Sunday, October 13, 2013

Budgets and Financal Planning, UHHHGGGGGGGG!!!

So, I have working on a few projects lately. I have been trying to re-do our family budget and get some things paid off, I worked on the yard some, I have a container garden going for the fall, and still have a list of projects for church. The budget is what I have spent most of the last week on. I have downloaded free programs or trials, and in-put in my info, but yet none still meet my needs. One program wasn't easy to use, yet it had a great list of budget line items to keep track of everything, even regular gifts and Christmas gifts. So, I tried to print the report with all of the line items, it wouldn't print!
Over the years I have used lots of different programs and books. None ever met my needs exactly, so I would stop using them and let them fall away. The best things I ever did was just to use a pencil and notebook, but even that has it's downfalls. (My handwriting is almost as bad as my spelling!)
Years ago, we had a bank account with a small local bank. It was totally free checking, but they had no ATM/debit card. They plain checks were free and no limits on writing them. But, they did not process digitally, so Walmart couldn't take them. The lobby was open 9am to 5pm M-F & 9-Noon on Saturday's and the drive-thru was open 7-7, M-Saturday! The plus to this, you might over spend by writing checks, but you couldn't over spend by hitting the ATM or with a swipe of the card. Back then, things were tight for us. To avoid over spending, we decided not to write any checks. We spent only cash, went to the bank to withdraw funds and got money orders to pay the bills. We could only spend what we had in our pockets, if we didn't have enough and the bank was closed.... oh well!
I had set up an envelope system back then for the bills. I would write the bill name, due date, and amount on the outside. I would “fund” the envelope throughout the month, as I added or took away money, I keep a running balance. I also put the months down, as I paid for each month, I crossed it off so I knew when the payday came around if I needed to fund that envelope or not. If emergency repairs came up, I would go to the different envelopes and decide if we could borrow from it for that month. Yes, I had entertainment envelope and other extra's so borrowing from them was easy. We both knew where we stood financially all the time.
Now a days, we have all the bills being paid by bank draft automatically, it's sometimes hard to keep track of and remember when they are supposed to hit! On top of that, there a few bills being paid by check, so waiting for them to clear and checking the bank balance has become an everyday job. After keeping up with all of that, I found we have forgotten to budget for the extra's. We don't have much in the way of college savings for the boys. I also don't have much of an emergency fund. I try, but sometimes it just gets treated like an extra windfall of funds to do something fun with.
I have been working on different parts of our finances over the last year. We have been working on our credit ratings, and improving them. We have opened some new lines of credit, paid off the car, and now I need to get the FULL budget planned. I challenged my church family to up their personal tithe's, we are doing that as well. We have enjoyed our summer and paid the bills, but we did not really follow a budget. Now it's time to buckle down!
I still have to plan some more of the budget out, but at this point I am going to tell you, we are going to live very tightly for awhile, so we can be free to enjoy more later on! My goal is to have at least $2500.00 in the savings account at all times. Yes, that's a lot of money, but when an emergency hits it's usually close to $1000.00! Also, that will be enough to cover the bills for 1 or 2 months. We have some credit card debit and a few other loans we need to just pay off and get off the books. We need to start saving for a new/2nd car and would like to think about buying a house down the road. All of those we could get better rates and lower payments if we plan ahead and save for.
What financial challenge do you want to take on? Give yourself a goal for something, and make a plan to reach it. Small steps are just as good as large ones! Tell me about it, and I'll tell you about mine. I want to be held accountable and encouraged, I want to share in my celebrations. Put God first in these decisions and ask Him for direction, then listen and go for it. He will reward hard work.