Tag Archives: budgets

How to Easily Create a Flexible Financial System

How are you feeling about your progress this year with your financial goals? Are you frustrated because you're not hitting them as fast as you had hoped? Do you feel like managing money is a chore? Believe it or not, these problems are connected.

Today, I'm going to break down and show you how to build a flexible financial system that will get you to your goals faster!

Keeping Your Budget Flexible and Fun

Recently I had a chat with rich Jones for the  Paychecks and Balances Podcast.

The theme of our discussion was managing finances when undergoing a life transition, but it quickly widen out and scope. After my chat with Rich, our discussion stuck with me.

Having written about personal finance for 12 years and podcasting, a little over half that time, I noticed a certain rhythm with people in their interests and finances.

Beginning of the year, it's all about setting up these big goals, paying off X amount of debt, saving up for a huge house down payment. And for some, it truly is the beginning of an awesome year. They get these new habits set up. They have their systems in place.

But others though, they're already having a hard time keeping up those habits, part of it is life shifts.

Between January and to about April when I look on my side of things with site traffic, And Google searches, that's when people are most interested in their finances.

Further into the year, no matter what camp you're in the seasons change and life rolls on.

With September zooming by and the last quarter coming up. I find it's another point in the year where we reflect. We have this many awareness that the year's wrapping up. We're reviewing how much we've accomplished.

Now on top of the regular seasonal changes in the year. We still have the COVID pandemic that we're dealing with.

Rather than fight the seasonal shifts or craft these perfect on paper budgets, but they fall apart during real life pivots, we have to address a fundamental issue -building a sustainable and flexible system for handling your finances so that you can live your life. And if something happens adjust as needed.

Instead of chasing money as the target or the goal really should be using it as a tool.

In this episode, we're going to break that down so that you can create a financial system that is easy to maintain and adjust and have a sustainable budget that's flexible and fun.

Are you ready? Let's get started!

Handy Tools to Build Your Financial System Quickly and Easily

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union! If you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better, come check out Coastal today.

We’ve been Coastal members for a few years have been happy with their services.

They have wonderful customer service along with competitive rates to make saving easier!

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and found it helpful, here are some ways to support it.

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and become financially free, please share.
  • Leave a review. Honest feedback and reviews make a big difference and gets the word out about the podcast. Leave your rating and review on Apple Podcasts.
  • Grab a copy of Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your MoneyMy book is designed for a busy couple to set up their finances in 4 weeks. Get tips and tools that have worked for other couples on their journey of building their marriage and wealth together!

How to Create a Family Budget You Love (and Actually Works!)

For many families, 2020 threw us for a loop. Today we’ll look at how you can revamp and build your budget so you can hit your financial goals faster!

Pivoting Your Family Budget

I think it’s fair to say that last year did not go as any of us planned. I’m not going to recap the year – we were all there- but honestly, we had a lot curve balls thrown at us. 

Because we had to make so many changes with how we worked, did school, and more, our day to day routines changed and our budgets did as well.

While I’m happy that there are vaccines being produced now, there’s still much ahead of us. It’s going to be a while before things get back to a more normal routine. 

Which means more than ever, we  create a plan for our finances.

One of the best ways you can pivot your finances is by creating a roadmap for your money. For most families, that means creating a better budget.

Some challenges that couples face can include: 

  • sinking up on what goals you want to tackle this year
  • Building a budget that is flexible enough to deal with adjustments
  • Finding ways to both save for your goals and for some fun

So we’re going to dig into this today one by one. 

Rob Bertman is on the podcast.  He’s a certified financial planner and the creator of Family Budget Expert.

He’s worked with families on reconfiguring their budgets so that it reflects them and their specific goals.

We have a lot to cover, so let’s get started! 

Resources to Create a Better Family Budget

Looking to create a budget? Here are some helpful resources: 

If you’d like to chat more about your money system, please join us in our private and free Facebook group – Thriving Families

We’re families looking to support and help one another out.

Hope to see you there!

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal Credit Union!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union. If you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better, come check out Coastal today!

We’ve been members for years and love their service and competitive rates on checking and savings accounts!

Key Takeaways on Creating a Budget That Fits Your Family and Goals

Now that we’re two weeks into our monthly money challenge. Which is simply tracking your money. You’re probably getting a clearer picture of your family’s cash flow.

With those numbers in front of you, the two of you can start building a budget together that makes sense for you and your goals for the year.

Here are a few things to look out for and discuss.

Which areas of your budgets, are you spending more or less than you had anticipated?

Since many families stayed home more in 2020. It’s natural that your budget’s shifted.

In certain areas may have seen an increase while others had a decrease. Now that the new year has started, things may have shifted again. If so, which areas of your budget are staying on target? Which ones are unexpectedly higher or lower?

If you’re going over budget, you immediately need to make changes. However, this may be a case where you need to adjust your budget, to be more realistic for your current and future circumstances.

Perhaps you’ve discovered that yes, you’re spending more with food, but you’re eating at home more eating healthier.

And the quality of the food that you’re picking out is much better. So in that case, you may decide going forward that you want to keep the food expenses in that range and cut somewhere else.

How much did you enjoy with your spending?

I know sometimes in the personal finance space. Spending is seen as a negative, but that’s not necessarily the case. Again, when we’re looking at budget, we’re talking about what we prioritize and what we value.

I know for us, we’ve made some purchases during the pandemic, since we were going to spend more time at home and we do not regret those purchases.

We put some more money into our family garden and got items for the yard, such as a hammock and a telescope and we really enjoyed those purchases.

What about you? What new spending did you have because of the pandemic. Perhaps it was buying games for family game night.

You may be looking at that spending and you’re happy with it. And you might decide that going forward, you want to keep it in your budget. Then make sure that you put it as a new line item in your budget going forward.

Creating a budget. Isn’t all about cutting expenses. It’s really about being more intentional with how you use your money.

Finally looking at your cashflow. What’s a realistic pace for you to hit your goals.

We’re not trying to create the perfect budget. We’re trying to create a budget that actually works for you.

These discussions may seem small, but they can give you a leg up for creating a budget that you can use for the rest of the year!

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and found it helpful, here are some ways to support it.

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and become financially free, please share.
  • Leave a review. Honest feedback and reviews make a big difference and gets the word out about the podcast. Leave your rating and review on Apple Podcasts.
  • Grab a copy of Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money. My book is designed for a busy couple to set up their finances in 4 weeks. Get tips and tools that have worked for other couples on their journey of building their marriage and wealth together!

Music Credit

Our theme song is from Staircases. Additional music by various artists from Audiio.

How to Set Great Habits for Your Money, Home and Life (and Actually Keep Them!)

Most of us have our hands full. Too many times, our finances, health, and homes don't get the attention they deserve.

We’re going to be talking about how you can reset your habits and simplify finances, home, and life so that you can have some big wins this year!

Reworking Your Habits

For multiple reasons, 2020 was a challenging year.

Even if you weren't directly affected by the pandemic or the financial fallout from it, chances are you were impacted by the things that were going on.

If you are a parent, you had another layer on top of that.

You had to not only work from home and stay productive, but make sure that your kids were doing well with remote learning, but we've made it it's a new year.

Many times people use this as motivation to change and pivot the direction they're going with.

One of the best ways you can do that is by shifting your habits.

It may seem like too small of a thing to really make an impact, but we found out from personal experience and talking with other families that that's made all the difference.

By having better habits and having systems in place, it made it much easier to hit the goals that we had and they had.

So we're starting off the season of the podcast by focusing on that- how do we shift things with our habits, how to recreate these systems?

I'm glad that Peter Polson from Tiller is here to talk about building better habits. We're going to be focusing on financial habits, but we're also going to be covering some other topics today.

We're going to be discussing:

  • why habits matter, especially with your finances
  • how to choose the best goals for you and your family,
  • how to break things down and build up a system that will help you hit your goals faster.

Ready? Let’s get started! 

Bank Better: How to Move Your Checking and Savings Account Simplify and Enjoy

How happy are you with your current banking situation? Are you getting real value out of your checking and savings accounts? Or do you feel like you’re getting nickeled and dimed?  Today we’ll go over how to find a better banking option and how to seamlessly move your money!  Why It Matters Where You Bank These are all important to your financial health and making progress on your goals, however we left the biggest piece of the puzzle last – your day to day bank accounts.  Your check and savings accounts are the backbone to your family’s financial system, but for most of us, it's almost like an afterthought. Much of this goes back to how we chose our accounts in the first place. For my husband and I, with our first accounts, it was based on who we were already banking with. And at the time we had bank accounts with two of the major banks, we had opened student checking accounts. When I say they were basic accounts, that's exactly what they were. Honestly, we just settled with it for way too long. After getting frustrated with the horrible customer service, ridiculous fees. And not seeing any real progress with our financial goals. We decided it was time to change. We moved our money to an online bank and credit union and i have to say we are so much happier for it. We feel that our banking partners are actually partners that they're helping us reach our financial goals faster. And make our lives easier with managing our money. So if you feel that way about your bank or credit union, fantastic. However, there are plenty of families that feel like they're banking options are hurting them rather than helping. According to a recent Magnify Money survey, 68% of consumers are frustrated and feel like their savings isn’t growing. When you consider that 18% of those said they get less than .05% APY, it’s understandable. What makes it worse are those minimum balances and fees added on their accounts.  Bankrate reported that the average maintenance fee on a checking account that earns interest totaled $196.20/year.  So if you’re feeling squeezed, you probably are. That doesn’t have to be the case though.  With 2021 winding down, now is a great time to set the pieces up for you to have an incredible year in 2022. In this episode, we’ll go over:  What to look for in your next bank or credit union How to move your money and switch accounts (and deal with a reluctant spouse) How to set up your new accounts for your best year ever Are you ready?  Let’s get started!  Resources to Easily Manage Your Money Best Budget and Money Apps: Personal Capital, Tiller, Mint Grab Your Copy: Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money Join Our Thriving Families Community on Facebook Free 401(k) Analysis: blooom Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal! Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union! If you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better, come check out Coastal today. We’ve been Coastal members for a few years have been happy with their services. Did you know that Coastal offers a Health Savings Account? If you have a high deductible health plan, you need to take advantage of an HSA. Find out more about what Coastal offers here! Support the Podcast! Thank you so much for listening to the podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and found it helpful, here are some ways to support it. Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and become financially free, please share. Leave a review. Honest feedback and reviews make a big difference and gets the word out about the podcast. Leave your rating and review on Apple Podcasts. Grab a copy of Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money. My book is designed for a busy couple to set up their finances in 4 weeks. Get tips and tools that have worked for other couples on their journey of building their marriage and wealth together! Photo by Adrien Olichon from Pexels
  1. Bank Better: How to Move Your Checking and Savings Account
  2. How to Easy Manage Your Family's Financial System
  3. 401(k): Busy Families Guide to Maximizing Your Accounts (Without A Lot Of Hassle)
  4. Open Enrollment: Keeping Health Insurance Dental and Disability Affordable
  5. How to Easily Create a Flexible Financial System

Listen to the episode on Apple PodcastsSpotifyAndroid, or on your favorite podcast platform.

Key Resources to Help You Change Your Habits

Looking to reset a few things to get some family and financial wins this year?  Here are some fantastic resources to help you! 

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union. If you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better, come check out Coastal today!

We've been members for years and love their service and competitive rates on checking and savings accounts!

Building Better Habits

I really enjoyed my discussion with Peter. Even though our focus there was about improving your finances, there are a lot of key points that you can use in other areas of your life.

Developing habits is absolutely important to that, but before we get into how you can do it, let's talk a bit more.

What is habit? How would you define it?

In essence, a habit is something that you almost do automatically. If you had to break it down, there are three key components to it.

  • Cue
  • Routine
  • Reward

I admit that might sound a little bit dry and boring, but when you understand how these work together, then it's easier to make changes.

Now you might feel like it's impossible to change your habits, or it's almost impossible, but that's not the case.

You already are a habit forming machine.

New York times, reporter Charles Duhigg studied the neuroscience and psychological research behind our routines in his book, The Power of Habit.

He cited a study in his book that was done at Duke University and researchers there found that over 40% of the activities we do on a daily basis is a habit.

Before the pandemic, if you were going to the office, you probably had a set pattern or schedule of what you did and some of it almost felt automated.

Your commute, for example, you may have gaps because you do the same commute to the location it's automated in your brain.

During the pandemic, if you were working from home, you probably had to recreate a new routine to fit your new normal and to continue working and be productive.

It is possible to change and adjust your habits based on your goals and your circumstances.

How do you do that?

Changing Your Habits

So let's go back to those three parts, the cue, the routine and the reward.

Your cue is your trigger for the behavior we're talking about, could be a time, for example, your alarm clock, telling you at a certain time, you got to get up and start the routine.

It could be the location when you're at the office and you log on. The first thing you do is you check your email.

It could also be the presence of certain people. It could be emotions, how you feel, or it can be actions that you've taken before.

Most times we're not immediately aware of what our queue is, but if you pay attention as you're doing the routine, you'll start seeing that there are certain things that kind of clue you in and get you started in that habit.

Pay attention the next time you're trying to change that habit and see what is the thing that triggers you to do that habit.

The next part is the routine, which is your actual habit.

Maybe at the beginning of the day, you go to the home or your regular office and you log in and you immediately go to email. You might want to change the routine.

When you sit down, instead of emails, you sit down and write out the most important tasks that you need to accomplish for work that day and have that by the desk so that you know, that that is the must do for the day and that you put that first.

The last thing that you can manipulate is the reward.

For example, you're talking about snacks, swapping out the snacks, that reward of you feel good.

You're taking a break, you're relaxing, but instead of having that processed food, you've picked some fresh fruits, Apple and peanut butter or whatever you like.

You're still enjoying that break. Maybe talking with someone and catching up, but you're not having unnecessary calories added to your diet.

Those are a few ways, but really nailing down those three key points can make it so much easier and just focusing one at a time absolutely makes a huge difference.

When you're able to identify what your trigger is, then you're better able to manipulate and swap things out so that you can change your bad habit and put a better habit in.

Figuring Out Which Habit to Pick Up

This can sound a little bit hard to wrap your head around because we're just talking about cues, rewards and habits.

Let's look at some goals that people have or areas in their life that they want to improve. Then we can break that down into habits and goals that they can pick up.

Let's talk about health. Maybe you want to get healthier this year? What does that look like? You can have several different goals.

Maybe you're looking specifically at weight. Maybe you don't feel as strong as you used to or as athletic.

Let's break that down into different areas and see what goals can be there and what habits we can pick up.

It could be a matter of exercising more. It could be making better choices with your meals and snacks throughout the day, or it can be something like drinking, more water.

Since we talked about finances, let's dive into that again. You want to have a better understanding of how your money works, so you start tracking your money

Maybe you're looking to pay down your debt or you're saving for a specific goal, like a house or for your kid's college or whatever it is. You have to develop this habit of paying yourself first.

Now we can transfer that to other areas like your personal wellness. Something that is underrated, but really helpful with improving your mood and your health is making sure that you get good quality sleep.

So whatever that number is six to eight hours that fits you would be a great improvement. Or you want to pursue a passion project? I'm not talking about a side hustle. I'm specifically talking about something that you really enjoy a hobby that enriches your life.

Perhaps you feel overwhelmed with everything so one of your goals for this year is to just have less stress. The best way to do that is to start tracking your schedule and making sure that you're putting the more important things first.

Finally, let's look around the house. A lot of us had to spend much more time around the house and maybe we realized we weren't as happy as we used to be, or that we realized we were with the place.

What are some things that we can improve? We can declutter unnecessary things. We could tackle that list of home projects we had been putting off.

You could do a review of what's already in your home. You could donate and sell those items free up some space and have less things to maintain around your home.

As you can see, there's different ways that you can break down your goals, not just with finances, but you look at your health, your wellness , your family and around the house.

Harnessing The Power of Focus with Your Habits

Now a challenge that people have is they want to fix it all. Maybe I've listed several goals that you want to achieve.

One of the best ways you can avoid burnout is by choosing and focusing maybe on one to two goals at a time. Once you get those habits into place, then you can move on to the next.

That's one of the reasons I think, why systems like the baby steps with your finances is so helpful for many is that it gives you one goal at a time to focus on.

As you hit it, then you can move on. You've had a win. You feel good about that. You progress forward. So then how do you figure out which goal or which habit is right for you?

I had mentioned to Peter that one of the goals I had during our time at home was exercising more.

I wanted to make this as easy as possible. The cue is the clothes right there where I can slip into them, get started my workout first thing in the morning. Then I can do my regular routine and that's made a huge difference for me.

We're looking for these Keystone habits that can kind of create this domino effect. Look for a small habit that you can do that can have a significant impact on your goals.

For example, you want to save up for a house down the line. What's one of the best ways you could do that? Paying yourself first could be a great key move. Making sure that at the beginning of the month, once your check is deposited, there's an automatic transfer for a certain amount that goes into savings for that goal.

Let's talk about health. One of the easiest ways you can do that even before you shift your habits is by tracking your meals and snacks.

We mentioned the power of tracking your money when I was chatting with Peter, because it brings us awareness. Tracking your habits currently can be a great first habit to develop.

With your health, when you look at the meals that you're actually eating in the snacks you're having and the amount of them, you may have some motivation right there to say, you know what? I don't need to snack as much, or maybe I can swap out.

Tracking your finances, your meals and snacks, or even your schedule can be a fantastic habit.

To help you hit your goals today. I want to focus on not just a couple of key takeaways, but on a monthly money challenge for you.

Now we've talked about Keystone habits and setting things in place so you're moving in the right direction.

So I thought the best way to start off this year is to focus on tracking your money, both on the income side and on the expenses.

Look, 2020 did a number on us, and we probably had to make some adjustments to our budget and reset a few things. So if we're going to pivot towards these new goals that we have, we should get a good idea of what our baseline is.

Where is our money coming from and where is it going? Moving forward, we can start making adjustments in the right direction.

There's several ways that you can do this. There's some great options out there with apps.

A few that I want to mention include tiller, which we had Peter over there doing that financial wins challenge.

Definitely want to join in on that. If you're looking for a community, I think that's great.

We also have personal capital and mint. And if you're a couple, that specifically is looking for ways to sync up and talk about your finances. There are apps that are specifically designed for that Zeta and honey fi can help you to get on the same page with your finances.

Maybe you don't want to use an app. Spreadsheets can be incredibly helpful. There's some great Google sheet in Excel templates. If you want, I do have on my site, my own like 50, 20, 30 budget template that you can use and adjust as you see fit.

And there's nothing wrong with pen and paper, if that's how you want to do do it. It's more important that you have a tool that fits you and your style, because if you're consistent, that's when you're going to start having the wins.

And a key takeaway I want to focus on are your money dates this year. Let's make them into a habit if you haven't already and make them fun.

This first month we're talking about tracking your money, just set it up. Don't talk about the numbers necessarily, but instead focus – what are the key areas with our finances around the house with ourselves, our health, our family, that we want to hit?

See which ones you can agree on. Sync up on that and start tracking your progress.

As always, if you want to chat with me in our Facebook group, thriving families, please sign up and join. It's free. We're a private Facebook community that's focused on helping each other with our family and financial goals.

We'd love to see you there.

Special, thanks to Peter for being a part of this episode. There is still time. If you want to join up tillers 30 days to financial wins challenge, it's a great way to join a community and start tracking your money. And they do offer a 30 day free trial. Just head over to simplifying, enjoy.com/tiller.

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and found it helpful, here are some ways to support it.

Music Credit

Music in this episode was provided by artists from Audiio.

How to Rework Your Money, Home, and Routines to Thrive This Summer

Since March families have been forced to scramble, rework, and readjust their money, homes, and routines to deal with the pandemic.

Today we'll look at how you can reset, rework, and simplify to reduce the stress and overwhelm this summer!

Summer Plans: Rework Your Money, Home, and Routines

Right now 2020 seems to me to be a cross between a disaster movie and a rollercoaster. 

The original plan was to return last month to Simplify and Enjoy, but things needed to be adjusted. I partnered up with our sponsor Coastal Credit Union for mini-series focused on dealing with the financial side of the fallout of the coronavirus

But as happy as I am to have the ability to do that, I also realize how that’s only one piece of the puzzle. 

Our finances are something we deal with regularly, but life is more than money.  I believe that money is not the goal. 

A tool that you can use to build a life around who and what matters most to you. 

I think having the stay at home orders really hit home how we don't need more stuff. Time is the resource to look at. 

How are we spending our time? What are our lives focused around? Then build your finances around that.

Little by little. Step by step.

There’s a connection between everything and that’s why this second half of the season is going to look at. 

How do you move forward in times like these? 

Many of us are resetting and reworking our finances, our homes, and our lives. It’s not easy and in fact, for many families, it can be daunting. We’re still in the middle of the crisis. 

So for the next round of episodes we’ll peel back these layers on how you can simplify during this summer and beyond so you can have more options and less stress. 

Specifically, I want to talk about where you can get some big wins with your money, home, and life. 

In this episode we’ll get into: 

  • How to rework your budget 
  • Transform your home to fit your family’s current needs
  • Adjust your routines so you can feel less stressed and overwhelmed  

Let’s get started! 

Resources to Help You To Reset Your Finances and More

If you’re ready to get your budget up and running this summer, here are some handy tools and resources you should check out! 

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union. If you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better, come check out Coastal today!

They not only have fantastic customer service, they also have competitive rates on their checking and savings accounts!

How to Redo Your Budget and Win with Money

Before we jump into how to rework your budget, we should take a step back and just talk about why we should even bother having a budget.

Believe it or not, I believe your finances is a lot like your health. Now, some people think of their budget the same as a very restrictive diet.

They can't do this. They can't spend here. It's just a bunch of no's. And just like any hard core diet. Most people will quit after a while.

Now, you will have some people be on a very strict diet for a specific reason. Or you might have some people just that personality fits that. And that's the same with budgets.

Sometimes when you have a very specific goal, when you have a high interest that you're trying to get rid of. You may be more intense than you would otherwise.

For the most part, though, if you feel like your budget is more like a straight jacket, then you're going to quit.

If you see your budgets like that, that they are restrictions, that there are basically a cage, then I can understand why you don't like them. So I'm going to tell you, please try something different.

Let's look at this as a healthy diet. Now, around the world, there are healthy people and they're eating a variety of foods based on what's available to them.

What you see here is no matter where you go, there are going to be certain principles with a healthy diet. You got to watch your portions. You want to avoid highly processed foods. However, there's space within those guidelines where you can eat well and enjoy it.

So try to see your budget that same way, too. There are definitely essential guidelines with budgets, you know, like spend less than you earn. Pay yourself first and avoid unnecessary debt.

With a sustainable, financially healthy budget, there's also going to be three main goals that your budget should be hitting.

The first one is making sure that you take care of your essential bills, gaining some financial stability, and then having some money to spend so you can enjoy life now.

When there's friction with finances I've seen with couples and with families, a lot of times it's because one or more of those goals aren't being met.

For example, if your bills are being paid, you almost have this like weight on your chest. And if you don't have any savings or anything, really as a financial buffer, you're going to have this kind of anxiety or not in your stomach. And then when you don't have any money to spend now, any money to enjoy. You just feel resentful.

When you are able to create a sustainable budget that hits those three targets, you're more than likely able to enjoy the now save up for later and stick with the budget.

Key Numbers You Need for Your Budget

OK, so hopefully you're on board with getting your budget to work. Now, how do you do that? Well, there are two key things that you need to do.

The first one is you have to define your goals. And we're going to look at the summer since we're kind of going over this. Reset of our finances during the summer. And then your long term goals.

The second part is assessing where you are now. You really have to weigh in both so you can come in with the right budget that fits you.

We are all being hit by this pandemic, but it's affecting us differently and therefore we're gonna be approaching things differently as we rework our budget.

You might have a family new on their path to financial freedom when this pandemic hit and their income has dropped or is on shaky ground because of what's going on. So they're going to have a different goal than a family who's further down the line on their F.I. journey and whose jobs are somewhat stable.

Let's take us at the beginning when we were married and then us versus now.

Now, when we were first married, my husband had a job, his first job out of college, making I want to say like thirty-five thousand a year, if I remember correctly.

I had a part-time internship. I was wrapping up school about 13 an hour, so weren't making a ton of money.

If we were in that situation now where I have a part-time job, I'm not sure what's going to be happening in the next few months if it's still going to be there. And then if he has that job where it's a little more steady but the income is not great, then I would say for your goals, start looking at building that financial cushion.

You want to have that safety net. And the typical advice you hear is to save a thousand dollars as a starter one.

But because of this situation, you want to really kind of hone in on at least three to six months of just essential expenses.

So should one of you lose your income? Should that be a drop in income? You can at least take care of the essential expenses and kind of ride things out a little bit. So that would be the advice that I would give for a couple for their more immediate goal.

Now, if I was talking to us today, like when we were looking at our finances with the pandemic, we were hit. My husband's job is more steady. But I seen a drop of income being a personal finance writer. There are some companies are pullback in scaling back on some of their projects, but that's fine.

We do have a financial cushion, but so far we haven't had to tap into that. So what we're looking at, though, is making sure that we are shoring up because there's still always a possibility it can be more drop in income. But then also taking opportunities.

Could we invest in the market sometimes being down? That's a possibility.

Another goal that we've been working towards anyway, long term is opportunities to give.

It's sometimes is discussed in finances, but I don't think nearly enough where if you are in a good position, are there ways that you can help others, especially with something as huge as this? And with such disparity between how you're going to get through this.

So that's a key step – defining your goals, both for right now, more immediate goals.

And then, of course, talk about your long term goals. Where do you want to work from?

The second piece is assessing where are you now. And if you're not exactly sure how you're doing financially, please understand that's typical.

I know we were guilty of this years ago where we had an idea of where our finances were, but we could not give you an exact number.

This is where I see a fintech being a great option for a lot of families. You have money apps like Personal CapitalMint, Honeyfi,and Zeta, where you can pull that information all in into an app and then see all your accounts in a snapshot.

If you're more of a spreadsheet person. You can definitely go that route. Google Sheets is a great option. But then also there's a tool called Tiller, which gives you the best of both.

You can have a completely customized spreadsheet, but the data is pooled for you from your bank and other accounts.

So when you have options like this, this makes that second step easier, which is where are we now with our finances? And the reason you need these two is you're building a plan to work towards that.

Your money should be taking you closer to whatever your goals are. Yes. You're going to have those traditional financial goals, like saving, you know, and hopefully down the line, like investing for the future. But then also goals like vacations, goals like, you know, if you decide that you want to switch careers or help out family members, whatever those goals are when you define it.

When you know where you're starting from, it's easier to work backward and come up with a plan.

Right now, though, I know it feels like it's almost impossible to think very long term. So just focus right now on what where you would like to be in the next year if that's easier to start reworking your budget.

What Budget Should We Use?

There are so many different ways that you can handle a budget. But one framework that I recommend as a starting point is the 50, 20, 30 budget.

The reason I like this is that it really simplifies things.

We talked about those three targets. Well, that's what the budget hits, 50 percent goes to your essential needs. You have 20 percent for savings. Or, you know, for example, if you're paying down debt, that would kind of fit in that category. And then 30 percent would be discretionary or things for now.

Now personally, the percentage I would flip the 20 to 30. But the idea I love about this is that it helps you focus on a few main goals rather than changing everything and worrying about every single line item. So start out with that.

I do have a spreadsheet available.

And so what you're doing here is that you're evaluating and making sure that there isn't a problem area with your budget.

As you're putting in and categorizing your expenses, you'll get a clearer idea of what area needs to be focused on first.

Don't try to change everything at once, but focus on one key category. Again, if you're at the beginning of your financial journey and you're at this point where your income is a question mark, you're not sure how it's going to be affected within the next three months. Definitely lean on hard on making sure you have that financial cushion.

If you're in a better spot., definitely look for opportunities to maybe invest more. Also see if you can help out donating your time or resources so that other families can be in a better spot, too.

So hopefully you got the tools that you need to create a budget that you love and will stick with!

Decluttering and Reorganizing Your Home

One of the biggest shifts that we've had to do because of the coronavirus and the stay at home orders is get our house prepared for remote learning.

We have an eight year old in third grade who needed a dedicated space so that she can have some quiet time, be able to focus in and watch the video lessons and be able to participate in projects where she's not distracted. And so we went ahead and we converted the guest room.

Probably like you, we realized we just had to create space by taking stuff out. And that was one of the biggest things that we've been doing throughout. This is declaring our space. And I feel like that has been one of the most beneficial things that we've done around the house.

Decluttering frees up space, but it also reduces stress. Our kids are less likely to ask for where certain things are because it's easier to find them. And then also we are getting rid of stuff that we're not using or they're outgrown.

Now, the challenge is I got some resistance from both my kids and my husband. They love to keep things even if it doesn't fit them or they don't even use it.

Instead of the whole usual pack and purge method is I did it in steps.

First thing I did was grab some grocery bags, like the paper bags with the handles or just the regular standard and put a couple in each room and with the kids.

I asked them what things don't fit. You put in this bag and for toys to rank them most favorites to least favorite in what was beneficial was having these containers where if it didn't fit in, it couldn't be included, allowed them to start prioritizing what was important to them going through that.

That allowed them to start seeing that there were certain toys they didn't care as much and that they're willing to part with. So that went to the immediate donate pile.

And then there were the toys where they still wanted them, but they didn't play with them as often as their favorites. And I made a compromise and I think this was helpful.

We put them in a dedicated space in the basement. And so if they wanted to get them, they could go ahead and grab them out of the toy box. But again, this was a way for them to discover maybe we don't need to have as much stuff until they went ahead and did that.

And just recently, we did another donation. So. If you're kind of in the middle of this transformer, your home trying to find space where you have it doing it. Insteps has made a big difference.

Having your kids part of the process has been helpful. And then with my husband, just like I think all of us are guilty with our all eventually fit back into those clothes. I separated the clothes, the ones that he hadn't used. And then he put some in the bag as well. And then just kind of put that to the side in a different room, in a closet. And if he needed it, it was there to access it.

I wasn't an immediately donated or sell it or whatever. But again, you see, not having it there didn't really affect them. So if you're struggling with this where you are trying to make space in, your family's kind of pushing against that.

See if you can do it in steps where it is still in the house, but not as easily accessible. And that can maybe make it a little less stressful on you and make the process of either selling or donating it much easier on them.

Reworking Your Schedule and Routines

I don't know any family that has not had their schedule and routine completely thrown off because of the stay at home orders between our own work schedules in having remote learning at home.

We've had to shift things around to make it work for everyone. And to be honest. Is it perfect? No, but we do have something that allows us to at least keep moving towards our goals and have somewhat of a routine.

I want to take you through some of the changes we've made in the spring to make things work for the family and then kind of go over what we're thinking about doing this summer. That way you can create a plan and routine that fits you and your particular family's needs.

The first thing I want to advise any and all parents as they're creating these routines is to give yourself some grace.

We are all trying our best to make it work. It's not going to be perfect and you have to be flexible enough to adjust it. For us, it was almost on a weekly basis.

We had to adjust things. We had to regularly talk about what's coming up. So my husband has a traditional office job where he is able to work remotely. Thankful for that.

I work from home, been doing that for the last 10 years. And so I do have some more flexibility with my schedule, but I still have weekly deadlines and monthly deadlines with some clients.

So one of the first things we did was create a schedule and we do not have it by the hour. What we found that's been most helpful is to create a schedule based on blocks of time.

For my husband, he would let us know, like, here's where the meetings are scheduled, where he cannot be disturbed.

I would let him know when I'm, for example, recording podcasts, interviews or recording for the videos. When I needed time alone here in the office to get this done. And so that was one of those things that we had to kind of nail down by the beginning of week.

And then for our little one, we did not do a strict school schedule on that. Like she had to do it from nine to one.

What we did is we did blocks in the morning and in the afternoon we kind of separated it. So the morning block, we had her start about the same time that she did with her regular school schedule. And then for about an hour and a half, have her in her room, her little school room that we created in the guest room and take care of the lessons from her homeroom teacher talking about the core subjects like math, English, science and social studies. And then she would have a break.

And we use those breaks kind of as a reward for a way for her to kind of relax. So she would catch up with friends, work on her little projects that she wanted to do.

What we did is after lunch, we had another block of time in this would be for her other subjects. And in the school, they call them the specials, art, music technology, Spanish and media. And so by separating them, the morning routine and the after routine, we still kept her on the schedule. But then we also had to acknowledge said this is different.

It is very hard to tell a grade schooler, you know, to focus in on each of these task for the whole day continuously. So that helped us and took the schedule. We looked at blocks. It's helped us for our work and it's helped our oldest with her schoolwork.

Speaking of work, something that's been helpful is. Looking for opportunities where you can adjust your schedule. I know for some that is not an option, but in certain cases where you are working remotely and you have a more flexible manager or the company is focused on results and not sign in at very particular times. This can be very helpful.

So for me, again, I still had those weekly goals and deadlines I had to meet as well as monthly, and I've kind of done like a swing shift. So I do get up in the morning early. But if you're more of an evening person, you can adjust as you need to. So in the morning I took care of essentials, anything that I had a contract with or had deadlines I focus in on my morning block.

During the day, I'd handle the shorter admin things such as touching bases, email, pinging people, phone calls. But that was also the time I was helping the kids. So I found like doing those admins tests, work was best.

In the afternoon or evening anything, I did not wrap up that I had to I would do it then. And so, again, breaking it up into chunks and then realizing during this time of day, how noisy would it be with others working or the girls doing their schoolwork? How can I work and make that fit? So if you do have flexibility, take advantage of that.

Now, with summer break with our little ones, what we decided is we're still going to have that morning, afternoon schedule, but we have some flexibility.

So the morning we have programs like Khan Academy, the educational sites that they've been using for their school work, continue doing that. Having them shorter. And then in the afternoon, we tried to do some projects and activities outdoors.

If weather permits so that they're still getting engaged, is still getting active. But I still have windows a time where I can get certain assignments and work done and then also have some boundaries. That was an immensely important tip. So as you saw, I had to work early in the morning, so if the girls woke up early, that was fine, but they couldn't come down and interrupt my work.

And that's kind of hard, especially as a parent, to tell them no, to go back upstairs. But that made a huge difference. And honestly, it didn't work the first time. But after a couple of weeks, they got to the routine, to the point where now they know.

Finally, we talked about setting aside time for work, setting aside time for school, but then also making sure that you set aside time for some self-care. As parents, if we're working and taking care of the kids, you're gonna get burned out. You're gonna get tired.

So what we've done is we've blocked out times where one of us will take the kids. And even though it's like half an hour a day, it's enough for us to kind of clear ahead and relax and we can do whatever we want. It's just half an hour of quiet time or if you want to do some kind of activity, can.

So, again, the most important thing I want to say is do not beat yourself up. If you don't have a perfect routine, if you don't have a schedule where you keep 24/7, instead see the ones that you do have and just try to improve little by little and make adjustments as needed so that you and your family can take care of which you need to, but then also take care of each other and yourselves during these stressful times.

What You Need to Know About Building a Budget

 Plenty of advice on how to build a basic budget, but how do you strike that balance where you're saving and investing for financial freedom and independence while still having fun now with the kids? We'll find out how today!

What's the Best Budget for You? 

Budgets, spending plans – whatever you call them, people have strong feelings about them. 

Over the past ten years, I've talked to and interviewed couples and families about reaching big goals – financial or otherwise. 

I noticed certain patterns or habits that they shared. 

One of those is how they handled their money. Here's the strange part that might surprise you. 

While they all some spending plan for their money, they had different types of budgets they used.

That's good news in a way because that means there's no one size fits all aproach when it comes to budgets. 

The challenege though is discovering which method is right for you. 

So how do you do that – how do you find and create a budget that fits your family? 

We're going to tackle that today! 

In this episode we'll go over: 

  • Creating a budget you'll love and stick with
  • Three effective, yet different budgets to look at 
  • Choosing the best one 

Let's get started!

Resources to Help You Create a Budget Quickly and Easily

If you're ready to get your budget up and running, here are some handy tools and resources you should check out! 

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union!

If you’d like someone to work with you on your goals, Coastal has the people, accounts, and services to help you hit your goals.

How to Create a Budget You'll Love and Stick With 

 What's the point of a budget?

First off a budget isn’t about what you can’t spend or have, it’s about what you can.

Very loosely, a reasonable budget typically cover three areas:

  • Essentials & necessities – roof over your head, food in your belly, clothes on your back
  • building wealth – saving for retirement, getting of debt, seed money for a business
  • fun – quality of life options

When I speak with families who are having a hard time with their budget, one of those three goals are missing or aren’t being addressed properly. 

When you can’t pay the bills or they’re late, one or both of you are stressed. 

If you don’t have much saved up, or you struggle to pay down the debt, you’re worried about any hiccup that can come up. (And they do!)

And if you don’t have some fun with that money now, you’ll start to resent the spending plan (and the person who came up with it). 

If you want to create a budget that you both keep and stick with you have to hit each of those goals.  

Why Most People Break Their Budget

There are plenty of myths and assumptions people have about budgets that aren't true.

Myth #1: Budgets are time-consuming.

Truth: Budgets are time savers.  
Initial setup does take time, but once you have it, it's easy to check.

Most of us have fairly consistent expenses. There might be some shifts here and there, but you easily adjust those bit and pieces.

Automating it through bill pay and transfers makes managing the budget pretty much checking in once a week or paycheck for a minute or two to verify everything went through.

Myth #2: Budgets are about restrictions.
Truth: Budgets are about respecting your time and money.
The key to a budget is hitting those three goals I mentioned earlier and that includes having some money to enjoy.

3 Popular Budgets You Can Try 

On our YouTube channel, this week's money tip went into detail on the different budgeting methods out there.

I want to share three effective and popular ways families are budgeting to hit their money goals and still have room in the budget for some fun now.

50/20/30 Budget

As the name suggests, your money goes into one of three ‘buckets’ of expenses.

  • 50% Essentials: This covers your ‘needs’ like rent/mortgage, food, utilities, and necessary transportation.
  • 20% Financial Priorities: This money is allocated for your future such as investing for retirement and taking care of important money goals now like having an emergency fund and paying off your debt.
  • 30% Wants: These are your lifestyle choices. What do you two enjoy?

It’s encouraging to see at least 20% being devoted to financial goals.

Another plus with the 50/20/30 budget is how easy it is to set up bank transfers and bill payments. You two can set it up one evening, giving you more time for things you enjoy.

Since one of the goals here are Simplify & Enjoy is to share how you can move towards financial freedom, I want to modify this budget just a bit.

Instead of saving for 20% and spending 30%, I'd like you to switch those around.
Save 30% (or use it to pay down debt) and have some fun, guilt-free spending with 20%

By the way, other bucket system approaches are the 60% solution and balanced budget. The percentages shift, but it's the same idea in that you take your money and out it into buckets.

Pay Yourself First/Reverse Budget

Most budgets begin with your expenses – bills, credit cards, student loan payments and so forth. 

Once those are plugged in, you go ahead and split up rest to savings and fun money. 

The reverse budget is about beginning with you. You take out your savings and whatever key goal you're saving up for first. You then take out the bills and so forth. 

This can be really helpful if you really want to or need to hit a particular savings goal. Maybe you want to get that emergency fund up and running ASAP. Or you need to build up that house downpayment pretty fast. 

The downside of this approach can be that you may have trouble allocating enough for your other expenses. This can come up especially if you haven't ad much traction with budgets so far.  

Zero Based budget

You got to admit, at least these budgets are named properly. 

So we talked about using a budget to divvy up your money into buckets. 

With zero based budget, you're really focused on taking that income that you're bringing in and giving every single dollar a purpose.  

This method is used by Dave Ramsey's budget tool – you guess it- EveryDollar. 

This can be a great budget for detailed minded families who want or need to track every single dollar.  This strength can be a hurdle as well. 

One hang-up people have with budgets is that they have to do a line by line review of all their expenses and income.

For those new to budgets or people who are busy already it can seem overwhelming.

How to Choose the Right Budget for You

There you have it – three budgets that have worked for other family.
The question is what will work best for you?

As we've went through the different budgets you may have felt drawn or even repelled by one of them. That's okay. There's more than one way to budget.

If you're trying to figure out what's best, start with where you are now?

Take a look at your current budget or spending plan. Is it more high-level buckets or down in the trenches with transactions?

How well is it working for you? Sometimes you look at the numbers it doesn't seem as bad.

Speaking of numbers let's look at them, but instead of tallying up the expenses, I want you to try out a different approach.

I got to speak with Carl Richards a few times. He's a Certified Financial Planner and the NY Time columnist.

As a planner, he's worked with couples, and many times, the budget is a source of stress.

So to take the tension out, he suggests looking at the expenses and asking yourselves, did I get value out of that?

Was eating out out something that made me happy? How much? Go over it together and review your own spending? No judging, just asking.

What we're trying to do here is define those expenses in the context of – is it something you need? Is it bringing you closer to your big goals? Or is it something that you're enjoying now?

Because your budget is a mix of that.

When we had Drew Snider the beginning of this season, he talked BOUT soccer, how that wasn't going to get cut out of his budget.

For me, I have to have something set aside for meals with friends. I enjoy it.

Besides discovering your must-haves don't be surprised or feel ashamed if you also realize that some spending doesn't fit any of those categories.

Maybe you see that eating out with friends once a week is valuable, but grabbing something at the drive-thru isn't.

Being able to see your expenses through this lens allows you to create a values-driven budget.   And then the budgeting method is less a concern as you now understand it's just the tool to make sure your money is working for you.

Living Debt-Free

Speaking of hitting your money goals, have you ever thought about what it would be like to be completely debt-free, including the house? 

Next week we’ll look at the pros and cons of paying off your mortgage faster! 

So if you haven’t already, make sure you’re subscribed. You don’t want to miss that episode. 

We’re on iTunes and wherever you get your podcast from! 

Our music today was from Lee Rosevere. 

Finally and most importantly, thank you for your support!

If you have any questions or ideas for the show, please email me or join our free and private Facebook group Thriving Families.

We’re all about encouraging one another with our goals. I hope you have a wonderful week, take care!