Tuesday, March 15, 2011

DIY - Remodel Your Finances, Budget Time

It's time for us to tighten up our belts around here and get our budget in order.  Now, we are no financial gurus or anything like that, but this guy is.  A couple of years ago we were floundering financially- not because we weren't making money or not working but because we were spending and collecting debt like nobodies business and seriously needed a kick in the rear - enter Dave Ramsey.  His baby steps and snow balling money roll helped get us into gear to get out of debt and even learn how to start saving money- imagine that!  Now that our financial situation has changed again with adding a baby to the mix and now purchasing a home we need a check up.  Today, if you are finding yourself in trouble with debt and feel like there is no way out - stop! Check yourself before you wreck yourself. There is a way out -you got yourself into this situation and you can get your way out, it just takes some determination, a practice in restraint and hard work.  And really, we found it to be a lot simpler and enjoyable than we thought.  It was actually quite nice to make a budget and watch that debt dwindle.  So in following Dave Ramsey's advice and beginning with his baby steps the first thing we did was to get our savings into shape.  He suggests that you need at least $1000 in savings/emergency funds- and don't touch it.  While you are working on this, don't worry about your debt until you get your savings right.  This first step is crucial and will help you begin the process of learning how to save and budget your money.  The next thing we did was to sit down and determine our budget.  This was a little tricky for us at first - it probably took us about a month to get it exactly right but boy when we got it right it was right.  We knew exactly what we were bringing home and exactly where each penny was going - what a great feeling.   One of the best things we did was to envoke the envelope method.  We allocated several different envelopes for our weekly spending, put the amount of budgeted cash in each one each week and only spent that amount.  We didn't even use our debit cards while we used this method.  Our envelopes were as follows:
1. Groceries
2. Gas
3. Fun
4. Extra
Groceries and Gas are pretty self explanatory but let's discuss fun and extra.  Fun included anything like dinner or movie out, clothes, golf trips, etc.  So anything outside of "needs"and really more of "wants".   Extra was for any unforeseen expenses- like a doctor's appointment, prescriptions a new tire, etc. After each week was over any money that was still left in the envelopes went straight to savings.  This became actually fun for us to see how much we could save and not spend during the week.  We significantly cut back on our "fun" spending right away since that was an easy one to save because it was a "wants" purchase anyway.  For us, the envelope method was the best, we are visual learners I guess - and bonus, I can lay down mad rhymes.  Seriously though, knowing that I was walking into the grocery store with a certain amount of cash and that I could only spend that much was extremely helpful and we wasted not one penny. Now I'll back up for a minute, in our budget we had enough wiggle room to allocate extra payments towards our monthly credit card bill each month.  If you don't, then using the envelope method and putting all of that extra towards your debt would work perfectly.  After making extra payments each month towards our credit card and sticking to our budget we were able to get rid of that debt in just about a year, yippee!  Next, we took the money we put towards our credit card and snow balled it right over to the car payment (this is actually baby step #2) - you can imagine how fast your debt will start disappearing by doing this!  It really is quite the thrill, you just have to start baby stepping and believe me - it goes a lot quicker than you think.   It is also an amazing feeling to be in control of spending and able to do things -like actually give.  Which really was a reality check for us - and a continuing reminder that all this time we could have been doing good for God's kingdom instead of wastefully spending on burgers and french fries.  So what about you? Do you need a financial reality check this month?  Come join us as we tighten up our budget, remodel our finances and enjoy the peace it brings!

Check out this link for Dave Ramsey's Baby Step Plan for getting out of Debt!

"Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful" 
1 Corinthians 4:2

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