Tag Archives: money

Big Feet for a Cinderella Budget

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I have spent 3 years (or is it 5?) working on getting my spending to fit a budget. Truly. I am a slow learner.  It is like trying to fit a size 9 foot in a size 7 shoe. I need to cut off toes and shave my heels, not just trim my toenails.  My spending can be an ugly stepsister some months… really emotional, jealous, with an over-the-top-hairdo.
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I don’t like to be told “no”, not even from myself. I admit, I am spoiled. Argh, that sounds awful!  But- this month, I discovered that I really like paying for vacations before they happen even more than I like having new boots every winter. I was able to relax, laugh, and enjoy the moments without counting up the debt I was racking up. I even let my kids have a beverage other than water at our meals-a very special treat! And I drank a margarita. We were heathens.

Finances are hard for single people. No one gets upset when I buy clothes instead of groceries. No one but me sees my credit card bill. No one argues with me about my priorities. I have to be my own police.

So I do my best to abide by Dave Ramsey’s philosophies: don’t use credit cards (even for free miles); have an emergency fund; kill debt with intensity; and if I can’t afford it, don’t buy it, aka don’t buy things other than homes on time (and believe me, this is KILLING me, because I need and want new running shoes, but they aren’t in the budget this month). You can read all about his ideas on http://www.daveramsey.com. He has been broke, raised kids while broke, and is still married. So I figure he figured a few things out.
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My neurosis about budgeting is a lot like dieting. If someone tells me I can never eat chocolate agin, then I beeline for the brownie aisle. But we are old enough now:
-We can floss daily
-We can eat healthy daily
– We can live on a budget (daily!)

Progress, not perfection. You can do it… You are worth it, and you deserve to live without debt!

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Post-Party Rush

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The party was really fun yesterday. “Cute Guy” was not there, but other cute and fun people were, and I really enjoyed laughing with friends. I was probably the oldest one there, and had jello shots and “shotskis” (shots in a line with others because the shot glasses were epoxied onto a downhill ski- for togetherness, I guess). Not many people were couples, so it was really easy to just enjoy everyone’s company. (I did NOT get smashed, SG. I just had a very good time. All good!)

There was one couple there, and it was inspiring… the guy was such an obvious immature jerk to her and the world in general that it kicked in my gratitude at not having that element in my home any more.

Every now and then, I get this contented feeling that all is well, I am on God’s path for me, and will meet just the right man at just the right time to really love and enjoy each other. It is a very trusting feeling that results in me feeling no impulse whatsoever to go on match.com, or pof.com, or whatever the latest dating site is. It just is not necessary if I am living my life happily and being exactly who I want to be. The man will show up.

I get so trusting in this feeling that I go a step further and realize with a slap upside the head “Oh my, I have a lot of things to enjoy doing in this time alone. I need to keep on 1) being completely spontaneous with my social plans, vacations with kids, and my finances, reporting in to no one, 2) eating peanut butter toast for dinner with watermelon because I hate cooking, 3) leaving stuff all over my bathroom floor for days, 4) spontaneously talk with my teenager until wee hours of the night about their life, their worries, their stuff…” You know all those things we get to do as people outside of relationships. Because someday those spontaneous moments won’t be so spontaneous or so common in my life.

That makes turning my heart and my yearning for companionship over to God and enjoying the moments today much much easier.

Giving Away Our Victim Minds

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I can come up with all kinds of excuses not to give money to my Church or good causes: they won’t miss my measly $20; there are people who give thousands without a blink and I can’t give much; my kid needs new wrestling shoes; I want my daughter to get a haircut so her friends will be nicer to her; God would want me to take good care of my self esteem and get my hair highlighted professionally; and I need to balance my checkbook again before I let any more go away.

I know we are supposed to just enjoy giving to others. And I do, in many ways I enjoy giving to others. We all like giving birthday presents to friends, but giving to an entity without a face is harder for me.

Dave Ramsey (www.Dave Ramsey.com) says we are to give away 10% of our income to the Church. Is that net or gross, I wonder? Hmmm, I am not tithing to either level yet. I have a budget, you see, I use mint.com and keep track of everything I am supposed to buy and spend on, and it only balances out if I… blah blah blah. You know the story. I want to buy more stuff and watch more movies than I want to give money away.

I also don’t believe I have enough money for everything I need in my life. And, I have not forgotten the really lousy deal I got in both divorces. I was completely decimated, wiped out, cleaned up on like a rag doll. It has taken me 6 years to recover financially and get my feet back on the ground.

What would happen if we had the attitude that “I have enough”, “I don’t need any more than I have”, “I am blessed”, which also means I have the attitude “I am not a victim of my ex-husband/society/my parents/my bosses’ crazy bonus program that doesn’t include me/the current economic situation”.

Then we would feel better giving, wouldn’t we? If we know we have enough, and God is taking care of us, then we have more than enough blessings and we can give away money to others without a problem. In fact, if we give money away, would it maybe tweak away at the victim thoughts in our mind?

When we give, are we acting as if we have enough; will that idea find rest in our hearts and minds if we take action and 1) act as if we have enough coming in, and 2) we do have control over our own expenditures?

That victim mode sucks the life out of us. When I feel I don’t have enough, then I quickly feel I don’t make enough, and I can’t get enough (money), it trickles into every other aspect of my life. In addition to feeling financially poor, I feel lonely without enough friends; I feel loveless, without a partner and companion; and my family feels far away. But what if I took action against that “there is not enough” attitude and acted as if I have more than enough and can give money away to causes I believe in and to people who do not have food in their cabinets or clothes in their closets? Or worse yet, clean water to drink?

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When you give, you are getting maximum horsepower out of your personal design. —Dave Ramsey
My personal design is to be strong and yet trusting; this is a complicated place to get to… but I think giving money and trusting God’s plan for me do go together.

The giving and trusting mindset vs. victim mode: Which will win our hearts today?
In honor of World Water Day yesterday, I am including pictures today on that topic.

http://www.unwater.org/worldwaterday/

Money, Honey, Mint, and Whales

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“It’s only money, Honey”. And then he would smile soooo sweetly and shrug his shoulders as he handed over his credit card to the cashier. I want to understand that idea- that money really doesn’t matter all that much; that it is “only energy”; that what comes around goes around. I want to live, breathe, and mostly just believe that concept. I want to “stop worrying about money”. I thought I could if I just gave in to his spending and enjoyed it. That is what he kept saying I should do. It doesn’t seem all that tough, does it? Who wouldn’t like to just give in to the energy; relax; let it flow (and be showered with gifts)?!

But, my life is too taken up by the dollar bill and what it represents: a surprise visit to Ben and Jerry’s, new shoes for those dang feet that grow so fast; another monthly orthodontist payment; a pretty sweater for her party Friday night, another hour at work instead of with my kids on the rope swing; gas for the car drives all over town. I draw star shapes as I pick up one from wrestling practice, deliver the other to the other side of town for art class, drive home to pick up the forgotten swim suit, stop to pick up the groceries, pick her up from art, drop her off at swimming, find dinner for him, then pick her up. You know that routine; you live it too. There is a different star shape on your city map for each day of the week, depending on the list of activities.

The man in the first paragraph was my boyfriend. He bought me shoes, shirts, snowboard boots, long underwear sets, Victoria’s Secret sets, sweaters, dinners, chocolate, flowers, jewelry; basically all a woman wants. Wow was I ever wooed! I really wanted to evolve into that mind set. I was so ready to leave those petty money issues I had behind. Who wants to worry about gas in the car? Shoes for the kids? Covering the rent check? “Just think of it as positive energy and it will all work out”. Wow had he ever surpassed me, I thought. I couldn’t wait to arrive where he was with his “flowing money energy” and relax into that philosophy.
But, as I look back, I realize a few VERY important things that had slipped my mind back then (as they often do when being sent flowers and chocolates on a monthly basis). He had not really reached peace with his money; he had reached a far different place… It was Nirvana all right; he was completely out of reality.This man worked his dad’s business. He didn’t have a car payment, a house payment, a need to buy his own gas, or have a student loan to pay off. His sister and mom dropped off groceries (and put them in his refrigerator) and took him to expensive dinners every Friday night.

And you know how things ended. “Only money” pulled us apart. A disagreement over $250 festered in a wound that caused stubbornness on his part and anger on mine. We went to our corners it took us down. (Thank you God)

So be careful. Money is loaded with energy… and intention, motivation, and manipulation.

My answer is to have my own, spend my own, make my own, save my own, and keep track of my own money. I use http://www.Mint.com to help me track it and inspire me to save up for the shoes and underwear myself. AND- I still pray a lot about money, ask for God to help me manage it responsibly, and help me to be less stressed/obsessed about it. The reality is, it is just very hard to do that. I will keep trying to “let it flow” while paying my bills.

The Maori culture included using whale teeth as currency. One tooth was worth an entire canoe. I am sure couples back then were torn apart by a tooth or 2 occasionally*. Yes, we could work to stop “worrying about money”. But it is time we learn how to kill our own whales too.
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*Don’t you wonder what those arguments looked like? Did they throw teeth at each other?

I want, I want, I want

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I want, I want, I want. Can you hear me whining from there? There is just a ton of stuff I want and cannot have. I also do not always pay attention to my checkbook like I should. AND, I want to give away more money than I do. My friend Dan says “It is only energy”, but that is a hard idea for me to wrap my brain around. Money is a complicated concept- it is little green pieces of paper with too much power in my life. Definitely hard to balance…

“God- I want to experience a new way, a fantastically new way of money flowing into and out of my accounts. I would like to experience money as completely supportive energy, a blessing to me and others”.
Is this possible? I have no idea, but it is not IMpossible. I am putting this request out to the Universe, and then I will turn it over and stop worrying and believe. (Somewhere in Philippians there is a verse about that)

Paul’s letter to the Philippians says that when I pray and ask for it, guidance will show up, and I do not need to fret in the meantime. I want to attach abundance and joy to the money I make, spend, and give. I have some ideas for ways to be more mindful of money in our lives. I am going to try them… and, I am going to pray every day for guidance too.

1. Give money and things away generously. I grew up stingily (not a word, but you know what I mean). So this is hard for me. But I keep trying to flow out more stuff than I bring in, and to give regularly to my Church, give bonuses to service providers, and share with friends. These actions create more flow (www.crossroadscolorado.com podcast May 1, 2010).

2. Attach abundant and joyful feelings to money. I want love and abundance in my life- that is what I crave (along with serenity, chocolate, and hip sunglasses). So rather than moan and whine that I have no love and no money, I am giving myself and the world the love and abundance I want (Wayne Dyer, The Power of Intention). That draws them to me.

3. I study money a little bit. http://www.daveramsey.com is a great resource for learning how to handle money. I don’t have a partner looking over my shoulder, to see if I am saving enough, giving enough, or paying too much money for my shoes. So I need to learn to be my own smart financial partner.

4. Hang with friends who do not compete about spending money. I don’t hang with the concert crowd on weekends any more or the sailing group, or the motorcycle racers (as if i ever did!). My lifestyle doesn’t allow it and so I stay away so that I don’t tempt myself to whine and moan and cry “Oh me, why can’t I do that too?!” I hang with other people who use cash not credit cards. I choose one awesome sport that we do and I build our birthday presents and extra cash around it. It happens to be skiing, so his June birthday present is a ski pass, and her December birthday is her new ski boots.

5. Along with the crowd I hang with is the policing I do on my exposure to materialism. For me, this means I limit watching TV commercials–the perfect kitchens and cool couches actually get me down! I love Title 9 and Athleta catalogues, but if I sit and read them, I will whine internally that I am not living on a beach in Hawaii and dressing like a yoga teacher.

6. Balance my checkbook daily. This is VERY tough. I don’t do it, but it is my goal to know on a daily basis how much money is in my account and how much is going out in the next few days. So in addition to having a budget that I try to follow, I should/could watch my money very carefully. This includes using cash not credit cards. I’m so bad about borrowing money from the electric bill to buy dinner that I don’t even write checks anymore if I can help it. I either make the money go away instantly with a debit card of use cash. Suze Orman says we need to respect and pay attention to our money, or it won’t do what we want it to. http://www.suzeorman.com. I believe it!

7. Richest Man in Babylon is a great book. It is short, and it describes how a person can get out of debt and live within their means on a realistic budget, and be incredibly happy. I think I need to read it again…

8. Be content with money in the account, and believe I deserve the money. For some reason, this is hard for me! I have no idea who to blame for it: my parents’ upbringing during the depression, my lack of training in finances, my bank’s overdraft fees and policies, or my ex-husband. Ha! It doesn’t matter. I need to get over it, decide I will live responsibly, save responsibly, and that I do deserve to have money saved for retirement.

9. I tend to want to pay off all my debts as soon as I get a check in the mail. That is crazy. I need to pay attention to the spending plan I made for the month and get over my anxiety about owing the orthodontist extra money. I have a plan to pay off debts, and I need to stick to it and not blow my grocery money on debts to appease my ego… But don’t borrow any more money. Use the emergency fund instead. It is there for emergencies (not the new leather boots I am craving, or the bike he wants, or the cute bedroom furniture I wish she had).

10. Enjoy the money. When I spend it, be wise, not grudging with it. Be abundant with myself and others. That is easier said than done! I decided it is ok to go to Dairy Queen with my kids once a week (not Cold Stone every other day!); I buy us a treat at the grocery store whenever I can; I tip generously if/when I eat in a restaurant….

11. Regularly choose a day to SPEND NO MONEY AT ALL. Ideally, I would do this once a week. I would not get gas, a coffee, a sandwich, groceries, or even a cheap pizza. This awareness of having a perfectly wonderful day with my kids and myself without spending a dime all day is good practice. Come on, in other countries they go weeks without spending money. I can go one day once a week and have the discipline to choose not to spend money.

So those are my ideas for creating awareness, abundance and more joy around money in my life. They might work for you too… For single parents, money can be a tough tough thing. Too many debts, too little income, and too many expenses. I know how bad it can be. I was unemployed, in foreclosure and bankruptcy all at once. It sucked!! But now we ski and camp and travel. Whatever your financial situation, you can get out of it and build financial security for you and your kids. Remember to ask for help from God and humans, and don’t forget to accept the help that comes your way either!

May God rain blessings down upon you today as you venture out to live in the Light. Remember that God is with you, and available to guide you and bring you along to the life he has planned for you!