly important things in life.  Money and things do not obtain happiness.  In fact, what happens is there is more stress and less happiness.

Budgeting should not be looked at as a tool that gives you less in life, it is a tool that helps you to acquire more in life.  More of the good things.

When you budget you create:

  • Knowledge:  You know where your money needs to go.
  • Control:  You control where your money goes.
  • Peace: You don’t have to stress about the unknown (as much).
  • Money:  When you control your money and think about its use, it begins to grow.

Budgeting is not meant to make you feel guilty, insecure, angry or like a failure.  Budgeting is a tool and when that tool is used properly, you gain from it not suffer from it.  Ignoring your money and pretending the debt doesn’t exist will only create a bigger monster in the end.

monster illustration

A Budget is a Living Thing:

Your budget is not something you scribble on a notepad and shove in the drawer and forget.  It is something that is “living”.  Now, with that said, it is not something to obsess over.  Set aside some time weekly to review your budget, if you are married, make sure you do this with your spouse.  See how you have been spending your money, assign it to a category.  Do NOT put credit card purchases in a ‘black box title’ such as Credit Cards.  Actually list out what you made that purchase for.  You will very quickly be surprised on how much a week you may be spending on things like breakfasts, lunches, coffee, snacks, entertainment without even blinking an eye.  When you put a name on them, they become real.

My goal, or happy place, is to be able to budget for three-quarters (or better yet, half) of our house income.  Yes, you read that correctly three-quarters of our total house income.  That does not mean that this happens every month there are times I don’t make that goal.  What it means is it gives me a line to shoot for.  This way, heaven forbid, if something happens to the “good times” income and it gets cut, we can still thrive without too much stress.  Notice I said thrive, not just survive.  It also gives me a challenge and I love a good challenge.

I’ve mentioned this many times, but I love the way that Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace utilizes their online budget tool Every Dollar .  It lays it out perfectly.  Especially when paying off those credit cards because in reality, when you pay these off you are gaining money.  Once they are paid off, close as many as you can, especially the high interest rate ones.  The Every Dollar budget tool offers a subscription version and a free version.  I tell people to utilize the free version for 2 reasons:  1) It’s free and not another expense.  2) It forces you to physically write what you spent the money on.  The paid subscription version allows you to connect to your savings, checking, credit cards to automatically bring in transactions, but you have to place them in your built budget.  Their paid subscription also will not allow you to add an American Express Card, or pay for the subscription using a credit card, you must use a debit card or a checking account to pay for the annual subscription.  Both the subscription and free versions are available on both PC and phone/tablet app versions for Android and iPhone apps.  With any budgeting tool, it works best when you work with it often.  I budget daily or nothing less then once a week.

Put extra money that you are no longer wasting on things to paying off debt.  It is not as hard as you may be thinking it is.  The outcome is less stress and fear.  Now, when you do pay it off, don’t go “celebrate” with some big shopping spree or dinner out or a vacation.

Budgeting allows you to live below your means which gives you freedom from stress and freedom from being a slave to needing more.  It allows you to give time to what is truly important; relationships and your health as a whole.

So don’t look at budgeting as this big scary monster lurking in the dark, look at it as a garden just waiting for you to plant and watch it grow.

white and green ceramic pig decor

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

A Tough Conversation

Money.  When you hear that word, what do you think of?  Does it make you worry, depressed, happy, longing, dreaming?  In this world no matter what, we need money to survive.  No matter how self-sufficient you are, you still need money.  The trick is to manage what you have wisely and not get caught up in the world and the tricks that are played to separate you from your hard earned wages.

There are more arguments in a relationship about money than any other subject.  It causes strife and worry.  But it doesn’t have to.  It all depends on how you view it.  Money is a tool, it is not your life and its not meant to be that.  We work to earn money to live, we don’t live for work.  Many times our priorities get shifted to the world’s view and we become trapped in that more, bigger, better trap.  The ease of credit, the thoughtless buying or lack of planning, these all lead to leaks in our financial, and eventually our mental well-being, and even sometimes the end to wonderful relationships.

Tips to simple rules of being healthy frugal:

  1.  Understand your wants from your needs.   This is a big one.  TV, internet, friends, the world in general preaches that our wants are our rewards and pushing our wants to become what we think are our needs.   You need shelter, food and water, clothing (basic) and previsions, and of those, you don’t need the biggest and the best.  All of the other points will follow this mentality, if you know a need from a want that is your biggest hurdle.
  2. Eat at home and make your drinks/coffee/tea at home.  I am still amazed at how many of my friends will spend $3-$5 on a cup of coffee.   Make it at home and buy a nice carry mug.  We buy a dark roast coffee at a local bulk store that is better than any coffee shop grind.  Also, when you eat at home and pack your meals for work you know exactly what is going into your body.  Keep it natural, not only will your wallet thank you, so will your waistline.
  3. Buy second hand clothes.  While there are items that should never be bought second hand (underwear, hair items, personal stuff) most all of your clothes can be bought second hand and be in style.  If you do need something ‘new’ then utilize your discount and outlet stores.  I enjoy an online store called ThredUp  they will even pay for your gently used clothes you no longer want.
  4. Garage Sales, Thrift Stores, Friends/Family.  Consider it a treasure hunt for something you really need.  By utilizing the mentality of looking for a needed item, it will also give you the time to really think about if you really need it.  Keep a list.  We do a lot of canning especially when our garden is coming on, in the store canning jars are high priced, but you would be surprised how many you can find in good condition in garage sales and thrift stores, and even better yet when someone is cleaning out their basement and finds a box of them!
  5. Grow your own food!  This may seem extreme to many, but to be honest, its not that hard, and you will watch your grocery bill shrink, especially if you preserve by canning, drying and/or freezing what is in season.  Even if it is only greens, tomatoes and cucumbers you will quickly notice a difference in taste, quality and your grocery bill.  For those who can house AND TAKE CARE OF chickens, this is a great source of eggs and meat as well.
  6. Stop relying on credit cards.  This is a hard one, especially in today’s society.  Unfortunately, we all need at least one, especially to travel.  Choose wisely and use wisely.  Do not use it as a “just put it on the card” excuse.  We all fall into that moment of over using a credit line and then feel the pain later.  Learn from your mistakes, pay it off, close what you can, move on with your life.
  7. Home.  A home falls under the need topic but it does not mean you have to move into the Wayne Mansion.  You don’t need to have the biggest and the best.  Keep in mind your purpose.  Do you want minimal maintenance (every home will have maintenance).  Do you really want to own a home?  There is nothing wrong with renting until you reach a point in your life that is right to own a home.  Just don’t pay ridiculous rent for nothing.  What purpose is the home to have?  Do you have children?  Will you have children?  Do you want a homestead to be more self-sufficient?  Does the location really suit you?  What kind of taxes are you looking at?  So much can become overwhelming quick, and if you are building, keep in mind that you do not need to get the top of the line of everything in that home at the time you build.
  8. Budget, budget, budget!    I know, its boring and stressful and makes you accountable.  Don’t just set the budget and ‘fudge the numbers’, actually add what you are spending to each item so you can see it.  I like Dave Ramsey’s Every Dollar program (everydollar.com).  Trust me, it will help you become more aware of where your money is going.
  9. Save your money for a rainy day.  The storms will come.  It is not a matter of if but when.  Your car WILL break down.  There WILL be medical needs and emergencies.  There WILL be accidents.  There will be times when money is tight.  Just because you get that big bonus, don’t go hog wild, feed the piggy bank instead.
  10. Fix the leaks.  What is a leak?  This is where your money invisibly disappears.  Interest rates on credit cards and loans are a horrible leak and you need to get those stopped immediately.  Other leaks can be not looking at your car or home insurance often to tweak as life changes.  It could be that daily stop at the coffee shop or bar, or the quick meal on the run through a drive through.  What about online subscriptions or cable that you rarely if ever use?  A leak can seem like nothing but if you start recording those leaks you can see how quickly they add up.
  11. Work.  If your income isn’t cutting it then its time to roll up your sleeves and put more into it.  Everyone who adult age and healthy must be pulling their weight.  Children who are not adults and living at home can help with chores and they too can have certain responsibilities so they can learn the value of a dollar as well.  If you realize you are over your head in debt or a situation arises for the need, then look into ways that can help your financial situation.  Do you have a hobby that can add some added income, cleaning, cooking, a craft.  You will need to look at local licensing to sell out of the home and many times into your homeowner’s insurance.  Now, here is the hard part, don’t spend the extra because now you have an extra income.  PAY OFF THAT DEBT so you can get back to enjoying life more.

These are only a few of the basics of becoming money wise and I hope they help calm your mind and help you on your way.

“The earnings of the godly enhance their lives, but evil people squander their money on sin.”  Proverbs 10:16 NLT

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice