Monday, September 29, 2008

The 31 Days of Less Challenge Begins!!!

My prayer: "Dear God, I humbly come before you today and ask that: just as you put Your Words in Isaiah's mouth, and just as you were with Joshua and taught him what to say, that you would be with me, teach me what to say, and give my hands Your Words to write.
I pray that this challenge would bring encouragement on all who dare to take it, and bring Glory to You."

This week is an awesome week! Amidst the busyness of our daily lives, we are accepting the challenge of living on less for this month. We are going to take this month and make steps to live on less financially and live with less materialistically. And we are going to turn to and lean on God for direction every step of the way.

Today and tomorrow we are going to put together our toolboxes and create a plan for you to cut costs and evict clutter in your life.

Last week we wrote down a brief purpose for taking on this challenge. I'm asking you now, what is your purpose? Why are you taking this challenge? And what do you feel Gods purpose for you in this challenge is? What goals do you wish to accomplish this month? Is it to curb your spending? Is it to find extra money to put towards debt? Is it to speed up your savings? Is it to help you gain more control of how you live your life? What is it?

That purpose and your goals will determine your priorities. Your priorities for your money and your priorities for your home. Let's use these priorities to help us put together our toolbox.

For our cutting costs tool box, the first thing you will need is a budget. Oh yes.... the dreded B WORD! This is such a simple tool, but so many people neglet to utilize it, or they only utilize it for a short while and discard it because they find it too restrictive and limiting.

We are going to use the budget as a tool to help you make better choices with your money and foster habits that lead to a healthier financial future. This budget is about seeking God, putting our money and finances in His hands, and asking Him to direct you. When we are following God, we will not be limited, but we will have freedom!

If you need help creating a simple budget, there are lots of great resources to help you do that. On Dave Ramsey's website here, you will find a great tool to create a budget. I also have an excel spreadsheet that we created to use for our budget in our home that I would be happy to share with anyone who would be interested.
This would be a great tool to create together with your husband. Your budget should reflect your purpose and your priorities for this months challenge. It's your written plan that tell you where your meny is going to go BEFORE you get your money.

After you have your budget, you're going to construct your cash flow management system. There are a wide variety of systems in this big world people use to manage how they spend their money. For this challenge I'm going to ask you to put together an envelope system. Use it and see how it helps you to stick to your bugdet for this month. If you don't like it, you can always go back to your old ways.

Some of your categories can be paid online via E payment or pay pal. All other categories will be CASH ONLY! These categories usually are food, gas, child care, date night, commisssion chores, mad money, etc. Take your envelopes and write the name of one of the categories on each envelope. Then, on the front or the back, you will write the amount that goes into each envelope and when. If your hubby gets paid twice a month or bi-weekly, you'll want an easy reminder of how much cash to put in each envelope.

Each payday, simply pull out the amount of cash needed from the atm or directly from the bank and split up the cash between all of your envelopes.

To store these and keep them handy, you can put them in an accordion check file, or put them in a pencil pouch for a 3 ring binder and keep them in your home management binder (tomorrow).
When you need to go somewhere and you need cash to buy food, gas, pay bills, etc... all you have to do is pull out that envelope and put it into your bill fold. As you spend the cash, put your receipt into the respective envelope, and this will help you keep track of where your money went.

After you pull all of your cash from your account, take your debit card and credit card out of your pocket and put it away some where safe. For this month, suspend the use of plastic and use cash only. The purpose of cash only is to help you be aware and think more about where your money is going. There is less thought when you swipe a debit or credit card because there is less of an emotional attachment to it. You may have a brief emotional high when using your plastic, but that high is only temporary and turns to stress when your balance your account or receive your statement and find that you spent more than you remembered. There's more thought when using cash because it's cold hard cash and when it's gone, it's gone.

So, you are free to spend from each envelope until the cash is gone. When the cash is gone, stop spending. Don't use your plastic. Don't borrow money from another envelope. Simply stop spending.

Tomorrow we'll go over assembling our home management system.

Until then, Be blessed.

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