Budgeting

Got A Pay Raise?

Thank you to Julie of The Hallway Initiative for the inspiration for this post which appeared in MoneySavingMom.

“Nothing stimulates creativity like a good crisis.”

Living on a budget has never been a strong point for me.   I can remember very short periods of time in my adult life when I was credit card/debt free.  Then those addictive traits reared their ugly head and it was back.

Finances were almost always tight as a single mom.  As my own boss, my income depends on me which means it is sometimes inconsistent.  I have been  reading books on personal finance, working on a detailed budget (YKES!), and always on the look out for money-saving ideas. I ran into MoneySavingMom.com awhile ago and am eating up every penny-pinching post.  My initial thought is always to go back to work full-time then the realities of health struggles and age (everyone wants young social workers) hit me.  I will admit, I am great at managing money for others but when it comes to my own account it is a totally different story.

I don’t know about you but when I used to get a pay raise at work, my spending increased.  I mean now I could pay the bills (at least the minimums) and have extra money in my account.  The truth was (and still is) despite how much money is in the bank, I need to remember how I budgeted during the lean times.

I love these four strategies to maintain a frugal mindset:

1. Think in terms of stewardship.

I often forget everything I “own” is a gift on loan from God. When I remember it’s all His, no matter how much or little He’s given me, I am challenged to be a better steward with His things. I need to work with my money the same way I manage other people’s money.  Even during lean times, I found ways to help others in need.  It may not have been in cash but it may have been in groceries or time.  It is when I do things like this, the blessings come back in multitudes.

2. Keeping a budget.

This is probably the hardest thing for me.  I don’t remember much talk about budgeting when I was growing up.  I have tried to stick to a budget off and on for years with limited success.  I think I was the most successful with a budget when Elsie managed my money and bills in my early days of recovery.  I couldn’t trust myself to have cash laying around so she monitored it all.  Bills got paid and money got saved.  sticking to a budget is one of the best ways to maintain control of your spending.  It helps you keep track of your expenditures and reminds you to be wise with what you have. And, if finances permit, it’s perfectly okay to increase certain budget categories, such as giving, saving, and splurges! Just make sure you’re doing it deliberately rather than on a whim.

3. Keep up with penny-pinching resources

There are a lot of them out there…. I don’t necessarily mean “Extreme Couponing” unless it is something you love to do but I do have a few favorites besides MoneySavingMom.com.  I am always scrolling through financial blogs, keeping up with new frugal tips and making sure I am remaining a good steward of my money.

Some of my favorite resources include:

4. Save for the next crunch

This is where I made my mistake years ago.  When my finances were Just because your freed up for a moment, I didn’t plan for the next squeeze.  I didn’t listen to Dave Ramsey and other financial giants recommend building up 3-6 month’s worth of living expenses. If you’ve never been able to do so before, do it now while you have money left over at the end of the month (even if it is $10).

I haven’t done a perfect job of thinking in terms of stewardship, continuing to keep a budget, keeping up with penny-pinching resources, and saving for the next financial crunch, but those are the four strategies I’m working toward at this time.  I tried to keep in mind it is progress  not perfection.

What are some of you favorite money saving tips or resources?  Share them with us.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Hope Wissel, Relax, Reflect, Recharge

Making Decisions Together

“The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice” Proverbs 12:15

I read this story and thought, they are talking about me:

When John Benson decided to make some financial investments in a new business venture, he was very excited about the possibilities for a handsome financial return. His business and financial background had served him well. John felt strongly that his wife Jenny would not understand the complexity of his investment, so he casually mentioned it to her. When she asked a few simple questions, John became defensive and justified his plans for investing in the venture.

A year later, after investing a large sum of money, John received a phone call from the investment company. All the investors who had put money in the company were going to lose their investment with no ability to recoup it.

This story could be retold repeatedly across the world. God’s principles for making decisions require input from both spouses, regardless of their level of expertise. If you are not married, make sure you seek wisdom from a few close associates you know and trust.

As many of you know, when Hubby and I got married a little over 4 years ago that independent, make my own decisions girl came along too.  Hubby knew what he was getting into, he loved my independence BUT his vision of marriage was that we were a team in ALL decisions.  I mean, God calls married couples to be one, right?  I may have said the words but my actions didn’t show it.  Don’t we always tell our kids “actions speak louder than words”?

I was okay with being “one” on to some decisions; BUT when it came to my business I made decisions independently.  Why?  Because I had pre-judged his response.  I didn’t want to defend my decisions.  I wasn’t confident in being able to make a solid case for the decision. Most of all I just didn’t want him to challenge me. Over the last week, God has been working on my heart.  The other day, Hubby’s said “sometimes I feel like I am not part of your life”.  SMACK!!! My prayers for God to change him should have been for me to change.

By making decisions independently, as a couple, we were only benefiting from 50% of God’s intended blessings for us.  As I look for an accountability partner, I had to admit that I had one.  Someone who supported me in all that I do.  Someone who lived by the numbers and the facts.  Someone who would challenge me to grow my business to the next level.  That person was hubby.  It wasn’t that he didn’t support my business or that he wasn’t interested.  The truth was, I wasn’t letting him in because I had already decided how he would respond.

My marriage is a stewardship of decisions that requires two people.  It was time that I looked at my business and how it affects my marriage.  When I make business decisions that have a ripple effect, it is important to talk to hubby.  For some, this may seem so easy.  For others, our pride and independence gets in the way.

So before I make a major business decision, I will get confirmation for that decision from him.  He wants to be part of the “pink bubble” in his own way.  He wants to help in making sensible decisions.  It is time to be a team in marriage and in business.

I would love to hear from YOU on your best suggestions for being a team in your business with your spouse/partner.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!