Days 7 and 8...Tracking the Bucks...Day 7
Only 42% of people track their spending.
~Bryan Cooper, My Financial Life Coach
This means, as Bryan points out, 58% of people do not track their spending. I do track my bucks. I might not track for a week or two, but I always balance up (no pun intended) when I sit down to pay my monthly bills. I was surprised to learn that so many people do not track their spending.
Bryan reminds us to think about how much money we actually have to spend over our lifetimes. Think about how much money you make a year (the net amount) and write down your number. Now multiply the number by 10. This is the amount of money (discounting raises) that you have to manage over a ten year period. Now multiply by 20 years, and then by 30 years. You likely have much more to manage than you ever realized.
Looking at that grand total, it is much easier to see how you can become debt free and use your money to fulfill your dreams.
Not feeling it? Still having that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach? Bryan says this is when you should pull together $10 or $20 and give it to someone else. Suze Orman echos this sentiment explaining that her clients who had the most money were the ones who gave away the most money, and Wayne Dyer tells us to give away the very thing we want to receive. Someone is always worse off than you. By giving, you shift your focus away from yourself and your issues, and you do something wonderful for someone else.
Monthly payments rob you of your future wealth.
~Bryan Cooper, My Financial Life Coach
I hate those monthly payments. It's one thing to be paying something off and knowing those payments will someday disappear...but the phone, the electric, the gas...I hate paying those every month...forever and ever.
But what about those payments you don't think about. What about that $1 coffee everyday? That is $30 a month, or $13,000 over 20 years. What about that $25 or $50 mani-pedi payment? That every other month haircut? Etc.
By breaking your spending down to a per month basis it is much easier to track your spending. The process can cause a few butterflies, but ultimately, knowledge is power. You can't manage it if you don't about it.
Almost caught up! Ready for Day 9!
Balance Up....Day 9--Stop watching the Joneses
Those darned Joneses! They make us keep thinking we need more and more. When will they stop consuming?
In all seriousness, it's not the Joneses, it's our continuous materialist sweet tooth that is causing our debt obesity.
As we learned from Bryan, we need to think of our expenditures in terms of monthly payments, the hours we must work to pay for them, and what that money costs us over time. It's not easy to manage these ideas at first, but as will any lifestyle change, the turtle wins the race.
Start slowly, but keep going. We discussed giving to others on Day 7. Today we are encouraged to pay ourselves, and to do it first. I know that is so very hard when you don't have enough money to get to the end of the month. Even if it is $5 a month, set it aside for yourself. Do you best. You will just feel better.
Now, how can we impact our monthly expenses?
Do you have a mortgage? Bryan encourages us to consider a bi-monthly payment, or an extra payment over the course of a year. Either of these approaches will take years off your mortgage.
Can you decrease your electricity? Changing to fluorescent light bulbs can decrease your lighting costs by 75%, not to mention decreasing your lightbulb replacement costs. The price of these bulbs has decreased enormously over the years and it is no longer a burdensome purchase.
Turn off and unplug. You can save up to 8% in electrical costs by turning off lights, and uplugging and other electrical appliances such as TVs, computers, and chargers when not in use.
Change your showerhead. Switching to a low water showerhead, or even toilet if you are able, will decrease your water costs, and you won't even notice the change. (I grew up with a well as our water supply, and the water bill is simply one I just hate to pay.)
Balance Up....Day 9--Stop watching the Joneses
Do you pay for voicemail? Even if the voicemail is only $1 month, over 20 years that will cost you $240, if the rate never goes up.
Bryan has even more tips for Day 9, and none are the least bit painful. Remember, every dollar you save per month on your regular bills, is money you can save, use to pay debt off, or buy some great shoes!
Bryan has offered to give away Balance UP to one visitor of Single Moms Ask Sara, and to a friend of that visitor. To enter, simply go to my Money Saving Tips and leave your favorite tips for my readers.
Balance UP Day 10!
All caught up! Today is Tip Day! Bryan offers a series of money saving tips. Today I am going to give you a few of his, and a few of mine.
I have to confess that I am feeling much more relaxed and much more confident about money. It is a relief to know that I have been on the right track, it was a shock to look at my finances across the long term, and it is encouraging that Bryan thinks that no matter where you are in your financial life, you can get on track.
Bryan: Don't grocery shop hungry, and shop from a list.
Sara: Make your list from a menu. For a downloadable menu and shopping list, check my Free Downloads page.
Bryan: Use coupons. Check Bryan's site for great coupon websites.
Sara: If the house brand is cheaper (and it often is) don't spend the extra money to use the coupon on the name brand item. Be sure to sign up for your store's discount program.
Bryan: Don't waste food. Make larger servings to use for other meals or to take for lunch.
Sara: Incorporate leftovers into your menu. Today's leftover roast is tomorrow's beef and noodles or roast beef sandwiches.
Bryan: Save money on clothing by buying at the end of the season.
Sara: Shop with a plan. Put together your wardrobe in a logical way. Click here to see what Clinton and Stacy recommend for wardrobe basics.
Bryan: Go to www.gasbuddy.com to check gas prices in your area.
Sara: Make sure your change your oil regularly, and your tires are inflated to the proper amount. Both of these can affect your gas mileage.
These are just a few of the money saving tips available at Bryan's site: MyFinancialLifeCoach.com.
Don't forget to share your money saving tips here and be entered to win Balance UP! free for you and a friend.
Week 3...Day 11
Today we begin to work on our spending plan. I have done this in the past off and on, but never felt hugely successful. While I was able to make a plan and get from month to month, I didn't ever feel like I was getting ahead.
Bryan's spreadsheets are a little different than anything I had come up with in the past, and to be honest, it was kind of fun. I have to pause here a minute and let this soak in. I, never in my entire life, have, nor ever thought I would...say that figuring out my monthly budget was fun. Most of my bills are due around the 20th of the month and it is pretty common for me to start waking up in the middle of the night panicked about my money a few days prior. It doesn't matter if I have the money in the bank to cover things or not. This post traumatic stress syndrome is so much a part of my monthly routine that when I wake with a start, my first thought is, "What's the date?"
So...we'll see how this process changes things. Bryan's demo of this spreadsheet was fluid and easy to understand, and his tips were encouraging.
1. At first you'll forget things. Don't sweat it.
2. It takes about 3 months to get your monthly budget down.
3. Be serious.
4. Make it your plan. (Otherwise it won't work.)
5. Celebrate your victories. (My favorite part.)
Plug your paychecks into the spreadsheet and divvy it up amongst your expenses. When you assign some money to a bill, that amount is subtracted from your total. Once you get your spreadsheet filled in, take a look to see where you can cut costs and how you want to arrange your paycheck across your expenses. I was thrilled to see that I could be putting more money on my debt that I thought. I am pretty excited to start watching those balances tick away.
Ready to come on board? Leave a money tip, and go into the drawing for a free chance to go through Balance UP!
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Your website is amazing. I am going to make some time for this. I will learn tons from what you have on here. AWESOME!
I just finished reading 3 of your sections, particularly your story about raising a teen and connecting with God and became very inspired!! I needed to know that as a single mom I'm not alone...