Budget Boot Camp: Qualities of a Good Budget

Me again, here to ensure you that creating a budget doesn’t have to feel like pulling teeth! So far, we’ve discussed Lies People Believe About Budgets, and Reasons Why You Need a Budget. As we continue our journey to understanding budgets, I want for us to look at qualities of a good budget. If we’re going to put in the effort and work, we ought to do it well! Let’s look at 4 qualities of a good budget:

#1. A good budget is easy to maintain.

A budget that is difficult to keep up with isn’t helpful. Ain’t nobody got time for that! We want a budget that keeps track of our money, but doesn’t take a million hours to maintain. I personally use a google spreadsheet to track our spending, but some people feel that is too much work. If that’s you, then there are apps that can help! Every Dollar is a great one – you set your budget on your phone, and then just enter the information every time you spend. This is super helpful for when you are out and about – you can just pull out your phone and see where you’re at on spending. Another helpful app is Mint – if you link this one to your bank account, it will actually help track your budget and spending for you. Again, it’s on your phone so you can access it at any time

#2. A good budget accounts for every dollar.

When setting up your budget, it should account for every single dollar brought in. The reason for this is that when we don’t find a place or purpose for each dollar, we are more likely to spend it without thought. If you make $4,000 a month and only need $3,678 for your expenses, you can put that extra $322 into savings, put it towards a vacation, whatever you want. You just don’t want to have money floating around with no purpose.

#3. A good budget accounts for savings.

You guys, this is imperative. No matter what you bring home, it is so important to save. This helps protect you and your bank account in case of an emergency. My personal rule of thumb is to aim to save at least 10% of our monthly income. This seems like a lot, but it has really helped us out in a pinch (like when my car randomly needed a new transmission). If you can’t save 10%, figure out what you can save and stick to that.

#4. A good budget starts with the big things and works down.

If you have a bunch of big rocks, some small rocks, and some sand, how do you make it all fit in one jar? If you start with the sand and then work up to the bigger items, it won’t work. You have to start with the biggest rocks first. Your budget is the same way. Start with the biggest, non-negotiable items and work your way to the smaller things. This will ensure you have enough to cover the most important things.

Creating a budget doesn’t have to be hard. All it takes is a little time and dedication. You can do it. I believe in you! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out.

Budget Boot Camp: 5 Reasons Why You Need a Budget

Alright friends, we are on week 2 of Budget Boot Camp. This week, we are going to talk about why I believe YOU need a budget. In case I haven’t been clear, I truly believe that every.single.person. needs a budget. Everyone. And here’s why:

#1. Having a budget empowers you.

As I stated last week, having a budget doesn’t have to be something that ties you down. So often, we think of a budget as a terrible thing that takes away all of our fun. I’m here to tell you that a budget can do the opposite for you. (Wow, I sound like such a nerd right now.) Anyways, having a budget does two things: it gives you knowledge, and it takes away guilt. First off, having a budget helps you to know when you can and can’t spend. Knowing when you have the room to spend takes away any guilt you may feel for spending. Now listen, if you have a budget and don’t stick to it then it won’t do these things. Obviously, you have to stick to it in order for it to work. Having a budget equips you to make wise choices, which is the most empowering thing imaginable when it comes to money.

 

#2. Having a budget relieves stress.

On a similar note to reason #1, having a budget also helps you out by relieving stress. You know the joke that people always make about college kids having $0 in their bank accounts? I don’t find those funny, they actually make me feel so nervous. We don’t have to live life stressing over whether or not we will have enough money to pay the bills (or for those $2 tacos we just HAVE to have). Hear me say this: having a budget will not automatically fix your financial woes. It’s not a magic trick. However, having a budget will help you to control your spending and thus, take away stress over whether or not you’ve overspent. I will promise you this: if you will come up with a budget that fits your monthly income and stick to it, you will not need to worry about insufficient funds.

 

#3. Having a budget improves communication.

Y’all, I can’t even imagine what life would look like as a married person without a budget. That sounds so scary. I honestly think it would be impossible for a married couple to handle life and spending without a budget. You have to communicate! Having a budget opens those lines of communication, and helps me to always know what page Z is on when it comes to dollars. Because we have a budget, my husband and I communicate more.

 

#4. Having a budget betters your future.

Here’s the truth: making ends meet week to week is the easy part. (Does that mean it’s always easy? No. But it’s the easier part). But when we don’t budget, what happens when it’s time to retire? Or what about when your kids go to college? Or fill in the blank here? Part of having a good budget is planning ahead and considering those things that may come your way. If you do this, you’re more ready when they happen. Moreover, sometimes you just make less money. If you’re transitioning jobs, or if you’re an hourly employee and you took a vacation, if you’ve already used up all of your sick days but have to be out again. Keeping track of a budget month to month helps you to know where you have some room, and where you need to tighten the reigns. Having a budget helps you to not only plan for the future, but also to know how to move forward properly. Overall, having a budget often offers a better and more secure future.

 

#5. Having a budget grows your faith.

I’m going to be fully honest here and say that tithing (which is something that every believer’s budget should include) can be tough. The Bible commands us to set aside 10% of our income for the Lord. That’s a lot of money, no matter what you make. There have been many times when it has felt like we didn’t have enough, so how on earth could we be expected to tithe? But when you do it anyway, your faith grows. Having a budget and setting aside hard-earned money the way our Father calls us to makes us more like Christ. It reminds us that we don’t have to be in control, and that our God is greater than our paychecks and whatever may come our way. If you ask me, that in itself is enough reason to make (and maintain) a budget.

 

 

Motherhood’s Greatest Joys

Sunday was my first Mother’s Day. While this is supposed to be a day to celebrate moms and all they do, all I could think about was how grateful I am for the little girl who made me a mama. Seven months in and I still can’t believe God entrusted me with her…does that ever sink in? All of this got me thinking about the most joyful parts of motherhood. Oftentimes, it is easy to focus on the hard stuff. While the hard things are oh so valid, so are the joys. If anything, I feel like we should aim to make the joys the most valid things – if we fix our eyes on them, our lives will be all the happier. This week, I want to share with y’all what I believe are the greatest joys of motherhood.

#1: I get to see the way my baby loves her daddy. One of the brightest highlights of my day is the moment that Zach walks through the door. Partly because I’m excited to see him, but mostly because I love to see the smile on Ruthie’s face when she sees her daddy. Seeing your baby light up when they see their dad is enough to make a mama’s heart want to burst with happiness.

#2: The world becomes new again. As adults, much of what we encounter day to day is commonplace. We’ve been there, done that, and moved on with life. But to our babies, everything is new. The kitchen sink, the grass outside, the taste of sweet potatoes, everything. I love to see her face brighten as she learns something new, or to see her eyebrows furrow in befuddlement. When that little girl looks up at me and smiles because she just figured something out, I melt. Watching Ruthie learn about the world has caused me to embrace each day with a new sense of wonder.

#3: The Gospel comes alive like never before. When I think about how God sent his son to earth as a baby to live a perfect and sinless life only to die a criminal’s death on the cross in order that he could rise on the third day and redeem the sins of the world, I am overwhelmed. I can’t even fathom sending Ruthie to do such a job, what incredible love God must have for us! Because I have a baby, my view of the Gospel has become richer, and I have become more thankful of the love that is bestowed upon me.

#4: Every minute counts. Somehow, every day seems to go by faster than the one before. And somehow, the baby that I just brought home from the hospital already knows how to sit on her own and has teeth. Watching my baby go from a totally dependent newborn to a spunky baby who wants to take the world by the horns (help me, Jesus) is such a reminder to me of the importance of every moment. Because I am a mama, I strive to use each minute I am given wisely. This can be overwhelming at times, but it’s also the biggest blessing.

I could go on forever about the things that bring happiness to my mama world, but nobody has time for that. What about you? What are your favorite parts of being mama? What parts grow you? What brings you the most joy?

Mom’s Dress: Lularoe Carly —– Ruthie’s Bonnet: Dillards —– Mom’s Earrings: Noonday Collection 

 

The Heart Behind It

It recently occurred to me that I went about this whole blogging thing the wrong way. In total Sarah fashion, I dove in head first. Which is great, except I want this blog to have purpose. And it does…I just never shared my heart behind it with you. So I suppose it’s time to do that.

Motherhood can be one of the most isolating experiences we, as women, face. It is beautiful. It is hard. It is love. It is lonely. This loneliness is something that I’ve felt down to my bones at times since becoming a mama. That’s not to say that I don’t love my baby, because I do. And that’s not to say that I don’t love being a mom, because I do. But being mama is not an easy job and sometimes the day-to-day of it just wears you down and makes you feel like nobody on the face of this earth knows what you are going through. I believe that Satan can use that loneliness to lure us into feeling like we are uncared for, unknown, unloved, and unimportant. But we don’t have to succumb to these feelings. Psalm 139 makes it very clear that none of these things are true — and we know that — but we tend to forget.

My purpose is for this page to be a place where we fight these things together. Where I can share my stories, with the hope that someone somewhere might be able to let out a sigh of relief and say, “same”. A place where mamas come, and they feel less alone. Where you can visit after a hard day and know, “I’m doing my best, my best is enough, and I am infinitely loved by my Creator even when I fall short”. I want this to be a place where community is built, because none of us were meant to walk this road alone. My hope is that someday, this page will be a resource for the mamas who walk this road behind us. But for now, I just want it to be a place where we can all join together and make this journey a little more relational and a little less lonely.

If you are feeling alone, forgotten, uncared for, unloved…read Psalm 139:1-18 below:

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all of my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, ever there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you’ the night will shine like the day, for darkness is light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand – when I awake, I am still with you.

God’s Tender Mercies

Confession: I hate road trips with a baby. They make me so anxious, and just downright grumpy. (Please tell me I’m not the only one.) But last week, God used a road trip to remind me of His goodness towards us.

My in-laws live about 4.5 hours away on a good day. Sometimes the drive can take much longer, mostly depending on I-35. Last week, the latter was the case. The baby cried most of the drive, traffic was horrible, I was irritated, and it was pouring rain. But wait, there’s more: about halfway home, we got a flat tire. Typically, this would be something that just makes you want to scream. But instead, in a church parking lot on the side of I-35 in a rinky-dink town, I couldn’t help but be grateful. Yes we had a flat, but the rain had nearly stopped and our Ruthie girl had just fallen asleep – and then stayed asleep for most of the debacle. This was such a small reminder to me of the ways that God provides for us. So many things could have gone wrong here – Ruthie could have had a total meltdown, we could have had a blow out on the highway, it could have been an hour later and all of the tire shops could have been closed, the rain could have still been in a downpour – but nothing did. How often do things like this happen in our lives? We face a situation that feels so big and overwhelming only to remember that God is for us and He always has a perfect plan. Does that mean that things won’t be messy, or that it will work out exactly the way we hope? No. Not at all. Does that mean that we won’t have to buy a used tire from a guy named Antonio? No. But it does mean that we will be okay.

In a situation where I would usually be grumpy and miserable, God reminded me that He constantly offers us tender mercies…sometimes we just have to choose to see them.

mercies 3

mercies 2

Advice from your Mama

I have a baby that doesn’t sleep. No matter what I’ve tried, no matter what I do, I just can’t get her to be a good sleeper. I’ve read sleep article after sleep article, to no avail. “Give her rice cereal, she’s probably hungry”, my mom said over and over. I brushed it off because nowadays there’s some mixed research on whether or not it’s the best option (and hello I’ve done all my reading so I obviously know everything). The no sleep saga continues. We finally got to the point that we thought “maybe there is some medical issue that is hindering Ruthie’s sleep”. Off we go to the doctor to ensure a clean bill of health. And would you guess what the doctor ordered? Rice. Cereal. (Insert eye roll about how I had to call my mom and tell her she was right all along). Oh how I wish I had just listened to my mother. Fast forward a couple of weeks — it hasn’t helped, but I have learned a lesson. There’s a reason God gave us moms, and they have some sage advice. Maybe we should listen to our mamas a little bit more. So I did some research, and here’s advice from some mamas who I know and trust. Some of it is serious, some comical, some spiritual. Do with it what you will…or don’t.

#1: “When they fall at the park, DO NOT make eye contact!  If there is no audience to the fall, they will usually just get right back up.  But if they know you saw it the tears will start.  And the wailing.  And the “Pick me up and carry me because now I have a boo boo”.  Just look away, Mama.  Look.  Away.”

#2: “Put your phone down! They will not stay little for long. Pay attention to them and talk to them. And lock the bathroom door!”

#3: “Give yourself grace! It’s a season.”

#4: “Take the real small play doh container, like you put in party treat bags, to restaurants with you. After they eat, let them make peas, worms, whatever while parents enjoy eating. Be sure to clean it all up for waiters.”

#5: “Your mom is a very valuable tool. Next to your doctor, your greatest source of information. She knows you AND your baby. Your own instincts and her experience make a great team. When in doubt, pick up the phone and call mom!”

#6: “My toddler poured my coffee in the fish tank last week while I was feeding the dog. Enjoy the baby stage.”

#7: “Don’t compare yourself with other moms that look like they have it all together. They are just better at faking it than you are.”

#8: “When they’re older, remind them that you love them so much that when they were little you caught their vomit in your hands. Bonus points if you do it in front of their friends.”

#9: “Enjoy every moment with them and don’t feel like you have to be super mom, super wife or have a perfect house.”
#10: “You will mess up!  It will be okay and they won’t remember. Just don’t make it a habit.”

#11: “Simply laugh.”

Man oh man, how all of these words ring true. I am going to strive to live like these mamas (who know far more than I) suggest. I hope you will, too!

What is the best mama advice you’ve received?

We’ve Got a Trail to Blaze

We all draw inspiration and encouragement from different places. Some people use the Bible, some use music, some use friends or family, and some use those cheesy posters that have a dramatic nature picture with one word and its definition that can be found in every elementary school classroom across the country. In my life, I tend to go through seasons of time with one phrase that repeats itself in my head over and over.

Through most of college, my phrase came from the Lion King of all places. It’s that part in the movie when Rafiki the baboon smacks Simba on the head with his stick. After Simba asks why the monkey popped him on the noggin, Rafiki laughs and says, “It doesn’t matta! It is in de past!”.

Early college is filled with bumps in the road. You do poorly on a test, you stay out later than you should and pay for it the next day, or any of the thousands of things you are doing on your own for the first time and mess up on. We make mistakes, learn from them, and then MOVE ON. That’s what the monkey was telling the lion. You can’t change it, so work with what you have now.

While that phrase still pops into my head often, it has been replaced with a new phrase from a random source. Michigan’s head football coach, Jim Harbaugh, has said that his motto for every day is to, “attack each day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind”.

During this most recent period in life there were (and are) many days that I dread what is coming. Things I really wish I didn’t have to take care of, calls I don’t want to make, or what I perceive to be many responsibilities pulling me in different directions that make me want to avoid the day all together. I love the word “attack” because there is no questioning its connotation. The word “enthusiasm” conveys a positive excitement and energy. The end, I view as a challenge — to do something “unknown to mankind”. This phrase to me is a “tighten your belt”, “saddle up your horse”, and “let’s get ready to rrrrrrrumble” all in one.

These are just two examples of phrases I use to draw inspiration and motivation. I could still describe 2 Timothy 1:7, every member of my family, The movie Chariots of Fire, or the phrase “not dead yet” and their effect on my and my life. Whatever the source or method, find something that inspires you and motivates you. Share with others what drives you and why, but do not be afraid to look beyond yourself for encouragement.

As the great marketing department at Nike so brilliantly said: “Just do it”.

-Zach