Are you where you want to be financially?
In a fast-paced world, where everything is so convenient for us all, it’s incredibly easy to make decisions that hurt our ability to manage our coins every single day. We are bombarded with messages to buy the latest gadget, eat at the new and expensive restaurants, buy the latest sneakers, clothes, and accessories every single day.
The plan is already written for our money before it hits our fingertips. Our e-mails are filled with deals and offers, and we constantly feel like we need what we are being offered. I’m sorry my friends, it’s a lie. Most of what we think we need, are actually luxuries that are eating away at our ability to save money and invest back it our households and communities.
Because we know how important your money is to you, and how you truly want to make better money management decisions, we want to introduce a simple way you can make keep your money and have more fun, so you can invest it into what really matters- your future
Identify Your Spending Habits
The first step in making a change is identifying the problem. Identifying where you are currently spending your money will give you clarity and direction for improvements. It’s a fact that you do not have to make more money to live a financially stable life. You simply have to find out where you’re spending unnecessary money, and redirect it into more prosperous places.
To get started, pull your bank statements and start highlighting each transaction by type. If you don’t have a bank account, try a prepaid debit card so you’ll have a visual method of seeing where you’re spending your money. Next, you will break it down in to 4 categories
- Necessities (living expenses, rent, utilities)
- Food (groceries, fast food, restaurants)
- Transportation (insurance, gas)
- Debt (mortgage, car, student loans, etc.)
- Everything else
Necessity or Luxury?
After you’ve highlighted bank statement, next you must go through each category and figure out what is a TRUE necessity and what is a luxury. Some examples of luxuries are buying meals outside for breakfast, lunch and dinner, cable, and unnecessary clothes. True necessities are rent/mortgage, utilities, insurance, gas, groceries. The rest is debt or “excess spending”
I’ll admit, when I first did this exercise back in 2013, it was a bit embarrassing. Although my necessary bills were paid religiously, I was throwing away over $600/month on food because I wasn’t packing a lunch and going out every weekend. I had a closet full of clothes I hardly ever wore. I also had clothes with tags still attached. Not to mention I was financing a vehicle with 26% interest.
Talk about throwing money away.
Nevertheless, this exercise helped me realize I had a real addiction to consumerism. I was working just to buy stuff that didn’t increase in value, nor could I pass it down to my children.
This is where the budget came into existence.
Creating your budget
Budgeting is your way of being intentional about where your money is going. In order to do this, you will need to create four categories your going to direct your money.
- Giving (10%): Anyone that know me knows that I truly believe that you reap what you sow. Whether it’s tithing or charitable giving, when you sow blessings into others, it will certainly return to you exponentially. It is law.
- Savings (10%): This category is for true savings for emergencies. This includes medical, job loss, car problems, natural disasters, etc. Often times we save to take trips or buy a new TV. But, this category is NOT designated for that. It is for true emergencies only. Put this money into an account you cannot touch and forget about it, and let it grow.
- Pay off debt/ Invest (10%)- Credit card, car payments, mortgage loan, student loans, etc are designated to this category. Because you’re paying interest on these payments, it’s best to attack this as aggressively as you can. If you don’t have any debt, designate that money somewhere that can help you grow even more.
- Living Expenses (70%): Necessary bills, groceries, insurance, and everyday expenses. This is what you live on. The great thing is you can always find ways to live on less than 70% of your income. If you’re able to get your living expenses down to less than 70%, hurray! Take that money and direct it toward paying off your debt faster or you can take a small percentage to plan something fun- like that vacation.
Flex your financial muscles
Much like diet and exercise, it can be easy to get results, and fall back into bad habits. Don’t get discouraged. A budget is simply a way to train your financial muscles. Start slow, and you’ll find that you’ll have a stronger financial foundation with consistent effort and implementation. Be careful to not allow the excess spending to sneak back into your spending habits. Be intentional about where you’re spending your money with this simple plan. I personally paid of $16,000 in less than 12 months using this method, and you’d be amazed at how fast you can pay off your debt too. Not only that, the feeling of being debt free is like no other.