Let's talk Benjamin Franklin (or we can talk smack about it if you'd like)
To be straight up honest, money is NOT my favorite conversation to have.
I think I feel like I'll break out in hives every time we have to have our weekly budget conversation. The husband and I.
I feel like I grew up with a considerably healthy view of the dollar.
My parents were ahead of their game, so to speak. They implemented things way back then, that are just becoming 'money smart' now.
And I know I have them to thank for the financial rewards I'm reaping today.
I never felt like it was a terrible thing to have money, or be wealthy.
But I know that a tremendous amount of people have a mental block about wealth.
Like God doesn't want you rich. That money is a pitfall that opens Pandora's box to all kinds of sin and temptation.
Myron and I are over the halfway point in the Financial Peace University course we have been leading this winter.
You guys, if you haven't done it, take this class!
It will totally rock your financial world, and begin to set your finances right side up!
We've had some cool testimonies come out of this class already, and we're not finished!
If you live local, stay tuned. We're going to be putting another class together later this summer or fall. You don't want to miss it!
And just a plug about an FPU class: while you can do this course on your own, at home, it is so much more worthwhile to do with a class. You get accountability (a huge factor in making it work), you learn off of each other's successes/mistakes, and you get to hear each other's cool stories and be motivated. So please, do the class with a group!
Myron and I have budgeted for quite a while, but got super serious about it again a while ago and instead of budgeting purely to know where our dollars went, we're serious about TELLING that dollar where it goes and making it work for us, not the other way around.
While Financial Peace University says that it will bring peace to your finances,
Oh. My. Gracious. This is my 2 cents: it will bring turmoil before peace. Insert scowly emoticon.
We have had more heated discussions over money this winter, than we've had heated discussions period, for years. I'm not a big spender to begin with, and to try to squeeze my dollar so hard I 'give George Washington a headache' has given ME headaches also. I'm in it for the long-term result, so the short-term discomfort is just going to have to work it's self out.
Myron is definitely the 'nerd' about money, and I'm more of a 'free spirit'. He is a fanatic about crunching and entering numbers (which is totally what is going to make this whole budget work for us), I just don't spend more money than I have to so when I'm asked to 'ingest pennies and poop dimes', I tend to get a little cranky.
But ya'll, I'm LEARNING! YAY! (We're getting somewhere!!!)
I've been obsessed with getting my hands on any good books I can find out there that back up what is taught in FPU. Just kind of drenching myself in money talk. I love reading books that reinforce and grow what I already have stashed in my brain database. These are some of the books I read, just in the last week:
While I didn't enjoy all of these, here are some books I'd totally recommend:
The Millionaire Next Door
Complete Guide to Money (of course!)
Smart Money Smart Kids (We are implementing this with our kids, 20 years from now, ask me how it turned out)
Rich Dad Poor Dad
5 Lessons A Millionaire Taught Me
I know there are so many more books to be read, and more that I have read, but these are just a few of my current favorites that I've read recently.
I'm not a teacher, so I won't proceed to explain and direct you into all things budget-ey,
But I will point you toward some terrific online tools to use for creating and maintaining a budget.
Here's a few to get you started
This has been around for a while and if you're a computer genius you can make your own spreadsheets and work the system like you want. We're not like that.
We used to use this. It's great for tracking WHERE your money is going. It didn't really work for a zero-based budget (Which BTW, is the only way to budget) (essentially TELLING your money where to go, not just tracking it). This also can be linked to your bank account, so in essence, it recognizes your purchases and puts them in certain categories. You still have to do some legwork to divide them then, say for instance, you went to Wal-Mart and bought food as well as clothing. It would recognize Wal-Mart, and probably place it under the grocery catalog, but then you would need to change it and divide it properly into categories.
If you've taken FPU in the past, this seems to be the version replacing the Gazelle Budget tool. We tried the Gazelle budget and it just didn't work for us. Also, it was a little pricey to pay for it's use. (Which, if your budget tells you it ain't there, it ain't there. Free is always good) The EveryDollar budget system seems to have real promise. It's got an app, and it's free (at least for now).
This is what Myron and I use. We've loved it so far. It allows you to move money between categories, it's connected to Drop Box but downloaded on your computer, it's got a slick app that you can enter purchases into at the time of purchase, and you can also pin a location so that when you are at, say Aldi, it will recognize that and all you need to do is enter the amount.
A comment on using an effective budget, and especially YNAB, you will learn to spend the money you earned the previous month. So, in April, you will be spending March's income. That money should all be divided into categories, every dollar going somewhere, until your budget equals $0.00. This is a zero-based budget. And you're only spending the money that you actually have. Yay! No more adding on debt. It's a little tough the first few months to get started, since you may not have that whole paycheck in your bank account anymore. We transferred that amount over from our savings, so that we could start out fresh, but if you don't have that money available, you'll be pinching your pennies super tight to save that base amount to start your budget. And BTW, everyone declares that when you're tight financially, you eat a lot of mac and cheese and tuna. My calculations tell me that tuna is not, I repeat, NOT a budget friendly food. That's just fishy advertising.
There are so many areas to jump off of, into this area of money. I've got a whole list of awesome books to read, on the 'spiritual' side of money. Since I believe in the supernatural and definitely want to see God as my ultimate Provider, I don't want to base all of this money talk on purely the logical side of money. The actual pennies and dollars on paper. Sometimes we need to see how God provides ABUNDANTLY, not just logically through our paychecks. I've heard some pretty awesome sermons on spiritual provision and God's blessing on economics, and have got some great books to recommend also. That will have to be an entirely different post.
But I have begun learning one thing about 'spiritual money'. It's that God blesses and multiplies the assets of a person who is a faithful steward of what He gives. People double their incomes, folks, just by following Godly financial principles. He also smiles strongly on the cheerful Giver, and I believe you won't lack for anything if you give graciously. It's like the law of gravity, what goes up, comes down. Except, with money, when you give, it's given to you. Even some of the 'worldy' books I've read on money, recognize that it is a universal law of life. And I'm not being greedy by saying I want more, so that I can give more. So we will budget, and budget hard, and we will 'Live like no-one else, so that someday we can Give like no-one else'. And if this means I don't get out of the house much, rarely eat out, buy second-hand clothes, and have holes in my socks, then by golly, I'm giving it my best shot. I'm putting it out there: I will squeeze and wheeze my way into that budget every month. One last personal note: when it came to cutting our grocery budget back, I put my foot down on cutting back on hospitality. Hospitality can be costly, it can cost you water, electric, food, other resources. But to me, this is part of my giving to God. And hospitality was not getting kicked to the curb EVER. So I encourage you, to take what you have, and use it wisely to bless and be blessed.
What are some of the best money tips/advice you've received, that have benefited you tremendously? What methods have gotten you the most bang for your buck?