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Finances

Budgeting

The software and the method

YNAB (You Need a Budget) is both a software and a method that helps you to manage your money. It is based on four rules that are life-changing that have helped lots of people to have peace of mind in their financial life.

Detailed explanation here

Rule one: give every dollar a job.

Decide how you are going to use your money and stick to the plan.

Rule two: embrace your true expenses.

Budget for upcoming expenses, when they come, you only need to pay the bill.

Rule three: roll with the punches.

You will not be able to anticipate all the expenses and will need to adjust your budget multiple times. Move funds from one category to another and make room for the expense you need to cover. For example: there is no money in the dining out category but you can afford to transfer from groceries. You make the treat affordable by taking advantage of some offer at the supermarket or by adjusting your shopping list.

Rule four: age your money.

As you begin to live within your means and spend less than you earn, money will start to age. This way, you will spend money that you earned at least 30 days before. This is completely different to the pay check to pay check life-style many people have got used to.

If you are interested, have a look at the workshops here.

My experience

When I got my first salary (I was 17 years old), I couldn’t believe it, it was both exciting and shocking to see money coming in and out almost immediately. At the time, I needed to cover some expenses I ran into so that I could start that first job: clothes, transportation, food, essentials. Therefore, my first pay check wasn’t mine anymore. I had to return the money and hope to catch up and stabilise my situation in the coming months. However, this situation (which should have been temporary) became the norm. I kept my head above water most of the time but I did not experience financial peace until I got my degree and my second or third salary as a professional (I had to pay my university debts first).

I will graduate, get a job and lack of money will be a distant memory. This is temporary!

My thoughts as a university student

Perhaps some young people, especially university students who work to pay for their studies might be familiar with this situation and might get on with it.

I learned valuable things, for example, I could cope with the struggle, hope for a better future, be a more disciplined student and prioritise my studies. I am not sure this was the case with some people who got support from their parents. Don’t take me wrong, great for them but I would not change a moment, those were good times. When I finally saw money left in my bank account after paying my debts and my monthly expenses, a thought struck me:

Surely I deserve a break after all my effort! Let’s travel, eat out and do things I couldn’t afford before!

I am flushed with cash … this will make sense if you watched Parks and Recreation 😀

This was a big mistake! I could have enjoyed for a while, I did deserve it. However, I forgot the tight budget of the old days and spoiled myself with treats for too long. Therefore, I went back to square one and I continued to live pay check to pay check. I eventually got a credit card and accumulated debt carelessly. It took me a while to realise how bad the situation was.

I was planning to get married at the time and I was determined to pay my credit card debt and to change my financial behaviour once and for all. My future husband told me about budgeting, financial principles and gave me ideas to fix the situation. The whole process took about 7 months and there is no secret… just keep this in mind:

  1. Live within your means, do not spend more than you earn.
  2. Plan ahead, not only for the monthly expenses but for emergencies, a house or retirement.
  3. Most of the things we want to spend our money in are unnecessary, give it a second or third thought. Indulgence might be your worst enemy.

I have no debts at the moment and have tried to master the rules above. I still struggle sometimes to stick to the original plan and allow myself treats at times even when I know I shouldn’t. However, the underlying principles I have decided to live by always help me and bring me back. I am glad to have an organised financial life for the most part and this motivates me to keep on track.

There are useful resources that gave me a different perspective on finances and I list them below if you are curious.

The Richest Man in Babylon

The book contains a series of parables which are set in ancient Babylon thousands of years ago. The financial advice encompasses saving, controlling expenses, earning, preserving income, investing and general principles which anyone can grasp. Additionally, I was able to draw numerous lessons in regards to character: diligence, caution, patience, honesty… The book is fascinating! You can purchase it online easily.

David Ramsey’s story

He is a financial advisor in the United States. He tells the story of his bankruptcy and subsequent recovery. He hosts the Dave Ramsey Show and offers advice and courses.

Biblical wisdom

The Bible speaks about stewardship, debt, diligence, laziness, labour but most importantly about God’s promises. If we keep his word, he will help us in all things.

Luke 14:28 
For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?

Psalms 37:21
The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth.

Proverbs 27:23
Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds. 

Proverbs 6: 6-8
Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:

Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,

Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.

Hebrews 13:5 
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

Happy budgeting!

This post is day 6 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Visit 100daystooffload.com to get more info, or to get involved.

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