Buying For Your Family On A Budget: Putting Money Back In Your Pocket
Some people are under the assumption that your value is determined by the amount of money you make. In actuality, your value and worth is determined by how much money you keep (i.e. banking, savings, investments). The goal is for you to be your greatest personal asset. How you use your money should be done so in a purposeful way. This is not to say don’t ever treat yourself, but you don’t want to throw hard earned cash away on a temporary fix that you don’t really want or need no matter how much in the moment you are really wanting that item. I want you to take a moment and reflect on what you want your bank account to look like. Are you wanting to learn how to have more money leftover after expenses are paid rather than living paycheck to paycheck? Is there a certain amount you would like to see weekly, monthly, or yearly? Do you have a personal goal that you want to achieve such as a particular vacation destination or a home you are wanting to build or purchase? Are you wanting to learn how to invest your proceeds and make them grow? What do you want your financial lifestyle to look like? I encourage you if you have not done so to begin writing these goals down. I am going to share a few tips and strategies that you can take action on and apply so that you become the one in control of your finances telling your own money where it needs to go:
1) Do you have credit card debt, unpaid medical expenses, or a car loan? If so, I highly recommend that you contact the companies that you owe money to and see if you can negotiate the terms of your agreement. Many times you can have your APR (annual percentage rates) lowered or a settlement arranged for less than the amount owed if paid off in a shorter time span. Sometimes companies will even forgive a portion of the debt and will work with you to come to a set of new terms that both parties can adhere to. The companies may try to tell you that they can’t help you and that you will have to continue to pay the balance owed monthly. If this is the case, ask them what they can and are willing to do with you. The truth is, they want their payment from you and in most cases should be willing to help you come to some sort of arrangement. They may even give you a few options that you can choose from that will work for both you and them.
2) Do you have a mortgage? Do you find making your payment hard to come by? I recommend contacting your mortgage company to learn what your options are, whether re-financing or some sort of modification being done. It’s usually better to try and hold onto your home and to continue to pay the mortgage off if possible rather than foreclosure or having a short sale.
3) Make a budget for yourself and your family. I encourage you to write down what you make monthly on paper and all expenses that are owed and what dates they come out on. This will allow you to see what you make, how much cash is outgoing, and what is remaining in your account at the end of the month. Many times you can shift the dates of when bill payments are automatically deducted. Doing so may allow for a more even cash flow going out and for you to have more control and balance in your overall budgeting. Another tip I recommend is seeing where you can eliminate expense in your budget. There may be some things that you think you need, but ask yourself are these really truly a need or are they a luxury that you think you need. See where you can cut corners and eliminate overall cost.
4) When you make money, do you have a plan in place as to where that needs to go? It’s okay to say ‘no’ here. Our family didn’t either for the longest time! There is a simple formula that our family uses that has really helped us get on track, this rule is the 30/30/30/10 rule. This rule may not work for every individual or family, however it has worked for our family. What this rule implies is that for each check that you make 10% goes to tithe however you see fit, 30% goes directly into an established savings. If you do not have a savings, I highly advise that you get one; this way you are putting money away and are not as tempted to spend it in a foolish manner. In covering bills, 30% should be set aside for that purpose. The remaining 30% can be used for business expenses if you are self-employed and own a business or if not, used towards other bills or paying off debt.
5) How much debt do you owe? Take a look and see what your highest and lowest expense are debt wise. When making payments, take the lowest expense and pay double on that until it is paid off then take that total balance and apply it to the next debt you have until all debt is eliminated.
6) How do you shop for groceries, household items, and personal items? I recommend creating a meal plan so that you go to the store no more than once a week. If you have food stored in a freezer or in your pantry, look online for creative recipes and ideas for creating meals before going to the store. When you shop, do not use coupons unless it is for a specific item that you need. Many times coupons are a marketing strategy used to get you to buy more than what you necessarily need. This is the store’s way of making more money off of you. Buy only what is on your list and is necessary to prepare your weekly meals. If you want snack options go with a choice or two and make it a vegetable or a fruit if possible; your food will stretch longer and you will stay within budget. Shopping the parameter of the store is more cost effective and economical in the long run. If you are buying household items, look online for ways to make your own cleaners and products; this is also more cost effective in the long term. If you are needing to shop for clothes, see if there is someone yours or your family members size that is no longer using those clothes and see if they would be willing to give them to you or let you borrow them. If you do buy new clothes, find a local consignment store, shop the clearance racks of a store, or shop at your local Goodwill. These stores alot of times still have clothing with tags that are still on them by name designers! All these items need is to have a little TLC and to be cleaned before being worn.
7) Do you have cable, internet, or a smart phone? Do you fully access all services provided to you? There are alternative options out there that will allow you decrease your monthly bill. Instead of paying for cable television monthly, you can purchase Netflix at much more reduced price and have parental controls established for you moms and dads out there that want to monitor your child’s programming. If you are not wanting to get rid of cable television, see what you can do to have your package lowered. Usually most companies have a few options that will help you save. Bundle options are not bad, but once the discounts are over, the prices usually go up and you may need to re-evaluate whether or not you are really wanting to pay that price monthly. There are many programs that allow you to refer friends and get discounts. Theoretically there is nothing wrong with this, just watch your bill monthly and be aware of when those discounts end. If you are using a smart phone, there are many plans that no longer require you to establish a contract instead paying monthly. There are several options and the price per month is much cheaper all around. A great service that I would like to recommend is Straight Talk. It is more outlay initially for the cost of the phone and plan, but much cheaper after your first month. You can visit their website, enter your zip code, and a list of phones in your area being marketed will be provided. You can purchase your phone in the store or online. Make sure that you pick a phone that you will be happy with that gets solid coverage for your area.
8) Do you have personal, financial, spiritual goals? Write them down. Even if you are having difficulty with vision and knowing exactly what you want, write down what comes to mind. Go back over the aforementioned tips and see what you can do to eliminate expenses, take over the leftover money and begin putting a portion of that in savings weekly or monthly. Over time that money will add up. Take time weekly to take action on the goals you want to achieve and the leftover money will purposed as to how it is used. Pretty soon you will be crossing off goals on your bucket list!
I hope these tips help you like they have helped my family. I believe in you and you are doing a great job! There are just a few tweaks that need to happen with your budget, but you are in control and I believe you can purpose your time, your money, and your efforts if you write out your plan and commit to it! For more tips, strategies, and reading, please feel free to continue to visit www.taracherie.org where you can read, comment, or share your feedback. Blessings my friends!