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Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Do These THREE Things Before the End of January!




Ah, the New Year has arrived.  (Insert deep sigh here).  I always have mixed emotions about the passing of another twelve months of life.  The kids are older (good in some ways, sad in others), I have a list of last year's goals (some of which were met, while others remain untouched), and for the most part my weight, intelligence, and income have all remained pretty much stagnant. 

Here comes the part of this post in which I must admit that I am not much for making New Year's Resolutions.  I don't even use the word resolutions, because I don't tend to keep them anyway.  But, I DO enjoy a bit of inventory-taking and goal-making.  I find this concept to be very different than making resolutions.  Resolutions seem to be bits of left-over guilt all mashed together into vast, unattainable visions of perfection.  I feel pretty imperfect much of the time.  I see no need to exacerbate the feeling.  Goals feel more concrete.

Many years ago, I quit my full-time job. I would primarily be a stay-at-home parent, which effectively cut our meager income nearly in half.  I quickly realized the importance of taking a yearly finance inventory, creating a new budget for the next twelve months, and making a list of short, medium, and long-term goals.  Without these life-changing documents, I really ended one year and began the next with no idea of "how we had done" or if we had made any progress.

I'm going to give you three assignments to do during the month of January.  Sorry, it's the teacher coming out in me.

 So, let's get started!  

I love having a "game plan" to begin the year. 


ASSIGNMENT #1:  NET WORTH STATEMENT




What in the world is a net worth statement?  Simply put, it is a document that compares how much money you owe with how much money you have.  Ideally, your bank accounts and investments should add up to more than you owe your creditors.  I produce this document every single year in January.  In fact, I have all the totals from the last 20+ years listed on one document.  I know!  Crazy! 

My two favorite money management organizations are Dave Ramsey (www.daveramsey.com/) and Crown (www.crown.org/)  Both are Biblically based and offer you a boatload of hints, tips, and information absolutely free on their websites.  They also have products for sale, which will aid you in your financial and spiritual journey.  But, you can glean ideas at no cost, as well.  

For your first assignment, Go to Crown's website and download a simple net worth PDF document from Crown here.   Then, just fill in the blanks.  It will lead you step by step in creating a net worth statement.  
     


ASSIGNMENT #2:  MONTHLY BUDGET




You have NO idea how many people I had had tell me that they either:
A) Can't seem to live on a monthly budget
B)  See no need for a monthly budget
C) Can't figure out how to put a budget together ... so they just don't.  

Okay, this is where I exhibit a little tough love.  If you aren't living with an actual written budget and tracking every penny you are spending (to the best of your ability) you are digging a hole.  Each month that you fail to have a budget, you are digging the hole deeper.  You have no plan to fill the hole.  Additionally, even if you did, you never will, because you don't know the depth of the hole. 

Sorry.  But, there it is - in black and white.  I'm a born pragmatist.  I'm about as practical as they come.  But, I don't want you to stay where you are!  No!  I want you to join the ranks of those who live on a budget, plan for the future, and give every dollar a name!


So, right now, while you are thinking about it go to www.everydollar.com.  Sign up.  Create your first budget.  It's FREE - my favorite word as many of you know if you've followed my blog for any length of time.  There are tutorials on the site to get you started and answer questions. 

Alternately, you can go to www.crown.org and download this packet of budgeting forms.  They are pretty intuitive to use and cover basic budgeting, net worth, creating a debt snowball, and tracking spending .  You can also download their Money Map for free.  I have the paper version of this document and think it's a great graphic for sorting through how to proceed towards being debt-free and having financial freedom. 

I have used both Dave Ramsey and Crown materials for years!

 Really it depends on whether you are more of a "pencil and paper" sort of a person or a techie.  Crown.org is great for an "old school" paper and pencil type of person.  I did our budget that way every month for years.  But, three or four years ago my middle son took over our family budget for six months.  He's an IT guy and immediately set it all up on the computer.  God bless him forever and ever!  I love it!  Here's a link to a post about why each of our sons takes over our family budget for six months before graduating from high school. Everydollar is not difficult to manage (even for a tech illiterate person like me).  But, your success depends on you going on-line and inputting your spending into the form on a regular basis.  So, I recommend Everydollar for those who have access to the internet and are willing to spend time at the website every week. 




ASSIGNMENT #3:  LIST OF SHORT, MEDIUM, AND LONG-TERM GOALS




I did a whole post on why you should have a list of goals.  You can find my post about goals here.  I give specific instructions on how to set up each kind of goal and track it.  

If you live "under the median" you do not get a "pass" on this important assignment.  In fact, it may very well be more important that you take this step than if you were rolling in lots of dough.  I would go so far as to say that it is only through having a list of written goals, that you will be able to see and achieve financial progress.  So, let's get those goals written down and being working toward them!

That's it!  That's your January homework.  Let me know how you do!  Leave your comments or questions below.



Until next time,

Do all to the glory of God,

Hope




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