Loan Money and Budgeting 101

 SERIOUSLY…boring blog post, right?

Well, ends up I am kind-of passionate about budgeting and I felt like sharing my lessons learned so far. And, truth is, it really MAY be as boring as my kids are making it look above…so only read if you want a serious run down of my budget and thoughts of loan money and things of that sort!!

Okay, I’ll be honest I’m no professional accountant; however, in terms of our family–I’m the “executer” with budget. AKA:: the unofficial accountant [I suppose] and I guess you could say it has become PRETTY second nature since I’ve been doing it for 5 years now.

 Braden has tons on his plate [as any med student+father+hubby does…not to mention church responsibilities] so we agreed on the budget together {right after we were married and we go over it every time we take out loans now that we are in med school} and I am the one who keeps track of our spending, earnings, etc. [since I DO have the time, oh wait we don’t make any earnings ;)]
For all of you newbies to the loan thing {since med school was our first time to take out a loan, period}, here are some things I’ve learned so far::

1. LIVE BY A BUDGET.

Sounds painful {sometimes it feels a titch painful}, BUT the vast majority of the time it just plain helps and blesses our family. Having a budget has helped ME distinguish WANT vs. NEED. Sure, we NEED to get a WANT every now and then to keep us sane; but, when you have a certain amount of money budgeted it helps you to really weigh out how often to do that and how badly you really need or want something….and to be patient and wait til you can afford something.

So here are some categories that we have used for our budget since we’ve been married….5 years strong and it has really helped us live within our means….or now {since we live on loan money} helps us not gain additional debt and interest unnecessarily…
Okay, here are our categories in case this helps any med school families out there [or to document for my kiddos if they want to see how to do it when the time comes]::
*Grocery
*Hubby personal money
*Wife personal money
*individual kids personal money
*Car insurance {not literally car insurance, because we pay for that…but money in case you car randomly breaks down to pay for the out of pocket price…we figure if we put some down every month it’ll prepare us and give us padding for when something comes up without having to freak out}
*family money-small amount each month for a family outing…..not to disclose personal info, but ours is $20! 🙂 So it allows for like the pumpkin patch outting, or one trip to fast food, or a carnival, the state fair, whatever! It makes us plan wisely….
*Miscellaneous Money— For RANDOM stuff…kids’ friends or whoever birthday parties, unexpected expenditures, the neighbor who sells with girl scout cookies that you feel bad not getting 1 box to support, etc…whatever!
*Cleaning supplies:: like chlorox wipes, toilet paper, windex, whatever
*Diapers/wipes
*Gas/electric bills– we average our summer and winter months and divide that by how many months of loan we are taking out and take out that much
*Gas— this is tricky…we did the same thing, calculated how much gas we spent over a fixed period of time via wellsfargo online{we did 5 months…because we get paid August-December…then in January we’ll get another dispersement of loans}….so we averaged 5 months of usage from examining our gas usage for 5 months…does that make sense? I’m totally not rereading my ramble because I don’t have that sort of time. Hopefully it makes some sort of sense! Yes, gas prices fluctuate, but so far we’ve been fine with the built-in-pads in our budget…and what prices go up must come down…so sometimes we get cheap gas, etc.
*real car insurance-obviously have to calculate that in…we pay 6 months at a time…and let me tell you BARGAIN people! I went back and forth with 3 companies and got my price way down…geico! I’ve been super impressed with them so far….I PROMISE if you start accounting for where your spending you will spend LESS.
Check out mint.com too…it’s a safe place to track your spending.
 *Savings–whether it’s $5 or $500, there should be SOMETHING going in every month into just plain savings. This also is a great padding to have for when something unexpected and expensive happens. Start the habit now and it will become second nature. Living below your means just feels good.

2. REUSE/alter things you have.

Man, oh man have I learned a thing or two about recycling clothes…. I have learned how to use fabric from a cute dress I LOVED with a hole in it to wear as a scarf…or turned my old shirt into a skirt for Brightyn, or old pinstriped pants into a tie for Jack, etc. Look at old clothes you don’t wear as potential sewing projects and you will realize you can make clothes for kiddos and save some moolah. It’s a whole new world when you try to decide what to get rid of….lol. BUT, you don’t have to save EVERYTHING…just things that you will actually use for something else.

3. Pay your TITHING.

Though we don’t often earn money these days we still pay tithing ANY TIME we do. {random babysitting jobs, a certificate check for getting the highest grade in one of Braden’s medschool class–had to throw that in :), random things like that}.We believe in the law of the tithe and pay 10% of everything we earn. Man, has it blessed our lives! We have learned how to budget better because of paying tithing, have been blessed with all that we need because we pay our tithing, and random blessings when money is tight in ways that ONLY could be planned by Heavenly Father looking after us.

4. Never take out the full amount the school offers you for loans.

I say this for 2 reasons, 1-I know from experience you can TOTALLY live below it….kind-of easily actually….2-you begin accruing loans as SOON as the disperse the money until the day you start paying back {boo!…so don’t take it all}, 3-YOU CAN ALWAYS TAKE OUT MORE! Once I found THAT out it was almost like, …um….are they TRYING to trick us into accruing more debt….so up to a certain date (call the school and they can tell you) you can ask for more within the amount they originally offered. Off the top of my head I wanna say we could get like 5,000 less than they offered…but I don’t REALLY remember. So far, we’ve never HAD to ask for more. We have some built in padding that has always left us fine so far…..but, it is comforting knowing that you can….might as well TRY to spend less, rigggghhhhtttt? Years later the thousands dollars LESS with thank you.

5. DUMPSTER DIVE!!

This is one of my FAVORITE things to do. Don’t judge me. Try it first! Okay, I don’t really go in a big dumpster and shop {though I’m not opposed to that if I had some friends and babysitters…and there weren’t any weird creatures and bugs around}….I’m talking big garbage day shopping. In good ‘ol Oklahoma we have a big garbage day on the 1st Monday of the month and it is simply the best. Everyone puts their big garbage by the street for the garbage men to get. My kids and I drive around EVERY big garbage day around here…we get new kids toys, storage containers, free lotion samples from Bath and Body Works {weird, why would someone throw that away?}, patio chairs, hay bails for Thanksgiving tonight actually…patio decor, right?, book shelf, etc. And, I’ve seen lots of stuff I haven’t taken because I don’t have room …. air hockey table THAT WORKS, 3 piece living room furniture set {saw that tonight}, etc…..OOOhhhh, it makes me sooo happy. I have to thank my sisters-in-law for bringing me for my first time when I was engaged to the Mr….never did I know how addicted I would become. Truth is, I LOVE shopping–always have, but am too dang cheap to actually buy stuff. Dumpster diving, I can shop guilt free as MUCH as I want FOR FREE–addiction fulfilled. FREEDOM!!! So fulfill your shopping desires dumpster diving and you will learn you can do the whole budget thing. 😉
Latest find::

Kitchen in amazing condition...as in PERFECT! The lady said the dog peed on the corner and she didn’t feel like cleaning it. Um, it’s PLASTIC!! Chlorox!! There were like 3 dots in the corner, and I chlorox any dumpster dive finds anyway and it came right off. Finds like these make me wonder how and if I will ever go back….and bless that woman for her lack of desire to clean.

Anyway, it’s our first time to be in debt in our marriage and it’s the first time EVER in our marriage we haven’t had a decent amount of money in our savings. This is why we want to stay in debt as SHORT as possible. Who knows how much of a difference these things we do will help us get out of debt OR how much more quickly, but I’m SURE it will help and it has taught me to be frugal and thrifty. I’ll never be the same. As in, will I ever stop dumpster shopping on big garbage day? I don’t know maybe in like 15 years…..?? It’s SO FUN! Could I really pay 50 bucks for something I could get for free? Not looking likely at last for 15 years. It’s fun and gratifying, y’all should totally try it!

There’s my blurb on loan money and budgeting…..exciting, I KNOW!

Ah, wait…one more thing…I totally keep track of the budget old school. While some people are into Mint and I do recommend it as a safe way to organize your budget, I STILL prefer paper and pencil. Mostly because in one receipt I have multiple categories to divide into usually. For example, I may have gotten Sass a shirt at Walmart, good for grocery, and some cheap sunglasses for me. In this case, I would have 3 different categories in one receipt:: Mandy personal, Sass personal, and grocery. Mint can’t quite divide it like that….and if it can, it seems way more complicated to me than just doing it myself.  I guess I’m just plain old school. [and I don’t write down gas/bills/etc…I just account for grocery, personal money for every one, misc money, cleaning money, and family fun money….the rest we have in the budget and can just live and know we’ve planned well.]
Wow…apparently I am kind-of passionate about all that unlike my unenthusiastic kids :). I’m done now! 🙂 Hope that helps someone organize their budget. I have come to love budgeting and have been blessed immensely by it. Go do it, it isn’t hard I PROMISE!

 

Continue Reading

5 Books From Lately

Here are some highlights from some books I’ve read lately…and by books, I pretty much mean self-help books because I just A-D-O-R-E self help books overall….

It was my goal to read 10 books this year {because I don’t make time for reading unless it’s a goal} and even with the goal I only got to 5…but…I still have a few weeks…lol..but for now, here are the 5 I read and loved for different reasons.

1. Smart Discipline-

This book was just a random find from the library while I was fishing in my favorite section:: THE PARENT self help section. 🙂 I wish I had an individual manual per child straight from Heavenly Father. That’d make my life really easy, but it’s in the seeking and praying and studying up where the growth comes. 🙂 My FAVORITE favorite part of this book was when it talked about instilling positive beliefs into our children about themselves. It said to pick 20 attributes you want your child to have and then catch them using that trait and explain to them how they used it and tell them that was very thoughtful , respectful , generous…. or whatever it may be. I felt inspired after that and still have attributes on my fridge. I love doing this with Brightyn especially. {because she’s a little older and really soaks it in} 

Then, later after I was reading a DIFFERENT book that’ll I’ll write about later–I was evaluating myself and where I wanted to improve and made a list for me…

Now I use it as a bookmark and instead of complimenting MYSELF when I am that attribute {obviously}, I try to focus on one attribute and remember/focus on ways I’m can improve in that area… [instead of not focusing my energy in as specific of direction]

2. How to Win with People:: How to Make Others Feel like a Million Bucks

–YUP, I read this A-GAIN…I know I’ve even written it on here before, I just love this book…it’s my kind of book–a bunch of quick inspiring pointers with specifics on how to apply them to your life. Here are the chapter titles to entice you::

AND, random highlight from book {off the top of my head since I don’t have it}… REMEMBER people’s names. How? Say their name 3 times within the conversation when you meet them. Ask them a question about their name…like how is that spelled? Or is that a family name? I like it….why did they give you that name…whatever, it helps you remember. AND, when they first say their name tie the name to a physical feature that sticks out about them in your mind to help you remember. End convo by saying their name at the end. {I almost always do this and I must say I am getting pretty good with remembering names:) }

Oh, it’s so good….can’t you just tell it’s inspiring from the chapter headings…totally recommend it!


3. Raising Your Spirited Child

I loved this book too and it was especially helpful right as I was reading it. Did it solve every problem I’ve ever had? NO! But, it gave me lots of useful ideas for rough times, taming tantrums in the moment, etc…..

Pointers I remember off to the top of my head::
*Don’t waste your time trying to explain and reason with your child while they are in “the red zone” {upset, fighting you, in tantrum}…let consequence do the talking and talk with your child and explain while they are in “the green zone.”

*Getting in the bath is a quick way for “spirited” children to calm down…something about the water and stimulation can snap kids out of it sometimes faster than anything else. 

I also liked how it talked about talking about your child positively to them and in front of others. Kind of a given, BUT it was really specific about how to do this. Sometimes it’s easy to see the negative if you are in a particularly challenging, defiant stage or age with your child..but the qualities creating those really tend to be positive. For example, instead of saying my child is stubborn, hard headed, or defiant…you can say my child is persistent-he/she never gives up, determined, and a strong leader. See what I mean…I’ve done this and it not only helps the child gain confidence, but as the parent it helps me see the strengths I’m trying to mold and channel instead of a negative attribute I’m fighting. {if that makes any sense}

Very good read with lots of advice and wisdom in there!  {I’d say THE MOST helpful self help book I’ve read about challenging kiddos-besides Love and Logic…but in my particular case I needed EVEN MORE pointers/ideas} 🙂

4. How to Think and Grow Rich

In a word, FASCINATING. Don’t judge me, this book isn’t just about growing rich with money…though, I probably SHOULD think about doing something to make money since our med school debt accrues every day-lol–Anyway, it’s about training your thoughts to become successful in any way you endeavor… my dear friend gave me a copy of this book and gives copies of it to people because he loves it so much–so I had to read it.

Ramble:: Every since high school, I have been very interested in how your thoughts influence your actions and how our self talk really influences our results…. I had some test anxiety {and anxiety with musical performance} and with positive affirmations was able to change that fear into excitement and enjoyment. SOOoooo, anyway if you want me to ramble talk to me in real life about positive affirmation, hypnotism, etc. 😉 Anyhow, I recommend the book, very interesting. I’m not going to lie, there was some business jargon I didn’t know much about at the start of the book, but the last half {more psychology focused part} I couldn’t put it down.

A couple quotes from the book::
-“All thoughts which have been emotionalized, {given feeling} and mixed with faith, begin immediately to translate themselves into their physical equivalent or counterpart.”
-“..nothing which life has to offer is worth the price of worry…”
-“Knowledge is only potential power. It becomes power only when, and if, it is organized into definite plans of action, and directed to a definite end.”

5. God Wants a Powerful People by Sheri Dew-

I hadn’t read a spiritual book {besides the scriptures and conference talks} for a while since I’ve been on a parenting book kick and it was refreshing and empowering. {as I’m sure you gathered from the title 😉 } Made me feel the sense of responsibility I have to be a faithful Follower of Christ, diligently seek Him, and truly do my best to uphold His work.

Here are some random, disconnected quotes I underlined while reading it::
– “,,,being a disciple of Christ is not about being perfect—at least, not yet. It is about wanting to be a True Follwer more than we want anything else.” LOVE that quote.
-“Nothing the world can offer has the enduring joy of eternal motherhood and fatherhood.”
-“Immersion in the word of God changes us.”
-“There is one thing the power of God and the power of Satan have in common: Neither can influence us unless we allow them to.”

Wow, apparently I miss book reports from my upbringing?? {NOT-I actually didn’t enjoy books til college} Sorry…hopefully one of you has a couple new books you want to try out now. 🙂 Feel free to add more suggestions on my ever growing list of books to read…. sadly, I had a list of like 10 I tried at my library from books friends via FB suggested and they didn’t have ANY of them… BOO! Hopefully I can get more that my library DOES have. 🙂

Here’s to snuggling up and reading a good book!

….or reading while your babe is asleep in the car waiting to pick up your kiddos from school, whichever works. 😉

Continue Reading