Tag Archives: budgets

Getting Good with Money and Dumping Debt

Want to pay off debt, but are on a tight budget? Learn how one family became debt free (mortgage included) on around $50,000 a year!

Getting Good with Money

I love to highlight a variety of stories about how the different families face them, both with making the numbers work and with the conversations they have during the process.

Last week, Toni Husband shared some of the ups and downs of her debt free journey to pay off over $100,000 of debt. 

Knocking out that mountain of debt including getting her husband on board and finding a pace that allowed them to pay it off without sacrificing time with their young kids. 

There are other struggles when it comes to becoming free, including making every dollar go further when you’re making closer to the median household income of around $67,000

Which is why I’m thrilled to have Jessi Fearon on today’s show. 

Jessi and her family paid off their debts including their mortgage on about $50,000/year income.

In her new book Getting Good with Money, she talks about some key changes they made as well as offering practical tips on how families can get out of debt.

In this episode we get into:

  • Identifying your money type, triggers, and key behaviors to adjust
  • How to have more productive conversations about money as a couple
  • How to find and make money to hit your financial goals faster

Are you ready? Let’s get started! 

Resources to Dump Your Debt Faster

If you want to chat some more about creating better money habits, questions, or share your own tips please join us over at Thriving Families on Facebook.

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.

As a credit union, Coastal serves its members first including an annual loyalty bonus.

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

Rollover Your 401(k) Easily with Capitalize

We’re grateful for wonderful partners like Capitalize. Not only do they support the podcast, but they help make managing your money so much easier. 

Did you know that it’s estimated that there are currently over 24 million “forgotten” 401(k) accounts? In fact, the average American changes jobs every 4 years

And because of the Great Resignation, you or someone you know might be changing jobs even more 

It’s an extreme case of out of sight and out of mind. Is your old 401(k) in there somewhere, left behind at a job you're no longer with?

One huge benefit with an IRA is you get to choose how your money is invested, not your old employer. 

If you want to consolidate your old 401(k) and have more options with how you invest, it may be time to roll them over into an IRA.  

With Capitalize, they handle the process from start-to-finish – for FREE. They handle the process from start-to-finish, and yes that includes calling the 401(k) provider on your behalf. 

Find out how and get started today

Note: Interview is edited for clarity and length.

Understanding Your Money Mindset and Personality

Elle Martinez: I love following what you're doing online, not just with paying down debt, but the message you're sending with families with hope, especially us parents, where we're juggling so many different things with finances.

You and I know that this time of year, a lot of people are motivated and on their list of things to improve for the year is getting better with money.

They want to either pay down debt, save, invest, but it's hard to stick it out. Something I appreciated in your book, which was before you come up with a plan, kind of assess who you are, what's your money story, and how you interact with money. Cause you go into a couple different like personality or mindsets.

Could you go over first of all, the different types and for yourself, what did you have to do?

Jessi Fearon: Absolutely. The first one is the Daredevil. The Daredevil doesn't have any savings or little to no savings, rather. So they're living life on this tight rope and hoping that no little hiccup, no little bump in the road happens. It does. They're completely derailed and it's financial catastrophe.

I have definitely been all four of these different personalities. So I have definitely been the Daredevil before more times than I care to admit to.

I've also been the floater. The floater is someone who lives at paycheck to paycheck has no idea where their money is coming in. It has no real plan for their money. They keep trying to make progress, but because they haven't gotten really real and honest with themselves and how it is that they're using their money is all a complete mystery to them.

The other one is the spender. Yeah, the spender is, it's not someone who's just necessarily going in blowing all of their money, but it's someone who doesn't actually know what their spending trigger is and we all have them, including savers.

We all have something that whatever it may be, whether it's a good deal or we, again, where we see something and we think, oh, so-and-so would love that. We pull that trigger and we spend the money. If we don't reconcile that within our budgets and within our money management, it will completely derail whatever plans that we have.

The last one is the avoider. I was an avoider for a really long time. And the avoider is someone who doesn't plan for their future. Mainly talking about retirement here, but someone who does it plan for that 70 year old self. They kind of think, oh, that 70 year old self is. Way out there, but you know, it's funny.

Cause then all of a sudden you wake up one day and you're a lot older than 21 and you're like, ‘oh wait, I'm a lot closer to being retirement age than I am to a teenager now. So what am I going to do'?

As I said, I've been all four of these and for me discovering that about myself was realizing the way that money made me feel.

Working Together with Your Money

I'll use me and my husband pat for an example. My husband is a spender. I'm a safe. So for me, I like to have a lot of money in the bank account, but I also don't ever want to spend any, like I like regardless if we actually have to spend the money, I don't want to touch that money in that bank account.

Like I want it to sit there and be really, really big, you know, and with some around in my goal cleans, I want that, that makes me feel good. It's like a little trophy sitting on the shelf that makes me feel safe and secure. Whereas for my husband, he likes to spend money, but that doesn't mean that he wants to honestly spend all of the money and blow all of them.

And just means that he wants to have that ability to spend whenever he needs to or wants to spend. He wants to be able to have that ability to do that because it gives him a sense of accomplishment. And I say that because for us that's one of the key pieces for us was that we had to kind of come to terms with, okay, how does the money make us feel?

Like, what is it about money that we value? And the reality is that we. Something with money that we attach value to. And for me, it was safety and security for my husband. It's a sense of accomplishment and success.

Neither one of those answers is right or wrong. I know sometimes people want to answer in the way they think they should, like, well, I should say it's for safety and security or because I want to give a bunch of money to everybody. But it's okay if it's for you, it's accomplishment and success. That's totally fine.

Just own up to it because then it helps you figure out from there, like, okay, how am I using money? When money comes into my hand, what is my first thing that I'm doing with it? Am I immediately going out and spending the money?

Am I hoping that nothing comes up? So then that way we don't have any hiccups in the road, we don't go broke. The car doesn't break down. Whatever.

In those cases you may be a spender. You may be a Daredevil, or you may be a floater. If you weren't planning for retirement, then you're an avoider and you have to ask yourself why in all of these situations and getting down to that brass tax of why we'll help you reconcile and come to terms with these and then make progress and changes that you need to make.

Conversations Needed Before You Can Line Up Your Numbers

Elle Martinez: I love that. Yes. You not know about this, especially you've written a book about budgets specifically.

Yes. You have to have the numbers line up and there's a process to that but at the same time, if you don't address the root of it, which is why do I view money this way? And why do I act when I'm stressed or I'm coming up with a specific situation.

If you can't answer that, or you can't work through that both yourself. And if you're married, you know, with your spouse, Not impossible, but it's really hard and it's really slow to get through and make real progress on whatever your financial goals are.

I love that you opened up with that with those conversations, because that's something you can't avoid.

We were kind of the opposite. So I wouldn't say I'm like a spender, I guess, like you mentioned with pat, I don't want to spend everything, but I was comfortable with spending.

I would do too much. I was paying down debt. It was also saving a little bit of saving, a little bit of investing. So it was like going everywhere, but not really making any progress.

My husband, Rob was just like you, which is like money for him was security. I think for me, it was like freedom and options. Until we had that conversation, it was like we were just doing the same script over and over again and not really making that progress.

I'm glad you've included in the books. I think that is going to be a big breakthrough for a lot of couples and families.

Jessi Fearon: Especially when you're married, I'm a big proponent of like figuring out for you individually.

Get clear on money with you, like sit with it and really think about it. Because the clearer you get on how it is that you feel you value a new use of money the easier it's going to be when you have those conversations with your spouse.

You're going to be able to articulate your point and your spouse is actually going to be able to hear it because now emotion has been removed from the conversation and you are clear.

You're personally clear on how it is that you manage money and that will help bring the conversation to a much better place than if you're just screaming and yelling. Because I know that conversation really well too.

Dumping Debt on a More Typical Budget

Elle Martinez: I think we've all been there, you know? You don't see eye to eye. And when you let the emotions take over, it's very hard to make any kind of progress or see each other's point of view.

Another thing I appreciated with your story, and I think many people relate to is you did this without a huge income like you and I were fans of debt-free stories.

I love, and I'm rooting for families that open up more opportunities for themselves by becoming debt free.

At the same time, there have been times where I'm frustrated and I'm rooting for them where it feels like you read the story, they paid off this crazy amount of debt in like two years and then you read in the paragraph, they each make like six figures or they've had family help them with buying a house.

Again, nothing wrong but if that's the only money story that's being shared or that's the one that's being shouted out it can be discouraging for a family who has either a huge amount of debt that they're dealing with, or they don't have that large income to throw towards the debt.

First of all, thank you for including your story with that. I think that needs to be shared more, but what advice and encouragement would you give to a family that finds themselves in a more typical situation with their debt?

Jessi Fearon: First any income level is okay. I feel like I have to say that because, for us, we did this on just over $47,000 a year salary.

I know that for my husband, sometimes that was hard for him more than for me. I think he had more pride issues with that. That was really difficult for him because so many of his friends made so much more money. We had in comparison to our income level, a lot of debt and we had to figure out how to pay it off.

I was going to have to go back into the corporate world. So for us, what it came down to was, okay, what do we want more of?

Did we want me to be a stay at home mom? Do we want me to go back to the corporate world and having to put the kids in daycare? Because at the time we had two kids under the age of two, which that would have been even astronomical.

I can, God bless every single parent that has their child in daycare right now, because I can't even imagine what that cost is right now.

I know back then it was going to be crazy and it was with my paycheck, just to put them into daycare.

At the time my husband was working a graveyard shifts. So most of the burden of [taking] kids to daycare and them up from daycare and then doing the cooking dinner and feeding them, getting them in bath, saying prayers, reading the stories and going to bed, doing it all over the next day was all going to fall mostly on my shoulders.

So we had asked ourselves, is that the life we actually want is that what we're building?

I think key piece that any family of any income size has to ask themselves, what are we building like, is this what we want? When we are on our deathbed and we look back on this time, is this what we hope that we had built during our lifetime?

For us, that was not what we wanted and so we knew that we had to either find a way to make that $47,000 a year work, or I was going to have to go back in the corporate world and who, and we were going to have to live a life that we didn't necessarily want to.

Again, sometimes we have to make temporary sacrifices. that's not saying there's any shame that that's a situation that you find yourself in cause we certainly considered that, but for us it just became clear on our why and why we wanted to do it.

From there it made the actual sticking to our plan so much easier because we knew what we were fighting for because if you don't know what you're fighting for, then it's going to go up in smoke.

You're not going to, you're not going to actually try to achieve anything at that point, because once it gets hard, cause it will get hard. Yeah.

Define Your Family's Priorities

Elle Martinez: It definitely will. I mean, it's, it's not a matter of if it's when and I do love how you framed it cause it is included in the book. Like what kind of life do I want? What kind of life do we want?

It's very easy to get into the script of, ‘oh, I'm saving for retirement'. Well, let's just take that. What does that even mean to you? What kind of retirement?

If my husband had a choice, it'd probably be like a cabin in the mountains and I'm imagining traveling. So we were having these conversations and figuring out what does that even mean?

Like ‘I'm saving to buy a house'. What kind of house? Where do you want to live?

Having these deeper conversations definitely makes it easier to kind of work backwards. Okay. Well, if this is the type of house, or this is the neighborhood we want to live in, let's look at the numbers.

You give a lot of great advice and maybe kind of share a few of your favorites about finding money. Again, if you don't have a ton of income, you got to get creative with the budget and at the same make it sustainable, especially when you have kids.

Where to ‘Find' Money on a Tighter Budget

Jessi Fearon: Absolutely. Yeah, because kids have a way to eat at your budget. They really do. Especially the older they get, okay. Diapers may have cost a lot, but then once your boys started growing up, then all of a sudden they're just like eating you out of house and home.

So side hustles, I call them side hustles. I know that sometimes people now don't feel so nice about those words, but anything that you're doing on the side to generate additional income.

One of my favorite ways and one of the easiest ways for any of us to jump on board that is to ransack our houses and sell off stuff that we don't need or use. Most of us have a closet full of stuff that we don't ever use.

We probably don't want to open the closet cause we know there's a bunch of stuff in there and we don't want to deal with that mess. We know and so just pull it out, sell off what you can.

Don't focus on the fact, oh, this thing costs me a hundred dollars. And then like, if I can't get you at least, you know, $89 for this, like I can't sell it. Like, don't focus on that. The money's already been spent. It's a sunk cost move on from that, sell it for what you can, and then take that money and throw it immediately to whatever your current goal is.

Whether it's saving your emergency fund, paying off your debt, saving for retirement, whatever that current goal is and neatly take the money and put it.

The key point there is that action of taking the money and immediately putting it. So if you just sell it and then don't move that money to that current goal, it will slip through your fingers. Trust me, it doesn't matter if you're a saver or spender, it will disappear. I promise you.

So that is my favorite way that most people can generate additional income. The other way is to think about your skill sets that you have.

If you're an administrative assistant, you can take that and become a VA and start doing things, after your kids go to bed at night, you know, spend an hour or two doing VA work. Which VA stands for virtual assistant for bloggers or for other companies.

Same with accounting, as long as your company that you work for is okay with it but if you're you're an accountant or you do bookkeeping, you can do that as well online on the side. Do that for bloggers or for other companies that work online.

Same with photography. Believe it or not. If you're actually really good at taking landscape photography, you can actually. Those landscape photography, photos, that to various companies, because they'll use it in like calendars and stock photos and all sorts of things. So you can sell that for royalties. You know, and just anything like that, just get really creative with the skillsets that you have that you can use.

Also there's places like VIP kid, which you can teach online. So. Cool parent, you can actually teach online.

Same with Outschool. Outschool [is] another fantastic platform that if you're an educator or you're just someone who has some sort of you're a music person, you know how to play the guitar and you want to teach other people how to play the guitar. You can actually make a course teaching people how to play the guitar online and earn money from that.

There's a lot of different ways that you can do that. You just need to come up with what your skillsets are and the time that you have available and what you can do and maximize that time and your skill sets.

Elle Martinez: Yeah. I'd love that. And I do agree with you. Like people have very mixed feelings about side hustles and I think it's the connotation, but then again, what kind of life do you want?

You get to decide like, am I going to spend X amount of time for short knocking this out, or am I going to look for something a little more sustainable or pull back? Because I want to have that time with my kids, especially when they're little and you don't get that time back. Yeah. I love that.

New Opportunities and Options When You're Debt Free

Elle Martinez: Also something that I really appreciated with reading your book is that message of, as you are paying off the debt, you get to decide how. You get to live your life with your family.

You have more options and more opportunities and you know, it's been a crazy couple of years, Jesse. Yes. Yeah, yeah.

Unfortunately depending on where you were in your financial journey, when COVID hit the financial fallout from the you know, you were either I've heard from some families like new opportunities or rose, or when opportunities came up, they were able to take it.

On the other side was, unfortunately, if you were deep in debt, it was almost like you were obligated to make choices, more geared towards the finances versus what's best for your family.

I don't want that and I know you don't want that for listeners. So if there are now. Starting their journey or restarting their journey because they are focused on getting out of debt.

Can you kind of share how that's benefited you personally, what opportunities have opened up because you guys have knocked out that debt, including the mortgage, which is amazing.

Jessi Fearon: One of the best things that we ever did for our family, for our children is becoming a debt-free because my husband actually does not make much more than that. $47,000 now. I'm he makes a little bit more than $52,000 a year right now.

And you know, he's self-employed. He owns his own business and he could theoretically pay himself more money, but then he wouldn't be able to pay his employees.

What he pays his employees. He wouldn't be able to give them the vacations and the paternity, what, you know, these are men that work with him cause he's in construction. So these are guys who are becoming fathers for the first time. So he's able to give them paternity leave and able to do certain things for his employees as well as for his customers and his client that he would not be able to do if he took a bigger salary.

But because we have been able to become debt free and intentionally design our life this way, we don't have to make a whole bunch of money to have an amazing life. My kids get to go on vacations that me and my husband would have never been able to go on as kids and we're able to do it debt free. Now, granted, when we started our debt free journey, that wasn't the case, our vacations of choice were camping and backpacking down the river.

Elle Martinez: Those are exciting.

Jessi Fearon: We still do them today because they are fun and just like you work together as a family and it's really great, you know, but my kids actually get to go to the beach now, you know, they get to go to the mountains, they get to go do these things that, we didn't get to do every year as a kid. And so it's blessed them.

It's also blessed them with the fact that I'm not just a stay at home mom anymore. I'm now a homeschool mom. When the public school shut down. My boys were in public school. We just, we discovered very quickly that digital learning and me did not mix very well.

It did not go over very well, but I also discovered just how far behind my boys were in school. And so that opened up the opportunity for me to be able to homeschool my boys and then now my daughter as well. I'm able to homeschool all three of my children here at home.

I don't have to worry about, you know, the math now, right? Like if this kid's been exposed to, to COVID and, you know, test positive and all this stuff, like how many days until they go back to school, I don't have to worry about that.

My kids don't have to worry about that and it's just been, it's been so nice to not have those disruptions and not having to worry with, well, what's my county gonna decide as far as are we doing digital? Are they going to school or what does this look like?

Having those opportunities has been such a blessing for my family. I'm so grateful to former pat and Jessie who made these hard choices too, in the sacrifices that came with it to go on this journey and become debt free, because it truly has freed our family from just from not being able to live the life that we desired.

We're able to, when these opportunities come up, we're able to assess, okay, is this the right opportunity? For our family, we don't necessarily have to do opportunity or, you know, had to say no to it because we don't have the money or the time available to do.

Elle Martinez: Yeah, I absolutely love that. And I think that's like the best definition of financial freedom.

It's not the number in the bank account. It's the options that you have that's best for your family.

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 review on Apple or Stitcher.
  • Grab a copy of Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money

Music and Photo Credits

Music in this episode was provided by artists from Audiio. Photo by olia danilevich from Pexels

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! 

Listener Mailbag: Best Personal Finance Books, CoastFI, and More! Simplify and Enjoy Podcast

Is pursuing CoastFI a smart move for families? Looking for the best personal finance book for you? We dive into these questions and more in this mailbag episode! Listener Q&A: CoastFI Questions and More We’re wrapping up this season of the podcast by focusing on one of my favorite parts of Simplify and Enjoy: our community.  While I’m happy to share our journey as a family, it’s fun and inspiring to hear your stories, ideas, and questions.  I usually come away with something to explore and I hope you do too.  In this episode, we’ll get into Which personal finance books to read Whether or not CoastFI is a good goal to pursue Which numbers should you track We have so much to cover, so let’s get started!  Handy Tools to Start Your FI Journey If you’re looking to get ahead with your finances as a family and look at pursuing financial independence, here are some resources to check out: Best Budget and Money Apps: Personal Capital, Tiller, Mint Grab Your Copy: Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money How to Find the Best Personal Finance Books for Your Family How Your Family Can Become Financially Free Coast FI: A Better Path to Financial Independence 10 Lessons Learned from Accidental Slow F.I.R.E. How Much is Enough Money? The Levels of Financial Autonomy If you want to chat some more about creating better money habits, questions, or share your own tips please join us over at Thriving Families on Facebook. Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal! Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union! If you live in the Triangle area of North Carolina and you’d like someone to work with you on your goals, you really want to check out Coastal’s Wealth Management team. They’d love to help you start investing for retirement and more! Support the Podcast! Thank you so much for listening to the podcast! 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 review on Spotify, or Apple. 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 nappy
  1. Listener Mailbag: Best Personal Finance Books, CoastFI, and More!
  2. Money Goals: Doing Year End Review
  3. Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft Data Breaches and Scams
  4. Should We Switch to a Credit Union?
  5. How to Maximize Your Work Benefits During Open Enrollment

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!