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Shopping!!!

Now that you have a budget and are working towards your financial goals the next step is to keep within your budget. You may find that tracking your spending in certain areas weekly rather than monthly is much more helpful.

My own budget breaks down with my utilities and other bills being monthly, but the areas that I can easily overspend I track weekly. So my grocery budget I know how much I can spend a week to stay within my monthly budget. This allows a little flexibility week to week as well, if one week I have friends coming over and I know I will be spending more than my week’s allotted amount, the week prior I will spend a little less to make up for it.

I also track my play money this way as this is another area that I was constantly overspending. Now I “save up” for items by waiting several weeks for that budget to build up and I can then go purchase larger items. Then the very next week I have a small amount to spend again, rather than having to wait until the following month to spend again.

But what do you do when you are in the store and you have that dreaded moment at the register, the moment when you realize you have gone way over budget? Some tricks I have learned when shopping, especially for groceries, to keep track of how much I am spending is to round the item up to the next dollar. That accounts for tax and I am not trying to add change in my head. Each item that gets added to the cart I simply round up and add to the previous total. This is simple enough math to do in your head when it is smaller items like groceries.

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However, as I said in my previous post , I have short term memory issues and I am addicted to media, so I have an app for this as well. I use Cart Buddy, which is not a free app but it does have a lite version. Once you put in your local tax rate (you can find this by doing a simple search for your cities name and tax rate), you can enter that in and then everything you put in your cart you put it in the app with the price. When I use this app I never leave the store surprised at how much I spent. I am more in control.

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What Does Peace Mean To You?

Building Momentum

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Building Momentum

Companies can die without it, it can cause the death of a marriage, in its absence it will always cause stress but its presence doesn’t always bring peace, what is it?

It’s a budget. Budgeting is one of the most difficult things to do, it can bring much strife into a household. But a good working budget is definitely something that can bring a lifetime of peace.

As you have realized, if you have read my other posts or my About Me section, I am single. So I am not here to try to tell you how to work this out as a couple, but I do know that if you don’t work it out together it won’t work. So please, figure out what works best for the two of you, what areas you each need to compromise to meet your financial goals together as a team.

Creating a budget is the first and hardest step. One of the most important things is to find what works for you. What motivates you to do something you do not like to do? What style of managing things helps you the most?

For me its media. I have a smart phone and I use it constantly. I have said many times “there is an app for everything” and I truly believe that. I also have no short term memory and can plan to do something when I pick up my keys but have forgotten in the time it takes to walk to my car. So anything media driven and immediate works best for me. This means that an app is my best budgeting tool. I can follow where I am at, see it wherever I am at, and update it instantly.

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I use Ace Budget, which is not a free app but there is a lite version. Whatever budget style you use I suggest remembering that nothing is set in stone. Once you create your budget be willing to play with it and change it. Make it based on now, and adjust it as necessary (i.e. changes is utility bills throughout the seasons, Christmas shopping, etc.).

I am not here to tell you how to create a budget. A simple search will give you all the tools you need to budget. Here is one good wordpress post on How To Create A Budget to help you get started. But keep in mind that a budget is always changing. And, especially in the beginning, needs a lot of changing and adjusting to get it to fit your needs. But once you get this in place you do build momentum. You can even start to enjoy it as you see how you can save money by spending less in certain categories, and as you start to reach your short term goals you will build even more momentum.

So it is difficult, but budgeting has great rewards in store!

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Shopping!!!

Celebrate Your Victories

I went grocery shopping today and walked out having stayed under budget for the first time in quite a while! I also really wanted to hit fast food on the way home but made the better choice of coming straight home.

When these things happen, when you make good choices, celebrate! Don’t celebrate with a shopping spree but enjoy the feeling you get when you make good choices, tell a friend, enjoy budgeting!

What Does Peace Mean To You

What do you want to be when you grow up? What type of person do you want to marry? What is your ideal vacation? How would you like to spend the holidays?

We do it in so many areas of our lives, dream, plan, create goals…granted sometimes these goals are not realistic but as we grow and get older we don’t really stop dreaming, we just dream more realistically. Now I am not here today to try to get you to dream the impossible, but to apply your now grown up dreaming capabilities to your money.

If I were to ask you what peace meant to you, you might have an answer for me that would involve Scripture, trusting God, etc. But if I asked you what financial peace meant to you would you know how to answer?

Create a financial goal. A goal structured around what would bring you peace financially. The first step to this might be to go over your prayer list from yesterdays post. It might be to simply write down what things would need to change so that managing your money doesn’t stress you out, or perhaps you have already achieved this and you are simply verbalizing what needs to continue to maintain that peace.

Here is an article that has 10 tips on writing financial goals.

My own goal looks something like this:
To manage my money in a way that I can pay my bills without worry, to have money saved up in case of an emergency, and to manage my spending in a way that I can still make some fun purchases and save up for big wants.

Now that I have that goal verbalized I can look at what short term goals I need to make to reach that goal. Depending on your long term goals, whether it be getting out of debt, paying off your house, or something similar to mine you may need to write several more layers of goals. Here are my next layers:

To build an emergency fund
To have money left over at the end of the month for savings
To stick to my budget and stop overspending in certain areas

So now that I have verbalized that I have a clearer path of where I am going next and what I need to work on. Keep verbalizing your goals until you get to a manageable layer.

My goals aren’t very specific but here is another example of what someone’s goals could be:

Long term financial peace goal:
To have money invested, no debt, and money in the bank.

Short term goals to reach that goal:
To pay off mortgage
To pay off other debts (credit cards, car payment, etc.)
To pay more than the minimum payments on my debts
To eat out one time less a week and apply that money towards debts

What are some of your goals? Please share in the comments section!

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Shopping!!!

Prayerful Beginnings

She considers a field and buys it; from her profits she plants a vineyard Proverbs 31:16

This week’s focus will be on sharing the tips that I have learned over the years to help me get closer towards my financial goals. This is not a week of making you feel guilty, or of causing stress, but it hopefully will be a week to give you focus and encouragement to continue on in your own journey towards money management.

This is my first point, money management is not a destination, but a journey. I say this because our needs are constantly fluctuating, our lives changing, and even our habits of spending are constantly being redefined. You know the obvious changes of summertime air conditioning boosting our electric bills verses the gas bill in the winter, but have you noticed the less obvious spending habits that you might have? Perhaps in June you eat out more because your kids are now out of school and adjusting to feeding them three times a day takes a few weeks? Or maybe October you always go on that trip and every time you spend more than you intended? Its a journey, its discovering these things about ourselves and working these areas of budgeting and self discipline out.

So my first tip is to pray. Depending on where you are at this tip could be something that you just quickly do before paying bills, or it could be something that you need to write down all the areas of money management that are worrying you and have a good long chat with God over it. Whichever it is, wherever you are at, don’t be afraid to talk to God. He is your first and best resource.

So, lets begin today with a prayer, a realization that this is going to be a journey. Sometimes the path will be hard, sometimes you might trip on a rock, but that doesn’t mean your journey has to end, or that you won’t accomplish your goals. That just means you learned a few things to watch out for for next time.

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Shopping!!!

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