Heart of the Money Matter

 

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One Day At A Time is a fantastic slogan for all of us to remember and apply to our lives. In early recovery it is a life-line. Staying clean, each and every day is the only goal that matters the most.  So, at what point in recovery would be a healthy time to talk about money matters? Paying bills is one thing, and another would be to come to a place of readiness to really dig in and go over income and expenses, make a plan to pay back debts, and save money. Is the time now? If not, can you think of a time in the future where it makes more sense in your recovery. Talk it over with your sponsor, but set a date for the future.

NOW came for me when I was paying more in interest than my actual minimum payment due on my credit cards. I just had to change. I was paying my bills, but my debt was climbing. I felt so angry and frustrated because the money I made was barely enough to pay those minimum bills. I did not have any savings, so if my car broke down, I just kept charging…I had struggled every month with paying bills on time, and if I missed a day of work, then WOW, the late fees! I felt defeated, and my self-esteem was at a very low point. Being angry at myself did not pay my bills off any sooner…

Finally, I made some decisions that changed everything. I made a decision to work more hours, and send the entire extra amount that I made to my credit cards. I found a very inexpensive place to live with a roommate. I traded down my car. This empowered me, because I actually was paying my bills and paying down my debt. I did not look at how long it was going to take, I did not want anything to discourage me. I looked at everything I could do to save money, and I sent that money directly to the credit cards. I wrote several checks a month to the same card. For example, if I saved $50 on something like insurance or groceries, I sent the $50 to my credit cards right away, I didn’t wait for the due date. I wanted the money out of my hands as quickly as possible. It took me about 3 years, but finally, I was debt free! It was painful, I gave up many “things”. The habits I created then to become debt free, I have continued with… I had other financial challenges later on in life, because of this experience, I was able to get through another very difficult time later.

I wrote “…The End In Mind”, You Have To See It-to own it! AHA! YES! I SEE IT! , Know Thyself because for me, it was finally seeing it and recognizing that I was indulging in “rewarding” myself, (because I felt that I “deserved” it! Recognizing that trait in myself, was so important, because that is the reason I bought things I did not have the money for. I have learned through that experience that rewarding myself was actually sabotaging me!

That is part of my story, which is why I write about the “what” and “why” rather than the mechanics of making a budget. But what’s your story? Maybe it’s not at all like mine. Maybe working extra hours is a challenge, due to family responsibilities or family support. Maybe your bills are so high that a 3 year goal is not going to cut it. Maybe finding continuous employment is a challenge. I don’t know what your challenges may be… I hope to inspire you enough to sit down and look and see where a change can be made. If you are stuck, look for a non-profit organization and ask for counseling help. Talk to others in recovery that have walked your walk, but don’t give up! Look for ways stay positive and know that it is possible to change your heart of the money matters!

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Budget Blues

Beating the Blues is not always easy.  Progress Not Perfection.

The hardest part about a budget is not the work involved in creating it, but in accepting that change has to happen.  Knowing that you must make a change in your money-matters and then putting it off is normal… but the consequences of not managing money comes right back to you when money is short for something like rent, credit cards… and  you either have to borrow money or be late on the next bill.  The Budget Blues keep growing, it comes around and whispers to you, “give up, you can’t do it” and self-esteem goes down…

“Progress Not Perfection”  is a great slogan in recovery.  I recommend to start with one small goal.  It  could be to look at your  receipts for 4 weeks.  Save them all, and review them.   Remember, Progress, not perfection!  Set a date for yourself to make the next goal, and keep moving forward!

The truth about a budget, is that it seems like it’s confining and restrictive, but it’s the opposite of that.  Paying bills on time and saving some money gives us an incredible feeling of empowerment.   It’s such a great feeling that we want to keep doing it.  We start seeing bills go down, or we pay someone back we owe.  It’s an awesome feeling!

Progress not Perfection!

Can’t See The Forest for the Trees

“It means that if you look at things one at a time, you might not realize that a branch of separate “trees” go together to make a forest.” (Urban Dictionary)

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The trees… what are the trees in your life?  Life is so busy, our day-to-day activities can be overwhelming.  When it comes to money-matters, we can have a ton of reasons for the trees in our lives, that don’t allow us to see the big picture, the forest.

It is my hope that the experience that I gained in 12 years of working in my CPA practice, will help you see, what I have learned from preparing thousand’s of tax returns for individuals and small businesses.  Most people wait for a deadline. Why? Because life is busy. We have so many other things to do that are “more important” than sitting down and looking at depressing bills and expenses. Even when there is a deadline for taxes, most people push it off, it’s very normal! Guess who are first in line? Those getting a refund! Money in hand is very motivating for most of us!  Believe me… a budget can put money in hand!

I want to inspire you to take a look at your expenses and create a budget? The power of compound interest is powerful because of “time”.  Check out this simple example:

$10,000 loan at 14% with a $200 a month payment will be paid off in approximately 6.5 years.  Add $100 a month to that same loan and it’s paid off in 3.5 years! Wow! 

It can be so motivating to find that extra money each month, that most people just keep finding new ways to save money! Your self-confidence will go up! Guaranteed!

You may need to take your day off to do it. You may not like what you may see, but don’t beat yourself up, don’t rationalize it, just look at it, and just do it!

Make a date for yourself and your Forest.

 

The “B” word…Beating Around the Bush about…

BUDGETS!

I have set some realistic goals for todays needs, a bit later in life and retirement…”

Now that you have made some notes in your money journal about your spending habits, this next step is to roll up your sleeves and dig in! Are you ready? Get your bank statements and start to break them down! Go back 1 year if you can.  We look back to go forward! We can set some goals if we truly see where we are with our expenses. Let’s get real!

START with each expense and categorize them in columns.  I will call them buckets. I recommend you go back 1 year in expenses. Why? Well, the unexpected budget-breakers are 1 time expenses that just show up in life. Tip: If you have a lot of ATM withdrawals, that may be a challenge, allocate those into the buckets (gas, food, … ). It does not have to be perfect, just keep going! Don’t get stuck on the details.  Here are the buckets:

Housing* Automotive* Food* Medical*  Entertainment* Clothing* Other

Do not create too many buckets, so that you are not overwhelmed.  You can group expenses together, so that you can see where your money is going. Then you can split those up afterwards.  For example , you can combine Utilities  with Rent; and Auto Insurance with Gas; Food with Coffee Outings.  Keep it simple and put the numbers in these categories. If you use the “Other” category, then write a note and re-bucketize (my word) them later.

PATIENCE  is so important.  This may take longer than you think.  It’s OK, walk away, and come back to it.  You may find that you have some expenses for example, Amazon, that you need to go online for.  Hang in there and remember what your goal is. Set a date in your calendar and come back to it.

ADD THEM up and make some decisions…can you find some money to create a new bucket for either saving some money or paying off a debt? It does not matter how small the amount is, the key is to start with something, anything. It’s totally empowering to see that this works even with the smallest amount.

LOOK at your expenses and compare it to your paycheck: Budgeting is setting a limit for each bucket and you are

DONE!

KEEP UP: In order for this to work, you have to figure out how you can see what you are spending in “real-time” and compare it to your budget often. Are you ready for that?  I look at mine each week especially the groceries and entertainment buckets.

Remember to keep your goals in front of you, pray and reflect on them.  Were you able to come up with some extra money at the end of the week or month?  Can you find some expenses in your worksheet to cut back on?  If you could have money left over, can you start paying off a debt, build your savings account or both?  Maybe your goal is to pay your bills on time? By seeing where your money goes, you can start making changes for your future!

Happy Budgeting!

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I Will…Later

I have come to believe that I need to change my money matters. 

If this is you, and you can say that you are ready to get started, then that is truly the most important step. Awareness, without guilt or looking at our past. We are moving forward! It doesn’t matter how old we are or what we “could -of- should of done”. Our past may include debts to people or places. The change may be so overwhelming that although we know that we need to make a change… not yet, later… it’s too big, it’s too hard…If you make enough money, but you don’t know where it goes… If every penny of your paycheck is survival, how can you save money? If you don’t have a job, and someone else is supporting you, then how can you “get started: Now what?

I believe that the first action step is:  to look at what it costs to support your day to day life.  If someone is supporting or helping you in anyway, look at what it is costing you/them to eat, sleep (rent)  transportation, medical, education, clothing, entertainment.  

I wrote about keeping a money journal, that is of course a suggestion. You Have To See It-to own it!  I would suggest:  make a date with yourself, to sit down and look at your expenses and be totally honest with yourself.  Don’t beat yourself up, just write it down.  All of it.  Look at it, pray about it to your Higher Power.

Or maybe we know we need to make some changes but, not right now. Later…  So we read this, and dismiss it for “later” and I get it. Recovery is first and foremost. There is a time and a place for changes and growth in our lives.

Although financial recovery is on the way for many of us, we find we cannot place money first. For us, material well-being always follows spiritual progress; it never precedes.”    Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 127

Vanessa Day, a blogger in recovery says: “Since finding recovery I have maintained stable employment and income. At the age of 34, I drafted my very first budget, opened a savings account for my daughter and started putting money into my own savings account. I pay my bills on time and I only spend money on the things I need in life. I found that once I put down the substance, I had a lot more available cash to live and enjoy life with”. Vanessa Day.  Read more about Vanessa and Recovering Out Loud with Vannessaday.blog 

Only you will know when you are ready. I am hoping my message is gentle, yet enough, to help you get started, or a seed that is planted for the future 💜

I Will…

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  • I have come to believe that I need to change my money matters 😩

  • I have set some realistic goals for todays needs, a bit later in life and retirement🤓

  • I have looked at my expenses and made a decision to save ___amount per week🤑

  • I have found the easiest place to save that money so I can’t touch it so easily🤝

  • I have reviewed the whys and why-nots of reaching my goals🤔

  • I will try not get mad or discouraged if I don’t meet my goals😊

  • I will not forget to pray to my Higher Power throughout this money journey 😇

  • I will remember that our environment is constantly pushing their marketing ideas for their profit🤨

  • I will be creative and try to find ways to stay motivated. (If possible find an accountability partner you trust🤩)

  • I will not allow myself to “get down on myself” I will look at my choices and learn from them🧐🤔😊

  • I will never give up and always go back to    “…The End In Mind” Let us remember to trust in God. He truly cares for us!💕

    Thanks to EmojiOne for providing free emoji icons

HALT!

I know in my own choices, I have definitely spent money that I may have regretted later… or even if I realized after I spent the money, that it was not within my budget, I have found a way to rationalize it.

If you have a budget or some type of system to help you with putting your money aside for specific expenses, and you spend it somewhere, other than where you intended it to go, than that is what we are analyzing here. This is so important! It’s part of the money-journal that I wrote about before.

So for me, an example may be, that I woke up emotionally and physically tired. I skip making my lunch. I tell myself that I need my sleep more, tell myself that I rarely go to lunch and I deserve it every now and then… what was that? Emotional. Of course, justifiable. But if we could just: HALT!

I love this slogan. It is used in recovery programs because it works. If we can identify that we are Hungry-Angry-Lonely-Tired, then we may just push through and stick to our budget. We can wait, go home, look at our expenses, and then plan for that thing we want.

We can apply this to a cute blouse that we “need” on the way home from work, or maybe we can’t resist buying premium coffee, music or books.

How about pampering ourselves, like getting our nails done? What about pampering others? All these things we love and can find a way to somehow justify them.

The key is to have a “bucket” for it. It is so important to have money set aside “ahead of time” for necessities, savings and some fun. If we don’t have fun, then honestly we will blow our budget.

This exercise is to look at all of our expenses and set money aside for things that we need and want. Let’s remind ourselves what our goals are, keep them vivid so that when we have these temptations, we can HALT.

AHA! YES! I SEE IT!

Can a blog like this, with a couple of moneymatters” examples be enough to create that “AHA” moment?

I called my blog Bling Matters, because all of us, want things. Shiny things, a great meal or cup of coffee. Yes, we love all that!

So how do we resist these temptations? I believe that it happens in two ways. We have to know what we want and why we want it, or we can also hit some type of bottom. 

So if you are still with me🤑 I have a few examples to show you the power of money owed or money saved. Check it out!

$10,000 loan at 8% interest with payments of $125 per month will be paid off in 9 years and 7 months= $14,875

$10,000 loan at 8% interest with payments of $250 per month will be paid off in 3 years and 11 months= $11,750                                            

Can you see the savings? 6 years and $3,125 👏

Seriously! Now, take that same $250 payment per month and invest/save it with compound interest at the same interest rate for 10 years.  Check it out!

you will have $49, 936  (WOW!) 😃

Now take that same $250 a month and invest it each year and invest it for 40 years at the same interest rate and…

you will have $842,343.   What??? 🧐

Look at the power of $3,000 a year can do. That is $8 a day 😳🤑. The decision to start changing money matters in our lives, for some of us, is to hit a bottom of some sort and then seek out ways to get out of it. For others, it may just be great coaching from trusted friends and family, with an AHA!, moment!

In my own personal experience, I had accumulated a lot of credit card debt. I had moved out from my parents home, and I had a new job. I wanted to look fabulous and I was excited about my paycheck and independence. I look back on how that debt got so high, and my reflections lead me to realize that at the time, my mindset was : “ I’m going to make more money later, I am young, next year… I work hard, I deserve it.” I was over-confident, and full of myself , quite frankly. I finally hit a soft bottom, I just got sick and tired of paying the minimum amount due on my credit cards (which were less than the interest added for the month). My balances only moved up, not down…

I will never forget the day I was debt free. The more money I sent my credit cards, the more empowered I felt. It motivated me to see where I could save money in my expenses and send it in to my credit card. I did not wait for the due date. I sometimes sent in payments every week. The example I showed you, is simplified, but it is the Rule of 72. Compound Interest.

There are many ways to find these calculators to help you calculate. I have included a link that will help you. http://BudgetWorksheets.org. (Once you are on this website, scroll down and look for debt payoff calculator or investment calculator)I emailed the admin of this site, and they were happy for me to share it! Check it out!

Thanks to EmojiOne for providing free emoji icons😊

“…The End In Mind”

Why should we look at our spending? Why analyze our impulse spending?

Because we know that we need to save money for an immediate unexpected expense, a known expense in the future and our retirement.  Yes we know it…

Sometime we want to put our head in the sand… there is always tomorrow… time flies…DCFBDC66-A1D7-4B5C-8CA2-653564AF5029

I believe that if you see and really get that money multiplies over time, it will empower you to change your money habits.  My goal is to show it to you (next post!) It really does not matter how much money you make or how much money you owe others at this point in your life. What is important is to understand how money can work for you, and then get started!  BF493668-B9B4-43D8-A3A6-7140294DF9C3

The most successful strategy in my former CPA practice was to coach my clients to “Keep the End  in Mind”.  My goal is to help you learn how money multiplies over time.

It’s mind boggling!

“Keep the End in Mind” does not need to be the end of time (lol!) It means to set a goal for the future and put a plan in place to get there.

We don’t look back, only forward! We can be empowered to know that we have control over our money, and where it goes. If we struggle with some impulsive spending then we can try to figure out “why”, get stronger each day and keep working it!

To be continued…

You Have To See It-to own it!

594D384A-6E27-4C7B-85C5-DE017E1E98B8The key to this exercise is to have a place where you can see what you spend your money on. That’s it! You like the idea but somehow you don’t know where to start, then here are some examples to journal in a style that is “you” 🙂

  • Buy a notebook and be creative with  colored pencils and stickersD6A04783-32EA-4DD8-A947-D4AA9EB2CAB2
  • Just type on your own tablet in a document app and add 🤨😇😩😆😎😳🤑😡🧐😅🤔  😉😤 (Thanks to EmojiOne for providing free emoji icons)
  • Find an app that let’s you see all your transactions on your tablet
  • Keep all your paper receipts and staple them together for each day
  • Use an old fashion check register and just write each expense downE7F325AD-32BC-4180-92C7-759403AD80CD

The key is to do something that you can keep up with. Since you are starting something new, the daily habit is important. Make it easy, so that you do it!

Don’t worrry! You are not adding up the numbers, or creating a budget. Phew!

Tip: If you go to a store where you can buy everything from food to clothes… then take a little time to separate those items in your money-journal.

It is your journal, and it’s a place to be honest with yourself.

You are just adding a thought or emotion with the expense.  That’s it for now!