Budgeting Series – Part One

Budgeting Series Part One


Join me in this Budgeting Series to gain control of your finances! I’ve done this series in a few private Facebook groups but I wanted to put it on the blog (now that there IS a blog) so that anyone can have access. Part One of the series is tackling the mind game. Will you join me?

1. The book Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
2. Access to all of your accounts and debts
3. A way to keep track of your budget (pen and paper, spreadsheet software, etc)

There are a billion ways to do this process, and I’ve formed this series in the way that was most helpful and clear to me. General disclaimer: I’m obviously making some assumptions and that this might not exactly apply to all of you, but there should be pieces that you can take and apply to your situation. I am not a financial expert, I do not have all of the answers. My goal is just to help you take control. Let’s jump in!

This is a mind game, and you’re going to win the game. We aren’t having trouble managing our money because we can’t do math, it’s because of our mind and our behavior. I’m going to ask you to check a few things at the door as we go through this process.

Shame, guilt, and intimidation. Not all of us are here, but a lot of us are. Shame over our current situation, shame over what we may have done to get us here, shame over not pulling ourselves out sooner. Intimidation that you don’t know enough. You know what? Check it at the door. It’s hurting your financial life. I’m not discounting the feeling – it’s *very* real and it’s very impactful, which is why I want to challenge you to let go of it. It gets in the way of progress. No one became good with money overnight. No one was born with it. Just like everything else in life, we have to keep finding ways to learn about it so we get more comfortable with it and get better. Progress! To read more of my thoughts on money and shame, see this blog post.

Getting defensive. Change is tough. It means you have to own up to a lot of behavior you’d probably rather not own up to. Don’t be defensive. Don’t worry about excuses. No one is saying anyone is a bad person. There is ALWAYS more to learn, room to grow, room to get better. You don’t know everything – neither do I. Let’s commit to having the heart of a student and learning as much as we possibly can about personal finances. Owning up to the behavior that got us here is a very important part of this process.

The “keeping up” mentality. You have no idea what everyone else’s financial situation is. Let’s commit to stop paying attention to what everyone else has or gets. Commercialism is trying to teach you that you need what everyone else has – the next thing has to be yours. Consider this; if you didn’t get that thing, and then all year long you didn’t have All The Things, you’d be just fine. In fact, you’d be just fine with a bunch more money in your pocket. So take a moment, step back, and check that at the door. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have things you want, I’m saying that you shouldn’t be driven by it. We’re going to have to reprogram ourselves to be driven by other more worthy things than Things. Many of us are trying to have the lifestyle of our parents and we aren’t really understanding that for many of them, it took them 20-30 years to get there. If you’re in debt, don’t’ have an emergency savings and retirement contributions, you cannot afford your current lifestyle. You are living beyond your means. That’s a really tough pill to swallow but it will begin your change into a financially healthy person when you acknowledge it.

Anxiety over the planning/procrastinating by planning. Um, let’s just say I’m ultra-guilty of this. If the envelopes and the budget and the notebook aren’t perfect, I might as well quit! That was me for a long time.  If I can’t figure out how to categorize my target purchase, my whole budget is out the window. That was me for a long time. I have two thoughts on this: 1, In the end, it doesn’t matter how you’re doing it as long as you’re doing it, and 2, you’ll figure it out as you go along. It’s not going to be perfect the first few times. But we’re focusing on progress, not on perfection.

Now that we’ve checked things at the door and settled in, it’s time to start getting to know ourselves better. Answer these questions for yourself – ON PAPER:

  1. What’s been getting in my way?
    1. For each thing, think of TWO ways you’ll nip it. One isn’t enough sometimes.
  2. What am I willing to give up for a while so that I can accomplish my goals? What behaviors can I change?
  3. When is it going to be the hardest for me to stick with a budget? How can I push through it?
  4. What am I missing out on by not having a solid budget?
    1. Now
    2. 5 years from now
    3. 20 years from now
  5. How will I feel when I have total control over my money?
  6. How much of what I have do I really need? What are ten things around my house I no longer need? Make two columns; item and what to do with it.
  7. Why do I want to do this? Why is this so important?
  8. THE BIG QUESTION: How can I be a good steward of my money? We all have such limited resources in this life and it is a big responsibility to manage them. How can I be a good steward of what I have?

In a few weeks, we’ll move on to the next session. You’ll need these parts completed before moving on:

  1. Read Total Money Makeover, and read it with a pen in your hand to mark up parts that speak to you. If it’s overwhelming to you, make a commitment to just get through the first five chapters.
  2. If you’re married or share finances, ask your spouse complete the above questions and talk together about your answers.
  3. Get rid of the ten things in number 6 above. You need to physically clear things out of your life for two reasons; 1, to show you that you don’t need as much as you have and 2, because when we are continually getting rid of excess, we are less driven to accumulate more.
  4. Get access to all of your accounts and debts. All login information, all balances, all interest rates, all payment information.

See you next time!