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.


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.)


Budgets are a funny thing October 8, 2015

Filed under: Money — Kris @ 6:24 am
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As Racer and I teach Financial Peace University, we’re learning a lot. Yes, we’re learning about God’s ways of handling money, but we’re also learning much about ourselves. And that’s why a budget is such a funny thing.

As we work out our budget together, we’re learning about our own styles. I’m a spending nerd. Racer is a saving free-spirit. I like to spend, but make sure everything lines up, the numbers match, we have a plan and every penny is accounted for (so I can spend them). Racer is laid-back, doesn’t like to be boxed into a plan, wants freedom, but saves and doesn’t need to spend every dollar (except at gift-giving times).

And as we know these things about ourselves, we can know more about the other too. Self-awareness allows us to be other-aware. And being other-aware makes our relationship stronger. We communicate better, we give the other the space that s/he needs, we understand the space the other exists within.

And making and tracking a budget together (not just me or not just him, but us, together), has caused us to be more honest together. I can no longer hide the coffee or impromptu lunch conversation. I have to be accountable for my time and my spending. Racer can no longer let his travel help him ignore some of the home repair needs and long-term family goals. Our budget and money management is no longer solely on my shoulders and that is a good thing.

You know the funniest thing about budgeting together? It’s helped us dream together. When we have to talk about money for now together, we get to ask the question “Why?” together. Why are we paying off debt? Why are we giving? Why are we saving? Why are we prioritizing wants in this way? Why do we think this need requires more/less of our dollars? Asking “Why?” together has helped us think bigger picture. We get to look past the frustration of today and consider what tomorrow might be able to look like. And doing so helps us change our behavior today so that we can make that dream for tomorrow together.

Realizing that, made budgeting a whole lot less painful.

Try it sometime. Try sitting down with your spouse – or a trusted friend if you are single – and make a budget out. We use Every Dollar (it’s free and super easy to set up online and then to track spending on our phone with the free app). It’ll take a few months to really get the hang of it, but try it! Dream while you do it! What if you didn’t have those debt payments? Why save for an emergency? What could retirement look like if I save more? Why am I giving this amount – what if I could give more?

Yes, if we let them prompt our dreams, budgets are a funny thing.


Enough August 6, 2015

Filed under: Book Reviews,Money — Kris @ 7:14 am
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I just finished reading Enough by Adam Hamilton. It’s a basic book about giving and living a financial life that pleases God.

I’ll admit, I read through it pretty fast. There are good points and important principles for managing finances in a way that aligns with biblical teaching. Each chapter has some great questions to help readers really think about their own spending habits, financial goals and how their bank statement may or may not reflect God’s purpose for them.

I particularly appreciated the section that Rev. Hamilton wrote about the problem of affluenza. You see, Racer and I have been on quite a financial journey over the last 8 years. Soon I will begin telling more of that story (watch the Money category here on the blog). But I still struggle with keeping up with the Joneses. Not so much with material things, but in other ways. I want my kids to have the awesome experiences that I see other families give their kids. I want the church I serve to have the cool ministries that my friends’ churches have. I want to be on the ground level of that cool justice initiative in the community. I want my husband to be sought after and important in his field. Although Rev. Hamilton focused on the acquisition of stuff, it hit home for me that I try to keep up with the Joneses in other ways.

So, for those who are feeling stuck financially and need help seeing the hope of better finances, Enough is a good start. For those who have their needs met, but still wonder “Where did our money go?” and want to have a greater impact in the Kingdom, Enough will help you rethink how you are allocating your dollars. For those that have had a significant biblical financial journey already and have a good foundation and plan for giving, saving and spending, then Enough won’t be quite what you need.

Overall, it’s a great “starter” book for those who are beginning a financial journey that aligns their budget with biblical principles. It’s an easy read, but with some practical principles and challenging questions.


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