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For the story, click. Today, I’ll write more about the process that I’m on as I learn to keep track of my money and bill paying…and learn to budget. There are an abundance of tools for you to use online. So I won’t go into detail there. Find what works best for you. If you have found tools that have worked well for you, comment on them in the comment section. Websites that I have had recommended as being excellent are from Dave Ramsey, Crown Financial Ministries specifically. But there are other good ones too. Mention them in comments if you have liked others and why.

They cover a much more intensive view of what needs to be done in order for you to get your financial house in order. These two each have radio programs that are also online for you to listen to as well as books to read so you can do the necessary work of getting your finances in order along with the added encouragement of hearing what other people are doing to get their financial houses in order.

Over the years, tweaks need to be made as your needs change. For example, we don’t have to save for our children’s college educations anymore. That is done. But we do pay more for medications than we used to! So it is interesting to see what tweaks need to be made each year. We did some of that, but not to the degree we needed to.

Scares about the state of our finances are good. They make us take stock and change our ways…hopefully!

While it is true I had a bad scare this year. I was fortunate. Not everyone is. Not everyone has a bank account hiding out in the corner with money from the recent sale of their home! When we start working on our financial situation, we have to start with where we are, not with some dreamy scenario.

My scare was a good warning for me. I didn’t have a good, realistic working budget in place. I had a budget. It just wasn’t always realistic and useful for me. My local daughter is working with me in a kind, yet blunt way to help me with that! She won’t allow me to pick figures out of the air but pushes me to look at the real figures to see if they are realistic for my budget.

In order to make my figures come out the way I want  in one category, I would like to shave them off in places. But she makes me look at what I spent in that category last month. Is that realistic? Can you live on less in that category? What will it take? Don’t shave spots in your budget just to make the budget look good! You want it to be useful, helpful and realistic!

What are the challenges of setting up a realistic budget?

Making a realistic budget isn’t easy. I have to face hard questions. I have to look at percentages of my spending. How much do I actually give to others and to GOD? It was more paltry than I thought.

She is forcing me to take my miscellaneous spending and account for it. Ugh! I hate that. I don’t want to look at my self-centered spending. Of course, I can justify it! But should I? It is quite an exercise in looking at my heart.

  • Where can I get my spending under control?
  • Where does it need control?
  • Where have I gotten lazy and careless in my spending?

Budgeting and tracking of my spending shows the truth of my spending vs. my feelings about my spending. I need to total my spending in different categories to see if I actually spend what I think I do in the areas I budget. Does that sound basic? Of course. But we don’t all keep up with the basics do we?

Budgeting and tracking of my spending shows the truth of my spending vs. my feelings about my spending. Click To Tweet

How are you doing with managing this precious treasure of your money?

It is a very emotional and valuable treasure. Budgeting is only one aspect of your finances however. It is how you plan to spend your money…but it reflects realistically how you do spend it!

Budgeting is when you sit down quietly and plan out your spending… for emergencies, for short term and long term future. We plan for happy events and to some degree, even for tragedies. That is why we save, buy insurance and put money into retirement savings. We often save for college for our kids and weddings. We also plan our giving.

It is when we look at how we have been spending and decide we might want to make some changes based on challenges facing us in the next year…or based on bad news in terms of income…or even good news in terms of income! This is where the planning happens. That’s why you need to do it together as a couple. That’s why it is often emotional…because there is so much emotion regarding money…at least from one partner in the marriage. Often one partner can be cold and factual about it and the other? Not so much! It isn’t easy. But the time you spend on this planning is valuable to both of you and your relationship.

Taking stock each year of how much you save, how much you give, how much you spend in certain areas? All of these are important. Maybe we can’t save as much as we want this year, but we need to save something. Maybe we can’t give as much as we would like, but we need to consistently give to our church, and other ministries and charities. It is good for us. We need to be generous. We need to plan to give and save more the next year and spend less on ourselves. That’s where I am now. And I’m getting hit in the face with my selfishness!

After our session last week, I realized that I don’t give nearly enough. I need to plan to give more! We have been helped so much over the years by others’ generosity. Now we need to share with those in need around us.

Credit card spending can hide a lot of financial mismanagement

I realized how much of our spending is hidden in our credit cards. We figure out the categories each month in terms of credit card spending, but it is easy for it to get away from us! Fortunately, our debt is negligible. We are very fortunate. That didn’t happen accidentally. There were times when money was tight. I worked. Most years we didn’t have credit cards or rarely ever used them. But we got careless.

It can happen to anyone. Don’t ruin your life by not caring for your important assets…among them, your money! But also realize that money isn’t your only asset. Your family is very valuable too! Be sure you allow quality time for them. You will have them for eternity…or not!

I’ll continue to be learning about money and how to manage it. I’ll keep you updated on my progress.

How are you managing this valuable asset?
Are you stewarding it well?
Are you and your spouse working together and discussing those areas where you have disagreements on the budget? |
Or does one of you just go silent to avoid fighting?

That isn’t healthy for your marriage or the future of your financial situation.