“Financial peace isn’t the acquisition of stuff. It’s learning to live on less than you make, so you can give money back and have money to invest. You can’t win until you do this.” -Dave Ramsey
A few years ago I saw a book at Barnes’n’Noble by Dave Ramsey called The Total Money Makeover. I picked it up to briefly see what it was about..you know..read the back, peek at the inside flap, maybe even read the first page. An hour or two later and I had read the entire book..I just couldn’t put it down. I had heard about the author but I had never actually read the practical steps for myself.
Have you ever thought to yourself, “I make “X” amount of money but I have zero to show for it?” A lot of this stems from years and years of neglecting our finances. We live in a time when students no longer learn cursive or are taught how to balance a checkbook because either there is no need or “there’s an app for that”. By not looking at our “checkbooks” we are avoiding looking at ourselves.
“A checkbook is a theological document, it will tell you who and what you worship.” – Billy Graham
Technology has enabled us to advance exponentially at the cost of our independence. We have put the responsibility of managing our money on our banks, retailers, and credit card companies to ensure that no one is stealing from us while not realizing that by doing this we are stealing from ourselves.
“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” – Alan Kay
In order to predict where you will be if you begin to save money you need to first predict where you will be if you don’t begin to save money. The first step to change your financial future is to determine how much money you are currently spending and what you are spending it on. One way to do this is by simply looking back at your bank statement. The issue with this is that it is difficult to determine exactly what category your purchases fall under after the fact.
During the next month I recommend that you use an App to track your purchases to develop a baseline for the budget you will be making. I have heard great things about Home Budget as it allows you to sync various accounts (i.e. credit card, bank account etc.) while also providing a great envelope based system which is similar to what Dave Ramsey recommends. This app also can be used simultaneously by multiple family members with “family sync” and it provides a cool feature so that you can see when bills and payments are due.
Start off by creating several categories for your expenses (i.e. Utilities, Dining out, Groceries, Transportation, Miscellaneous); try not to get too specific with this. After the first month you should have a general idea of what you typically spend (provided that you didn’t purchase a boat or put a down payment down on a house).
Begin by breaking down your spending into several main categories. These categories should be