Happy New Year! Not a lot changed at the end of 2016 for me, but the holiday is a break from school, so we took our family on a vacation. I started to say, “This was a budget trip," but I caught myself and stopped. I thought about how I was going to use the word budget. So many times we use the word budget to mean cheap. It was a cheap trip. So, I changed my wording and said, “It was a cheap trip.” Budgeting gets a bad reputation when it is used to mean being cheap. Budget doesn’t mean cheap. Budget means a plan. I like how I feel when I follow plans. Think about how you feel when you are following a health plan. Maybe over the holidays you ate without a plan (like I did), and maybe you felt pretty yucky (like I did). Think about the times when you did follow a plan to exercise and eat healthy. It is hard at the time, but I always love how I feel afterward. Over time, I see great results from following a health plan.
Imagine building your home without house plans! I have several friends building beautiful homes right now. I can guarantee that every inch of those homes was included in the plan in order for them to turn out the way that my friends want them to look.
Budgets are financial plans! How do you want your finances to look? If we could think of budgets like building our dream financial home, budgeting could change. We could be excited about it even though we may hate some of the work and discipline involved in the details. There are so many decisions to make when you build a home. Some are big decisions, like square footage and number of rooms. Some are small, like style of doorknobs. Some are almost permanent and some are temporary. It’s not easy to knock out a wall, but changing a door or the color of paint is relatively easy. The more you think about the details, the more likely you are to get the house that you want.
We have big financial decisions that impact us for years, and then we have minor ones that still impact us but not as much. How would our finances be different if we had to submit a plan before we could spend? Well, no permits are required in order to spend money. So, we have to require ourselves to budget. Budget is both a verb and a noun. It’s an actual piece of paper that details out what you will spend, but it is also a process of using that piece of paper and referring back to it before we spend. You don’t have to be perfect. Budgets are flexible. When we do make mistakes, we can change by remodeling. However, we can prevent having to redo a lot by planning!
I love the feeling of being on a plan and a budget, and even though I get off track in the holidays, it’s a NEW YEAR, and it’s a new month. What if we could change the way we view budgets and make them a part of our lives? They aren’t required of us like building plans are, but we can require them….every month. I can’t force you to do one. Wasatch Peaks can’t force you to do one. But we are here to help and encourage you to budget so that you can create the financial house that you want, and feel great about it! I promise you great results as you follow your financial plan over time.
Wasatch Peaks has the option to create Budgeter Accounts. This makes it easy to save and budget by allowing you to have up to 30 budgeting accounts withing your account to put money into and keep seperate for easy tracking. Each budgeting account has a specific name for each budgeting category (Rent, Insurance, School Expenses, Groceries, etc.) so that this budget plan can be customized just for you! It can be pre-set so money is automatically tranferred to your Budgeter Account from your savings or payroll and divided up into each budget account.
Every trip is a budget trip. Every decision is a budgeting decision! I am going to make my January budget right now and invite you to make yours! If you have any questions or want someone to help keep you accountable, please post. Please post your struggles with budgeting. For me there are a handful of categories (food, vacation, clothes) that I have to watch carefully, but the other categories are fixed and don’t require much. Where do you overspend?
Wasatch Peaks is pleased to continue offering CardNav™ by CO-OP for members with a Visa® Platinum Credit and/or Debit Card. CardNav is an app that lets you manage your cards by remote control from your smart phone.
CardNav allows you to have greater control over your cards by providing the ability to instantly turn your cards on or off. It is perfect for safety, security, and stopping potential fraud from happening. It sends real-time, in-app alerts when your card is being used, so you can stop unauthorized purchases before they are completed.
With CardNav, you can use GPS to restrict transactions to businesses within a designated area and limit card use to specific merchants or purchases. You can also use CardNav as a budgeting tool by setting personal spending limits and receiving alerts when you get close to those limits.
In just minutes, you can gain the security and control of CardNav by CO-OP. All it takes to get started is a free download from the Apple App Store or Google Play.
This morning was hard to get up. My husband's alarm went off and I woke up to use the bathroom. My body felt sore. I felt the effects of the cookies, bacon, and chocolate covered popcorn, which I ate yesterday. I felt cold as soon as I got out of my bed. I wanted to go back to sleep. I felt gravity pulling me back to my warm bed. I thought of all the work ahead of me today. Except for the bathroom, every room looks like it experienced a tornado. Christmas was a busy day for my family. I visited 3 families, attended two church services, and had a sick child. The house was now a disaster zone. This can also happen financially over the holidays.
Somehow, I found the strength to walk past my bed without getting back into it. Somehow, I meditated and planned my day. This was a HUGE victory for me today. I think it was because Christmas gave me the belief that I can change. Seeing friends and family and feeling loved inspired me to keep trying. Experiencing kindness and generosity inspired me to want to keep moving forward. Even though I overspent, I can recommit. Even though the house is a mess, we can restore order one item and one room at a time. Sometimes we don't feel like waking up financially, but every day is a new day. If we mess up and give in to a purchase we didn't plan on, or miss a budget meeting, we can start again any and every day. In the big picture, it's not really going to matter that I spent a few more hundred dollars than I wanted to spend, as long as I keep trying.
During this holiday, several of my friends and family have told me that they want to get on top of their finances. They want to budget. They want to plan for taxes. They want to invest. These friends and family have asked my advice on budgeting and asked what app or system they should use. Some of them face huge obstacles in doing this, so I don't want to minimize how hard it can be to change financially. I will compare it to my experience with exercising.
I started exercising regularly a couple of months ago. At the gym, I am surrounded with healthy and strong people. I think about what they had to sacrifice to build the muscles that they have. It is a long and gradual process, and it can't be faked or sped up. There is no shortcut. I can't just be stronger because I want to be. For the first time, I have been weight lifting with a bar and weights. I started with just the bar and am adding small amounts. I can't just put a 35 pound weight on the bar and lift it. I have to sacrifice, plan, and build up the strength. I have to commit. On Christmas Eve I went to a hard interval training class. The teacher pushed herself and admitted it was hard, but at the end she encouraged us and played inspiring music that talked about getting back up and try again. I left feeling so inspired to celebrate my victories and keep trying.
There is no magical app that will make me in shape or get my friends to budget. It doesn't really matter what app you use. There are a lot of good tools, but there is no magical app that will force us to be disciplined. However, exercising at the gym helps inspire me. I believe I can get stronger.
Consider this blog to be your financial gym. Come here to believe that you can change, and surround yourself with people who are growing stronger physically and believing that they can improve. Happy New Years. Enjoy the holiday!
My daughter is learning to play basketball and loves it so much. We went to her game last Saturday. Even the best basketball players miss a lot of shots. Anyone that knows me, knows I believe in budgeting. Even though I love it, my family has plenty of budgeting blunders.
My husband and I met at the beginning of November and planned how we would spend our money this month. We agreed to follow the plan. Some friends invited us to join them for a date night. We didn’t have the money budgeted. I talked to Ty about it, and we decided to pass and planned to have a cheap date instead. We spent the day working outside, and by the end, I really wanted to have a shower. While I was in the shower, a girl came by raising money through selling magazines. Ty has turned down magazine subscriptions before and he often will tell the sales people that he needs to talk to his wife first. He ended up paying $62 for magazine subscriptions, which is about the amount of the date night that we had said no to because we couldn’t afford it.
Why do we sometimes spend money on things that are not important and not urgent? I don’t have an answer. Sometimes we make mistakes and have to pay for them. Ty didn’t know why he did it. At first, I felt upset about this. Then, I realized that I make mistakes, and we can learn from them. We discussed how we would pay for this one, and decided Ty would pay for this with his own spending money since there wasn’t any money for it in the family budget. I joked about how $62 is the most expensive shower I have ever had.
This year we bought an SUV, and the transportation budget category has been a struggle for us. We knew that we would spend more on gasoline for the SUV than we did on the van, but our gasoline expense fluctuates quite a bit based on what we are doing that month. I know people who won’t drive if there isn’t money in their gasoline category, but we will still drive to where we need to go. Even though gas is a variable expense, it seems like a fixed expense. Well, we need to solve this problem. We are going to budget money to the vacation fund so that when we go on our family day adventures, it won’t ruin our budget. We recently took a day trip to Idaho to visit Crater of the Moon and Hagerman Fossil Beds. It wasn’t a full vacation so we didn’t budget for it like we would for a vacation, but the price of driving up there was substantial enough to go over the budgeted amount in gasoline.
Holidays can be budget breaking times of the year. It’s easy to give up and wait until the new year to start again, but remember my family’s budgeting blunders. Budgets require flexibility and the ability to change and adjust.
Wasatch Peaks has some great resources to help with our budgeting blunders like the Christmas Club savings accounts to help save up for Christmas, vacations, and more. At Wasatch Peaks Credit Union, we care about your financial wellness. That’s why Wasatch Peaks partnered with industry-leading BALANCE to provide you with free access to expertly-crafted financial education and resources to help with your financial matters. And should you need, BALANCE can assist with confidential, no-cost financial counseling services to help you develop a sensible budget managing spending and debt. For all your financial life stage changes and more, Wasatch Peaks—in partnership with BALANCE—are here to help. Click here to learn more about the BALANCE Program.
Athletes who are passionate about their sport still miss a lot of shots. They learn from it, and they keep practicing and are successful no matter how many times they miss. Sometimes those mistakes are more valuable than the successes because the pain you experience helps you learn and change. What budgeting blunders have you experienced and what did you learn from them?
As parents, we don’t always know the path our kids will take in life. Will they attend college? In order to plan for any financial unknown, I don’t plan on it, but I plan for it. However, with college, I plan on it and plan for it. My youngest sister is a junior in college. She and my mom started talking about how to pay for college during her senior year of high school. I got involved to help with budgeting and searching for scholarships. She did get a scholarship, she works, and my mom helps her financially.
This past summer, I went to a financial class and the speaker mentioned scholarships for children. I hadn’t thought about that yet for my kids since my oldest is ten. After that class I researched some of these scholarships. Many of them encouraged kids to make a difference through service. I love service anyway. After that, we listened to a interview with a thirteen year old boy named Wesley who raised enough money to pay for a playground. We asked our kids if they thought they could make a difference. They did. We encourage them to think about how they can make a difference like this boy did. Our son is also named Wesley, which helped us connect with this boy. Some scholarships are small amounts of money but it’s teaching them to think of ways to earn money rather than just through jobs.
I have a few suggestions based on my experiences:
There is no right or wrong answer. Come up with a clear picture of what you plan on doing. Ty and I did this, and started out very generally—we want to help them. I probed him with questions to go deeper and decide that that means to us. For some families, that might mean paying for everything—car, housing, tuition and books, living expenses, etc. For others, that might mean matching what they come up with. Still, others may decide to pay for nothing. For us, we decided we are going to first of all prepare them well. We are going to help them by teaching them life skills. They are going to know how to cook, manage their finances, do their laundry, and develop good relationships with others. Financially, we are planning on helping them pay for tuition and live at home for free. Our ten year-old is planning on attending BYU right now. We are encouraging her to do that. We’ve talked about scholarships that she can start applying for right now. We’ve told her, she will be paying for her living expenses. We want her to achieve her goals and her dreams and are trying to communicate that to her.
My parents and my grandparents generously helped me pay for college, but they didn’t tell me ahead of time. I remember calling my mom one time when I was short on money I needed for my bills. She helped me. I feel very grateful to them for that. I remember wondering if this was causing stress on them and feeling bad about asking. I think it’s important that your child clearly understands what you are willing to contribute—no matter what it is. This requires us as parents to think about it and define that. I’ve discussed this with my friends. One friend told me they want their children to pay for everything for college. She feels that they will value the education better and make different choices than if she paid for it. I think that is great and agree that they will! My friend paid for all of her college, so she is a good example of this for her children since she did it. I advised her to tell their children now. That way, they can prepare and aren’t surprised at age eighteen that they are own their own financially. It will lay clear boundaries for them and help them prepare. One of my neighbors has a grandparent who is willing to pay for her college. That is great, too! But, what is even better is that as a teenager, she knows what the plan is.
From a young age we can detect children’s natural abilities. I’m really trying to help my children find and develop these. My daughter loves to read and write and wants to be a writer. Right now she is preparing to enter the Reflections contest at her school. When I searched for scholarships for kids, I found out about Letters about Literature contest. It requires participants to write a letter to your favorite author. I am encouraging her to enter. As I have researched scholarships, I’ve found some that reward unique abilities. There was one for marble shooting. So, once you know what your child loves, you can encourage that. This could help kids figure out their direction at a young age. They probably won’t be a professional marble shooter, but it could happen. Regardless, it can help them develop themselves and find their way.
To sum it up, have a college plan, communicate the plan to everyone involved, implement the plan and support your child to grow and become who they are meant to be.
Recently, at a girls night out, I told one of the women about my passion for budgeting. She replied, “I need your class!” Budgeting is a simple process: plan to spend money, and spend by that plan, but it can be hard to do! I’ve been thinking about what she said. If I were to teach my friend a class on budgeting, I would teach her to make budgets simple and predictable — even boring.
Boring means a lot of things, but this meaning of boring is uneventful. It means that there isn’t stress or uncertainty about how your money will be spent. The decision is already made beforehand, and that is nice. In my personal budget, most of my decisions are made for me. I’ve got them on AutoPay, which is boring, predictable, and very simple and easy. However, a couple of months ago, I thought I set up a bill payment for my car insurance, but the payment didn’t go through, and I received a cancellation notice, so I know how it feels to feel panic in my finances. I limit those as much as possible.
Wasatch Peaks Credit Union has several tools to help you do this with automatic transfers, bill pay, etc.
There are always a couple of categories that will make budgeting challenging. For example, in September, my kids passed off the the level of books that they were using in piano lessons. This is awesome! They are progressing, learning, developing, and moving up in their piano levels. Financially, this means that we get to buy more books. On top of the lesson books, my kids wanted to buy music for their recital. Now, this isn’t a huge amount, but it’s enough to wreck the plan — especially if you have it happen in more than one area of life. How did we handle it? Well, I had the money left over from a trip that we didn’t spend. Their teacher had a couple of books they could borrow. Our kids paid for some of the books they wanted.
We had a few other expenses we couldn’t predict that we paid for with “M.E. money” (miscellaneous, everything else). We also have an emergency fund that paid for an unexpected car repair (All of my sensor lights came on in our vehicle). Even though I didn’t enjoy paying that money, it wasn’t a stressful crisis. We had a plan that if we had unexpected car repairs come up, we would use our emergency fund, and we followed the plan.
How about you? Are you ready for whatever this month will bring?
Labor Day is this weekend. Is your September budget ready? I’ve been working on ours, but writing this post motivated me to finish our budget and review it with my husband. So, thank you for that.
Every month is different and every family’s situation is different.
This month, my family has school fundraisers, lunches, fall clothing, boots, wedding anniversary, cement patio, and my mother-in-law’s birthday. Making the budget is not the hard part in my opinion. It’s pretty similar most months. Add in those expenses that are specific for September, and you have your budget. I think that following the budget is the hard part. So let’s talk about that.
Plan with your family!
I learned this concept in cooking meals. If I don’t involve them, they usually don’t like the meal. On Friday, we made grilled pizza, and my kids made their own individual pizzas just the way they like it. Tommy’s pizza had pepperoni, pineapple, ham, and cheese. He finished it and wanted second helpings. Personalizing budgets is really important. If I made a budget and gave it to you, I can guarantee it wouldn’t work. It would be my budget—not yours.
USE that budget!
This is the tough part, in my opinion, because we have to use self control. But, if we don’t use our budget, it can’t help us. When urges come to spend money, and I have gone to the budget, I have been able to either spend the money or avoid spending the money. I’ve asked, "Is this expense part of my financial plan this month?" If it was, I spent it. If it wasn’t, I didn’t. When we were newleyweds (13 years ago) the biggest mistake we made when budgeting was not to look at our budget during the month. Although we made a budget, we didn’t use it. We always overspent in some areas and weren’t focused like we could have been. We didn’t get into debt, but we could have been more focused. I regret we didn’t save more for a down payment on our home. We all have weak moments so we need each other to help us. I often tell my kids that I’m not perfect and I need their help.
There are a lot of different ways to implement your plan for spending money and saving money. Please share what works for you. If you are married, talk to your spouse about how you will implement the plan. If one of you overspends in one category, what is the consequence?
If your answer to my question at the beginning of this post was "no," I invite you to take my challenge to labor on your budget before Labor Day by creating your budget.
With school starting this week, my family returns to routines like waking up early, doing homework, and exercising. A friend recommended that I read a book about creating habits. Habits aren’t exciting, but the results that come from consistently doing them are exciting. Our family is creating these financial habits:
During this past summer, my daughter’s nice bike disappeared. We don’t know if she lost it or if it was stolen (It’s our bike mystery). Since the bike seat on her other bike is about to fall off, we encouraged her to save up for a new one. Jackie searched on Google and found the bike that she wanted. “I don’t want a pink one.” she said. It cost $100. Since she had $35, she drew a savings chart and filled in how much money that she had saved towards her goal. Developing this saving habit will also help her learn the next financial habit.
When we work for something, we value the item more than if it is given to us. If my daughter can earn $5 a week and wants a $100 bike, that will take her 20 weeks. I tell my kids that I don’t expect them to work like adults, but I do expect them to work like kids, and as they grow, then they can do more work. Work leads to the next habit.
Recently, my family watched an object lesson. The teacher had to fit rocks, sand, and water into a large glass container. If the sand and water (representing less important things) is put in first, there isn’t room for the big rocks. The big rocks are the important tasks to get done for that day. If they are put in first, there’s still plenty of room for the sand and rocks. Our family refers to “big rocks” almost every day now. This helps us focus. I can get easily distracted. On Saturday, I planned to pressure can beans at 8 am. At noon, Ty came and asked me what I was working on, and I said I was still canning. Focusing is one of the most important habits for me to make financial progress. It’s not easy to focus until it becomes a habit, and then I automatically focus in on the big rocks in my life. This habit helps you do the next habit.
Tracking, planning, evaluating how we spend money is very difficult until you do it and make it a habit. Once it becomes a habit, it is very easy to budget. This is the first summer in a long time that I broke my budgeting habit. We had technical difficulties (computer died) along with summer, and I lost this habit. I miss how it felt to know what money we had and where it was going. So, we started budgeting again. When we budget, we find money for the next habit.
Some habits are naturally easier for us. This is one of the easier ones for me because I enjoy it. Last week, I helped our kids prepare their charitable contributions. It ranged from 10 cents to 50 cents. My 8 year-old said he wanted to give extra and took $5 out of his bank made from our old honey buckets. That $5 is a lot for him to freely be able to give. Seeing that he is developing this habit so young brought happy tears to this momma. He said, “Don’t cry.”
Habits can become automatic, which will make them so easy. They are simple and can make anyone who has them to succeed financially. Creating habits are hard, but living by them feels so good. If you’ve lost a habit, this is a great time to start again. At Wasatch Peaks Credit Union, the focus is on teaching children how to save, share, spend. But, these are great financial habits for all of us to learn and develop throughout life.
What financial habits are you working on creating?
For over a decade, our family has budgeted, but sometimes we get out of the habit and this summer was one of those times that we stopped budgeting. I miss it! So, as I get back on track, I want to share some practices that are helping our family.
My husband can make any activity fun. Although Ty doesn’t naturally enjoy working on finances, he jokes with me and teases me. We usually end up laughing.
Recently, we went on a financial date night. We went grocery shopping. I usually buy all of our food, and I get tired of it, so it was fun to go together. Our salt shaker had been broken, and we went to three different stores on our quest to find a new salt shaker that had big enough holes for the salt crystals that we have. We ended up buying a disposable one, but it was a memory and gave us time to talk about finances. It’s good for us to have a regular time to discuss our finances.
Then, focus on those financial goals. With school starting up next week, my ten year old daughter and I met to help her set goals for herself. One of the goals she set was to earn money for a new bike. She has chances to earn money at home by working, but this summer we’ve been really inconsistent about having our weekly paydays for the kids. She and I discussed starting that up again. I told her that we need her to remind us. This weekly time with the kids is a good chance to teach them about finances.
No matter how off track we get, we can always refocus and make routines that fit in our goals. Savings tools can help reach your goals. It feels so good when you accomplish those goals.
There is some pain that comes with changing and working toward your goals. When my four year old complains about her legs hurting while we walk, I explain that it is a good hurt. Improving finances causes some discomfort, but it is a good kind of pain. Even though it isn’t easy, it feels so good to have a financial plan and to follow it.
I hope these help you get on track. If you have other suggestions that have helped you, please share in the comments.
I love Pioneer Day, but my family usually celebrates it without Ty since he works. He was asked to work the swing shift this year. So, I was excited to get to celebrate the holiday morning together. I asked our family how they wanted to spend the morning. I was the only one who said anything. “I want to go hiking.” My 4-year-old replied that she did not want to go hiking. She didn’t know what she wanted, but she knew she didn’t want to hike.
When we receive income, do we know what we are going to do with it? It seems to be easier to decide what we don’t want to buy than to decide what to do want to buy. Our budget can really help us make our daily spending decisions. That allows us to say no to some purchases in order to be able to purchase other items. It helps me from emotional spending. It helps us decide what we want to buy.
There are a lot of different ways to budget. Wasatch Peaks offers several:
This option allows you to have up to 30 budgeting accounts within your Wasatch Peaks account. Each account is named one of your budgeting categories (Rent, Insurance, Gifts, Groceries, Charity, etc.) It can be pre-set so that when income is received, it is divided up into each budget account. At the time of use, the money can be transferred from that specific account to the checking account for easy access.
My friend uses this method for budgeting. He said this makes budgeting really easy for him. Find out more about Budgeter Accounts here.
Christmas Club Account
Have you started planning Christmas? In my family, our last birthday is in July. We just celebrated my son’s birthday last weekend, and now have started thinking about Christmas. This account helps you save money every month towards Christmas, but it can be used for any expense that happens once a year. I just registered our cars. We also pay our own property taxes and home insurance. Oftentimes property taxes and home insurance are be included in your mortgage payment and paid through an escrow account. This Christmas Club account is the same idea as an escrow account. It allows you to save monthly so that you have the money ready when it is due. This can reduce a lot of stress when these annual expenses are due. Learn more about opening a Christmas Club account here.
With Online Banking, you have a Wasatch Peaks branch at the click of a button 24 hours a day/7 days a week/365 days a year. It's convenient, fast, and most important ... it's free! For more information, click here.
Whenever I stop budgeting, I miss the feeling of it. Budgeting helps us decide how to best utilize our money. Decide to budget! It will help you make wise spending decisions.