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How to take control of your finances

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Do you want to have financial freedom? Get out of debt for good? Finally have some savings built up? Retire comfortably?

No matter what age you are or where you’re at in your career, you can take control of your finances.

I was fortunate enough to have started at a very early age (infancy). My parents invested a small portion of money for me that has since grown exponentially. That was to be the first of many investments.

As I got older I started a few of my own businesses. I made a small income off of a Handcrafted Candles and Farm-fresh Products. I learned then the importance of savings.

I got older and started getting “real jobs” as I worked my way through community college. I had vehicle expenses and a grocery budget, along with all the costs of college to factor in around my savings and investments.

Fast forward to my first full-time position. I moved several counties away to a completely new area. I lost so much contact and support with family and friends with this much distance between us. And with it I lost a lot of accountability. This was a real test of my knowledge and convictions about my finances.

I now had a steady and substantially larger income flowing in twice a month. My savings were padded a little thicker, and my purchases increased. I had to make some major purchases right off the bat. I had very little furniture when I moved. I saved up for a sofa and couch, then a matress, then a bedroom set.

I had a general idea of how much i was making and what I was spending. At the time, my income far exceeded my expenses! I was on the cheapest health plan, I am not at all a social person, I had a cheap phone plan and no internet or cable, and my rent and utilities were the lowest anyone could find.

Jump ahead and add a husband.

Getting married really changed a lot for me financially. To this day I am still shocked, and still learning how to adapt.

My husband and I share most, if not all, financial goals and values and habits. Which is why I am still surprised at how much confusion it caused to add another person into the equation!

My husband is very conscientious about what he spends and what his bank account looks like, but trying to budget with him makes climbing Everest look like a piece of cake.

If you read Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Peace,” or take the Financial Peace University course, I am his definition of the need. My husband is the free spirit. Budgeting and frugality isn’t really his cuppa tea, whereas it is key to my financial peace and money management. Now to clarify, he is phenomenal with saving money and saving for big purchases and he is completely debt-free. He is very good with his finances and is a constant provider. We just have different approaches to organizing our spending and different ideas of what to spend on.

It was several months after we were first married that I looked at my bank statement and felt panic. The amount in the expense column was huge!! I started digging to see where exactly it was all going. Turns out, it was “leaking” from my account in a small steady stream of good deals and cheap purchases. Yikes!

I back tracked to the beginning of that year and started highlighting all the expenses that weren’t necessary. I canceled so many subscriptions, started negotiating lower rates, looking for alternative options.

Three months later I had cut much of the unnecessary spending.

The next large expense was groceries. I targeted that hard. I started shopping almost exclusively at the local Kroger, the reason why…

Kroger has a mobile app that has all the weekly deals and coupons. You can add these straight to your digital cart, which tallies up your total. Being able to see my total before checkout was a game changer for me. I started reevaluating what $50 of groceries should really look like.

Read my other blog post on how to get the most from your grocery shopping here.

The most important thing I can stress to get control of your finances is budget.

Don’t find out where your money is going, tell it where to go!

Sit down with your loved one(s) and find your goals and align your values and priorities. Map that out on paper, and put your money to work for you!!

Heres a link to my sample of a monthly budget.

Things to consider on your budget…

Tithe. I firmly believe that when you surrender your finances to God and give Him the “first fruits” of your finances, He will bless it in a way only He can.

Save. At least 10% of your income needs to be tucked away and saved each month.

Take care of the basics. Make sure the house and utilities are covered, and everyone has the necessary transportation covered, and at the end of the day have dinner on the table.

Have insurance. Carry insurance on yourself, your health, the house and your belongings, your vehicles and other vehicles. My husband and I are both in law enforcement, so carry liability insurance for that as well! See some great insurance options here.

Invest what you can for future expenses, like college and retirement.

Build up additional savings in the form of an emergency fund. Start with a goal of $1,000 and work up! Then save 3-6 months of income. My dad lost his job very unexpectedly when I was very young. I don’t remember it well, but I can remember the stress and anxiety it caused my parents as they tried to make ends meet.

Sign up for my monthly budget template and newsletter.

If you would like more help in budgeting or accountability with budgeting be sure to include that in the comments section, I’ll be happy to help!

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