Tag Archives: debt

The Financial Lifesavor

A few years ago I did something that iMpRoVed our financial stress.  In addition to tracking our monthly expenses, I made a simple spreadsheet that estimates what our bank account will look like in six months.

Whenever I log our monthly expenses, I also update this 6-month sheet (to see an example, click 6-Month Spreadsheet).  At the top, I enter our most current bank account total.  Below, I have the pRojEcTed expenses and income for each month.  You should have a pretty good idea on how much you spend if you already keep track of your monthly expenses.  If not, now would be a good time to start!  If your income varies due to sales or farming, etc. you need to enter in a realistic number to ensure your 6-month projection is as accurate as possible and doesn’t give you false hope. 

One reason this concept comes in handy is because it anticipates yearly bills.  Propane refills are already estimated in the months of October and January, so when the time comes there is no big SuRpriSeS.  By taking into account all of your known expenses you won’t have to worry (and stress!) about moving money around to accommodate.

I especially like the 6-month forecast when I want to make larger purchases.  If you’re itching to buy new carpet, you enter in the total and instantly have a good I D E A how much it will affect your finances in the long term.  For example, you may get a bonus at work and see an immediate increase in your bank account.  You go out and spend it all (and maybe a little more), and then two months later you are panicked because you forgot your vehicle tags and taxes were due.  See how this could have been avoided?

As far as financial surprises, like if our car breaks down, I don’t estimate for that.  You will find that if you do the 6-month spreadsheet you won’t be likely to spread your bank account too thin.  Pick a number that will give you a nice CusHioN for emergencies.  As long as you stay above your goal you can avoid roller coaster financial stress and feel more confident in the purchases that you make!

~Lara

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{The Answer Is In The House}

With a tough EcoNoMy like the one we’re in, many people find themselves in a challenging financial position.  Many are looking to take on second jobs to make ends meet.  It reminds me of a talk I heard back in college.  My alma mater, Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Ok required us students to attend chapel twice a week.  These were a HiGhLiGhT for me as they were so uplifting.  From time to time special speakers would be invited to address the students.  One of the chapel services I remember the best was one in which ToMmY BaRnEtT, pastor of Phoenix First Church spoke about a widow who found herself in financial dire straits.  He told the story about this woman in the Bible who came to the prophet Elisha, desperate for help.  {II Kings 4} She was a widow, had debtors demanding payment, and on brink of starvation.  If she could not pay her debt, by law she would be required to give her sons to the debtors.  She had no money, no means to make money, and was at the end of her supply of food.  When Elisha heard her story, he asked her, “What’s in your HoUsE?”  Her answer was, “Just a little bit of oil.”  Elisha then instructed her to collect jars from all her neighbors and pour her oil into the jars.  As she poured, the oil continued to flow, until she had enough to pay off her debtors.

The point of this story is that the answer to her problem was in her house.  She just didn’t think that what she had was sufficient.  If you are finding yourself with great need, ask yourself  “what’s in my “house”?”  Maybe you have a gift/talent/skill that you could turn into PrOfiT.  Maybe there’s some things you could sell.  Maybe it’s time to downside.  Whatever you do, if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed with your situation ask yourself, “What’s In My House?”  You may be sitting on your answer and not even know it!

:)

Robynn~

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“Broke” Was My Goal

After I graduated from college I had difficulty finding a job so I did what most college graduates do, I got a job in a completely unrelated field than my major.  In my case, it was waiting tables.  I remember my first day on the job thinking, “I got a college degree and now I am going to be a waitress for the rest of my life!”  This was a discouraging and disappointing time in my life.  To make matters worse I had three maxed credit cards, student loans that were coming due and was barely scraping by each month.  I remember having no money at all except maybe a little change in my apron from work.  When I needed to mail a bill I would have to go to the post office to BuY oNe StAmP for that bill because I could not afford the $5 or so to buy a book of stamps.   

Needless to say, I had tremendous financial pressure.  It felt like a belt was around my neck and cinched so tight I could hardly breathe.  Who would have thought that being broke could have been a GoaL?  At that point I would have been thrilled to have no money and no debt.  But instead I was thousands of dollars in debt.

Fast forward to a few years later when I landed my first teaching job.  It was at this point that I made the conscious effort to be a GoOd StEwArD of my money and get out of debt.  At first that belt around my neck was still cinched tight, but with every step I took towards financial freedom I found that belt loosening.  It took year after year of making wise financial decisions before I saw significant changes in my finances, but with my commitment and diligence I made continual progress.

How did I whittle down my debt?  Here’s what I did:

1.) I ReFuSeD tO qUiT regardless how small the changes were.

As a teacher, I received a paycheck once a month.  I would pay my bills at one sitting and whatever was left in my checking account was what I had to spend for the entire month.  This amount for me usually was around $75-$100.  Out of this money I had to buy food, gas, oil changes, toiletries, clothes, etc.  I remember once having two luxury items I really wanted but could not afford to buy immediately:  a $20 candle and a $20 garden hose holder.  Both of these items I had to wait to buy until I had money saved up.  I didn’t just live like this for a few months or a year or so.  It was a few years, but I refused to be discouraged and give up.

2.) I was a GeNeRoUs GiVeR. 

The Bible says that whatever you sow you reap and with the measure you give to others it will be given to you.  The first portion of my paycheck (tithe) I gave to my church.  I also gave money to good causes.  As a result I saw God blessed me richly.  Someone gave me a lawnmower. I bought a piano for $100. Good deals and bargains seemed to find me.  Speaking of this . . .    

3.) I became a BaRgAiN sHoPpEr. 

I shopped at stores such as Marshalls and T.J. Max’s where I would find brand name clothes at a fraction of the cost.

4.) I WoRkEd My TaiL Off!!!

My school district would give teachers opportunities to work on projects during the school year and during the summer which I would sign up for.   I also taught night school, gave up my planning period to teach at our alternative school, coached, wrote curriculum, and taught summer school.

5.) I began SaViNg for my ReTiRmEnT.

To be perfectly honest, the amount of money I was saving up was very insignificant, but it was the best I could do and so I did it. 

When I finally got married after six years of teaching I had for the most part paid off all three credit cards and my car!!  It was such a great sense of accomplishment.

Yes, those days were lean, but they also developed much character in me.  I learned a lot of lessons about life.  One lesson I learned was being content.  I learned that I could absolutely love my life and yet not have many material possessions.  I was truly happy and I felt blessed.

If you are where I was at in my days of financial chaos and have a belt cinched tight around your neck, take one step towards financial freedom.  I promise as you do, your belt will loosen and little by little you will move toward financial freedom as well. 

~Robynn

P.S.  Want to read more about Financial Peace?  Check out DaVe RaMsEy’S book “Total Money Make Over”.

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