Budget...Why Do We Think That Is A Four Letter Word?!?

I can get obsessive about details:

Budget Guidelines Established in 2006
Housing 36%
Food 13%
Auto 11%
Health Insurance 5%
Ent/Rec 8%
Clothing 7%
Savings 5%
Med/Dental 4%
Misc 6%
Investments 5%
We set these guidelines up from reading and reviewing Crown Financial Ministries recommendations.

Current 2008 Budget Actual

Let me also explain that this is a budget based on 61.67% of our gross income, 22.44 % of our gross income is absorbed with TRS/taxes/medicare/health insurance and the final 15.89% is dedicated to debt payment and tithe. We pay all our bills on the day we are paid, set aside our savings and live off the rest, so sometimes our food/auto/misc is less than the planned % is or we have an unexpected expense and this always happens and we eat off of our food stash.

We have a goal to have our home paid off in 5 years. This is realistic for us, we initially took out a 15 year note and are 4 years into our mortgage. Our goal is to establish an emergency fund of savings equivalent to 3 months gross salary and then the excess will all be put towards our mortgage payoff. Some would not agree with these priorities, but this is what we have established, there is a tremendous ease with having a house that is paid off.

Becoming More Green

DH and I are reading and looking for ways to be more "green". Isn't that the latest catch all term. Really we know that we have not done our part towards recycling, etc.

We first read and reviewed books on living off the grid, moving to a small farm and living off the land, etc. There are still books that will tell and show you how to butcher a hog, cow, etc....(DS was thoroughly grossed out....)

Yesterday we received Money magazine September 2008 and it was really helpful.

  • Think before you build: it's green to reuse and remodel. The house you fix up will probably be much greener than anything you build in its place, no matter how cutting edge the new design or how much recycled material you use. (Do you know that landfills are taken up more with debris from building projects than anything else.) So DH and I are happy to look at staying in our modest older ranch home and working to improve what we have. That means bye-bye to my secret desire to build a new home eventually...:(
  • A roof should overhang walls by at least one foot. We are blessed to be in a house where this is true. It keeps the sun off windows and exteriors which helps the house stay cool in summer. We also have our larger room with a southern exposure of windows which helps to heat our home in winter.
  • Size of a home does matter, don't pay for wasted space. A bedroom is for sleeping and a kitchen is for cooking. So they recommend having no more than 4 feet distance between your counters and an overall footage of 20 feet or less for a kitchen. My small kitchen fits this optimally. I guess no big expansions planned in that area.... and our bedrooms have a little spare room for the boys...
  • Opt for standard ceiling heights. It will save you lots of money in heating and air costs. We have standard 8 foot ceilings. Compared to new homes it seems cramped but we are adding in crown molding to visually add to the height of the rooms. Also we have a long term plan about changing the ceiling in our great room to a trayed ceiling to be more visually attractive, but that is way down on our home improvement list, but it is there...
  • Insulate, insulate, insulate....One of our more immediate home improvement plans is to add tons of additional attic insulation and a storm door to our front door. Our front door opens up directly to our living room, so when the cold wind is blowing and the door is opened it takes awhile to recover. We also have a longer term plan to add an enclosed small entry to our front porch area, thus minimizing the impact on the house with opening the front door. A longer term plan is to also have all of our current home windows replaced with double pane windows in the future to help minimize our energy drains. We also have an attic fan that helps pull out the hot air in our attic area in order to minimize our AC use.
  • Buying used and using till they are dead. Cars, that is, this is a major accomplishment in mine and my husband's thinking. What could be more green than keeping your current car and maintaining it and driving it for as long as possible. Luckily, my DH is skilled at car repair and maintenance, so this makes it more realistic as a goal. We currently have a 98' Cobra Mustang and a 2003 Explorer. These cars are really old, during our previous life we would have replaced these already...but we are determined to do good maintenance and repair and keep them as long as practical.
We will consider the energy ratings on our future appliance purchases. It is possible that we might be able to get either a rebate or tax incentive...

We are going to replace our light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs with our next payday. My DH has found that the GE bulbs are the most energy efficient and it looks like the best deal is to purchase them at SAMS club, so I am supposed to add up the lights in the house, in order to know how many to purchase.

Other actions, we need to recycle plastic/paper/glass. It is going to be a challenge, our nearest recycling units are about 40 miles away, but we need to do something...even if it takes more effort on our part. So I will look to find some large containers to store items in that will fit into our Explorer and find a place in the house or garage to store in order to stock them as needed.

Plans are to also add in a gas fireplace to our greatroom. We know that we are dependent on electricity for heating and running our home and want to establish some more sources for gas systems. We have explored changing our electric stove to a gas unit, which I prefer anyway, it shouldn't be too hard since we have a pier and beam house.

DH is also reading on steps for storage and use of rainwater.
Family is setting a priority to design and build a square foot garden system to be less dependent for our vegetables from the store.
We have considered installation of solar panels, but the expense so far is too great and the units would only be paid for after 25 years of use, so not a realistic option at this point for us.

Budget 101

Taking steps to get your budget and financial plans in correct order are a big deal and trying to get this established between a couple can be very trying. Maybe one of you is a spendthrift, you could each have different ideas about what your financial priorities are....so much to talk about...

We also agreed to Bruce Ammons http://www.conqueringdebt.com/

'Demonstration of Fearless Faith'

We, the undersigned, make a solemn vow to obey God from this day forward in
the area or tithing.

We understand that tithing
Commanded by God. (Leviticus 27:30)
Commended by Jesus.
(Matthew 23:23)
An opportunity to prove we really love God. (John
10% of our gross income. (Malachi 3:10)
"First fruit giving."
(Proverbs 3:9)
A demonstration that God has first place in our lives. (Deuteronomy
To be given to our place of worship with no strings attached.
(Malachi 3:8-10)
An expression of our gratitude to God.
An acknowledgement
that everything we have was given to us by God. (Deuteronomy
The biblical prescription for turning our hearts
wholeheartedly to the Lord. (Matthew 6:21)
A habit. We will tithe like
clockwork whether we are present or absent.

The intent of this vow
is not to limit our giving. It simply forms the foundation
for our
giving. We will remain sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading in the
area of giving offerings above and beyond the tithe.

We choose to
make this vow obediently and expectantly!

By becoming faithful
tithers,w e are trusting by faith that God will provide
for the needs of our family and help
us in our war on debt.

Signature______________and _________________Date__________

Seems simple to read, but to commit and do as a couple takes alot of prayer, commitment and discipline.

Then DH and I established a list of goals that we have continued to review and pray specifically for... Without going into too much detail, we have been blessed abundantly since we have being praying and seeking the Lord's guidance and correction in our finances.

Our attitudes have changed significantly about how we view our blessings and what our financial goals are...This did not happen overnight and I am sure that we still have alot of areas to grow and change.

Speaking about tithe. Since I have been a stay at home mom, I took over the responsibilities of overseeing our bill paying and budget. I must admit, that I always had the goal of giving 10% of our net (that is what David and I had committed to previously) but if I believed that our expenses for the month were too much, then I would wait to pay the tithe and see what was left at the end of the month, sometimes, there wasn't anything (especially during the summer) and I was okay with that.

Since our commitment on November 12, 2007 we have been committed as a couple to give our tithe (10% of gross) first and foremost as a 'first fruit' offering to our local church. We have been able to do this unceasingly since our commitment and have also been able to contribute more in offerings to other charitable organizations and missions that we have ever done previously. Has it been easy, no, it forces you to review and rearrange your financial decisions. We have learned to live on less and amazingly we are also realizing our long term financial goals better than we did when we had a six figure income between the two of us working full-time.

When we are not agreeing on a major purchase or expense, it has also been helpful, to pull out our commitments and review them, it reminds both of us what our long term goals are. Amazingly it has gotten these purchases in order. Sometimes we have put them off, other times we have decided that we need to complete the purchase but then look for ways that we can accomplish the purchase without using credit.

Would everyone agree with our decisions, probably not, but that is what we as a couple have decided to do. Am I working with a dishwasher and washing machine that needs to be replaced because they are beyond repair, yes. We are working diligently to find the funds and are praying that they will be provided within the next couple of months, or an amazing sale/clearance comes to our attention. Have we had unexpected expenses that have set us scrambling, yes. Have we had to tap into our savings when we would have preferred to leave it alone, yes. To be quite honest for us to have a savings account to consider in all of decisions, is amazing in the least for us...

So in reference to "Staying At Home and Loving It", it takes an adjustment more than I would have expected...but the blessings are abundant.

Budget...Why Do We Think That Is A Four Letter Word?!?

My husband was able to attend a christian financial planning seminar, I had hoped to go, but we ended up having a small son sick with allergies and fever... I was so looking forward to the session.

"Conquering Debt God's Way" by Bruce Hammons

His web site is pretty good, but I got to tell you that his booklet is powerful.

My DH and I both committed to his 'Declaration of War On Debt'

We, the undersigned, choose this day to declare war on debt by making a
solemn vow to God, regarding our future financial direction.

We do not take this lightly. We understand that, "It is better
that you should not vow than that you should vow an not pay." (Ecclesiastes 5:5)
Yet, we choose to make the following vow in order to formally and publicly
declare war on debt. From this day forward, we resolve to:

  • No longer accept just getting by from paycheck to paycheck
  • Make rapid debt elimination our primary financial objective.
  • Commit ourselves without reservation to CONQUERING DEBT GOD'S WAY.
    We will apply every step of action that pertains to our circumstances with
    complete follow through.
  • Attack debt with a passion.

We believe that God may choose to miraculously cancel our
debts. However, we also realize that it took time to get into debt and it
will most likely take time to get out of debt. Whether by miracle or by
"dogged determination," we will be debt free!

Signature _________________and ______________Date_________

We completed this commitment on November 12, 2007

Staying at Home and Loving It!!!

I'll be the first to admit, this is not always true...

I miss:
abdundant income
interaction with professional peers
professional challenges

I am learning to:
live within a budget
deny instant gratification of my wants and desires
cook more from scratch
look for bargains
pray more
be happier with simpler pleasures
realize that God is my holy spirit (counselor and corrector) and not other's opinions of what I should or shouldn't do
say "no" more...

I wouldn't trade:
my extra time with my family everyday
seeing my son and husband off to school
being there when they come home from school and work
having the house smell of fresh cooked bread/home cooked meal, etc
having a new little one in our family
learning to look for the little blessings received everyday
being less stressed
the abundant way that God has provided for our financial needs and the suprises that he has provided in increasing our income
feeling like I do have my priorities straight

What are my priorities:
relationship with God
relationship with my husband
relationship with my children
relationship with my family
relationship with my friends
learning to let go and trust

I guess that sums up that I tend to be a control freak...so I am learning to let go and trust God

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