5 Ways to Cure Financial Butterfingers

Whether you area teenager making a few dollars a week on household chores and babysitting, or a 20-something pulling in regular payckeck, you should be saving money and giving generously. The only way to do it is by not spending all you make.

When I was a teenager making money babysitting, teaching a handful of violin students, and doing seasonal landscaping, I started saving money. I saved a nice little pile, although it could have been more had I started budgeting sooner!

It is so easy to just earn it, then spend it. I mean, it’s fun, right? It’s enjoying the fruit of our labors! But there are some things even more fun than spending money on ourselves:

Giving Money to Others and Saving Money.

If you have ever struggled with overspending, and had trouble keeping your finances- even small amounts of cash- in line, I know the feeling! It is way to easy to let the money slip through our fingers instead of strategically placing it where it needs to go.

Today I want to share with you 5 Tips to Cure Financial Butterfingers:

  1. Track it! You must track every single dollar you earn and spend. This way you can look back and see where your money is actually going, and change your gameplan if need be.
  2. Watch the little expenses. Coffee is a big one for me. It is way too easy to stop by the coffee shop and grab a scrumptious drink. But the truth is, I can make my own delicious coffee at home. I choose to never buy coffee out unless I am meeting up with a friend, taking out a family member, or going for work (even that is limited, as the library also has free wifi and quiet.)
  3. Always pack lunch. When shopping, my mother taught me to always pack food. The RARE times we would actually get frosties at Wendy’s or lunch at Chik Fil A or a yogurt at the health food store were so much more special because they were not a regular occurrance! And we saved hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars as a family by nearly always packing food for traveling, shopping, and other outings. When I started working away from home as a teenager, I didn’t even entertain the idea of going to Subway for lunch like my employer sometimes did. I automatically packed lunch. Now, in my 8 years of working away (landscaping and hotel) I have never once bought lunch. I pack every single time. I would rather save my money to be able to take my mother out to a fancy restaurant for lunch, or give extra money to a missionary, or send a package to a friend, or put more money in investing.
  4. Create free experiences, outings, and gifts. Not every gift or special time has to cost money. You can give coupons for birthday gifts, etc. I am going to do an entire post on this next week, so stay tuned!
  5. If you are tempted, don’t go there! I absolutely love a certain consignment shop in the city near us. I used to go there often, but now I rarely go unless I have a specific item or list of items I need. It eliminates the temptation to buy un-needed things.

Well, I’m signing off for now, friends! What would you like me to write about next? I have posts on investing and giving coming up, but I am open to other ideas, as well!

-Allison

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Let’s Budget!

Ok so who all took the challenge to write down all spending and eliminate one spending weakness? I would really really love to hear from you gals (and guys!)

It’s finally time to start talking about budgeting, and boy am I ever excited about that! I am really hoping you dear people will chime in on the conversation and give me your feedback as I write. I want this to be a discussion, and to get all your ideas, thoughts, and questions.

So……how does a person budget?

Well first of all, there are a few different ways to do it. If you have a set weekly or monthly paycheck, you can decide on your budget and keep it the same every month. If your income varies, you can budget off the previous month’s income, and this means your budget varies by the month. Or…..one more option is to have the set budget even if your income varies.

I go with the third option, but it’s not a right or wrong thing! The important thing is that you figure out how much money you are making (hopefully you already have been keeping good records!) and set a budget off that, whether it varies by the month or no.

The idea is to spend less than you make. Never all, and NEVER more!

For in-depth information on budgeting, I highly recommend Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide to Money. This book is a very comprehensive on budgeting, and also contains valuable information on saving, investing, renting/buying, getting out of debt, etc. Reading Dave Ramsey’s books was part of what fueled my passion for finances in the first place.

How do I recommend budgeting? I am going to give an idea for a basic beginner’s budget plan:

Giving: 15%

Investing: 20%

Spending: 50%

Saving/Mission Trips/Emergency Fund: 15%

Now my personal budget percentages are different than that. But if your budget includes any debt payoff, or school bills, or even if you’re just pretty new at it all and spending less than 50% of what you make seems like hardly enough with all things considered, then this is a good place to start.

Also, just a disclaimer- I am primarily targeting single people living in a shared household (family or room-mate sharing grocery/rent/etc costs) with these posts. I fully understand that buying a house, and having a family, and things like that, do change the ball game here!

Here are a few thoughts on the different categories:

GIVING

I really recommend, no matter your financial situation, that you give at least 10% of your income no matter what! And to me, 10% isn’t even where it’s getting truly fun! I think giving is the most fun thing we can possibly do with our income, so why not give alot more than just 10%?

INVESTING

Wayyyyy too many young people don’t even think about investing. This is really sad to me, because the prime time to do this is when you’re young and don’t have as many financial responsibilities. Children are a blessing, but they cost money! Same with marriage, and buying a house, and all those things. If you’re single and blessed with cheap housing, you have absolutely no excuse to not be investing a percentage of your income every single month. No one really does have an excuse to not invest, but especially not you.

It is a discipline, and I can’t wait to do a whole post on this! I absolutely love having monthly investing set up where the money comes out of my bank account every single month without fail. Most months I don’t even think about it. And the rewards down the road are mind-blowing! But I am saving that for a whole ‘nother post.:)

SPENDING

You kinda gotta spend to live. Just make sure you’re spending smart. There are so many ways to save money and spend less. Like buying your meal w/out sides/dessert/drink. Or only shopping when you have a list of things you need. Or buying a cheaper, older, used phone instead of the newest version. And so many other ways to bring your spending down.

Ok, so I have a story on this…..the other weekend when my brothers were all getting married (ok, not all 6 of them, just half of the 6:), I was trying to figure out details for my two different bridesmaid outfits. I had planned to stop at Dollar General after work the day before the first wedding, and pick up some new nail polish. Well, I got to the store and started looking at the selection. And thinking.:) I knew there was some polish at home that would work. I just wanted a certain shade, and to buy a new nail polish. But when I looked at the price tag ($2), and started thinking about how valuable that $2 really was, plus the fact that what was at the store wasn’t that much more amazing than the stuff in my bathroom at home, I walked away.

Guess what? By the time I’m 50 years old, that money, invested at 8% interest, will be worth $35. Yeah….the nail polish isn’t really worth it.:)

And it gets even better! That $2 could also make a significant difference in funding Arabic Bibles needed in teh Middle East right now. Click here to donate with a reputable and Godpel-centered ministry.

SAVING/MISSION TRIP/EMERGENCY FUND

This one is pretty great. I think it’s a great idea to have extra money set aside for car breakdowns, a last minute missions trip, etc. While I (along with Dave Ramsey) recommend putting the bulk of your non-spending/giving money in investments that will give you some return, it is smart to have a chunk easily available for the aforementioned things. Just make sure you aren’t accessing it for random spending sprees! That definitely doesn’t qualify!

My fund of this type would also be used for spending budget if I took off work for a mission trip, or travel expenses for said mission trip, etc. While you can figure this into your regular budget, I figure that because these things aren’t very predictable or regular, and I pray over them and am not spending the money impulsively, it works better to take it out of a special savings fund and thus keep my “personal monthly spending” budget lower.

Thanks for joining me today! I look forward to chatting with ya’ll in the comment section!

-Allison

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Why Should Girls Be Good With Money?

Before getting into the nitty gritty of saving, budgeting, and investing (starting next week), I want to lay the foundation for why I believe it is crucial for women to learn how to handle finances REALLY well when they are young.

Who you are when you’re young lays the foundation for who you are 20 years down the road.

Would you want to be raising a family, or buying a house, or getting ready to be a missionary in Africa, with your current financial habits?

If the answer is no, then you need to buckle down and get to work. You may not be raising a family, or buying a house, or moving to Africa today. But you very likely will be doing one of those things down the road.

Here are some reasons every girl should learn to be smart with money NOW:

To Bless Her Future Husband

If you get married, it will be a serious blessing to your husband to have a wife who already knows how to handle finances really well. He won’t have to teach you how to make and live on a budget. You can help with his business if he has one, as well as contributing help and ideas in your finances as a couple.

If you started saving money as a single girl, you will have a blessing to bring to your husband! Whatever money you have saved will doubtless be very much appreciated! Most young couples have a lot of expenses in the first five years- housing, furniture, vehicles, babies, insurance, etc and having a significant chunk of savings will greatly benefit you and your husband as you start your household.

To Be Prepared for Her Remaining Single Years

If you end up being single for years (or forever), you will be prepared to be a responsible citizen who can take care of herself. Think down the road- if you are single at 40, will you be be prepared to buy a house, or will you be renting a little apartment barely making ends meet? Girls, just because your parents provide housing, food, and a car now doesn’t mean it will be that way forever. You might be single a little longer than you anticipate, and it’s wise to be prepared to care for yourself.

I know that marriage is God’s will for most girls at some point, but I also know that many end up being single into their 20’s or 30’s, and it is wise to have a plan for that!

I have personal goals for my finances down the road. Obviously, when I get married, those goals will be modified to fit my husband’s, but I don’t want to handle my finances haphazardly in the meantime. I would encourage girls to make financial goals yearly, as well as for 5 and 10 years down the road. These are not to be held onto with an iron grip if the Lord has something completely different in mind (like giving up your paycheck to do missions for a year), but for me I find that these goals help to keep me on track and lazer-focused on being frugal and future-minded in a season of life when I could totally “live for today” in my finances.

To Put Herself into a Position to be Available for Mission Work

If the Lord calls you to the mission field, or even to short term mission work, and you have been saving and investing previously, you won’t be starting from scratch with raising support.

When I lived in Mexico last fall doing mission work, I was fully prepared to take off six weeks of work (thus eliminating my paycheck), and pay for my own ticket and living expenses while I was gone. All that using extra money in the bank and not dipping into my investments. I don’t share this to elevate myself, but to encourage you girls to start learning and saving now so that if the Lord brings you an opportunity to do missions work you are financially prepared.

To Have Money for Unforeseen Expenses

I have had friends who needed to pay for part or all of their wedding. If your parents aren’t able to help much or at all with wedding expenses, it is wise to be prepared. Sure, you can go super simple and spend very little, but if you have a wedding their will be at least some expenses.

Consider this, too- if there is something like, say, a really good photographer, that is important to you but doesn’t fit the wedding budget your parents give, you will be ready to pay for it out of pocket if you have extra money in savings.

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Step #2: Stop Over-Spending

Guess what?! You can read all the finance books in the world, and go to all the investing seminars, and buy all the fancy budget apps and tools, and more. But unless you have learned this one thing, it won’t amount to a hill of beans.

You have to stop spending so much.

Far too many of my generation don’t even know what it means to budget.

The majority of guys spend more on their trucks and phones every month than saving for their future family. They don’t have a plan for how to buy a house and provide for a family on their current income since most of it gets spent immediately.

Way too many girls don’t even save anything, because they assume that they don’t need to save for the future. They don’t even consider putting away a portion of their money instead of spending it all. When they want to buy something, they do. When they want to travel somewhere, they go. When they want college or courses or missions trips they sign up whether or not it will drain their bank account (if the money is even there).

Now, obviously, the above statements are general and not true of all young people. But in general, it’s more this way than that young people are frugal, wise, and goal-oriented with their money.

“It’s not your salary that makes you rich. It’s your spending habits.” -Charles A. Jaffe

If you live in American, you have the opportunity to be rich, and you don’t have to be making six figures to do it.

Too many people live with the mentality that they have to make more money in order to save. They think it’s only “rich” people that invest in mutual funds.

People think the more money they make, the more money they will have. It’s simply now true. There are broke people making millions and financially prepared and secure people making a very modest amount. What’s the difference?

It IS NOT about what you make.

It’s about how you spend.

Here are two practical tips to start cleaning up your spending habits TODAY:

  1. Write down everything you spend. (this will come in handy later when we talk about budgeting.)
  2. Think about one unnecessary thing you spend money on, and cut it out for at least a week. A few ideas would be music downloads, clothes (hello girls!!!!), coffee, or going out to eat. Don’t worry, you’ll live without it!

Thanks for all the comments and feedback, ya’ll! Know that I read every one and keep filing away your ideas and questions as I continue with this series. Let me know if you have a specific question or money topic you would like to see addressed. 

-Allison

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Step #1: Take Responsibility for Your Finances

Hey friends! I am kickin’ off this new series by starting at what I believe to be Step #1 when it comes to this whole thing of finances:

Take Responsibility for Your Finances.

I’m tired of young people complaining about not having enough money to pay their bills.

I think it’s a crying shame that it’s normal for teenagers to beg for money to go on mission trips! What happened to good ole’ fashioned summer jobs to save money?

And how about ADULTS (which everyone should be by the age of 18) expecting their parents to pay for their college? Ridiculous.

Let’s bring it a little closer to home…….I see no reason why ANY child or adult should not be responsible for their own cell phone. If you’re old enough to have one, you’re old enough to pay for it. Now I understand that some parents work out deals with their kids (or adult children) to exchange work for the cell phone bill. I’m not talking about that. I am talking about free loading.

We are a generation of financially irresponsible young people, and no one is exempt. If nothing else, we prove our financial irresponsibility by failing to plan and save for the future. It’s time for a change. We need to see the imperative necessity of knowing how to handle money well NOW.

It is time for young people, and that includes young women, to realize that their paycheck should not all be spent. First of all, they need to have a paycheck. Secondly, it needs to be budgeted and spent, saved, and given accordingly.

Regularly putting money into saving and investing is a habit learned through diligence.

Saving more than you spend takes self denial.

Being a generous giver isn’t automatic.

Getting up every day (instead of hitting snooze) to go to work takes discipline.

As we start this series, I want to challenge you:

Decide that you are going to be financially responsible. Today is the day. START NOW.

Do you want to have extra money on hand to be able to spontaneously give to others? Do you want to always have the money to pay your bills and only spend extra only when the money is in your budget? Do you want to save for the future? Do you want to be able to spend for special things that are important to you?

You can do all this and more, but I promise you it won’t be easy.

It’s going to take discipline, hard work, and good ole’ fashioned grit.

And if you’re a teenage girl thinking, “how can I save any amount of money when I make so little?” or a twenty-something wondering, “is it really possible to have this kind of financial freedom when I have so many bills to pay?”, let me encourage you with this:

You don’t have to make big money to save big money.

You have to have an iron will that you will be financially responsible whether or not you were taught or showed how.

You have to know that YOU ALONE determine whether or not you succeed.

And then, you have to be committed to the principles that will bring about that success.

I close with this quote, “There are not shortcuts to anywhere worth going.” -Beverly Sills

-Allison

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