Have you noticed the price of gas seems to be going up? (Yes, this is sarcasm.) Of course you’ve noticed! I met a friend for lunch the other day and, after doing the math, realized that I paid more to drive to lunch than I did to eat lunch. Shocking and yet it is the world we live in.
The change in gas prices is devastating to some of us as we struggle to make ends meet. We either need more money (wouldn’t that be nice?) OR we need to get smarter about the money that we have. We need a plan.
A plan about how to spend money is a budget. We need a budget.
When I first got married, we decided that I would be the one to handle our finances. It sounds great on paper but there’s one problem: no one ever taught me anything about money. Nothing. Nada. Zero. With this non-existent financial knowledge I sat down with a spreadsheet and tried to figure out what to do.
Was I successful? Well…. We ate every month and the police never arrested me for fraud but we also didn’t have any money in the bank. It seemed like we didn’t have any money to do anything we wanted but we also didn’t have any money for things we needed. What was going on? We were working so why wasn’t there any money?
It turns out that a Nigerian prince had been siphoning money from our account!!
I’m kidding. The only people siphoning our money was us. We needed help.
They don’t teach you this in school.
It’s down-right bizarre that I had a college degree and had NEVER received any financial training. I didn’t even have anyone teach me how to balance my checkbook (when that was a thing). It was embarrassing to have come so far and still not be able to properly pay my bills! I finally realized that my communication degree wasn’t going to cut it so I signed up for a class on how to manage money. IT CHANGED MY LIFE.
Here are some things I learned:
You’re spending more than you think.
Log into your bank account and take a look at your spending. Five dollars a day for coffee, soda, snacks, etc doesn’t seem like much but if you track it across a month it’s more than one hundred dollars. One hundred bucks for soda and snacks!?!? Let’s be honest: that’s probably a low number. We’ve got way more money flying out of our accounts for daily coffee and fast food stops than we know. Count it up.
Spend less than you make.
This is the simplest, most important thing that you can learn. If you spend more than you make, you’re in debt. If you spend less than you make, you have extra. Yep, let me say it again: it’s stupid simple but its crazy powerful. You can stop going further into debt.
Save money where you can.
Saving money can be simpler than you think. Make coffee at home instead of stopping at Starbucks. This can drop your daily coffee budget from $5 a day to 50 cents per day. Cancel some streaming services you don’t use. Pack a lunch. Get e-books from the library instead of buying them.
Small choices lead to small savings, but if you do that enough times you’ll have saved a surprising amount of money.
Sign up for a class or get a book.
Find a financial class with a good track record and take it. I took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University class. It was spectacular but it also wasn’t the only class like it out there. It will cost you some money. It’s an investment. Seriously. Spending money to learn how to handle your money will change your life if you apply the principles you learn.
This may not be the most heartwarming or even interesting blog post I’ve ever written but I can’t stress to you enough how much my life changed for the better when I got my money under control. I want the same thing for you.
With the rising costs of essentially everything, there is no better time than now to put in the work to learn how to handle your money. Can any of us really afford not to?