4 Ways to Improve Your Finances

4 Ways to Improve Your Finances

4 Ways to Improve Your Finances

1. Make a decision to trust God completely with your finances.

Until you can trust and do everything His word says about your money, you will most like always struggle with a lack of it.

2. Begin to understand Gods position on money and how we as Christians should relate to it.

The easiest way to figure out what God has to say about our money is by reading the Bible.

I recently narrowed down the 20 verses Christians should know about money and how it relates to every decision we make. Once you understand Gods purpose for currency, you’ll begin to make better choices with it.

3. Look for God to do something supernatural in your finances this year.

If you believe He is still a God of miracles you will operate your life differently than you’ve ever done before.

In 2008, when my husband and felt convicted to become debt free we were behind on bills, barely scraping by as a young family with four children, a mortgage, car notes and credit card debt.

Today we only have our mortgage and we will be debt free within three years.

For us, that’s a miracle.

4. Believe God will meet your needs.

In order for this to work you have to know what your needs truly are. I admonish you to make a list of the basic things you and your family need on a daily basis to survive.

The main things on my list were food, shelter and family. As long as I had those things each day I’d praise God. I stopped focusing on the things and lifestyle I had accumulated. I took my mind off (as much as humanly possible) the debt, lack and late bills.

When we turn our focus on Gods provision, it moves us out of His way to bring us where we need to be.

I struggled with trusting God with my finances for years but am so glad I finally gave it over to Him.

If you find yourself struggling with your finances I’d love to pray with you. Just leave your name and or prayer request in the comments below.

Organizing Your Bills

I must say that my husband and I have a great system for organizing our bills.

Organizing Your Bills

From the way we used to argue about how to manage the finances I could never have imagined we’d be on the same page using the same system.

Early in our marriage I tried all kinds of elaborate systems especially those that included spreadsheets and programs but my husband hated them. He felt they were too time consuming and didn’t like having to boot up the computer every time we needed to manage our finances.

As I learned more about his style I came up with a simple budget binder systemthat made us both happy.

We now use this very budget binder to organize our bills and invoices.

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This is my process

1. When bills arrive in the mail, I write the due date on my bill pay form, I then slide the bill inside of my “to be paid”  bill binder pocket so I have it on hand when it needs to be paid.

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2. At the beginning of each week my husband looks at the bills calendar to see what bills need to be paid and pays them. As he pays each bill he fills in the columns on our bill pay form so we have a record of balances, method of payment, which account we paid from and what balance may be remaining.

3. All bills that don’t need to be kept for tax purposes are trashed. If it’s one we file, he places it back in the “to be paid pocket”.

4. At the beginning of each month I go through the “to be paid” pocket and remove all of the paid invoices. I then file the paid invoices in my filing folder, grouping like invoices together eg. phone, electricity, etc.

5. At the end of the financial year, and after filing our taxes, I then gather the invoices and add them to our yearly income tax folder.  We keep these invoices for 7 years.

4 Resources to Help You Manage Your Finances Wisely

learnvest-mobile budget

Germaine and I are consumer debt free and our goal is to be completely debt free by my fortieth birthday.

Creating and tracking our budget using online and offline tools has helped us stay remain focused and visually see where we were with our goals.

Utilizing several resources and practicing discipline have both played a fundamental part in where we are wit our finances.

Ignoring your finances is not going to make financial problems go away so today I’m sharing 4 financial planning resources that will help you set goals, track spending and hold yourself accountable.

4 Resources to Help You Manage Your Finances Wisely

1. LearnVest – Sign up for the Learnvest Free Budgeting Tool and view all of your accounts in one place (for free!) with LearnVest’s My Money Center.

You can monitor your spending activity, create a personalized budget, and track progress against your budgeting goals with ease.

LearnVest is protected by bank level security and encryption so your accounts are always 100% safe and secure.

2. Printable Monthly Bill Pay form – This printable Monthly Bill Pay form will allow you to track who you owe, how much, your running balance and more!!

3. Credit Sesame – Here’s a great service and helps you get your finances organized with all of the neat financial tools that they provide for FREE.

To be completely honest with you…what’s offered is something that should probably have a cost involved because it’s so comprehensive in what it offers for managing your money.

4. Personal Capital – Personal Capital provides free wealth management software and a compatible app to track your budget from your iPhone, Android and iPad.

5. The Total Money Make Over – This book and some of the other tools are some of what we used to create a plan to eliminate our debt.

 

How to Find Money to Pay Off Debt

How to Find Money to Pay Off Debt

We are at the halfway point for our debt freedom journey and I think now is a good time to stop and share some of what helped us find the means to get rid of all of our consumer debt.

One of the reason we want to pay off debt is because carrying debt as we get older will prevent us from retiring and living life on our own terms.

We have been able to pay off all of our debt except for our mortgage using just my husbands income and extra money we earned here and there.

5 Ways to Find Money to Pay Off Debt

1. Get a part-time job: This is one of the first things my husband did help make ends meet and to add a little extra to our debt obligations.

2. Take surveys: Taking surveys allowed me to earn anywhere from $50 to $200 a month in checks and gift cards. I was a member of about 12 survey sites and took surveys daily in my free time.

3. Sell gently used clothes: I made a decent amount of money each week selling my children’s clothes once they outgrew them. There are many local consignment stores but many have begun selling clothes via ebay, Facebook groups and Instagram.

4. Use your talents: If you can baby-sit, offer to drop off or pick up school kids or provide another form of service, you can use that money to tackle debt.

5. Shop Sales / Use Coupons: When we just couldn’t earn any more than what we were making, shopping sales and using coupons made a huge difference. If you become even semi serious about couponing, you can save at the very least 50% off groceries and household items.

How to Organize Your Receipts

How to Organize Your Receipts

Have you ever purchased and item and a few weeks later need to return it but wasn’t able to find the receipt?

I know I have and while many stores now no longer require a receipt for returns or exchanges some still do.

Since the day I married my husband my primary role in our finances has been organization. Organization is my strong suit and figuring out how to make things run efficiently in my home makes me all giggly inside.

So today, I’ll tell you how I organize my receipts.

How to Organize Your Receipts

Here is My Process:

1. Each time I get a receipt I do a quick sort that makes sorting them later much easier. As I accumulate receipts they either go in my pocketbook or my wallet. Receipts that I don’t plan to keep long term go in my pocket book and the other go in my wallet.

2. A few times a week (usually after shopping), I empty the receipts from my purse and wallet onto my desk. If I haven’t already written the purchase in my checkbook I use the receipts to record all purchases.

3. After I have recorded each purchase in my checkbook and verify it via my online bank statement, I trash the receipts we don’t keep such as a grocery store or gas receipts and I create a pile with the ones that will be filled.

4. I then file them into an envelope (each envelope is categorized by month).  I sort them like this so I can easily find a receipt if needed.

It’s usually easy to find a receipt when we can narrow down the month or season in which we may a particular purchase. For example, school electronic supplies would be in August whereas toys would be in December or around birthdays.

5. All of our receipt categories are filed this way except for business, auto and home improvement receipts.

These are ones we find we have to refer back to more often than others. For example when trying to remember the last time something on the car was maintenanced or repaired. Also with plants you have two years to return them so I keep them in my Home Improvement file.

6. I keep all other store receipts for 6 months just in case I need to return something.

7. At the end of the financial year, I then place all the receipts that we need to keep for tax purposes in a large folder with our filed tax forms.  We keep these receipts for 7 years.

One Income Family | Who Will Pay the Mortgage When Your Husband Dies?

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One of our BIG GOALS this year is to begin paying off our mortgage. We are completely consumer debt free which means we have no credit card, department store, student loans or auto loans.

We are free or debt all but our mortgage and a small medical bill that will be paid shortly.

Not having any debt but our mortgage has been such a liberating experience. Regular monthly bills are no longer burdensome because we no longer have a huge auto loan or credit card payments hemorrhaging our finances.

This is our first home and shortly after buying it we decided that I’d be at home full time which meant we’d transition being a one income family.

That scared me a bit since I’d decided to put my career and earning potential on hold. I worried how I’d pay for this house if Germaine were to die. We need to have a plan in place and really needed to educate ourselves on How to Prepare Financially for a Loved One’s Death.

Of course we had life insurance which would allow me to still be at home for a while but with a mortgage, debt and bills I could easily see the life insurance money gone in two to three years.

Germaine wanted to make sure we would be taken care financially almost as well if he were still here providing for us, that’s when we learned about adding a decreasing benefit rider to our life insurance policy.

At the time we made the decision to add a decreasing benefit rider to our life insurance policy we already mortgage insurance. We initially thought mortgage insurance was something we paid for in case we defaulted on our loan but after investigation we learned is mortgage insurance pays the lender in the event you default, however you are still responsible for the mortgage debt.

In most cases mortgage insurance is tacked onto your mortgage when you don’t put at least a 20% down payment on your home at the time of purchase.

This is a smart move on the part of the lender but Germaine and me being the borrower had to shift the risk as well.

We wanted to make sure that our mortgage would be paid for in case of his death so we purchased and decreasing benefit rider specifically for our mortgage.

In a nutshell, here’s how it works. We bought an additional term policy in addition to our life insurance. The additional policy is designated to cover the cost of the mortgage if Germaine dies within the 20 year window.

The policy started off at the amount owed on the house but decreases every year for the next 20 years. It virtually decreases in value as the balance on the mortgage decreases.

After putting that policy in place specifically for the mortgage, I felt more at ease and better prepared to care for our family in case Germaine dies before the mortgage is paid off.

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In our family, my husband is primarily and ultimately responsible for the outcome of our finances, however we both work together to manage our money and reach our goals.

We’ve settled into our financial roles through careful prayer and consideration. We’ve identified our strengths and weaknesses and use them accordingly to strengthen the impact of our financial decisions.

I want you to succeed in your finances and have partnered with Genworth Insurance to share financial insights into things that have helped Germaine and I better manage our wealth.

I hope you will join the conversation, learn a lot and become a better steward over your finances.

What financial fears keep you up at night worrying?

We’re Setting New Debt Freedom Goals this Month!!

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More than half the year is gone and we think it’s a great time to talk about financial goals.

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Many of us made some lofty financial goals back in January and what we want to know is — are you sticking with them?

Don’t answer that.

Instead let’s talk about where we are today and what we plan to do going forward. As you all know, Germaine and I are debt free except for our mortgage and a small-ish medical bill. It’s been a long financial journey and we have accomplished a lot.

Our goal for the next couple of months is to readjust the amounts on our budget sheet to reflect extra payments to the medical bill. Once the medical bill is paid off we will begin attacking our mortgage.

I think it’s going to get crazy around here because taking on this endeavor is going to mean deprivation.

Unless somebody starts making more money, we’ll have to slow down the process of renovating our house (again) which means while paying off the house I’ll be staring at this hideous unfinished den, laundry room and office.

Makes us a little sad just thinking about it ya’ll.

But here’s what we’re gonna focus on — I’m gonna focus on the 20Verses For Christians Concerned About Finances.

And we’re gonna focus on some of our favorite Dave Ramsey quotes.

“If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.”

  • We’re going to live in our house with our unfinished laundry room, office and den so that by the time I’m 40 we can be free of a mortgage payment. — I’ll be 36 in February, so you do the math.

“Act your wage.”

  • We are going to deny ourselves SOME luxuries so that we can use a large part of our income to pay off my mortgage. We won’t cut out everything, but we will cut back.

“Pray like it all depends on God, but work like it all depends on you.”

  • We are going to work our butts off and use our talents as a platform to increase our earnings and miraculously pay off our mortgage earlier than even we planned.

“A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.”

  • We are going to revamp our budget TODAY to divert a larger amount to the mortgage payment.

“For your own good, for the good of your family and your future, grow a backbone. When something is wrong, stand up and say it is wrong, and don’t back down.”

  • We are going to rely on God to give us the strength to overcome the temptation of things. I like shopping, nail salons, massage parlors, nice purses and vacations just like everybody else but I am totally convinced that debt is not what God wants for my husband and me. So when I start thinking of everything I could be doing with the money designated to the debt snowball I’m going to need the supernatural inspiration of God to remind me why I’m doing this.

Why are we telling you all of this?

It’s not for you. It’s for us.

It’s to keep us accountable to our decision. It’s so easy to make a decision one day and find yourself in the same spot not having moved and inch years from now.

We want our finances to look drastically different come June of 2017.

Over the next few months I will be updating you on our progress so be sure to subscribe to my RSS updates or FREE email newsletter.

I covet your encouragement and prayers so leave them below in the comments.

Are you working towards some financial goals? How do you stay motivated and on track?