Every money book or website I read, says to make a budget and stick with it. I don’t know about you all, but budgeting is frustrating to me. I’ve tried various paper budgets, online ones, and recently am trying one in Excel on my computer. This month, I was doing a No-Spend Month Challenge, and that has already gone up in smoke, because I bought an e-book. I didn’t let that purchase ruin my challenge though. I have learned that managing my money well is an ongoing process. If you have your money affairs in order and don’t have to worry about stretching your funds, don’t waste your time reading the rest of this. If you struggle with managing your money, and often have “more month, than money,” I’d like to share the money managing resources that work for me.
Money Managing Resources
Saving Money On Groceries
The first money management area that I tackled was my grocery spending. Erin Odom at The Humbled Homemaker has a wonderful article on saving money without clipping coupons that was very helpful to me. https://thehumbledhomemaker.com/how-to-save-money-on-groceries-without-clipping-coupons/ For example, when I switched to shopping at Aldi’s instead of a name brand grocery chain I immediately cut my grocery spending in more than half.
Erin also offers an Eating Well on a Budget ecourse that was really helpful to me. One of the most useful things I learned in her class, is to meal plan to get the most out of my dollar. Some people like to create detailed meal plans, I just think about what I have on hand and what meals I can create with those items. I compose my shopping list based on what else is needed, and what I’ve used up since shopping last. This gives some structure to my shopping and meal prep without the stress of complicated meal plans. I eat leftovers for lunches or a second dinner. I rarely plan anything for breakfast. (When you click on the e-course link above scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the sign up for the course.)
Budgeting Software Apps & Websites
Next, I looked for a way to keep track of my money resources. There are many programs available to help us track our cash and this article from the website called The Balance lists the top ten budget software apps for personal finances. My favorite in the list is Mint. I’ve been using it for years. It lets me know when bills are due, when I’m over-budget in a category, what my net worth is, and my credit score. Mint is available for free, and finds the best credit card offers and investment offers based on your spending, income, and money goals. However, you are not obligated to use any of their recommendations. You create a budget, and money goals right on the website. And most importantly it’s secure. It also has phone and tablet apps. Did I mention it’s FREE! When money is short, no one wants to or can pay money to keep track of their money.
I educated myself on the topic of money managing by reading the following books.
1. Slaying The Debt Dragon: How One Family Conquered Their Money Monster & Found An Inspired Happily Ever After by Cherie Lowe
Cherie’s book is both a how-to manual, and personal story about how the Lowe’s paid off $127K in debt. It contains great information on how to work together with your spouse or significant other to get control of your money. She encourages us to give our debt a name and serve it an eviction notice. She uses humor to help us “slay our debt dragons” which helped to make a difficult subject more manageable.
My favorite quote is “If you want victory over debt, you must make the battle personal.”(p.34) Until we realize that “debt is our enemy,” and consciously work to defeat it, it just remains some vague and overwhelming numbers problem.
There are chapters about budgeting; saving money on groceries, cleaning supplies, and children’s needs. Other people’s debt success stories are sprinkled throughout. This book is written from a Christian faith perspective, but it is not preachy. I found it very warm and encouraging . This resource helped me pay off $12,000 in debt, so I highly recommend it.
2. Inspiration To Pay Off Debt: Thirty Days of Encouragement From The Queen Of Free by Cherie W. Lowe
This is a companion book to Slaying The Debt Dragon. This book is set up like a money devotional to help us think about a money topic each day from a Christian faith perspective.
3. Thirty-One Days Of Living Well And Spending Zero by Ruth Soukup
This resource has 31 daily readings/tasks to help you stop extra spending for a month. She encourages us to shop our cupboards and closets instead since we often have things we’ve bought, and then forgot about. I was surprised at all the ingredients/supplies hidden in my cupboards that I had forgotten about. This is a great way to save money without any real effort.
Websites About Saving Money
The following websites/blogs are all very useful money managing resources.
1. Ruth Soukup has a website called Living Well Spending Less. You can check it out here:
2. Cherie Lowe has a website called The Queen of Free which you can read here:
3. The Thrifty Little Mom blog is also a helpful resource that covers saving money related to the seasons and holidays and was where I learned to shop at Aldi’s for groceries. She posts many menu ideas for shopping at Aldi’s. I love these when my brain craves something new and I’m out of ideas. So if you have an Aldi’s nearby, check it out!
Now, I know I’ve given you all many resources here. Please start where you feel comfortable. I would suggest shopping in your cupboards as an easy first step. That’s where I started. Little wins add up to give us confidence that we really can get a handle on our money. If you mess up, it’s just like dieting. Don’t give up; just start over.
If any of you have a money managing resource or tip that has been really helpful to you, we would love to hear it. Please tell us about it in the comments. If you found this post helpful, please share it with your friends and family.
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Finally, I am so glad you stopped by! Till next week, Kathy
P.S. I’ll do a review of my latest money managing book as soon as I finish it. (: