This week, I am reading a book called Debt-Free Living by Larry Burkett. I am also reading up on some of my favorite financial blogs, it is always good to review what you know you already know.
So, while I have been reading up in my niche, I have been reminded that financial pitfalls tend to be the same for all of us. What are the pitfalls? The most common ones are debt, living above our means and not planning for emergencies. HOWEVER, these pitfalls can easily be avoided by following some simple principles, which I am going to remind you of in this blog…
Principle #1 – Be Honest.
No, really honest! As you know, our grocery and eating out is where our budget goes astray (hey, we are working on it, check out our journey here). So, that’s the honest part. Now what? Let’s do something about it! This week, to help us stay on grocery budget, all the shopping for the week was done on payday (meal planning helps so we can do this!). The little remaining in the grocery/household budget is in plain sight, attached to the refrigerator, forcing us to answer to each other if it gets spent. ANNNND, no, you can’t come rob us, we don’t deserve that on the week we are doing good on the food budget!
Look, we get it! It is so painful to look a friend or spouse in the face and say “I overspent,” but it is necessary. Think of financial struggles as an addiction. Once you bring your own addictions to the light, it is now a choice to stay the same or to change. If you are reading this, I’m guessing you will be on the side trying to change things. So, don’t let the problems hide anymore. Find someone to be honest with and then get ready for the changes you will create.
Principle #2 – Be Realistic.
Honesty starts the change, but if you stay in denial about your lifestyle, then you aren’t going to make the needed changes to get you on track to being financially stable. So start looking at where your issues are and what needs to change.
One area we all need to be more realistic in is “Are we living within our means?” Are we actually spending less than we make? The debt problem in our nation says most of us are not living within our paychecks, so let’s get a reality check. One way to help us be more realistic in our finances is to apply the 50/20/30 rule – 50% of the take home income should go to living essentials (housing, insurance, electricity, food, gas, phones, medical). 20% of the income should be financial goals (vacations, savings and paying off debt) and 30% should be for wants (FYI – internet, haircuts and eating out ALL are extras!).
So let’s look at the math –
Let’s say, as an example, a family has an income of $3500 a month. So $1,750 should go to living expenses, $700 goes to savings/debt and $1,050 goes to wants/going out. Still with me? Now for the ‘living expenses category’ that allows for $1,750/month, let’s say we are looking at the following expenses –
Electricity ($200 during the summer)
Grocery/household/pets budget ($800)
2 car payments ($1000)
Looks about average to you, right? Okay, but do you see the problem?? When this example of living expenses is added up, this category ALONE is taking $3700 monthly. Yes, you read that correctly and YES, THE ENTIRE income is going to living essentials AND it is creating a negative balance.
Tell me – what should be done? Obviously, the extra/wants category (eating out, internet, going out, ect) would need to be completely cut out and the living essentials would need to be cut down by getting rid of a car, moving to a place with lower rent closer to work, forcing yourself to lower the grocery/household/pet budget.
Let’s look at it another way – with living expenses totaling $3500, the family income should be at $7,000/month income. This comes out to making $50/hr on 1 income or $25/hr for 2 incomes. A second job maybe needed to make up the needed income. Here are some ideas on side hustles to help out. Are you ready to be realistic and make some adjusting to change your financial story?
Principle #3 – Follow The Rules!
No, you are not the exception and your finances are not the exception. Let me repeat that – you are not the exception! You are not that special, despite what your mom has told you all your life. See, the PRINCIPLES stay the same, even when your income varies or you have to be creative to make the principles work for you, but they still will work… if you follow them! So, I challenge you to start implementing what you know to be good financial advice and see how it helps your finances. Even small, baby steps will eventually add up to huge changes. Leave a comment below and tell me which principle you are going to start on this week.
Do you want more information on family budgeting? Check out these great blogs for more tips and ideas to get your finances under control…
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