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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Keepin' My Money Tuesday

This is a first post of many I hope ...
This is how I'm keepin' my money. :)

I AM NOT A GURU. - (I hope you are not shocked!)
Although I have learned how to play the drugstore game and I am a pretty good coupon clipper, I do not have all the answers to all things frugal.

I am learning to live on less. I am learning to be frugal. I am learning to prioritize. I am learning to determine needs from wants. I learning to depend on GOD (I've been doing this all my life - but I mean REALLY lean on him). I learning to be wise with what I am given. I am learning how to best pay off my debt (yes I have DEBT). I am learning how to determine what I am willing to sacrifice and what I am not.

First, I have a "budget."
Now least you be confused - it is not on paper. It is paying bills and limiting what I am spending other than that which is fixed. Boo! Hiss! I can hear you now.

So, I am going to do better. I am putting the pen to paper and I am going to WRITE a budget. I have been looking into this a LOT. I have tried many times and every time its seems too cumbersome. Every time I see that I am doing what I have already been doing - only adding an extra step. So...I am going to give it one more try. For me it is about putting my expenses on paper so I can determine where I can cut, and if I'll ever be able to be a stay at home mom - full or part time.

Here are a a few articles that I have read and have helped tremendously.

"10 Easy Ways to Stay in Debt," by I've Paid For This Twice Already.

"Budgeting for Dummies: Part 1," by I've Paid For This Twice Already.
(Scroll down all the way to the bottom of the article and also read Part 2 & 3).

and for those of you trying to figure out if you can stay home - like me.
Read this one:
"Can You Live on One Income? Its Worth a Try," by Laura Rowley at Yahoo Finance.
I like the little calculator link where you can actually calculate if you can afford to stay home.

So ... off I go! I hope you will join me on this frugal adventure of learning how to "Keep Your Money." This post seemed like the first step. However, I will be posting more on things I AM GOOD at that have saved me money - unlike budgeting. I know ... I know... you're so disappointed!

If you are like me and you are just starting this journey...leave a comment and let me know how it is going.

If you are a savvy budgeter leave me a comment too! Maybe an article or a tool that you have found helpful. This could help us "newbies."

Last, leave a comment if you have questions or comments about posts you would like to see on "Keepin' My Money Tuesday." - Be it ideas for the next posts like "How do you... " or "What have you found that...." etc. If you have a great idea for how we can "Keep our Money" email me and maybe you could do a guest post! Finally, I will be happy to answer any questions. If I don't know the answer I will point you to someone who does! :)


Anonymous said...

Dave Ramsey has an EXCELLENT budget help on If you use that link you can get a free 30 day membership. I created my budget using his format, and it has completely changed our financial life! It really keeps us on track, and I always know where my money is going, which is something I was never able to do on my own with pen/paper or spreadsheet! :)

Good luck!

The Math Guy said...

Hi. I've started to follow your blog recently for all the great day to day freebies and deals. I've had a budget for a while now, and I keep it by using Microsoft Money really does everything. I was happy to hear that you're so set on starting and sticking to a budget. I'm currently in the process of creating a blog about this myself. Feel free to check it out, and good luck!

jollytammy said...

Thank you for your information! Last week my husband and I decided we needed to try to find ways to stop spending so much. I came across your blog and all I can say is thank you for inspiring me! I have started doing the CVS thing and couponing. And the CVS thing is hard to start with!!! But thanks to your advice and links, I think I'm going to be able to save us lots and get back on track! Thank you!!

Lori said...

"We live like nobody else so someday we can live like nobody else"-Dave Ramsey. We have been living the "Dave Way" for a few years now, but it's just now sinking in with me. Some things we do is I have so much grocery money that I spend every week-I take cash in of course. Then my husband gets me a gift card that I use to get gas on and it has so much he loads on it every month. Of course with the price of gas these days, he's having to adjust that amount. Those two things right there have worked great for me. I needed that accountability and having the cash in hand at the store instead of a debit card or check made a difference for me.


JadeMerie said...

I'm somewhat new to all of this. I've been couponing for about a year and a half now, but its just been lately that hubby and I have decided to really hit debt hard. With 7 kiddos I've had to learn really quickly!

Southerner said...

Love the photo!

We celebrate 20 years of marriage next month and all of that time we have lived on a budget and without debt. I am still finding new ways to further keep my money. If you can reduce many things by a dollar or two it adds up. Start hanging clothes to dry, plant a tomato plant in a container, take off your good clothes when they aren't dirty and rewear, cut up a chicken and boil the bones for a broth, quit making multiple trips weekly and have one day for all your errands... just continue to find ways to reduce everything little by little. I buy a season pass to a park or museum each year. Change it yearly and spend the year enjoying that place, then do something else the next year. When you can get extra money put aside you can take advantage of specials that come along. I bought the $600 Kroger card and got $60. I won't miss the $600 and will certainly use that much in the next 6 months so I earned $60 free. We take advantage of our flex account at work to pay for our medical bills. We have three kids in orthodontic treatment so I have the max taken out of our check which is $7500 a year. We pay 12% taxes so I save $900 a year in taxes- the money is taken out of your paycheck and is not taxed, you can only use it for medical bills- both prescribed and over the counter meds and doctor fees. Take advantage of the company match on your 401-K, that is free money.

The Frugal Homemaker said...

I posted the following at my blog:

When we bought our house several years back, we wracked up a good amount of debt. We had several sizable personal loans plus credit card debt.

Well, we were able to pay off our first and largest personal loan after about two years. This was before we started on our current financial plan.

Our most recent victory came this past week when we had an extra pay period because of the five Fridays in May, plus we also received our economic stimulus check at the same time.

So, with both windfalls in one week we were able to finish paying back our second personal loan entirely, pay some towards our credit card debt, set $100 aside for incidental car needs like oil changes, and set some money aside for medical bills we are expecting. Wow! What a sense of relief to have one more debt behind us and have money set aside for our expenses.

Let me explain how we have gotten to this point. We are following the Baby Steps that are taught by financial teacher Dave Ramsey. (Disclaimer: This is not a paid advertisement for Dave Ramsey, just a testimony of how our family has greatly benefited from his teachings.)

So, what was our plan of attack? Our first step was establishing an emergency fund with $1,000 in it. This did not happen all at once, but the purpose is to guard against those "rainy days" that just seem to creep up out of nowhere. If our water heater breaks, we can pay with money waiting in savings instead of grabbing plastic and getting deeper into debt prison. Amassing a thousand dollars took some serious sacrifice on our part, but it is worth it simply for the peace of mind that it brings.

Once our mini-emergency fund was in place we began what is called the Debt Snowball. What this means is you take all of your debts and make a list of them smallest to largest. Once you do that you continue to make at least the minimum payments on them all. The key is that you take every spare cent you can round up in your budget and throw it at your smallest debt. Once you pay off the smallest debt, you get a boost, knowing that you have it out of the way.

The next key is to take the money you have been applying to the smallest debt and then putting it towards the next biggest debt, and so on until you work through all of your debts. It is like a snowball rolling down hills, picking up momentum as it goes.

Nicole said...

DAVE RAMSEY - try it! Its very challenging and it worked for us! I was pregnant with our 2nd child (our first was 10) and was planning on returning to work but God had other plans. We went from 2 NICE incomes to 1. Since then we've added 2 more to our family.... bought a bigger house... paid off 2 cars and rearranged our way of thinking... like you said seperating your needs from wants. But its worth it. I love it!!! Yes, things can be tight at times but we make it. And NOW thanks to YOU I've learned the CVS secret. So what are you waiting for... turn in your two week notice!!!!! LOL

Jesabella said...

I, like many, have heard so much about the Dave Ramsey thing but haven't had much time to dedicate to it yet. I feel like we are very much alike in this. I am trying as well to get the budget thing down and you have been a huge help in cutting where I can. Please share your successes in this as I have much to learn about budgeting. I have a pen and a note pad at the time, and I know I should be doing MUCH better then that!

couponRN said...

For me budgeting has been like dieting. I start off strong then over time fade back to old habits. But I've started using coupons and doing the CVS things and I'm doing well and saving money! Now I just have to get the budget in shape. Thanks for the help.

OnlyOnSale said...

Thanks for all the good links :) I'm gonna check them out!

Theresa said...

Debt Proof Living by Mary Hunt helped me tremendously when I needed to get out of debt and set up a spending plan. Thanks for the blog. It has enriched my life.

Kacie said...

That picture cracked me up!

I've been learning as I go about finances. Sometimes, I make mistakes, but luckily none of them have been too expensive.

It's almost a game at times, figuring out how to do a little better than before!

Marianne Thomas said...

Denise, your honesty is refreshing and brave.

We've got our share of debt to pay down here at my house, too. We took back-to-back losses on two houses in less than three years - we had to move for my dh's career.

There's many budget sheets out there you can use along with the Dave Ramsey system (which I admire but don't use 100%); heck, use the online search from MS Excel (search "household budget") and you'll find all kinds of downloadables you can tailor to your needs.

While I do have a budget in that I know exactly where the money each month needs to be allocated (and some items shift a bit each month), I'm not married hard and fast to that budget. Life happens, sometimes all at once.

I also use online bill paying through our bank - easy! And I check in just about every day to see what our status is.

You're doing great, chicky!


CKR said...

First of all, I really enjoy reading your blog and all of the great deals and ideas you post, thanks! When I read your post today, I wrote a short post on my blog about budgeting. I had been thinking about this topic anyway, and decided to write about it today. We have used resources at to help us create our budget. If you want, you can read my post at my blog Faith, Family, and Frugality.

t.scott said...

Just wanted to encourage you that if you want to stay home, you absolutely can regardless of income or debt. Trust me...we did it. When our first child was born my husband made $8 AN HOUR. I quit working. It's over 7 years later, we have 3 children (one is special needs) and I have been home the entire time. And while he makes a little more now, we are far from rich, and no, I do not have some miracle make money at home job either. But the only debt we now have is a car payment and a tiny school loan. We may not wear new clothes but we never miss a meal. Good luck on your goals! :)

SmlTwnLdy said...

Like others, I suggest Dave Ramsey. You might be able to take a Financial Peace University class in your area, or you can check out his books/website. I was skeptical about his ways, but my husband was not. It has taken me a while. For a while we did just the budget, no cash envelopes. Now we do cash envelopes. Hated it at first, now I love it. CHeck it out!

Tara said...

I am glad to see I am not the ONLY one just getting started:-) We started Dave Ramsey's TMMO last month, and we are slowly getting there. We also have DEBT to pay, but it is so nice to have a plan! I've found his website and radio show very helpful. Also, I LOVE this site. I am new to couponing, and am enjoying the "game." Looking forward to sharing in your journey. Take care!

ADDAmy said...

I reallly like this thread! I agree that Mary Hunt is great for getting out of debt.
Denise how does it work when blogs post other peoples weekly articles or links etc? I am so clueless

Kansas Mom said...

I want to second the use of Microsoft Money. It was free on our computer and I've been using it for almost 10 years now. At first we just tracked where our money was going and it was amazing! (My husband's runs to Starbucks took an immediate hit!)

Now I use it to track all of our spending and have tweaked the reports and categories to match our needs. I can't imagine using any other tool and highly recommend it (especially if it's already sitting on your computer).

Also, for those just starting to make budgets - don't exclude entertainment or clothing. You need clothes (eventually) and you will spend money on dining out/entertainment/leisure, so put a little in there. My husband and I also have "personal" money we can spend on whatever we want without discussion. (That's where the Starbucks money comes from now.) It's a very tiny amount ($20 each per month) but it makes a big difference.

Martha said...

I'm new to SERIOUS budgeting. Like you, I knew how much my fixed bills were and just let what was left pay for groceries, eating out, misc expenses, etc. About three months ago I started putting EVERYTHING on paper. Nearly every cent is accounted for now. Sure, it takes more time, but it really keeps me in check. I've just completed my June grocery budget (based on my pay periods) and I'm $.56 under. Yeah! Of course, a couple of other categories are over--entertainment and gifts--but I'll keep working at it. Thanks for this new series!

Becca said...

I keep an Excel spreadsheet labeled "Bills", and each month is a seperate tab. I list our bills, minimum payment, interest rate, balance, and the amount that we actually pay towards each bill that month. Excel is wonderful for putting in formulas, so I total everything up and see exactly what we HAVE to have going out each month, and what we DO have going out. I list my husband's and my take-home income and have a formula in place that subtracts the outgoing from the incoming, and let's me know what I have to spend that month! If I want to be a REAL budgeter, I divide the amount leftover by the number of days in the month, and it gives me a rough guide to how to keep my budget throughout the month. I have a blank "Bills" document that I've given to my family and some friends, so if you are interested in seeing it so anyone can tweak it for themselves, let me know.