The road to financial hell is paved with good budget intentions. One of my readers, Gabriela from Houston, and her friends inspired me to write the Budget Life series. When talking to her about money, she informed me that not only is it hard to create a budget if no one has ever taught you, but it is hard to stick to a budget.
Earlier this week, I reviewed No Excuses! The Power of Self-Discipline by Brian Tracy and we are going to apply some of those self-discipline principles to help you get back on track with your budget and stay on track. Welcome to the Budget Discipline Academy!
Start Getting Back On Track With Budget Discipline
First you need to recognize that you are off track. The way to do this is to track your budget. Tracking your budget is different from realizing that you have run out of money a few days before payday. Tracking your budget means that you first set a budget and then you compare your income and expenses to your budget on a daily or weekly basis to ensure you are sticking to your budget.
10 Ways to Get Back On Track With Budget Discipline
- Review Your Goals – When you started your budget, you did so with a goal in mind. What was it? Most likely, you wanted to save money for something. Keep that goal in mind. In fact, keep it front and center. Start everyday with reciting or writing your goals. Practice this budget discipline and it will be easier to stay on track with you budget so you can achieve your goals.
- Track Your Budget Daily – Track you budget daily and you will never stray too far because once you notice you are off track, you can make small adjustments to get back on track. Use a service like Mint.com that lets you download your transaction daily so you can keep track of your spending. Read More→
Do you make enough money? Do you spend enough time with your family? Are you where you thought you would be in your life? Are you frustrated enough to do something about it? If you are, No Excuses! The Power of Self-Discipline by Brian Tracy is the next book you should read.
Who Is This Book For - No Excuses! The Power of Self-Discipline by Brian Tracy Book
I was first introduced to Brian Tracy by reading his book, Eat That Frog (Time Management) three years ago and that book changed my life. After having a discussion with a co-worker about Brian Tracy a few weeks ago, I picked up No Excuses! The Power of Self-Discipline by Brian Tracy. Tracy’s style resonates well with busy parents. He is short, to the point, and gives you concrete steps to follow – a model I try to emulate here at www.5minutemoneytips.com. After reading No Excuses, I realized that this is one book that should be read by every college graduate the day after graduation.
What Will I Get From No Excuses by Brian Tracy
No Excuses! The Power of Self-Discipline by Brian Tracy is broken into three parts – self discipline for 1) personal success, 2) work and money, and 3) self, family and friends. Each chapter ends with series of action exercises. The following exercises are at the end of Chapter 1:
- If your work life and career were ideal, what would it look like? What one discipline could you develop to help you achieve it?
- If your family life were ideal, what would it look like? What one discipline could you develop to help you achieve it?
- If your health were perfect in every way, what would it look like? What one discipline could you develop to help you achieve it?
- If your financial situation were ideal, what would it look like? What one discipline could you develop to help you achieve it?
- Why aren’t you as successful as you want be? What one discipline would help you the most to achieve all you want?
- What one skill could you develop that could help you reach more of your goals?
- If you could waive a magic wand, and be completely disciplined in one area, which one discipline could have the greatest impact on your life?
What I Like Best About No Excuses
No Excuses! The Power of Self-Discipline by Brian Tracy is short and to the point. Read More→
After you have been married for several years, gifts take on a different flavor. I remember that for our first Christmas, my wife found a little Tiffany Blue Box under the tree. These days, we are a bit more practical and even buy gifts for ourselves. I’m not here to pass judgment, just give you some ideas.
Gifts For Yourself That Will Save You Money
Wi-Fi Thermostat - I’m a geek and love my gadgets. When my thermostat went out, I bought a wi-fi programmable thermostat from Honeywell. The key to saving you money is the programmable part. I can turn the AC or Heat off during the day while we are gone and have the house at just the right temperature when I walk in the door. If your thermostat breaks, replace it with a wi-fi programmable model. This Honeywell model comes with an app that allows you to control it from anywhere. Last year, I went on vacation and forgot to turn the thermostat down. I logged in from the road and set my thermostat. This capability saved me $30 on my electric bill that month…and it was flipping cool. Read More→
On this special Thanksgiving Day posting, I want to tell you why I am thankful this year and offer a side dish of advice.
- My Dad - I lost my Dad, Leighton Posey, this past year and I am very thankful for the all the love he gave me and lessons he taught me. Growing up, my five siblings and I were raised by a single mother. When my parents got married, my Dad not only took on a wife, but six kids as well. Yes, even I think he was a bit crazy for that. But my Dad also had the biggest heart and he taught us kids that hard work and giving back were the two staples of life. Every great memory I have of my Dad is when we were either working together or helping someone. Now that my Dad is in heaven, I feel like I can talk to him anytime. I love you Dad.
- My Mom - Being raised by a single mother for the first half of my life was a lot of fun. You would think that with all the stress she faced that every moment would be very tense. But it was not. My mom figured out how to spend time with each of us and make a ton of special memories. She took the end of the month when money was tight and threw toast and tea parties for us at dinnertime. She went shopping once a month and we all got a candy bar for helping put away the groceries. I even remember Friday nights where she would make each of us our own personal pizza and we would all sit down to watch Heart to Heart together. Mostly though, she taught me that you can be happy with very little and it does not take “stuff” to make you happy. To this day, my wife and I try to spend more money on doing something with our daughter rather than buying her something. Thanks for all the great memories Mom. Read More→
As your family grows each year, gifts can take on many different flavors. This year, resolve to buy gifts for your family that will save you money and bring you closer together. Here are 5 ideas.
5 Gifts For The Family That Will Save You Money
Amazon Prime Membership - My wife and I love Amazon Prime. We have a Roku player that allows us to watch free movies and television shows, we get free books on the Kindle, and Free two-day shipping. Let’s face it, you can find some good deals online, until you factor in the shipping. With Amazon Prime, you get the good deal, free shipping, and it arrives at your door two days later. When it comes to free movies, it has many of the same free streaming movies as Netflix, but it also has a fair amount of different movies making it a nice compliment to Netflix.
Board Games – Growing up, my siblings and I played lots of board games. We had the classics in the closet and played them often – Monopoly, Sorry, Candy Land, and cards. We spent more time with board games than any other toy. You can save money by replacing a night of eating out with the kids with a Frozen Pizza and a board game. You will save $40 on dinner and get to spend some quality time with your kids. Might I recommend Monopoly so you can teach your kids about money and investing. Read More→
Tis the season…for food drives. There are lots of needy families out there that need your help. The best thing you can do is to give, and give more. To do this, you need some ways to save money on groceries during food drives.
Growing up, my single mother raised six kids. Saying money was tight would be an understatement. Some of my favorite memories as a kid were the nights when we had toast and tea for dinner. My mom would make up as much toast as we could eat, some hot tea, and loads of homemade jelly. It was always delicious and a lot of fun. I was an adult in my mid 20s when I finally realized that those nights always came at the end of the month – when money was tightest. My mom was able to feed 6 kids for $2. During the holiday’s, we received many bags of food and presents. As a kid, food was food and presents were great. I did not give it a second thought.
Here are three ways you can save money during food drives so you can give more.
5 Ways To Save Money On Groceries
- Take Advantage of Buy One Get One (BOGOs) Free Sales – I just went to the grocery store today and Coco Krispies were Buy One Get One Free. I bought 4 boxes for $8. These are going to my daughter’s school with her for the food drive. What kid doesn’t like Coco Krispies?
- Use Coupons – If you are like me and my wife, you only clip coupons for items that you will buy or want to try? Ninety percent of the coupons go to waste in our house. Starting in October, start looking for great coupons that don’t expire until the end of the year. Even though you may not normally eat these items, it doesn’t mean that someone else would not be grateful to receive the gift. Read More→
In the Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen steals our hearts with her kindness and sole determination to survive. She volunteers as a tribute when her sister is chosen from a lottery to fight to the death in the Hunger Games. By making tough decisions, sacrifices, and helping others, she is able to triumph over her foes. For a budget nerd like myself, several parallels jump out at me between the movie and the budgeting process.
7 Lessons You Can Learn About Budgeting From The Hunger Games
- Show Restraint – All the tributes encircle a huge pile of weapons and supplies at the beginning of the game. They start by running to get their supplies and weapons. The best supplies and deadliest weapons are in the middle while other, less appealing weapons, are on the fringe. When you start your budget journey, you are going to see lots of shiny objects you can buy – the new car, boat, nights out with friends and more. They seem like they are worth fighting for because everyone wants them. However, if you are like Katniss and can resist the temptation, you can avoid the often devastating mistakes (debt) for which others fight. Read More→
Around this time of year, you have likely noticed your pastor talking more about money and giving. Tis the season – stewardship season that is. While he or she is talking about giving 10% of your income, you think to yourself, “Holy cow! That is a house payment or a tuition payment. How can I ever afford that?” These are good questions because 10% of your money is a lot. This is what goes through my mind. I am not yet to a 10% tithe, but I am working on it. This is one of my financial goals in life.
Today, we will address some questions you may have about tithing and then give you some practical ways you can strive to reach that 10% tithe.
Tithing Questions and Answers
- Do I give 10% of my gross income or net income? This is one of the most common questions I hear about tithing. The answer is that you ultimately want to give 10% of your gross income. However, if you are just starting or are not close to the 10% goal yet, then aim for net income. Once you hit net income, then raise your sights to gross income.
- Should I take a tax break on my tithe? I looked to Dave Ramsey for advice on this question. The answer is yes. The bible encourages us to be good stewards of our money and to invest it wisely. As John Wesley says, “Earn all you can, give all you can, save all you can”
- Can I take a break from tithing? There are times when money is tight. Read More→
This week in the Budget Life! series, we are going to continue our review of a pay stub. In the image above, you will see my pay stub details. I’ve scrambled many of the details, but you can see the main headings. Let’s get back to it.
Pay Stub Details – Deductions
Deductions are broken into two categories in your pay stub details, before tax and after tax. Before tax deductions are those are taken out of your pay check before Uncle Sam gets his hands on your money. After tax deductions mean that you pay taxes on it before it is deducted from your pay check. The advantage of before tax deductions is no taxes. Yippee!. However, after tax deductions are advantageous in the sense that you do not typically pay taxes on the benefit. I’ll explain more below.
- Day Care Reimbursement or Flex Spend Account (Before tax) – If you have to pay for child care or after school care, you can open a Day Care Reimbursement Account and reimburse yourself for those expenses. There is a maximum amount you can put into these accounts and they are a use it or lose it account – so do your homework first. Use it or lose it means that if you don’t use all the money by the end of the year, you will lose it. This year, I will have $3700 in child care expenses. My daughter was in daycare in the spring and that is 100% eligible. She went to summer camp and that was 100% eligible. We have her in a private school for Kindergarten. The tuition is not eligible but the after school care costs are eligible. If I were int eh 25% tax bracket, I would save $925 in federal income taxes.
- Transportation Flex Spend Accounts (Before Tax) – I used this type of account when I was a Financial Advisor and had to pay a monthly garage parking fee. It works the same way as the Day Care Reimbursement Account above. You put money in for transportation expenses, you request reimbursements based on eligible receipts, and your lose any money left over.
- Health Care or Medical Flex Spend Account (Before Tax) – The most common Flex Spend account is the Health Care Flex Spend Account, also known as a Medical FSA. These accounts allow for pretax contributions, use reimbursements (and sometimes debit cards) for eligible receipts and you lose the money if you don’t use it.
- Health Savings Account (Before Tax) – I like to think of a Health Savings Account or HSA as a Health Care IRA. It is similar to the Medical FSV in the sense that you put your money in before taxes and can only spend it on eligible items. The differences are 1) that you need to have a High Deductible Health Care plan (this means you have to pay a large amount of your medical costs before insurance will start paying – usually about $2,000 or more). The second difference is that you don’t lose your money at the end of the year. You can roll it over. That is something to get excited about.
- Health Care or Health Insurance (Before Tax) – With Obamacare, you must now have health insurance. In most cases, your employer is the best source to buy your insurance, but not always. It is always worth your time to check with an independent health insurance agent to see what your rates would be if you purchased insurance on your own. This can be the case if you are young and have no pre-existing conditions. Even though the money is pretax, you will not pay taxes on the health care benefits you receive.
- Read More→
I remember moving out of the house for the first time. I was so excited to have freedom and independence. I had good roots so I thought this would be easy. We were taught to be frugal by our Mother who could always make a dollar stretch. I had a budget in mind and knew what my bills were. I ate Ramen noodles. I shopped at the Dollar General Store to purchase my necessities.
As soon as I moved out, Murphy’s Law set in and my car needed repair. It was almost $200. I had spent my budgeted money for the month on bills and had blown the rest on my enjoying my independence. My car sat for two weeks until my next paycheck arrived. It took my whole paycheck. I also learned that you have to pay late fees if you don’t pay your rent and electric on time. I didn’t budget for that! The late fees turned my hill of debt into a mountain. That $200 emergency ending up costing me about the same in late fees. It took me several months to unbury myself.
What happens if you don’t teach your kids the importance of an emergency fund? That Play Station 3 you spent your hard earned money on for Christmas is now sitting at the pawn shop. Those credit card offers your child receives in the mail get activated and your kid has $2000 in credit card debt with a 26% interest rate. Your phone rings and you hear, “Mom and Dad, can I borrow $500. I promise I will pay you back.” What happens? You get sucked in.
So, how do you teach your kids to save for an emergency fund to use on that rainy day when Murphy comes knocking at the door? Read More→