Monday Money (week 4)

We have established our foundation.  We are now keeping our checking account balanced, we are tracking our spending regularly (which means daily), and we are making sure our bills are getting paid on time by following our budget that we made. 

Very Cool! Right?

Now we need to talk about savings.  I’ve always saved money a little bit here and there, but I’ve never been serious about it the way I should’ve been.

And, when I think about all the money I’ve wasted over the years on stuff that meant nothing or even worse, on stuff that I don’t even have anymore, it honestly gives me a sick feeling.

I follow the same plan that I told you about in weeks 1, 2 and 3 of Monday Money.   I make sure my checking account is balanced.  I track my spending.  And, I write down all my bills, when they are due and for at least 3 months in advance.  I even write down on my budget each week how much I need for groceries and even gas for the car.

Now, let’s get back to saving money.  As I said, I never took it serious.  I mean I participated in the retirement plans at my jobs, but that was about it.

I’m more serious about our financial future now…

Every pay period I have a percentage of my gross income directly deposited into 2 separate saving accounts. 

Savings #1:  This saving account is for catastrophic events such as a job loss or illness.   

The goal for Savings #1 should be 6 months worth of living expenses.  Don’t forget to include groceries and gas in that amount.

Savings #2:  This savings account always has a rotating balance because it is for those expenses that tend to sneak up on you, like auto insurance, personal property taxes, Christmas, or vacations. 

The plan for Savings #2 is to make a list of those expenses that you know are going to come.  Then take that list and determine each one’s due date.  Divide the amount due by the number of pay periods you have left until that due date.

For example.  If I plan to spend $1000 at Christmas (which is 8 1/2 months away) and I get paid monthly then I know I need to save about $118 a month in order to have that money for Christmas.

I also know that if I don’t save that money monthly that I will not have $1000 for Christmas.  Because last time I checked I did not have a money tree in the back yard and I’ve never seen $1000 just fall from the sky into my hand in December.

Planning and saving for those expenses through the year keeps us from running up credit card debt or any other debt. 

I believe the 4 steps for taking control of our financial future are:

  • Knowing exactly how much money you have
  • Knowing exactly how much your monthly bills and living expenses are
  • Tracking your spending regularly
  • Paying yourself FIRST  (saving as much of your money as you can)

 

One of the most important factors to saving your money is creating the habit of saving.  It didn’t matter that I had to start out with a small dollar amount going into savings.  What mattered was that I created a habit of saving. 

And, yep you know it…. that’s one habit I have no intentions of quitting!

Y’all take care!

Lori

Monday Money (week 3)

It’s all about the green today, right?  In honor of St. Patrick’s Day we are celebrating the green. 

That’s how we should think of our money.  Let’s celebrate the green.    Celebrate keeping as much of the green as we can, right?   Right!

OK, let’s recap.  In week 1 we balanced our checking accounts so we know how much money we have.  In week 2 we tracked our daily spending. 

Have you already totaled up the spending you tracked last week?  Were you shocked?  Did you see places that you could cut back and save?  Did you yell WHAT THE ????    

But, the good thing is now you know.  You know if there are some places you can cut back and save, and I’ll help you come up with ideas on how.  Feel free to ask me,  I’m here for you.  Just you though  🙂

We are going to keep doing these 2 things of keeping our checkbook balanced and tracking our spending.  It’s the key to being successful in keeping as much of our money as we can.  It’s ours, we worked hard for it, why give it to someone else?   These are our good habits that we never have to quit.   Thank God!  ‘Cause I really don’t think I can add something else to the list of things I have to quit.  Just sayin.

This week we are going to write down all of our bills, including the names,  the amount due and the due dates. 

Now, I’ll admit that I’m kind of old school here in that I actually do use pen and paper for my budgeting.   The point is that we want to know exactly what we owe and when the payments are due.  I use a calendar for this.   I write out the payment amount and due date on the calendar day I plan to make the payment. 

I am so black and white that I literally have to write out everything that will be deducted from my income on a weekly basis.  I get paid weekly, so I write on the calendar the bills I need to pay that week plus the amount I need for gas and groceries until the next pay day.

If there is any left, then it gets tucked away in the “hopes and dreams” jar.  We will get into savings a little later.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter if you use a pen and paper, or an electronic version to budget your weeks and months.  The whole point is to do it.  Put it in your face exactly how much you owe and when you need to pay those bills. 

There is no room for surprises here.  The electric bill should not be a surprise, or the car payment, or gas for the car.

But, for me if I don’t write it in my planner, then everything becomes a surprise.  And it becomes a HUGE surprise that I have no money to pay those bills because I had to have some good olive oil, or work out video, or new tennis shoes….

Our goal is to figure out our income vs. our bills.  We may find out that we really can’t afford the good olive oil right now. 

Or we may find out that if we use what we learned when we tracked our spending last week and cut back where we can, that we CAN put some money in the “hopes and dreams” jar. 

The point is that we need to know.  So, go get the stack of mail, open it up and write them all down.  It’s just for you to see so be as detailed as you want to be with it.  Make up names for the bills, like I used to.   I can’t use those words here, um hello, because it’s  PG13,  but you get the idea.  Call them anything you want!  

Then the strangest thing is going to happen.  No, it’s not going to be that much fun sorting and writing all this stuff down, but once you are done it’s like a weight has been lifted off you.  A feeling of freedom, a feeling of control and motivation will set in.  

Because NOW you have a beginning.   A beginning to a plan that is all about you taking control of your finances and CELEBRATING THE GREEN!!!!

Now, I’ll drink (a green beer) to that!   What???  Just taking one (or two) for the team 🙂

Happy St.Patrick’s Day!

Y’all take care!

Lori

Monday Money (week 2)

Happy Monday Y’all!

Last week we figured out how much money we have.    I hope you kept up with it so that this Monday you already know how much money you have available to you.  (you have kept up with it,  right?)

This week we are going to add to the routine of keeping track of how much money we have with figuring out how much money we spend. 

We are going to write down every penny we spend.  Keep a piece of paper or an index card in your pocket or purse and every time you spend money I want you to write it down.  Even if it’s just a cup of coffee, or a news paper… write it down.  All week.

It doesn’t matter if it’s cash, debit card, check, or credit card,   write it down. 

Even if it’s something you do routinely like putting gas in the car,    write it down.

The first time I did this it was very eye opening.  It didn’t occur to me that those little daily purchases were actually costing me big money when added up.  If you stop at the drive through dollar menu a few times a week for breakfast, then stop for a nice coffee a few times a week, believe me it’s adding up.

One of the main reasons I wanted to quit smoking is because of the money it was costing me.  My smokes were costing me almost $5 a day,    $35 a week,  $140 a month    all the way up to almost $1,700.00 a year!   That’s huge!    

The thing was, I knew I was wasting this money.  I knew it because it was a stupid habit.  It wasn’t like eating.  I mean, we have to eat to fuel our body, to live.       So stopping at the drive through for breakfast might seem ordinary because we are feeding our body, and our body needs food.

Those are the expenses that slip by us and we don’t realize how much they are adding up.

What we want to figure out this week is where our money is going.   We aren’t going to alter our routines this week.  The only goal here is to get a picture of where our money is going.

I hope you have a great day!

Y’all take care!

Lori

Monday Money

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Every Monday I’d like to take a minute and think about Money.  What I mean by that is, I would like us to take a minute and think about how we can save a bit of money this week.  That’s my goal  “TO SAVE A BIT OF MONEY” 

Perhaps it will be that you are taking your lunch to work today.  Or if you’ve already had lunch, then maybe you will plan to take your lunch to work with you later in the week.  Maybe you had a big weekend and spent a little too much money, and now it’s time to hunker down and cook dinners at home all week.  Maybe things are very tight and you’re wondering how you’re going to make it to the next payday.  

I want you to know that I UNDERSTAND HOW YOU’RE FEELING!  I have been there, and if I’m going to be honest, sometimes I’m still there.  

No, I am not a financial advisor, I do not have ANY diplomas that give me any great knowledge into finances.  I am simply someone who has been in all of those tight spots that I mentioned and would like to share with you what I’ve learned along the way.  I am not a millionaire and I don’t have any books published about money.  I am NOT an expert.  I’m someone who has read those books.  I am someone who went from worse than being broke to doing ok.   And, if what I went through and learned from can help anyone else, then I’m cool with that.

We’ll take this subject and break it down into steps.  We’ll take one step every Monday.  Cool?

The first step on the first Money Monday is “Take a minute and think about Money today”  I truly believe that this is the first step in changing things.  Or, maybe things are GREAT right now, and you don’t have to worry about money.  AWESOME!   But, give it some thought.  How much money do you have in your checking account right now.  Have you added up all the check card swipes from the weekend?  Have you balanced your checkbook today, this weekend, this week, this month???  Let’s start there.  Take a minute today and show yourself just how much money you have right now. 

That’s it, that’s the only step we are going to take today.  But don’t just say… hhhmmm, oh I have about $$$ right now.  I want you to actually run the numbers and get it to the penny of how much you have.  That’s the entire point.  To know exactly.  You need to know exactly.

I know, Mondays are hard enough, right?  But, we got to start somewhere.

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Oh, one other thing OK?   Now make a list of the things you’re going to cook for dinner this week and lunches your going to pack, and skip the grocery store and the take out, because I’ll bet you already have stuff at home.  Give it some real thought….  Sure, it might not be typical dinners and lunches, but it’s food.  Food that will save you money, and that always taste good.

The pic at the top of the page is my binder of recipes.  If I make or find a recipe I like, I print it, put it into a sheet protector (important for me as I tend to make a mess) and into the binder it goes.  The two pics just above are of my meal planner binder.  I keep them in a binder so I can refer to it when I’m stuck for ideas on what to cook.  These two things make my life much easier when it comes to dinner time.  The weekly meal planner is just a simple form I found on-line.

If you need some ideas or want to share what crazy meals you came up with and liked or didn’t like, we would love to hear about it.

Y’all take care.

Lori