Kris Mares

Just a woman trying to love Jesus and others a little bit more…

We hit a mini-goal! May 5, 2016

It’s no secret that Racer and I follow Dave Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps. We are currently teaching a Financial Peace University class and as a part of the class, our homework was to have a “Budget Meeting.” Sounds scary doesn’t it? Sometimes, it is. Sometimes, those budget meetings are loud and end abruptly. But they are always worth it.

Why?

Because sometimes, you find surprises!

Racer and I sat down last week to look over April and finalize our May budget. It was pretty close to being done, so I did not anticipate any issues. But something was amiss with April. We had a bunch of extra money! Racer got excited (free spirit that he is) and I got nervous (nerd that I am). What did we not pay? Where did I mess up? What is wrong? Racer was like “Extra money!!” He wanted to allocate it right away and I wanted to figure out what went wrong. We had a 3 paycheck month and I though I’d accounted for it but something was amiss. Soooo…. after a loud discussion about starting a New Car fund and where the extra money came from, we agreed to focus on May and give me time to figure out what was going on.

Basically, I messed up. In a 3 paycheck month, we lived on two. So we had an entire paycheck to figure out what to do with. Since we’re on Baby Step 3, it was an easy decision. And Racer got his New Car fund started too. Win-win.

FullSizeRender (7)Since building our 3-6 month Emergency Fund has been a lengthy task for us, being able to put an entire paycheck away was HUGE! It means we hit a mini-goal and got to “move up” our line on our tracking chart! We are moving slowly in our progress, so we had agreed to only move our line when we hit the 25% increment marks and we did it! Hitting this first mark has really motivate us in this step again (we’re actually at 30%, but you know, nerdy me only drew up to the pre-done line that was there…).

Three things we learned during this budget meeting: A) be more diligent about our monthly budget meeting; b) always budget just the 2 paychecks and month and on a 3 check month use it toward your financial goal; c) break big goals down into mini-goals and take them one smaller step at a time.

Budget meetings can be hard. No way around that. But they keep us on track and help us stay focused on our goals. As a bonus, sometimes you get a text later that says “As much as we get at each other’s throats, I love doing the budget with you.” Who knew?

And when you’re used to living off 2 paychecks a month, why not just keep doing that? I know this would only work for people who get paid bi-weekly, but for those that do, why not use that “extra” check that comes twice a year to make a big impact on whatever Baby Step you are on, or financial goal you have?! Can you imagine being able to put an entire paycheck toward paying off a credit card, student load or car note?

 

And big goals… well they just seem big and overwhelming don’t they? But breaking a large goal down into smaller pieces… well, those smaller pieces seem a LOT more doable and quicker to reach. So, whatever your financial goal is, break it down into 25% increments and make those your goal. Save 25% and then celebrate! Pay off that first small debt then celebrate! Pay off 50% of the house then celebrate! Those small successes really do motivate you to reaching the next small goal and eventually, you’re at the big goal!

So, have that budget meeting today! (We use EveryDollar.) Set those goals and celebrate the small victories! And if you need a place to start, pick up Total Money Makeover and it’ll walk you through.

So let’s celebrate! What financial goals (big or small) have you reached lately! Comment below and let us know.

 

(Disclaimer: Some of the links above are affiliate links.)

 

Does the bank hold treasure? April 14, 2016

Filed under: Money,Uncategorized — Kris @ 2:14 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Money is a funny thing. It’s really hard to live without it (yet there are people who do it!), we always seem to need/want more of it, yet we don’t always use it the best that we can.

There is this interesting little Bible verse though, that talks about our heart and our treasure:

Instead, collect treasures for yourselves in heaven, where moth and rust don’t eat them and where thieves don’t break in and steal them.Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:20-21, Common English Bible)

Jesus said that.

Did you know that Jesus taught more about money that he did about any other topic except love? Love, then money. Hmmmm…

Just this last Monday, I was reminded of a Zig Ziglar quote:

Show me your calendar and your checkbook, and I will tell you what is most important in your life.

That’s a challenge isn’t it? Do our bank accounts show what is important?

So I went to look. Racer and I use EveryDollar to create and maintain our monthly budget (it’s free). It’s an easy way to tell our money where to go and to stay focused on our financial goals. EveryDollar also does all the budget math for us!

So what did it say was important? Basically family and giving. The highest expenditures had to do with maintaining our home, giving to others and childcare.

Although we are still working on Baby Step 3, we hope that one day our giving will far exceed our home expenses. But until then (and even after), we can make sure our home is a place where we give of our time and hearts to others. A place where people can come and be loved.

You see, our treasure is not the stuff in our homes. Our treasure is not found in the number the bank says we have in our emergency fund. Our treasure is not what the 401(k) statement does or does not say.

Our treasure in the love and grace and truth we leave in the hearts of our family, our friends, our co-workers and the strangers we meet. Our treasure is found in the ways we invest in the lives of others.

And no matter what your income is, how tight the budget stretches, how much debt you are paying off, or how overwhelming your financial situation may be, your home can be a place of love, because that is all about attitude. Trust me. We’ve had a low income, had a budget stretched so tight it broke, paid off a lot of debt, and been so overwhelmed that I laid on the bathroom floor 8-months pregnant and cried my eyes out. But if you ask my kids now, they don’t remember that. They remember parks (free), Saturday morning pancakes (super cheap to make), library activities (also free) and family movie nights (also free because we watched what we had on hand).

No matter where you are on your financial journey, you can make a difference in how you think about money. It’s not about getting more, but about using what you have to bless others.

So, take a look. Look at your calendar. Look at your checkbook. Where is your treasure?

 

Marriage and Money January 24, 2011

Those are two words that often start a fight. Most marriage fights are over money. I’ve experienced that kind of fight plenty of times. I used to be a spender. Big time spender. Even when I was a kid. My mom and dad like to tell a funny story about when I went shopping for pom pon camp and wanted to buy something like 20 pair of underwear for a 5 day camp. So yeah, I was a spender.

Back in early 2007, though, Racer and I went through a small group curriculum at our church. The Biblical Financial Study from Crown Financial Ministries was exactly what we needed to start thinking about money in the same way. We learned what the Bible said about money and how to use it to bring glory to God. As a married couple, we were faithful in tithing, but not in how we used the rest of our money.

Part of the reason Racer and I argue about money is because we grew up so differently in our families. Our parents were and still are very different in how they view and handle finances. Different upbringing and life learning led us to very different ways of wanting to handle finances. Going through the Crown Financial study allowed us to finally have the same foundation from which to work. We were finally on the same page and ready to move forward. The arguments lessened.

While we are grateful for that foundational knowledge, Racer and I needed some more practical financial information to use that still had a biblical basis. Dave Ramsey had what we were looking for. As a Christian, we know that he holds a Biblical view of money management and use. He also had the practical “how to” kinds of information that we needed. Dave’s 7 Baby Steps helped us get a plan together. We kind of had it and knew what to do, but having someone else lay that out affirmed what direction to go. It also helps eliminate the argument because we have both agreed to “work the plan” so to speak. The arguments lessened.

We also realize that it’s not really our money. It’s given to us to use and get what we need for our family. In those discussions of need, Racer and I have had to come to terms with what our “wants” versus our “needs” are. Most things are wants. Sure we need transportation, but the kind is mostly a want. (BTW, I will disagree with DR here and say that sometimes, it is necessary to get a loan to purchase a vehicle. In an ideal situation, people would have enough saved up to pay cash for what they need/want. For most people, the situation is not ideal. Because of family situations, we have to have at least one vehicle that is very reliable. Thus a loan on a “new to us” car was born.) Sure we need clothes, but where they come from and how many is a want. Sure we need food, but steak is a want. I think you get the picture. The arguments lessened.

Sure we’ve had setbacks. Lots of them. Bouts of unemployment are no fun. Roofing repairs, hitting a “cy-hoe-ty,” ice storms, babies… all these and more put a hit in the budget and set back financial plans. The good thing is, we know what to do. Go back to step one and start all over. The arguments lessened.

Racer and I still argue. We even still argue about money. It’s a LOT less than it used to be though. We both have a better understanding of where WE want to be – not where I want to be, or where he wants to be, but where WE want to be. Not all of our decisions are right. Looking back we’ve made plenty of bad ones that we are still paying for. Not every future decision will be right either, but what is important is that we are learning. We are learning together. Working through money issues has made our marriage better. So many divorces happen over money. For us though, money (or lack thereof) has made us stronger. And really, it’s not the money, it’s God’s work in us through the use of money. For God’s work, I am eternally grateful.

As the first month of a new year, and new budgets, comes to a close, I for one am looking forward. I’m excited to see our debt go down and our giving go up. I’m excited to see how “God Math” will work in our lives this year.

 

 
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