Apr 14

Why Worry About Money?

Why should we concern ourselves with money? Do we not have better things to do with our time?  I believe Yahweh (God) knew that the world would have a mighty pull on us and do its very best to influence our lives, and as a result, He put over 2,300 verses in the Bible on money.  We have to deal with money every single day, and we have the choice to either make Godly or unGodly choices. Hence, based on the importance our loving Heavenly Father put on money, then, yes, I think we need to place an importance on money and good Biblical Stewardship which is the goal and purpose of this site.

Apr 14

Financial Goals

Setting financial goals is very important in order to achieve financial goals.  Just as Scripture tells us that a people without a vision will perish, so will our finances without goals or a vision.

Begin by praying and asking Yahweh for direction. Then dream big. If you could do anything, what would it be? Is this something you feel like the Heavenly Father would like for you to do? Then think practically. What are some practical items you would like to accomplish like paying off your car? Or your school loans? Or your home? Maybe saving an emergency fund? Or for a vacation?

Make a list of each of these items. Then categorize them into the order of importance. Finally, set some dates that you would like to accomplish them by. Would it be possible to put an extra $50 each month towards your car payment and pay it off a year early? Or how about saving $25 a month and having an emergency fund with $250 in it by the end of 2013?

Having goals is very important and helps us stay focused. So being praying about, dreaming, and listing your goals this week all the while continuing to live by and follow your Money Management Plan.

Apr 14

More on Balancing the Budget

This week, we’ll continue working our way through the various categories as we work to balance the Money Management Plan.

 

Automotive

  • Consider refinancing high-interest-rate loans.
  • Reduce the number of cars you own.  Does a household really need more cars than drivers?  Or can a couple of people share a car?
  • Have you considered having your teens pay their own car expenses?
  • You can also increase the deductible on your car insurance…at minimum, I would encourage you to shop around and make sure you are getting the best possible rates on your insurance.
  • Look into carpool options for driving to work.
  • Do have the skills needed to possibly do some of your own maintenance?  Or you can ask a friend or family member who does to help you and teach you in the process.
  • If you have an expensive car, consider selling it in order to buy a less expensive used car.

 

Insurance

  • Begin by Comparison shopping at places such as at www.insure.com and www.quotesmith.com
  • Check insurance company ratings at AM Best and by looking at the Consumer Reports magazine (at library).
  • Consider opening a Health Savings Account
  • Check out using Christian Medical Sharing instead of traditional medical insurance.

 

Debts

We will discuss debts in further detail as we continue on this process of living on a balanced Money Managment Plan.

 

Entertainment

  • Eat out less
  • Exchange babysittng services with other families
  • Get creative in your entertainment choices: picnic, swap videos, game night, camping, church activities
  • Save money by traveling out of season
  • Check out movies and books at the library versus buying them.

 

Clothing

Shop at Second hand/consignment stores; sew own clothes; shop on-line to save money and at garage sales; ask family/friends for hand-me-downs

 

Saving

  • Start saving something from each paycheck, even if it’s only $5
  • Consider having an automatic withdrawl done from your paycheck and put into savings, so you do not even see that money each month.  This makes it less tempting to spend!

 

We’ll continue with our last section of ideas next week.

Don’t forget to read Part 1 – Do you know what you spend?, Part 2 – Organizing What You Spend, Part 3 – Making a Money Management Plan, and Part 4 – Balancing the Budget if you have not already done so.

Apr 14

Reviewing Your Money Management Plan

By this time, you should have been tracking for a couple of months and have a pretty good idea of your spending each month.

Your goal this week is to review each area of your budget and compare it to your actual spending.  How many areas came in exact?  How many areas came in below budget?  How many areas came in above budget?  Your goal is to be either exact or below.  Above budget can spell trouble.  Highlight any trouble areas and decide how you are going to balance that category.  Review the previous posts for ideas and also consider a cash envelope where you only withdraw the budgetted amont.  This makes you realize when you are out of money in that category.  This is particularly helpful if the category you are having trouble with is food, gas, or eating out.

After your review, do your best to balance your Money Managment Plan to have an actual working spending plan that you (and your spouse if married) will abide by for the next few months.

Then next week, we’ll talk about setting financial goals.

Don’t forget to read Part 1 – Do you know what you spend?, Part 2 – Organizing What You Spend, Part 3 – Making a Money Management Plan, Part 4 – Balancing the Budget, Part 5 – More on Balancing the Budget, and Part 6 – Even More on Balancing the Budget if you have not already done so.

Apr 14

Even More on Balancing the Budget

This week, we’ll finish working our way through the various categories as we work to balance the Money Management Plan.

 

Medical

  • Go to doctors that participate in your company’s health insurance plan
  • Compare prices for medical care, prescriptions, and so on
  • Use health department services when possible
  • Get low-cost care at dental schools or dental assistant programs
  • For prescriptions, ask your doctor about using generic drugs.  Do not hesitate to ask your doctor about free samples.
  • Check out online prescription discount programs such as www.pparx.com.

 

Miscellaneous

  • Do as much shopping as possible at discount stores.
  • Use cash eliminating use of your credit and or debit cards if overspending is a problem.
  • Pack lunches instead of eating out
  • Limit subscriptions.  Instead borrow from friends or library.
  • For gifts, shop with cash only.  Make gifts where possible.

 

Investing

Consider increasing your monthly income temporarily by decreasing or eliminating retirement plan contributions (unless company provides matching funds) until you are able to eliminate debt to balance the budget.

 

Child Care/School Expenses

  • Consider removing child from private school; home school instead.
  • Ask for scholarship from private schools.
  • Trade work at school for partial tuition.
  • Consider having one parent get a job at the private school for tuition reduction.
  • Provide daycare for others instead of paying for daycare.

 

Don’t forget to read Part 1 – Do you know what you spend?, Part 2 – Organizing What You Spend, Part 3 – Making a Money Management Plan, Part 4 – Balancing the Budget, and Part 5 – More on Balancing the Budget if you have not already done so.

Apr 14

Financial Ponderings…

Where did my million dollars go?

(Think about $20,000 X 50 years)

Show me my money

The money followers mentors

The money management mentors

Where did my money go?

God’s money will last a lifetime

Following the golden path

Being in control or being  the servant

Who is in my wallet?

God’s money or satan’s money

Relying on God’s money, not the government

God’s plan or a  government entitlement ?

Having money to run the race

 

Who gets your money?

The government?

The bills?

God?

You choose

Follow the money

Every penny of mine has a name

Penny wise or pound foolish

More days than money?

Do I really need that?

In God we trust, all others pay cash

-by Mark Hutchison

Apr 14

Balancing the Budget

I promised to spend more time on how to balance the budget this week.  Last week, you hopefully at least created a basic outline to begin working off of. Balancing a Money Management Plan is not something which happens overnight.  It also typically requires a combination of additional income and decreased expenses…at minimum decreased expense, but there is only so far you can decrease.

Below, I will discuss some ideas for each of the various categories…

 

Income

  • Have you considered a second job?  Or even picking up some odd jobs like lawn mowing or handyman work?  A stay at home mom could consider doing some childcare?
  • Do you assets such as an extra car, antiques, collectibles, boats, rental properties, land, etc that you could sell?
  • Do you have a type of job where you could pick up some consulting work on the side?

 

Taxes

  • Are you claiming all the deductions that you are allowed by law?
  • If you are receiving a large refund at the end of the year, then consider reducing your withholding.  That is money you could be using every month instead of allowing the government free use of it.

 

Housing and Utilities

  • Could you downsize or live with family/friends for a time to help you get out of debt?
  • If you have a high-interest-rate loan, depending on your credit score, would refinancing help you?
  • Have you considered raising the deductible on your homeowner’s insurance at least for a time until you are able to make other more long term changes?
  • Canceling cable TV or at least reducing the service package is a good way to cut expenses.
  • Checking into the use of budget billing for electricity, heating, gas is another option to look into.
  • Condensing phones such as not having a land line…only cell phones can be a way to cut back.  Compare monthly subscription plans to prepaid phones.  You can often get more coverage for less cost by using a prepaid plan. Cancel cell phone and/or land line (probably don’t need both).  If you do need the land line, consider cutting out any extra services such as call waiting or caller id.
  • Ask friends/family to help do maintenance projects – consider doing a trade if possible.

 

Food

  • Plan your menus one week in advance.  Try planning them around items you can buy on sale, in season, or have in your pantry.
  • Do your best to grocery shop only once a week.  This helps reduce impulse spending.
  • Don’t shop when you are hungry.  Many studies will verify that you are much more likely to spend more when shopping under a time pressure or when hungry.
  • Use low-cost recipe books which help you stretch your dollars.
  • Buy store brands and use coupons as much as possible.

 

These are only some ideas to get you started.  What are some ideas you have personally used with success?  Next week, we’ll continue working our way through the various categories as we work to balance the Money Management Plan.

 

Don’t forget to read Part 1 – Do you know what you spend?, Part 2 – Organizing What You Spend, and Part 3 – Making a Money Management Plan if you have not already done so.

Apr 14

Making a Money Management Plan

You have now been keeping track of your spending for about two to three weeks.  This amount of information gives you a good basis to begin building on.  Start by downloading our FREE Monthly Management Plan.  Click here to download it as an Excel file or click here to download it as a Pdf file.  There are two tabs as well as an instruction tab.  We will only be looking at the Estimated Money Management Tab this week.  Use the instructions tab to help you understand each listed category.

Using the tracking of your spending which you have been doing, begin working out an estimated amount of what you spend in each category.  Certain items such as rent/mortgage, insurance, and debt payments are set for each month.  Those are the easy ones to enter.  Other items are variable such as electricity, heating whether gas, propane, or electric, as well as the more obvious ones such as food, gas, and eating out.  Items which you get billed for each month are much easier to look back over the past few months to a year depending on how many records you have kept.  Take the past six months or year if at all possible and average the amount.  This will help average the difference between summer and winter spending (for example: heat is not used in the summer, but heavily used in the winter in the north). On the months that you spend less, you keep that money back for the months when you spend more.  We will talk more about this concept week after next.

Once you have estimated to the best of your ability, each of the items, see if your plan is balanced.  If it is not, begin looking at areas where you can cut back.  Maybe instead of eating your lunch out each day at work, you can pack at least half the time.  Do not cut out all the fun things in your life just to balance the budget because in a couple of months, you will rebel against the strictness of it and break the plan.  Rather, cut back enough in multiple areas to help balance the budget. Next week, I will spend more time on how to balance the budget.

Don’t forget to read Part 1 – Do you know what you spend?  and Part 2 – Organizing What You Spend if you have not already done so.

Apr 14

Organizing What You Spend

Last week, we kept track of everything you spent that was a penny or more, so by now, you should have records of all your spending for a week. This can seem a little overwhelming at first; however, this information is very important to help you know where your money is going. Wouldn’t you rather tell your money what it needs to be spent on? Than to have it disappear on you?

So now take out the paper with the records from this past week, and get a master sheet of paper.  List out common categories such as housing, auto, food, eating out, gas, medical, etc.  Use as many or as few categories as you need to make sense of your spending.  Then put each expenditure under the proper category.  This way you can see that you spent $100 on gas last week and $75 in groceries and so forth.  This will begin to help your tracking make sense.

Also, continue tracking your spending each day.  This way by the end of the week, you will not only have it categorized, but you will have two weeks worth of information.  Just as surveys which take data from a large group of people are more accurate, the longer period that your financial information comes from the more accurate it will.

Next week, we will discuss how to take this information and tracking and use it to form the beginning of a Money Management Plan (aka budget or spending plan).

Don’t forget to read Part 1 – Do you know what you spend?  if you have not already done so.

Apr 14

Do you know what you spend?

The average person has no clue what they are spending each day let alone every week. Our days can be full of purchases from small snacks at work to lunches on the go to stopping and picking up groceries, but if I asked you at the end of the day what you spent, could you tell me? Probably not. Hence the very important need for keeping track of what you spend.

Statistics show that you will spend 30% more when using plastic (credit or debit) as we do not stop to really think about what we are spending versus when using cold hard cash.

Would you be willing to track everything you spend each day for one week? Take an index card with you each day to work or use your notepad on your cell phone to write down the date, item or category of items bought, and total amount spent. This includes any purchase over the cost of 1 penny. And next week, we’ll talk about what to do with those records.