Tag Archives: budget

Budgeting 101: Creating a Budget



Living on a budget is not something everybody does, but it is something that everyone should do.

As Dave Ramsey says, “If you don’t manage your money, your money will manage you”

For those ready to take control of their lives and their money, creating a budget is the first step.

Be intentional about getting started.  Don’t just let each day go by and see if time just happens to tap you on the shoulder and suggest that you sit down and do this.  Schedule a day and time that you can sit down for an hour, then follow these steps.


Step 1: Grab a pencil, some paper, a calculator and sit down at the table.

  • Use a pencil because you likely will need to so some erasing.
  • Lined paper would be helpful, but not necessary
  • Don’t sit on the couch in front of the TV.  Sit at the dinner table where you can focus.


Step 2: At the top, write down how much you make in a month.

  • This part can be tricky if your income is variable. There are multiple ways to budget with variable income.  For now pick an average of what you expect to make each month.


Step 3: Start making a list different places that your money goes each month.

  • Don’t worry about the amount spent on each item yet.  Just list everything that you can think of that your money goes to.
  • Start with the items that are essential to life first.

Examples of essential items

  • Tithing
  • Savings
  • Mortgage or Rent
  • Power or Electric
  • Food or Grocery (not dining)
  • Gas
  • Water
  • Gas
  • Phone/Internet/Cable
  • Auto insurance
  • Home insurance
  • Life insurance

Examples of non-essential items

  • School misc
  • Kids activities
  • Birthdays
  • Recreation
  • Dining
  • Kids allowance or commission
  • Clothes
  • Home maintenance
  • Music lesson
  • Dental
  • Eyecare
  • Medical
  • Retirement
  • Vacation
  • Christmas
  • etc…

The the non-essentials will look different for everyone, but it is is important to get everything that you can think of listed.


Step 4: Write a dollar amount beside each and every item

Some you will know and some you might have to estimate.


Step 5: Pick up the calculator and punch in the income number at the top of the page, then start subtracting each item from that number.

Most of us will run out of money before we get to the bottom of the list.


Step 6: Balance your budget by adjusting the numbers or items until all of the money is accounted for and your final number is 0.


In future posts I hope to go into more detail about why I listed things like vacations, birthdays and Christmas in the monthly item list.

I would also like to explain further why I think that tithing and saving are essential to life budget items.

For now…Have fun creating your budget.  It will feel good to take control of your money.

What Would You Do Without a Car Payment?


We have not had a car payment in close to 10 years and to be honest with you, we have kind of gotten used to it.
It’s hard to imagine having a car payment ever again and with proper budgeting, planning and faith in God, we hope that we never will.

Although a necessity in America, cars are not a good investment of your money and it handcuffs you financially.
If you have a car payment or two I challenge you to pay it off as quickly as possible and make a promise to yourself to never have another one.

Why? Because there is so much more that you can do with that money that can last a life time.

Take a moment and think of possibilities that could open up in your monthly budget.

What would you do without a car payment?

Here are a few things that we have been able to do.

  • Give the kids music lessons or take them yourself
  • Take martial arts such as Karate or TKD as a family
  • Start or add to a college fund
  • Start or add to a retirement account such as an IRA or 401k
  • Give to missions or other ministries in the church

If you have a moment, please take to time to comment and  share what you have been able to do or would do without a car payment.

7 Ways a Family can Eat Out for $20 or Less: Money Saving Tip # 4


Money Saving Tip # 4: The $20 challenge

As a family we do not eat out a lot, but when we do we search for places that we can eat for $20 or less.
Why $20?
While the kids were young it was easy to eat for $20 or less because they either ate free or could eat the from the kids menu, but as our boys have grown past the kids menu stage it has become increasingly difficult to eat out for $20 or less.
So my wife and I have made it a fun challenge to find ways to continue eating out without spending more than $20.

Here is a list of places that we have found to still work, even with teenagers.

1. Little Caesars
$5 pizza, $3 breadsticks

2. Fast Food Dollar Menu
You must stick to the dollar menu and order waters to drink.

3. Chinese Take Out

4. SubWay
Get $5 Foot longs and share

5. BBQ Take Out

6. Rotisserie Chicken and Veggies from the grocery store
$6 for the chicken and a little more for the veggies.

7. Fried chicken
KFC or Bojangles family deals

One thing that you may notice is that all of these places are take out.
I cannot think of a place to dine in with 2 teenagers and a 10 year old and still eat for less than $20.
If you know of a way or know of other ways to eat out on less than $20 please share.

Money Saving Tip # 3




Tip # 3: Workout at Home

I used to have a gym membership, but once the family started growing we began looking for ways to save money.

Gym memberships can cost anywhere from $10 to $40 per month plus the cost of gas to drive to and from the gym. Since every little bit counts I began researching ways to workout at home.

Here are a few ways that I have found over the years to get a great workout in at home.

  • Wii Fitness and other similar interactive games like it.
  • Walking or jogging
  • P90X
  • Body weight workouts (squats and push-ups)

Walking and body weight workouts have turned out to be my favorite.

I walk during my lunch hour at work nearly every week day.  Close to 3 miles in about 45 to 50 minutes.

The body weight workouts are really effective.  If you can control your own body, that is all that most people need to be in good shape.  Gymnasts are a perfect example.

I challenge you to try doing about 50 body squats in a row and give me a report the next day on how you feel.  I guarantee that, if you have not done it before, you will be walking gingerly for the next few days.  it only takes about 5 to 10 minutes to get a great body weight workout in and you will be wore out.

One of the best resources out there for body weight exercises can be found at http://www.combatconditioning.com.

You don’t need a gym to be healthy and in shape.   Workout at home and save some money.


What other home workout tips have you found to be effective?  Please leave a comment.

In case you may have missed them, here are links to Money Saving Tips 1 and 2.




Money Saving Tip # 2


Tip # 2: Skip the Barber

I am very fortunate to have a wife who is very conscious about where our money goes. She gets all the credit for this tip because she is the one who decided many years ago to save our family some money by cutting mine and our boy’s hair.

When you have 4 boys in the family, going to the barber every month can be expensive.
If the average cost of a haircut is $10, then we are saving $40 per month or $480 per year.
It is also much more convenient and your saving gas money.

This tip also applies for women.
My wife does not cut her hair, so there is no need for her to go to the salon.
Now, the reason she does not cut her hair has nothing to with saving money, but it sure is a nice benefit.
How much money do women that cut their hair spend each year?
I am not sure, but I hear it is much more than it costs for a guy.

If you take this advise be sure to tip your new family barber.

This is the continuation of a series on different ways that we, as a family, have learned to stretch the dollar.

The hope is that I can be of help to someone and, through comments and replies, learn from you as well. So please feel free to leave a comment with your own tips and at some point, with your permission, I would like to compile all the tips together in one resource to share with everyone.

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