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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Get control.

I'm sure all of you realize how type-A, organized, systematic, and carefully coordinated (read: borderline OCD) I am in conducting the affairs of life. Afterall, I do have the spiritual gift of Admnistration. If you hadn't already realized that, I invite you to go back to the first week of January this year and read about how I freaked out about my unpreparedness to purchase a new vehicle. It wasn't pretty.

So, it may come to a surprise to most of you that I don't have a budget in place. That is, no formal budget. It's all in my head. Sure, I balance my checkbook religiously, and pay my bills on time, live debt-free (no longer true, thanks to RJ), and try to be cognizant of my savings, but I've never, ever, had any fancy Excel spreadsheet or Dave Ramsey envelope system.

But, let's be real. It's unwise of me to be so flippant about the money that God has blessed me. During a time of great abundance in Egypt, Pharoah entrusted Joeseph with management of the grain and when a famine swept the land, Egypt didn't go hungry. Why? Because Joseph was a very wise, God-fearing man, and he made the decision to conserve grain when the harvest was plentiful. As a result, the storehouse was full when the drought came. See Genesis 41.

And, look at the Proverbs 31 woman and how she "laughs at the days to come," as she "worked with eager hands." I know what God is preparing me for, and in order to learn how to be that woman, it's imperative that I take my finances seriously.

So, beginning March 1, I will begin to track my income, expenditures, and savings. I began the new year by taking my lunch to work everyday, and only eating out on special occasions, and that alone is already saving me a ton of money. I'm also learning to say no to some social engagements that require a swipe of my credit card, and I haven't entered a Target since before Christmas. Because many of you out there are money gurus (Sarah Scott and Rhonda Hendricks, I'm thinking of you), I welcome your advice, warnings, and encouragement.


Anonymous Katie said...

I have my budget already formatted in an Excel spreadsheet if you'd like a cheat sheet to get you started. I'm happy to share and am so proud of you for taking the initiative to manage your finances. If only we all were so wise!

7:53 PM

Blogger Rhonda said...

Thanks for the props, but I'm so proud of YOU for no Target! You are also off to a GREAT start by brown bagging it!! It's good to start off with the tedious task of pouring over the last few months' statements to see what you're currently spending in each category of "wants" and "needs." Anything you have leftover or reduced should go toward the car debt; how great to have that paid off quickly! And since you asked here are my other tips: 1) Consider limited basic cable- the $11/mo. plan. 2) See if you can reduce your cell/internet plan. 3) Max out your 401K. 4) Do use an envelope/cash system for restaurants, entertainment, clothes, groceries, fun money. 5) Make designated savings "buckets" for Christmas gifts, other gifts, car maint. & registration, vacation, etc. - any expenses KNOW are coming and you'll need money for. Keep track of how much is accumulating in each bucket though! 6) Tithe off the top. Make yourself an un-complicated Excel sheet for it all. It WILL take a/b 3 months to make adjustments & work out the kinks but you'll feel SO secure & organized!

8:12 PM

Blogger Courtney Baker said...

Speaking of brown bagging it, my lunch meeting got canceled toady! Now I don't have lunch. :(

7:45 AM

Blogger Sarah said...

Aww, thank you for the shout out!

I have to say that mint.com is now my best budget buddy. My time consuming spreadsheets have now been replaced with daily checks of this website. It sounds scary at first -- you have to allow mint access to your bank accounts -- but countless financial planning publications have endorsed it as safe. Not only does it track your money in, money out, it also clearly shows trends in your spending (gotta love those pie charts!) as well as warns you if/when certain line items are in danger of going over budget. Mint.com does in minutes what used to take me hours to do for myself. So, yeah, I'm a huge fan. (Side note: if you're a Bank of America customer, they are now offerering essentially the same features on their website.) I'm proud of you for this first stab at budgeting -- I think you'll start to enjoy it once you get the hang of it! :) xoxoxo

4:45 PM


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