Tag Archives: saving

Five Reasons a Car Maintenance Line Should be a Part of Your Budget

1 Feb

car maintenanceOver the next few posts, I plan on discussing important parts of a budget that I’ve neglected in the past. I believe that a detailed budget improves my chances of winning with money.

Today’s post covers a line that may seem insignificant or unnecessary, but I’ve realized over the last few weeks that I need a more detailed car maintenance line. I’ve budgeted for oil changes and chalked that up as the car maintenance line. It’s not enough, though! So here are your reasons why you should have a detailed car maintenance line in your budget.

1. Oil changes
I’ve actually done a decent job of saving for this and using this line in my budget. Buying a different car is never fun, unless the car you’re currently driving is a beater and you’re stepping it up. I want to take great care of my engine so it lasts a long time. So, I try to get oil changes within the 4,000 mile mark.
2. Tires
I’m about to purchase some new tires for my car. It’s needed and I know it! Instead of saving $30 a month for two years, I’m having to use my income tax. I want to buy tires with a good tread life, and I need to estimate how much new tires will cost me based on how much I drive. I currently drive around 25,000 miles a year. I plan on moving soon, and I will drive considerably less than that. I still need to estimate how long my tires will last, and save that much each month to go toward my tires. That way I don’t have to wait on an extra check or a refund to come in to purchase them.
3. Brakes
This is a weakness of mine. I don’t really know how long brakes should last. But they should be replaced. I would find a mechanic you trust and ask them how often the brakes should be changed, as it will be different with each car.
4. Other maintenance
There are other areas in your car that require maintenance. Filters need to be changed, tune ups will be needed every 100,000 miles or so, batteries might need to be replaced, and so on and so forth. The best way to handle a proper car maintenance budget line is to plan for these. If they never happen, then count yourself lucky. Because…
5. Something will happen
A transmission will go out. A motor might blow. An axle could bust. A radiator could crack. There are a myriad of ways that a vehicle could fail. The best way to fight the “something will” is to plan for it. You don’t have to have a separate line for the what if. It’s my belief that by planning for each of these, the what if will be taken care of by the budget line.

Now, if you’re already debt free and have an emergency fund, your maintenance line might not need to be as detailed. I’m not sure because I’m not there yet. If any of you debt free folks have advice, please share in the comments section below. But if you’re trying to get out of debt, I would plan for the worst with your car. The way I see it, if I plan for the worst, and it doesn’t happen, I can apply that amount to my next car!

Ladies, one other note, I would recommend understanding your car and the expenses behind it. It will only help manage our money better and to become informed consumers!

car maintenance 2

How do you plan for unknown expenses with your car?

Some people may look at this sort of planning as an emergency fund before the emergency fund. My previous FAP did, and I understand that stance. I’m not saying to set aside an additional emergency fund for your vehicle. I just think that if you save money for your car and one of the above referenced is needed, then it won’t blindside you. If your spouse or FAP suggests otherwise, please listen to their advice. I’m learning about this as I go!


Another Update

26 Aug


Another Update

I almost hate to write this. I keep telling all six of my readers how I’ve messed up and spent when I shouldn’t have. I keep talking about my envelopes being out of sync.

I haven’t improved since my last update. I feel like I’ve almost regressed. Continue reading

Diagrams of the Past

16 Aug

Grunge Football Diagram

Breaking News: I make mistakes.

Update: I make a lot of mistakes. 

If you’ve been to my blog at all, you know I have made more than a few mistakes since I really started working on my finances.  I have spent when I shouldn’t have and haven’t applied my envelope system to its full potential.  I am a work in progress, and sometimes the picture of the unfinished work seems daunting.

In Celebrate Recovery, I am learning Continue reading

Peace During the Furlough

16 Jun


No fancy title this week. In just a few weeks, the federal government furlough begins. If you’re not sure what that means, I (along with around 650,000 others) will lose a day of pay a week. I won’t provide exact dollar amounts, but it will equal around a 20% reduction in pay until the end of this fiscal year.

Now, this is not an ideal situation for me (or anyone, really, but this is my blog, after all!). I decided a few weeks ago to put my debt snowball on hold and save up some money. I’ve actually been able to set aside some money that I plan to let sit there until an emergency occurs. My prayer is that I don’t need to – or want to – touch that money. If that’s the case, I will take the whole amount and apply it to my car loan after the furlough ends.

What is probably most interesting to me is the amount I’ve been living on over these last few months. Because I’ve been attacking my debt, I’ve become accustomed to living on a certain amount each month. I realized that the amount I’ve been living on is the amount I will be living on when the furlough begins. I’m so excited to know that God has been preparing me for this, really without my knowledge. How cool is He?

God really does care about what matters to us. Financial peace is not a little thing, and He has used these last few months to prepare me. A desire of my heart is to have financial peace. I’m taking strides to that path every day. I haven’t made it yet, but I’m going to keep putting one foot in front of the other!

God knew I wanted financial peace, and He has provided it to me. My continued prayer is that I will learn how to spend/save in accordance with His kingdom. I want to be obedient to His calling. I don’t want to miss an opportunity to bless someone when He asks me to.

How do you prepare for expected financial cutbacks? How do you find peace during unexpected obstacles?

It will Get Messy

23 May

messy-deskLife will get messy, and I’m sure I’m preaching  to the choir here. It can be perfectly neat for a while, but rest assured, something will change. You may find a new job, or you might get a new boss.  A family member may get sick, or you may lose someone close to you. Perhaps a move is required, or maybe you’ll go to a new church.  A marriage might begin or end, or a child might graduate. A variety of things can come along that will inevitably cause a mess.

But there’s a way to handle the mess. Sometimes, you just have to clean up one mess at a time. It’s certainly easier but not always feasible. When it’s possible, I always prefer to clean up my messes at home one at a time. Dave Ramsey recommends that with his debt snowball. Pay on all your debts, but focus all your extra money on one debt, and then move on to the next. When I clean my house, I tend to start in one room at a time and work my way out. When it’s possible, this is the best method of cleanup.

It doesn’t always work this way, though. Sometimes several messes occur at once. If you have children, you know exactly what I mean. How do you clean up a mess that just never seems to go away? Well, the first option is to remove the source of the mess so that it can’t continue to pile on the mess. That’s why Dave recommends cutting up the credit cards. You can’t clean up a mess until you quit contributing to the mess.

I’m notorious for adding onto a mess. I can take a problem and magnify it in my head until I make it larger than life. I’m aware that I do it. I just don’t know how to quit adding to the mess right now.  However, I am in the process of going through Celebrate Recovery right now. I believe it’s one of the best ways to stop piling up the garbage. I will continue to update you as I work through this program. It won’t be easy, but it will be fruitful.

Another way to clean up multiple messes is to ask for help. Wives, if you’re struggling with getting your housework done, ask the kids or your husband to help you. If your finances are a mess, find an accountability partner to help you or work with your spouse to tackle the problem. If your life feels messy right now, get your friends and family to help you. Join a Bible study or find a close group of friends you can trust to help you. In Celebrate Recovery, you have a group of people that are walking the same journey you are. They are all there to clean up something, and it makes the cleaning a little easier if you know someone is on their way to help, even if you get started a little earlier.

Another way to clean up multiple messes is to find someone with more experience in the area of your struggles. If you’re struggling to change the way you handle your money, find someone who has succeeded financially. They may not have the same exact journey, but they are in the place you want to be. If you want to have a successful marriage, find someone who has been married for more than 30 years and pick their brain!!!! In Celebrate Recovery, you’re required to find a sponsor – someone who has walked the same walk you’ve walked and is on the other side. It’s an important part of the Celebrate Recovery process, and it works.

And the most important person to turn to to clean up a mess of any kind is God. He doesn’t care what it is; He just knows that you need the help.  No problem is too big or small for Him because He knows that no problem is small to us. “For I cried out to him for help, praising him as I spoke. If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me.” (Psalms 66:17-20 NLT)

How do you clean up your messes? How do you ask others for help?

Disposable Income

18 May

20130518-064453.jpgI’ve spent the better part of my life believing that I’m disposable. I moved around a lot as a kid and learned that friendships are disposable.

My parents divorced when I was very young, and I stayed with my father. I rarely spoke to my mother until I was well into adulthood. I was a disposable daughter.

I spent about four years apart from my family, including my father, because of some disagreements. I was a disposable daughter, again.

It’s no wonder I’ve never cared about saving money. All of my income was disposable income. I was comfortable living paycheck to paycheck because I didn’t see past my own nose.

I’m so thankful that even if I feel disposable, my Savior doesn’t view me that way. He knew me while I was a sinner, and He died for me (Romans 5:8). Not only that, but He is with me wherever I go (Joshua 1:9).

I’m still learning to see past my own nose. I’m learning to see past each of my checks. And I’m still learning that I’m not disposable. I’m thankful for the people in my life who haven’t disposed of me yet. I’m very fortunate for those people. I’m also thankful for the redemption of my relationship with my family. They’re constantly there for me, and I count myself lucky to call them family!

With all that being said, I shouldn’t have ANY disposable income. All of my extra income should go toward my debt. I still like to spend money – immensely. I may always lean toward being a spender. I am learning to make my money work for me instead of working for my money. But…I still have a long way to go!

What does disposable income mean to you? What do you like to do with your disposable income?

Just an Update/How are You?

10 May

It’s been almost two weeks since my last post. Since then, I’ve completed FPU. It was a fun few weeks, but I’m glad that I’m done. I think FPU is a wonderful program. I’m thankful for the opportunity to attend, and I’m looking forward to applying what I’ve learned in my life.

The great thing about FPU is that I can attend anytime I want. So, as I grow and progress through the baby steps, I can go back for a refresher.

If you’ve been to my blog, you know that I am going to be on baby step 2 (paying off all my debt) for a while. I hope to have my car paid off before the end of the year. I will be providing updates as I progress. I am moving along nicely, and I’m sort of pumped with my progress!

Things have been going okay with my envelopes. I still find myself spending a little over here and there. But overall I’m doing well. I did allow myself a few paydays where I had more entertainment money. But I reeled myself back in this week! And I’m feeling it. I spent all that time training myself to live on a minimal amount for spending money, and allowing myself more money has been a real adjustment for me (again).

Speaking of entertainment money, I needed a day of pampering. I had some money socked away for my car, but I decided to use a little of it to get a haircut and a mani/pedi. I’m actually sitting here in the pedicure chair now enjoying my massage.

So, that’s what’s been going on with me. I hope to provide a more profound update next week.

How’s everyone one doing on their get out of debt plan? Are you making good progress? When do you think you’ll be debt free?

Hidden Costs of Fun

28 Apr

I made a decision a few weeks ago to attend a Jesus Culture One Nights concert. The band was going to be just a couple of hours away, and I felt like it would be a wonderful getaway. I invited a girlfriend to go with me and purchased my ticket. I thought, “It’s only $25. I can work that into my budget.” Well, I was mistaken.

I didn’t really take into account all the other expenses that would go along with this day trip. I knew I couldn’t afford to stay the night in Birmingham. And I was okay with the sacrifice of being a little tired on the way home. What I forgot to account for – shame on me – was the cost of gas, and the dinner, and the CD I just couldn’t avoid purchasing (and probably overpaid), and the snacks on the way home that would help me feel like I might “stay awake.”

Really, the hidden costs of a purchase have often been my downfall. If I buy this item for this price, I can totally afford it. Then, I need this accessory, and oh, wait, I need to buy this item that will make the item I originally purchased that much cooler. I can’t just purchase this one item. I need all the other gadgets that go with it.

So, how do I avoid the hidden costs of a purchase? I think the first thing I can do is to write down all the possible purchases that need to be made to go along with my original purchase. This process may be as simple as an ironing board to go along with the iron I need. Or, it may be an extra controller and video games to go along with the PS3 I purchased two years ago. Anyway, you get the idea!

Next, I need to do some research on the product I’m buying. If I had done a little more research on the purchase of the concert ticket, I would have thought about paying for parking, and the cost of the meal I might purchase. I also would have thought about the CD I might want or concessions. I usually go into an event with the plans not to purchase anything from the concession stand. And I usually forget that plan as soon as I smell the hot dog in the bun. What is it with hot dogs??? I don’t like to eat them at home, but put me in a ball park, and I jump in line as soon as I’m able!

Then, I need to ask myself how much I really need the item I plan on purchasing. At this point in my baby steps (Step 2), I don’t need to do ANYTHING extravagant, and extravagant right now is anything that exceeds my spending envelope. This reality is especially difficult for me because I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE going to sporting events. For the next few years, I have to pretty much kiss those goodbye. But, this will not be my reality forever. It’s only temporary!

The good thing about going through this process is I may very well talk myself out of the purchase by the time I’m finished. It’s a lot of work to do this much research around a purchase!

Sheepishly, I admit that not only did I forget to take into account the hidden costs of the concert. I also blew my budget by about $40. I would like to be able to say it was worth it, but is staying in debt longer really worth it? I think the resounding answer is NO.

With that being said, please see the pictures from the concert taken from my phone. I really did have a wonderful time. It was so refreshing to see so many people going after the Lord. If you’re not familiar with Jesus Culture, I highly recommend that you check them out. I assure you that you will not be disappointed!



What You See is what You Get

7 Apr


We’ve all heard this phrase many times.  Most of the time, we hear this in regards to a person who is transparent.  What you see with that person is what you get.  I won’t go into a diatribe about how that’s probably not true ever because people are deeper than we ever give them credit for.  I will, however, take a look at this statement from a different angle.

Have you ever noticed that your perception of yourself, another person, or a situation can determine how you react to the situation?  Sometimes an innocent or harmful statement made by someone can actually be interpreted differently by the person who hears it.  It’s the age old battle of sender/receiver.  Men joke that women often take a compliment offered by their mate and turn it into an insult.  “You look nice today, dear” can quickly turn into “Are you saying I don’t look nice every day?”  How much fun are those conversations, guys?  

The philosopher John Locke said that words have no power until we assign them the power.  I believe that firmly.  And I believe that the power of the words spend and save have to change if I am ever going to have Financial Peace.  When I am out ready to make a purchase, what power controls me? Is it my desire to be debt free? Or is it my desire to have what I want without waiting?  The answer is most likely, “YES!!!”  Sometimes I choose to answer the debt free question, and sometimes I choose to want without waiting.  Last year, I would have simply “wanted” without worrying about my debt.  I’m growing every day in the way I spend and save.  I still feel like a newborn horse stumbling around and trying to get my feet underneath me.  But I will be galloping before I know it, readers!  I look forward to sharing those gallops with each of you.

I am enrolled in Financial Peace University right now, and Dave Ramsey talked about the power of the emergency fund.  He says that when the emergency fund is in place, emergencies just don’t seem to happen.  Perhaps that is true, or maybe emergencies just have a different appearance when an emergency fund is in place.  I can’t really speak on this because I don’t have the 3-6 month emergency fund Dave recommends – yet.  I think there’s a chance that what you see in an emergency is indeed what you get.  As an example, before I had my small emergency fund set aside, a major car repair would have been a major setback.  Now, I have some peace knowing that if a minor emergency came up I would be okay. 

I’m walking this journey to be debt free, and I’m changing the lexicon of my life.  I will continue to redefine spending and saving for myself until they actually match up to the definition of someone who has financial success.  So…how do you define spending? Saving?

The Goal Method

30 Mar


I’ve been on a slide the last few weeks.  I discussed with my readers my concern on spending some of my income tax refund.  I was afraid that I might lose the momentum I had gained in not spending.  Well, I think it’s fair to say that I have lost some momentum.  I have overspent for the last few paychecks, and I’m not pleased with how I’ve handled things.

Now, I haven’t spent a ton of money.  Maybe just $10-$15 more than my spending envelope.  But, I have spent more than I was allotted, and the whole point to using an envelope system is to learn how to spend within my budget.  I haven’t done very well lately, and that is what is so disappointing.

I could try to find a reason why I keep slipping up.  And I have a few ideas. But, I don’t have to share those reasons to deal with these slip ups effectively.  I do think it’s important to reflect on what “ensnares” us.  I’ve done some soul searching about this, and I’ve done some praying.  It’s obvious that the years of bad spending habits are not going to change overnight.  I still have quite a bit of work to do to control my finances, and it’s going to take a lot of work to remain disciplined.  I have to continue to focus on the end goal.  I asked my FAP to talk me out of spending my money earlier this week.  She asked me where I would like to be in five years.  That’s a great question.  Where would I like to be financially in five years?

I would like to be debt free, living in an apartment closer to work, have my 3-6 months of living expenses saved up in an emergency fund, and be working towards my down payment on my home.  Of course, a number of things could happen between now and then to change my five year goals.  But for now, this is what I see for myself. 

It’s so important to have well-defined goals.  A well-defined goal has a timeframe.  If it is well-defined, the goal is more likely to be accomplished.  I have lived a large majority of my life walking around without a goal.  I had a narrow point of view on what my life might look like.  I didn’t really see a future for myself.  I only saw the present and the past.  Now, I believe in the future the Lord has for me.  And I can’t wait to see what’s next.  The only thing I can do to control my future is to remain obedient to the Lord.  If I do that, He will guide my steps.  “My steps are ordered by the Lord (Psalm 37:23).”

So, where do you see yourself in five years?  What methods do you use to remind yourself what you should/should not do?

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