Budget Buddies

Proverbs 22:7 The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender.

Romans 13:8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.

Now if you’re like I was at one point, you saw the word, “budget” in the title of this and probably froze in shock or got a jolt like hitting a big pothole but keep reading. This is going to be good! One of Merriam-Webster‘s definitions of budget is “4 a : a statement of the financial position of an administration for a definite period of time based on estimates of expenditures during the period and proposals for financing them b : a plan for the coordination of resources and expenditures c : the amount of money that is available for, required for, or assigned to a particular purpose.” It’s like a man greatly and godly wise on finances,” Dave Ramsey, likes to quote, “It’s telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went!” In this current economic environment, I thought it fitting to share some wisdom that others and I have on just how to make money stretch as much as possible. Following is that wisdom, may it be greatly encouraging and enlightening for you!

1. Budget EVERY Month – I encourage you to pray and even study the Bible on money before getting started. You’d be surprised just how frequently the Bible talks about money! Dave Ramsey,  in his great class, Financial Peace University (FPU), encourages creating your budget in advance before the month begins. If you tend to be more inclined to want to do your budget on your computer instead of on paper, there are some great free or at cost budgeting programs that you can download. We use Abassis Finance Manager, and it’s a great, user-friendly program. Also, a dear friend, Alisha Linton suggests creating one in MS Excel. You choose what works best for your household and you. To get more information on how to prepare a budget, you can attend one of the FPU classes that I referred to earlier and/or read one of Dave’s books, Financial Peace Revisited and/or Total Money Makeover both great books! Don’t expect miracles overnight in this, pace yourself realizing that it take times to get things that were once out of order in order.

2. The Envelope System – This coincides with the budget because it calls for you to carry in envelopes cash for things that would usually bust your budget (food, clothing, entertainment, etc.). You’d also track what and how much you spend on the envelopes. Both Dave Ramsey and my Facebook friend, Ms. Topekia Jackson, agree that it’s great for helping control your spending. The envelopes have the amount of cash that you alloted in your budget for that category. Once the money in the envelope is gone, you don’t spend anymore until the next month and its budget are in place. Dave even goes so far to say that when you spend cash, it’s emotional and you tend to spend less of it than when you write a check or use a debit card. Notice I said debit not credit card (just refer to the verses at the beginning to know why that wasn’t suggested).

3. Be a Deal Warrior – The internet comes in handy on this one! You can find so many great deals on discount websites, classified websites, auction websites and even local store websites in lieu of using your gas to drive around looking for them. Discount stores like dollar stores are also great places to find deals on things you’d spend more on in regular retail and department stores. I’m also a fan of flea markets/jockey lots/swap meets (name depending on where you live! 🙂 ) both for great shopping bargains and source of income in selling things not needed around the house or items you make for a low table rental fee. My friend, Mandy Greenwood, says, “When I shop, I scout out the best deals online and see if it’s in my area. If not, I purchase online. I look up coupon codes for that site and get free shipping etc. If it [offers] free shipping, I save gas as well by not going to the store and it comes right to my door. I actually have saved $100’s on things we need.” A good food bargain website is Angel Food Ministries. For the low price you pay, you can’t beat all the food, mostly meat, that you get. After all, this is your money. Why not be particular about where and how much of it you spend?

4. Coupons – I have saved so much money over the years by using these! The money spent on a Sunday paper is usually made up in just 1 to 2 coupons clipped from it! Also, by joining the e-mail lists of your favorite restaurants, you may receive some great coupons in you Inbox. Depending on where you live, you may also have sales papers for different local stores delivered to your front door each week and as I’ve learned, check them before tossing them in the trash. Sometimes, they have great coupons in them. If it’s applicable for your area, you may also receive the Valpak coupons in your mailbox. There’s usually at least a couple great coupons that I can use in those as well.

5. Point Programs – I’m probably not going where you think here because I’m definitely not talking about credit card points. There are several sites where you can sign up and complete surveys and/or just click and view advertisements (you can also purchase from the advertisers) and earn points. The ones I use are www.mypoints.com, www.mysurvey.com, www.erewards.com, www.emiles.com (get frequent flier miles on this one), www.epoll.com and www.ncponline.com. I’ve gotten some great products and gift cards from the points I accumulated on these sites! This is great for getting things that you can’t add to your budget yet. Some examples are gift cards to Wal-mart, Visa gift cards and some great restaurant and entertainment gift cards (great for date nights!). I’ve been doing this for years and it’s great! I’ve even gotten presents for others this way when I didn’t have the money to buy them anything. By the way, if you do sign up on any of these sites, please put me down as a referral, I get points for that too! 🙂

6. Blockbuster Rewards – I’ve been doing this for years! What the deal is here is that you pay a low annual membership fee ($9.95 the last time I renewed) and you get a monthly coupon for a free non-new release rental as well as a weekly deal of renting a new release and getting a non-new release rental free! It’s the best deal I’ve seen because you get your membership fee back in just 2 months of using your free non-new release rental coupon.

7. Separate Accounts – Not going where you probably think here either! My friend, Ashley Morris, shared how she has separate accounts. One, “strictly savings”; two, checking for bills, etc.; and three, “me money”. Kind of a different twists on the envelope system but yet another way to spend what you have as well as save.

I hope these tips help improve the state of your household’s finances. Please, if you have some tips to add, put them in the Comments. I don’t think I ever can stop learning something new!

Mrs. Knack

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