Dear sweet reader friends,
I am excited to tell you how last month we took some scissors and we cut up Lane’s credit cards! We let out a hoot-rah and we went out for a big debt-free dinner to celebrate his newfound status. Lane has been aggressively paying off his accrued credit card debt for the last few months and this was the final payment before he could kiss the debt (and all that interest) goodbye.
So, in honor of that and tax season, I decided to give you some of my nitty-gritty tools I use and tips I believe in when it comes to budgeting, saving and building toward financial freedom. Please remember: I am not a financial expert. I am someone who loves working with money, learning new things and budgeting like a boss. I’ll only ever preach my experienced best practices.
Budget, budget, budget.
First things first: budgeting. It matters. It makes sense. And I get you, it is HARD to make it happen sometimes. I’m constantly learning how to budget better. I use these budget sheets in my shop to map out my monthly finance goals and even save room for tacos.
I doubt anyone would have believed I’d be the girl creating budget sheets but I needed a template that was simple and fun. I’m a pen-to-paper sort of girl, as well. I wanted to stop being intimidated by money going in and out and just have fun with the process.
I would tell you having a budget matters even if you don’t fully stick to it yet. Even if you go over your budget. Even if you totally blow it. The first step to changing anything is awareness. You want to be aware of what the numbers are and how much you’re spending in different areas. It’s only when you have knowledge of something that you’re able to make tweaks and changes for the better.
What’s not working anymore?
This is my absolute favorite part of the budget sheets. I love making room to ask what I want to more of and less of with my money.
I love making money and I am not ashamed to admit that because I am a believer that the more income you bring in means the bigger opportunities to be generous with your finances. I love blessing other people with meals, gifts, and hospitality with my finances. It leaves me full.
Asking myself “what didn’t work” last month helps me to get some perspective on what I could tweak and change for the following month. One month it was evident that I needed to take a break from so many Target trips but I would not have known that without looking back. Another month I needed to get tighter and more proactive with the subscriptions I was paying for and how much money I was wasting.
I think you grow as a person when you’re able to ask yourself what didn’t work and what needs to change. I love leaving space for that.
GOALS MATTER IN EVERY OTHER AREA OF OUR LIVES — WHY WOULDN’T THEY WHEN IT COMES MONEY?
Look at the problem.
For years, I was too afraid to look at my financial situation. I knew I had student loans and I also had no clue how I was ever going to pay them off. I was paralyzed by fear of them until one day I set the goal that I wanted to become debt-free, no matter what it would take.
The change wasn’t instant but I started looking at my student loans every single week. I started making myself stare at the figures and put whatever I had — big or small chunks of money — towards that bigger debt. And guys, it worked. It absolutely worked. I became addicted to the feeling of paying off the debt and I tackled $57,000 worth of debt in one year. It all came from looking at the situation and refusing to turn away from it. Once I started making a weekly habit out of paying the debt off little by little, I was hooked and never turning back.
Save like a boss.
You likely knew this app would be somewhere on the list. I am a hardcore evangelist for Qapital and no one at Qapital has asked me to say this. I found Qapital several years ago and it’s been the number 1 game-changer for how I save money. I would guess that if you had to rank my apps by how much I use them then Qapital would be right behind Instagram. I cannot speak more highly of this app.
Qapital works off the premise that there is usually, always spare change hanging out in your card’s account. Qapital allows you to set goals for things you want to save towards — vacations, shoes, power bills, whatever — and it also lets you set “rules” to save for those goals. What ends up happening is Qapital takes money out of your bank account and sets it in a different account (don’t worry, it is safe and accessible at ANY time) based on the rules you set.
This is how I choose to save for everything now. I budgeted and saved for all my Christmas gifts last year back in June. Lane and I save for vacations through a joint-goal on Qapital. I’ve even set up a rule that shaves 10% off the top of any check I deposit into my bank account and sends it aside for tithing.
Set finance goals.
Goals matter in every other area of our lives — why wouldn’t they matter when it comes to money? I take the time to map out my goals so I have something to reach for. I am way more motivated when I can see a finish line in the distance. Maybe the goal is to finally start a retirement account. Maybe you simply want to spend less at Target in 2019. Maybe you want to kick another $10,000 in student loan debt. Whatever the goal, write it down. Commit it to memory. Build baby action steps around it. Celebrate the small victories. And then plan again.
Subscriptions do matter.
My mom and I joke all the time about how my whole life is basically operating off of subscriptions. This isn’t that far from the truth. I love things showing up at my door but I also love the peace of mind knowing something is already covered and coming for me at the right time.
But a lot of subscriptions actually do save you money. For instance, I have a subscription on Amazon that renews every five months. Every five months, a massive load of toilet paper shows up at my front door without me having to order it again. And then I don’t have to stop at the store for toilet paper ever again. I say this because I used to spend so much time running to the store for things we’d run out of. When I was there at the store, I’d be overwhelmed by the options and then I’d just end up picking the cheapest brand. I save about $50 in toilet paper alone by having it deliver on a subscription.
The same goes for grocery shopping. I pay a yearly subscription fee to have groceries delivered to my door. And yes, I am aware that this might sound like a luxury and I am aware that it could be. The subscription is $99 for the year. That’s less than $10 a month to have my groceries delivered. And you know what doesn’t happen anymore? I don’t wander aimlessly around the grocery store and buy things because they look good at the moment. I stick to my list, I order online, and I save time by not having to grocery shop.
At the end of the day, I am willing to do just about anything to save time. I think time is the most precious resource we get and we need to take strides to protect it, value it and use it wisely.
Schedule a finance day.
This is especially important if you work for yourself or run some sort of business. I think it matters that we know where our money is going and how we could potentially tighten up and spend smarter.
I aim to dedicate one day in my month to finances. I used to dread this day, but now I genuinely look forward to it. It’s a day for me to face the beast, to tackle the things I am afraid of. I run the numbers. I check areas for improvement. I fill out my budget sheets for the month ahead. I donate to charities of my choice. I reflect and I pay it forward. I do all the nitty gritty things that need to happen in a month for my taxes to be in order so that I don’t have to do it all come tax season.
Mind you, hiring an accountant might be the best step for you when it comes to business money matters. I’m talking about personal money matters here and how I believe it matters to have a grasp on the way you’re spending money.