I remember my first teaching contract in the 90s. Looking it over before I signed, there at the bottom was the amount that the district was going to pay me for the year. $22,000! I was going to be rich!!!
I had no idea just how much it would cost me to live and pay bills and have some fun on top of that. I just knew that $22,000 sounded like a whole lot of money!
I soon found out that rich – I was not. I was single. Lived a couple towns over from where I worked. And expenses were more than I thought. A lot more.
But this I learned about myself early: I hated living from pay check to pay check.
I decided that one day I would get to the point where I wouldn’t get excited about pay day. It would just be another day.
It seemed like a big dream at the time. In fact, I had forgotten about it. Until it happened.
I Had to Learn About Money
I was never taught how to handle money.
My mom set up a checking/savings account for me at a local bank when I was young but I never got the memo about what to do next.
I do have a short attention span though. Maybe more was discussed when I was chasing butterflies or in the bathroom.
But now all grown up with a teaching job and a lot of expenses, I wondered how I was going to make ends meet.
It wasn’t until I married Sam that I learned about money. Spending, saving, budgeting, couponing, investing – the whole enchilada!
I knew I was with “Thrifty” when he asked for a military discount on our first date to the movies!
Who does that??? It’s a miracle that we even had a second date!
I was a willing student because I didn’t know how to handle money. I never really had that much to plan with so I didn’t think I needed a plan.
The Power of the Budget
Marrying Sam was actually the first time that I had been introduced to the power of the budget.
Seeing on paper how much money comes in and then planning how the money goes out, puts all the power in your hands.
You won’t save unless you plan to save. Have a plan to spend, a plan to invest, have a money plan. That’s a budget.
Money decisions are conscious decisions.
Don’t you dare hand that credit card mindlessly over to a merchant without a plan of how to pay the credit card off every month! That cute blouse will cost so much more than the amount on the receipt.
You may be thinking hey, you just got married and that caused you to have more money. And you would be right. Two salaries are better than one.
But how many couples do you know that both work and still have trouble making ends meet? How about someone single who has more month than money?
It’s not the amount of money that comes in. Some people spend all they make and more (thanks a lot, easy-to-get credit cards!).
It’s how you treat the money coming in. Your decisions on where the money goes cannot be made on an emotional whim. If you want to be the boss of your money, it takes planning.
There is a saying, “she/he has champagne tastes on a beer budget” which describes people who live way beyond their means.
An “I work hard, I deserve this!” attitude is destined for financial disaster.
That’s particularly easy to do if you don’t have a plan.
Don’t look for a bailout. Don’t look for a handout. Don’t look for family or friends with more to save you. Save yourself. Because you can.
It’s Time for You to Start a Budget
Once you have your budget in place, payday will be just another day. Can you imagine what that would be like?
Oh yeah, I know you’ve heard of budgeting. But do you have one?
Have you actually sat down with your stubs and bills and knocked it out?
Take charge of your money today.
We use a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to budget but you need to find a form that works for you.
Start here with About.com document: http://financialplan.about.com/cs/budgeting/l/blbudget.htm
If you need more information learn from CNN Money: http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/money101/lesson2/index.htm
Get a Money Mentor
I married my money mentor but if you are looking around at the people you know and there isn’t a financial expert, get connected with Dave Ramsey.
Go to his website: http://www.daveramsey.com/home/
He even has a FREE budget tool so you can get started.
Listen to him here to see if he would be a good teacher for you.
Check out this article, 9 Ways to Organize Your Finances in the New Year, from CreditCards.com. Learn how to simplify your financial life and spend money on things you really want.
Now, It’s Up to You
Don’t let anything stop you from getting control of your finances. You are too important.
Having a budget is just the first step in being able to save money, make money and have a prosperous retirement.
Here’s to your prosperity!
I love Dave Ramsey. Husband and I took his course and it really changed how we do things. We had a lot of surprise reversals this year and following budget and envelopes is so important.
I’m so impressed that you took the initiative to take his course. Really impressive!
Thanks for sharing your story.
We’ve lived by these principles for a long time and it has brought serenity and stability to our home life and marriage. And we ascribe to Dave Ramsey’s principles. It is exciting to watch our son and daughter-in-law catch onto this at a young age. We know they are headed for marital and family success living this way. Thank you for sharing on this important topic, Rev. I like being weird and connecting with another weirdo, which is Dave’s description of those who follow this lifestyle.
Don’t you think getting this right is one of the keys to staying married? So glad your kids are getting it! I really appreciate you sharing your story. You are not alone. Weirdos unite!
What a great topic. I was a single mom with 4 kids and I learned quickly how to manage, paycheck to paycheck. The budgeting and saving came much later with a lot of trial and error. My husband works on commission and it has been a process to convince him that yes, he still needs to budget.
Now I am trying to learn more about investing instead of just trusting someone else to manage that for me.
Thanks for sharing your story. Investing is still a challenge for me. While I want to be in stock market and let it do it’s thing for my future, I get crazy when I lose money! It’s hard to know who to trust and go to for advice.
Thanks for sharing your story.
Great advice Rev! I read a lot of finance books and have always had financial spreadsheets, but knowing and doing CONSISTENTLY is where we have gone wrong at times. Good – bad – good – bad … we need more times of being good with our funds if we are ever going to retire! Thanks for sharing. 😀
Consistency is by far the greatest challenge. With so many temptations and sometimes emergencies it’s hard to stay on track when starting out.
Thanks for sharing your story!
This is so great! I love Dave Ramsey- we need to get back on the financial planning side of things 🙂
Isn’t he great? I have learned so much from him. So glad you stopped by.
Hi Rev, great post! Budgeting is something I’ve never been good at. My parents were also divorced and my father didn’t help us out, either. My mother worked very long hours, but she wasn’t good with budgeting her finances. You’ve inspired me to take action. I’m going to start to be more aware of my expenses and I’ll watch the video for more tips, too!
It took my probably a year for me to get the hang of budgeting. And when that changed, my spending habits changed, my bank account changed, my attitude changed.
Changing isn’t easy but it is worth it.
Thank you for sharing your story.
This is great and so true! Something to think about as well – when you get married, not only do you have twice the salaries, but it can also result in twice the debt. When my wife and I got married, we started with almost $200,000 in student debt – which is outrageous! Right now, we’re budgeting as hard as we can and living off of $1,400 while aggressively paying out debt down. We even started a blog to talk about our plans and how we make extra money. But like you said, the amount of income doesn’t matter if you don’t budget it appropriately – that’s the first step! Thank you so much for sharing this post! 🙂
I admire the sacrifice you are making now to have a better life later. Debt is a killer not to mention stressful. I will check out your story.
Thanks for sharing.
Hi Rev, awesome post. Dave Ramsey speaks the truth!! I remember hearing about the debt snow ball….I need that in my life again.
Hey Sina! I love listening to him. Such practical tips. Making a few small changes can make a difference. My financial life changed when I started using a budget.
You can have it in your life again.
Thanks for sharing.
Great post. I love Dave Ramsey. Simple truths. Not so simple to follow without serious plans and determination.
Not simple at all. But the harder you work at getting this right, the easier your life will be!
Glad you enjoyed it.