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!