In this Financial UPGRADE, Ellie Kay, known as “America’s Family Financial Expert,”® gives us some timely information on how to be better stewards of our resources through budgeting.
"The only real failure in budgeting is to do nothing at all," Ellie says.
Budget! I (Dawn) used to hate that word. I saw it as restrictive ... no fun! But the Lord showed me the value of budgeting, and how it could free me up to do the things I really longed to do.
Ellie continues ...
Families usually have favorite restaurants, movies, and even special songs that reflect the character and tastes of the family. Your budget will be just as unique as your family. It will be based on variable factors, such as your family’s size, geographical location, debt load, and income.
One of the reasons Bob and I first set up a budget, is because we wanted to be better stewards of our finances. We remembered Luke 14:28, a passage that talked about the fact that a wise man counts the cost before he builds a tower. We wanted to build a Biblical financial legacy for our kids and realized that both of us wanted to have healthy finances.
We also realized that we didn’t need to go overboard by pinching our pennies so tightly that it strained our relationship and took all the enjoyment out of life. So we allowed for an occasional indulgence, implemented budget-cutting techniques slowly, and modified our plan as needed.
There are a few problems that can throw your budget off in a matter of seconds, sending it toward disaster. But the only real failure in budgeting is to do nothing at all.
Here are a few tips to avoid these common pitfalls, and a few reminders to keep trekking at this budget thing:
Debt or Credit
Proverbs 22:7 says, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” We knew we wanted to get out of debt and we chose to adopt a cash-only policy when it came to our budget, setting up an envelope system where we placed the budgeted amount of cash in envelopes marked “food,” “entertainment,” “gas,” and so on.
When the money runs out, you stop spending until the end of the allotted period (generally one to
two weeks, depending upon how you are paid). A regular peek at the amount of cash left in each envelope is a vivid reminder of your budget commitment. If credit has become a habit, then you might even do something drastic, like cut up your credit cards. Mint.com also has a great, free app to help you track your budget.
Nothing busts a budget like impulse buying. If this is an area where you struggle, it’s important to be proactive and address the issue before you take action.
If you don’t drive to the mall and go to your favorite department store, you won’t be as likely to spend unbudgeted money. So determine to practice the habits you’ve been learning every day so you will have to internal motivation needed the next time you are tempted.
Many couples indulge in comfort spending on clothes, sports equipment, expensive restaurants, and excessive entertainment, to name a few. This unhealthy habit of throwing caution to the wind just to live in the “now” is a budget buster that will keep you living in debt. However, most of us do not reform our unhealthy habits overnight.
At the very least, begin to modify and become more intentional about these comfort indulgences. Even cutting back on some of this kind of spending can add up positively.
What is one thing you can do this week to stay on budget?
Ellie Kay is a regular expert on national television with ABC NEWS NOW’s Money Matters and Good
Money shows. She is also a national radio commentator, a frequent media guest on Fox News, and CNBC, a popular international speaker, and the best-selling author of fourteen books including her newest release, The Little Book of Big Savings (Waterbrook, 2009). For money savings links, or to view Ellie’s blog, go to www.elliekay.com.
Graphic in Text, adapted, Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.