Monthly Archives

January 2015

Money

The February Budget Breakdown

January 31, 2015

Here it is friends.

The FIRST budget breakdown post.

These are meant to help all you budgeting peeps have some accountability and encouragement.

In these posts we will write up typical expenses that may get overlooked for the particular month. Then we have a photo link up portion where YOU can upload a photo of your budget committee meeting for the month! The link up is meant to be a source of accountability and fun. Budgeting isn’t the most thrilling activity out there…but when you can take a creative selfie along with it? It becomes MUCH more entertaining. 🙂

So besides the obvi expenses for the month of February (food, lights, water, shelter, etc.) what else might you anticipate at your budget meeting?

  • Super BowlXLIX
    • Food for your party, etc
  • Valentine’s Day
    • Gifts for family members
    • Parties, decorations, etc
  • Items you might run out of this month (toilet paper, paper towels, dishwasher or clothing detergent, shampoo, face wash, etc)
  • Expenses Related to Taxes
    • Accountant/CPA/Tax Preparer
    • Turbo Tax, etc
    • E-Filing Fees
  • Winter clothing needs
  • Small pick-me-ups to ward off Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) aka the winter blues
  • Vitamins or supplements that are typically on sale during the winter months
  • Insurance premiums
    • Auto, Home, Life, etc

Perhaps some of those will apply to you and others won’t. Those are all expenses we are experiencing this month that are out of the ordinary that need space in our budget. For some of those bigger expenses like auto and life insurance premiums, we’ve set up what’s called a sinking fund. Since those expenses are almost always the same and we know they come up annually or bi-annually, we put money away in our budget monthly for them. Then when it’s time to pay the expense, money has been accruing all the other months of the year so it’s not such a deep hit on the month the expense occurs.

Now, it’s time for the fun!

Give us your best budgeting selfie and be as creative and out-of-the-box as you want! 🙂 I admit we look terrible in our photo but let’s be honest – that’s how we look on Saturday mornings before we’ve showered for the day. You’re getting us as real as it gets.

[inlinkz_linkup id=491644 mode=1]

Intentional Living, Money

How To Make a Budget

January 26, 2015

In the past we’ve discussed why you need a budget.

We’ve also discussed how to derail your budget.

But we have not discussed HOW to make a budget. Probably should have done that first.

Whoops.

Here we are though, getting back on track and here to provide you with the practical tips on how to create a budget. This will be especially helpful if you are new to the world of budgeting or if you are trying to budget but end up confused and unable to keep up with it. I plan to post a lot of links to Dave Ramsey articles on this subject so you have more resources for motivation and inspiration.

So, how do you make a budget?

1. Income

First things first, you need to know your income so you can allocate it properly.

This includes things like paychecks, freelance work, child support, interest, birthday or holiday money, and side jobs. Any money that comes TO you is part of your monthly income to budget. It might be irregular and that is OK. It may be slightly trickier for you to gather up and predict your monthly income but it won’t be harder when it comes to the actual budgeting process.

Some of you get paid twice a month and will create a budget twice a month. Or however often you get paid you will make a budget for that payroll period until the next one.

For us, we only wanted to create a budget once a month. We simply combine paychecks from the 15th of the prior month with the paycheck on the 1st of the current month to create our new monthly budget. That way we have a month worth of income to meet a month worth of expenses.

2. Outflow

The next part is to know what your actual expenses are.

Who do you pay every month? How much is your rent? What do you have set up on auto withdraw you aren’t even aware of? Basically, where are you spending your money?

Knowing how and where you spend your money is vital to creating a budget since you know where you need to allocate funds.

 3. Get a Head Start

In order to walk into February with a complete budget, you need to do some advance preparation. The last thing you want is to have an incomplete budget and to spend money un-tracked for several days before you get down to budgeting for the month. It derails the budget and defeats your overall goal.

For example, we are going to host a new budget link-up for the month of February. All you cool cats who create a February budget will have a chance to photograph your budgeting in action and upload it to our blog for accountability. Cool huh?

BUT in order to join in the fun, you will likely need to have spent time working your budget a few days in advance.

4. Host a Budget Committee Meeting

If you’re single, you are the only one who needs to be in attendance for this meeting. If you’re married, BOTH spouses must be present to agree on the written game-plan for the month.

To save time, I typically prepare the budget for what I think looks about right for the month. Then Jonathan and I have our meeting. We go over the budget together and he has the freedom to ask questions, insert changes, or propose a reallocation of funds. Then at the end of the meeting we review everything once more and verbally agree to it.

5. Zero-Based

This is the part I think people get confused about.

Many people feel successful if they budget out the month and then have extra left over. That means the budget wasn’t zero-based.

Zero-based budgeting means every dollar has a job. You want to assign all your money into a category, so that at the end of budgeting, you have no money left to allocate anywhere. It’s either working for you in savings, gas, groceries, tithe, etc. Money that doesn’t get a job will blow out of your hands fast!

This is where you want to have a budgeting tool for help as you create the zero-based budget. The most important things get funded first – food, lights, water, shelter, and basic transportation. Then you work your way down the list assigning money to various categories in the budget until you reach zero.

Whatever Baby Step you’re on will impact how you budget dramatically. Are you in the first two steps? Then your budget will be pretty bare bones and your goal is to get that “debt snowball” category as fat as possible. Perhaps you are in the middle baby steps, so you will likely be saving a lot of your monthly income and the reins will be looser in lifestyle categories. Or maybe you’re in Baby Step 7!! At that point you can do whatever you want with your budget since you literally owe no money to anyone, not even on your house.

6. Staying On Budget

This is where your budget will sink or swim.

You have to consult your budget and track your spending throughout the month. You can’t just create a pie in the sky budget on the first of the month and then let all hell break loose. You have to steer the ship or your lack thereof will steer you into financial ruin and perpetual disorganization.

Dave Ramsey has some simple tools to help with this. There are like a million budgeting apps you can download. We use YNAB – You Need a Budget and are absolutely in love with it. Budgeting has literally never been easier for us but we went months in our early days of doing pen and paper tracking with cash envelopes to build discipline into ourselves.

7. Roll With the Punches

In your first few budgets, you will learn that you grossly underfunded particular categories and overfunded others.

This is OK.

You have the ability to rework the budget during the month if that’s what needs to happen. You can assess that you won’t be using as much money over in gas for example so you can shift the extra over to groceries or the forgotten birthday gift for your brother.

Just don’t make a habit of this. Over time you should be getting better at making a budget so that eventually you will need to readjust next to never since you are a master at knowing your expenses and what you spend in particular months.

There you have it, friends. Some tips, tricks, and pointers on HOW to get budgeting!

Join us here at True Good and Beautiful at the beginning of February for our NEW budget link up!

Happy budgeting! 🙂

 


Photo for this post CC-BY-2.0 Jacob Edward. Filter, title, and logo added.

Adoption, Infertility

How Motherhood Changed My Infertility

January 19, 2015

Many of you are probably waiting to hear what I have to say about this topic. Especially my fellow gals deep in the trenches of infertility.

Here’s the short answer:

Motherhood hasn’t physically changed anything about my infertility…but it has completely changed the way in which it affects me.

As soon as Josie made her entrance into the world, everything in my entire life shifted and changed for her. My days and nights have been consumed with being her mother ever since her birth.

I anticipated that change. What I didn’t expect was how I would feel towards our battle with infertility.

How is it different, you ask?

1. Infertility Amnesia

I NEVER thought I would be capable of forgetting the lowest of low days of our infertility journey but it’s happened.

They seem like a distant fog now.

How can the pain of waiting 3 years for children vanish overnight? Surely it’s due to the fact that I am now completely consumed in my daily endeavors with caring for a tiny human…but I also know it’s because a deep part of me has been fulfilled in motherhood. Being a mom is amazing. So amazing that I’ve literally forgotten the horrible, no good, very bad days on my way to this place.

2. No Pressure

I used to feel incredible amounts of pressure to make sure I was doing all I could possibly do to try to conceive a baby. It was truly exhausting.

Now, I don’t feel any pressure whatsoever. Our desires have been met with this precious gift named Josephine and we are content. Sure, I want her to have siblings someday but I am not worried about it for now.

I’ve been released of the pressure to ever have biological children. Adoption has changed that for me. I do not care at all about having a pregnancy or birthing a child. I am so happy with adoption and the way it’s blessed our family that I am totally fine with this being the avenue our family grows.

Someday when we actively try to conceive again, it will inevitably be different because it’s no longer the “only” way to expand our family. Thank goodness because it may never happen that way for us. Whew!

3. Jealous No More

Boy oh boy did I get jealous of other women who conceived babies easily…especially if they also couldn’t appreciate the struggle I was going through and made crazy insensitive remarks.

After becoming a mommy myself, jealousy sort of faded away. Motherhood is SO VERY HARD and I now appreciate other moms in a way I never had before. I used to sit back and envy the “perfect catholic family” with 6+ kids and now I can relate to that mother’s very real glorious struggle. She is no longer my enemy or the woman I look at with green eyes.

It’s as if something happened in my heart after Josie was born…like I suddenly understood that God grows each individual family differently and I need to be content with mine just like every other family needs to be with theirs. A grace from above for sure!!!

Now…I am very aware that I am in the early phases of motherhood. As Josie grows I will absolutely want siblings for her. I will undoubtedly watch the women who’ve had kiddos close to Josie’s age go on to conceive and have more children before we have more children. I can see how jealousy could creep back in over time but I just don’t think it will ever grip my heart the way it once did.

4. Hindsight

You know that old phase, “Hindsight is 20/20?”

I feel it’s so true with becoming a mom and looking back on our journey through infertility. Our circumstances changed literally overnight with becoming parent’s and it was as if in the same fell swoop, we all of a sudden could look back and make sense of infertility.

If we hadn’t gone through it…we wouldn’t have been where we needed to be when we were asked to be Josephine’s parents. For that, I wouldn’t trade anything, so infertility all of a sudden became the road that lead us to her! In some way I was glad we went down that path and allowed God to grow, stretch, and prepare us in our sufferings for those 3 years.

I also was able to look back and finally appreciate all the incredible things Jonathan and I were able to do and accomplish in our days before becoming parents. We traveled, dated regularly, slept-in, became debt free, got actively involved in our community, spent lots of time with friends and family, etc.

The freedom I never wanted due to infertility was now something I look back and appreciate. I only wished I could have seen it for the gift it was in the present moment while I was going through it…but of course I didn’t have that deep of trust in Our Lord’s providence to do that! 🙂

I would love to hear from others who’ve gone down this similar path of infertility and finally “crossing over” to motherhood. Let me know if anything I’ve said resonated with you or if you have other insights into how being a mom has changed how infertility affects you.

If that isn’t your experience, feel free to ask any questions you’ve got down in the comments or by contacting me!

Money

5 Ways To Derail Your Budget

January 13, 2015

Some of you are new to the world of budgeting.

Perhaps it was a New Year’s Resolution of yours. We’re about two weeks into January so by now you’ve either nailed it, completely forgotten about it, or crashed and burned hard.

No matter where you are with budgeting, I want to share with you five ways you’ll be thrown off course as you learn how to make it a habit in your life.

1. Pretend You’re a Pro

You will mess up your first few budgets. If you walk into budgeting acting like a pro and expect perfection, you are setting yourself up for failure.

How can you be excellent at something you’ve never done before? You can’t. We’re all human. Do your best and give budgeting all the effort it deserves…but inevitably as you discover you underfunded/overfunded/totally forgot certain items to budget for you need to cut yourself some slack. You can get back on the saddle and get it more right the next round.

And the next round.

And the next…until you are a true budgeting pro.

2. Forget About Tracking

If you are one of those people who plans to mentally keep track of your budget as you go through the month, you’re crazy.

You won’t do it.

Especially if you are married and you not only have to keep track of your own spending but that of another spouse’s spending.

Not. Gonna. Happen.

You need a way to track how you are spending money from your budget each month. I don’t care how you do it but you need something other than your fleeting memory. Paper and pen. Budgeting Apps. Dave Ramsey Gazelle Budget website. YNAB – You Need a Budget software.

Something. Anything.

In the beginning we were pen and paper people. We tracked on the back of every envelope how much was spent from it and the various purchases. This worked but man did it get old. We then switched to Dave Ramsey’s Gazelle Budget but it was a pain in the rear to have to save receipts from the day and then enter them one by one into the budget every evening. That’s when we got YNAB software and we’ve never looked back. Jonathan and I can spend from the budget and track it throughout the day on our phones. It then auto syncs in the cloud so our budget is up to date at all moments. Love it!

3. Don’t Consult it Before Purchasing

If you show up at the grocery store or and begin to just place items in your cart without first checking your budget, you will bust your budget quicker than the speed of light. Or agree to go to the movies without first checking in with what the Entertainment category has left in it.

The budget is meant to be a guide and not a noose. By checking in with what you’ve set aside in varying categories, you are giving yourself freedom to make wise choices with how you planned to spend money that month. You free yourself to say “yes” or “no” to whatever items or activity has come up based on what amount is left in the budget for that particular category.

By consulting the budget, you won’t end up accidentally overspending your gas money on one too nights out at the movies.

4. Be Ashamed of the “B” Word

In the world of responsible budgeting, a common phrase would be, “Let me check the budget” prior to spending money. This phrase can be really hard to use when in the company of other people and typically invokes great fear or shame.

I remember in the early days of our journey to financial freedom, it was late in the month and friends we were hanging out with asked us to go to a movie that night. We honestly didn’t know what we had left in our “entertainment” category for the month since we’d already done a few fun things in the previous weeks. Jonathan looked at me and said, “Is it in the budget,” and I got completely embarrassed.

I shouldn’t of felt anything negative since budgets are not a matter to be ashamed of. We had other priorities and going to the movies wasn’t top if we didn’t have the funds available for it. Much to our disappointment, we had already depleted our entertainment budget for the month and turned the friends down. Thankfully they were very understanding but even if they hadn’t been we didn’t need to feel anything but confidence.

5. Over-complicate Things

Lastly, one way to get derailed in the budgeting process is to make things so complicated that even you, the budget creator, can’t tell how or where to categorize things.

There is a tendency to create way too many categories in one’s budget. You don’t have to budget for shampoo. Budget for toiletries. You don’t have to budget for an occasional magazine. Budget personal blow money. You don’t have to budget for Netflix. Budget for entertainment.

You get the idea. Finding ways to bring lots of different expenses under common categories will simplify your life. Think general and make categories for those commonly occurring expenses. Those smaller ones that come up only a couple times a year can find a home in one of your general categories. We even have a “miscellaneous” category for things like stamps, Amazon Prime, and the random items that come up every now and again that need a home in our budget.

If you over complicate the budget, you won’t stick to the budget.

Hopefully you can avoid the common ways to derail your budget this year!

I think the number one reason people don’t stick to a budget is lack of accountability and support. Starting next month we will begin providing some form of budget accountability. We’re still figuring our the logistics…will it be a link-up? A photo? A hashtag? Some combination of those? We are working out the details but starting February 1, 2015 we are here to support and encourage all of you trying to stick to a budget this year!

Hope you can join us!

Marriage, Mission, Money

New Here? Allow Us to Introduce Ourselves

January 9, 2015

Today Amanda guest posted on The Dave Ramsey Blog.

We’d be totally fooling you if I didn’t tell you that we are SO FREAKING PUMPED about this!!! We are basically giddy school girls jumping up and down, thrilled at this opportunity. We are happy to share the story about our path to financial peace and honored to have it available to Dave’s readers.

Many of you are probably visiting us here at True Good & Beautiful for the very first time today.

Welcome!

We want to take a minute and share with you who we are and how you can join us more regularly if you like what you see on Dave’s blog.

Here at True Good & Beautiful, we write about couple different topics:

  • Money

We are Dave Ramsey lovers. Whatever he says goes in this house! In this section you can read the longer version of our journey to financial peace as well as how we used Dave’s principles in the home buying process.

  • Mission

We are also in love with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and His Church. We are missionaries with FOCUS – Fellowship of Catholic University Students. In this section you can read about our missionary adventures in addition to how we are trying to live as Christian disciples in the modern world.

  • Marriage

What can we say, we love the vocation of Holy Matrimony and are thankful for the gift it is from above. In this section you can read about our love story and the ways in which we intentionally work on growing our relationship as the months and years go by.

  • More

There are a few other topics we write about here at True Good & Beautiful – Infertility, Adoption, Parenting, and Intentional Living.

Despite writing about a variety of subjects, everything we post stems back to truth, goodness, and beauty. We believe that anything that relates to these core transcendentals is worth writing about, since they link our earthly reality with heavenly realty. Our tagline – thrive in what matters most is our ultimate purpose here.

Lastly, we love our readers and want to stay engaged and connected with you! Sign up for our posts to arrive directly in your inbox on the top right of this page. Or connect with us on social media below:

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Thanks again for taking the time to check us out and we hope to see you around!

Intentional Living, Money

3 Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill in 2015

January 8, 2015

That grocery bill tho!

It’s one of the hardest categories to control in your budget without high levels of intentionality…and that’s what I want to discuss here today.

It’s time to get intentional about your grocery spending and reduce that category in 2015.

1. Meal Planning

I don’t want to admit it but more often than not, I wandered into the grocery store the past several months without a game plan.

This resulted in a higher incidence of impulse purchases…I can’t resist those chocolate covered peanut clusters at Sprouts if I don’t have a handy dandy grocery list in hand.

It also led to buying random items that didn’t necessarily make a week worth of meals, so I ended up being at the grocery store making impulse purchases more frequently. It left me feeling like we never had any food in the house since I bought tons of groceries but none of it necessarily went together. Last but not least, it left me throwing out spoiled food since I would buy things and never know what night I was cooking it or with what foods I was pairing it with.

Ugh.

Why wasn’t I using eMeals, the meal planning service being SENT to my phone app weekly?

Laziness.

How could I be so lazy as to not use the pre-made plan being sent to me weekly? I have no clue. Can I blame the adoption? 🙂

I am jumping back on the wagon and committed to reigning things in this year. To my delight, eMeals just sent me an email all about their NEW plan – Budget Friendly. That sounds like my kind of plan.

Below is a sample recipe from their latest plan:

Smoky Chili

1½ lb ground beef
½ (9.6-oz) pkg ground pork sausage
1 cup chopped onion
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1½ cups homemade chicken broth
2 (15-oz) cans tomato sauce
1 (15.5-oz) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
½ (15-oz) can corn, drained
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp liquid smoke
 
Cook ground beef, sausage, onion and bell pepper in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until meat is browned and crumbly; drain. Stir in broth and all remaining ingredients; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Head over to eMeals for your 14-day Free Trial and check out all the plans they have to offer.

Do yourself a favor and meal plan in 2015. It will make a massive difference in your grocery bill and significantly reduce waste, trust me.

2. Couponing & Price Matching

Have you heard about Grocery Smarts?

If I am going to coupon, it HAS to be easy. I don’t have time to search and scan all the ads and my coupons from the Sunday paper.

That’s where Grocery Smarts comes in handy. I literally tell it what state I am located in and then select the stores I shop at and it shows me what items are on sale, how hot of a sale it is, what coupons I can combine with the sale, and the final estimated cost of the item.

All I have to do then is find the coupon in my paper ads or print it from online.

As for price matching, you can absolutely bring all the ads with you to your favorite grocery store and price match at the checkout counter. We’ve also been using Walmart’s savings catcher and they more or less do the price matching for us and give the savings back to us on a Walmart gift card.

3. Staying on Budget

Last and absolutely not least…a way to reduce your grocery spending is to set a realistic budget for you and/or your family and then STICK TO IT!

This can be the hardest part but it’s vital to actually bringing more order and control to this area of your life. Once you know your budget, meal plan around it, and then have a system in place to hold you accountable.

Cash envelopes are pretty darn hard to argue with. When the money is gone, it’s gone.

We use YNAB – You Need a Budget software and are totally in love with it. Every time we are at the grocery store, we immediately pull out our phones first to consult the budget and determine how much is left in groceries for the month. At checkout, we then enter in the grocery store and amount spent..and seconds later our budget auto syncs to let us know what’s left in the grocery category.

So simple.

You can sign up for a FREE 31-day trial with YNAB or use this link to get $6.00 off if you do decide to purchase it.

I hope these tips are helpful to you for not only saving time but lots of money in 2015. We all have bigger goals than the grocery bill on any given month so freeing this category up will allow you to hit some other milestones in your budget!