Practical Budgeting Tips

“Living Forward” Creating a Life Plan to Transform Your Finances

I recently started reading Living Forward by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy. The premise is creating a “life plan” based on the legacy you want to leave, along with a tactical strategy you’ll implement to pursue your vision. The author’s ask you to imagine your funeral and what would be said about you. If you don’t think where you are today will lead to the legacy you want to leave, the goals you make in between the gap are what you’ll pursue through your life plan.

living forward. blog

This concept was essentially my motivation to pay off our loans ASAP, looking into the future and making a plan to achieve the desired result.

When Drew and I got engaged, we began discussing the type of future we’d like, starting a family, personal goals, etc. We knew paying $986/month would be a hindrance, in general, and we didn’t want to live with that weight for the next 20+ years. We knew it would largely play into many decisions we would make and trap us down.

*photo credit

So we created a vision for our money (like a short-term life plan). The end goal was to pay off our debt before having kids. This led us to a goal of being debt free within 2-3 years.

We knew the starting point ($76k of debt) and where we wanted to go (debt-free within 2-3 years).

Next, similar to the advice from Living Forward, we needed to fill in the gap with a tactical plan (how we’d attempt to pay off $76k in less than 3 years).

This led to Drew researching budget tools and us using YNAB (You Need a Budget). We set a budget of what we thought was a reasonable amount of money in each category/month (food, spending, entertainment, clothes, bills, etc.) and began tracking everything we spent.

The difference between where we were and where we wanted to end up was easily measurable with this tool. The key was keeping an eye on the end goal and our progress to get there, adjusting the plan to meet the goal if we got off course. Click here to learn more about our strategy.

Where I want to focus today is encouraging you to realize where you are with your finances, determine your end goal, and create an action plan to get there. Make the action plan measurable, and view your progress often. I recommend checking your budget before you spend money, as well as your weekly and monthly progress. Believe me, you can get creative in cutting back the grocery bill if you know you have $50 remaining and a week before the month ends.

So what’s your end goal? Pick something that motivates you. Here’s some of my motivations:

  • Margin for when unexpected expenses arise, for pursuing a dream (like Drew quitting his job to pursue a career change), and to decrease worry over money (remembering, ultimately, God’s in control and my source of peace)
  • Have a savings worth 6 months of living expenses
  • Increase generosity
  • Save for retirement
  • Buy a house with a nice down payment, taking on less interest/debt
  • Pursue investments and other income streams
  • Flexibility

Another take-away from Living Forward, is to create “pull power” with the goals you set. In other words, your goal should be motivating enough to pull you through to the end.

“The lesson is simple. You get what you focus on. What we see ahead impacts the actions we take right now. How we live and lead is directly connected to what we see. What’s important is that the future be enticing enough to stay focused. We call this ‘pull power.’” -Living Forward

If we didn’t have specific goals when we started our debt-free journey, I predict we’d still have about $40k in debt. If we had passively said, “hey, I think debts bad and we should pay off our loans,” we probably would’ve put extra money left over each month towards loans. However, I anticipate it would’ve been about half as much because we’d be thinking in terms of “that’s a nice goal,” but probably not filtering our decisions through it.

What would you need to change to save ___fill in the blank___/month to hit your goal in ___fill in the blank___ time-frame? Remember your end goal often and filter spending habits through this.

Bonus: making sacrifices to pay off debt is typically a choice. Reflect on your end goal for motivation and fight against a “woe is me mindset.”

What’s the future you desire? Would love to hear your goals in the comments!

.Em ❤

 

 

Faith and Financial Resources

Budgeting When You Don’t “Need” to Budget

Now that our student loans are paid off, I’ve noticed myself get a little more apathetic in how I spend money. It’s a small thing, but this week I purchased organic (aka more expensive) chicken that’s now past the expiration date and spoiled. While it’s “only” $9 wasted, it’s a simple example of poor stewardship. I’ve noticed similar examples over the last year since we’ve loosened up on our budget.

Budgeting when you don't need to budget, blogWith this in mind, today I want to discuss my view on the strategy of budgeting even when you don’t “need” to budget. Perhaps you’re not living paycheck to paycheck, or you like where you sit financially. However, I’m convinced having a vision and plan for your spending along with a budget to track your goals can save tons of money and foster healthy stewardship.

Disclaimer: my emphasis in this post is on the ability to be more generous financially when we follow a budget and pursue stewardship. You can  use these ideas to help meet other financial goals, as well.

Regardless of your financial circumstance, I think it honors God when we seek to steward our resources well. For Christ-followers, we know our home is not on earth. Instead, we’re called to prepare for our eternal Home while we’re here (Mt. 6:19-21).

I believe as Christians we should have a vision for the finances God entrusts to us. If we know there’s numerous ministries, believers, and non-believers in need, what if we budget so we have more left over to give? Or, better yet, what if instead of thinking in terms of “left over,” we intentionally plan our budget to create margin to give more?

Take groceries for example. I know from experience, a simple budget of setting goals for how much you want to spend/month and then tracking your progress can easily save a family of two $60-100/month. Think about how far $60-$100/month could go towards giving.

I love Compassion International’s ministry of sponsoring children and families to release them from poverty in Jesus’ name. Check out the story, below, and some of the options you could support through this ministry alone:

 

“God’s Handiwork”

A joyful announcement turns into near tragedy as a mother grapples with rejection.

When Derebe announced she was pregnant, her husband told her to get an abortion or leave. After all, they could barely support their two sons. But Derebe trusted God to provide. She had no idea at the time that His provision would come in the form of Compassion’s Survival program in Ethiopia. Read full story here.

 

The story above is an incredible example of how our resources can change lives. Because someone was generous, the lives of an entire family were changed both physically and spiritually.

You can easily apply this example to several spending categories. Think about how much is spent on clothes and outward appearance. Decorating a home, the house itself, the car we drive, and on and on. I think it can be unhealthy to spend without a plan and/or discipline, or getting too caught up in what we want or feel pressured to have by our culture.

I think stewardship is having a vision for our money and how else it could be used. We live in a industry where billions of dollars are spent annually to make us spend more. If we don’t have a vision, I can guarantee we’re being taken advantage of and the industry is winning. Agree?

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy many things I don’t “need,” but I want to be intentional about the root of why and how much I’m spending. Is it to impress someone? Overindulgence? Insecurities? Pride? Or is it really a treat that I’ll enjoy with good motives and a healthy perspective? This looks different for everyone and it’s all about the heart.

I think my main battle is living in America where it’s so unusual to live with these types of thoughts and questions. We need each other to strengthen and encourage one another to live differently. God’s called us to be the Body of Christ for a reason.

For my family, I hope our lives look  different 5, 15, 40 years from now in the way we view God’s resources and our purpose on earth. I hope by God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit that we’re so in love with Jesus, and passionate for others to know Him, that we’re continually transformed in the way we steward God’s resources.

Lastly, I hope this post doesn’t point you to legalism, a moral approach that’s more about “I must give or God will be mad at or punish me” mentality. My desire is for us to be so in love with Jesus that we can’t help but want to be more intentional with this life.

Even as I wrote this post I was convicted of my own tendencies towards legalism. It’s easy to get caught up in what I think is good stewardship for myself and others. I constantly need God’s grace and help to renew my mind and heart in this area.

More to come on topics like this, but I hope this is a good reminder on the importance of stewardship and how it can change our lives…and the lives of others.

Please subscribe and let’s partner in this!

Peace and love to you!

Em ❤

 

Practical Budgeting Tips

How Paying Off 25% of Our Debt Cut Our Monthly Payment in Half

One of the most exciting moments in our debt free journey was paying off our first major loan of $20,000. As mentioned here, our monthly loan payment dropped from debt 25_50. blog$986/month to less than $500!! Our initial debt was $76,000, so $20,000 was just under 25% of the total. HOWEVER, notice how our monthly payment was basically cut in half. Crazy, right?! Only 25% of our debt was paid but the monthly payment dropped by 50%.

This was a huge motivation to keep going!

Prior to paying off this first major loan, we were intentional to pay the minimum payment for each loan and then place additional money towards this loan which had higher interest.

A few months after we paid it off, we decided to step out in faith and have Drew quit his job to pursue a career change. We estimated this switch would take about 6-12 months of living on my income. Had we still been paying $986/month, we probably wouldn’t have considered it.

We only paid the minimum payment for our remaining loans while living on one income. However, if you try this strategy and your income doesn’t change, this is where you can really crush your debt! Ideally,  we would’ve used the $486 we were used to paying on the $20,000 loan towards the next loan we planned to tackle. Dave Ramsey refers to this as the “snowball effect.”

Once Drew transitioned careers, exactly one year later, we continued to primarily live on one income and put one of our incomes toward the remaining debt.

I share this with you for 2 reasons:

  1. Tackling one loan at a time with the highest interest can make a huge dent in your debt. Again, paying off 25% cut our payments in half.
  2. Paying off debt and creating financial margin provides opportunities! Drew made a career change to pursue his passion and talents! He now works from home, doing his “dream job.”

Here’s my challenge for you:

  • Consider all of your debt and which one loan you can tackle.
  • Remember your “why” for motivation.
  • Determine how much money you’ll save each month once it’s paid off. Remember that number!
  • Start here and stay focused on the goal.
  • Pay that sucker off and celebrate!!
  • Keep the momentum going and tackle your next loan!

If you initially have $1,000/month in debt and pay off a loan that costs $200/month, start adding the $200 on to the next loan.

If it’s difficult to keep up with your initial “pace,” you can always loosen up your budget to help you stick with it. We definitely increased our monthly budget a little as our debt decreased and we got closer to the finish line. The important thing is to push yourself but pick a pace you can stick to!

It took us about a year of intentional, disciplined budgeting to pay off $20,000. This first year felt a little stagnant, but we kept with it. We were so relieved and motivated once it was paid off and this is really when we began to feel momentum to tackle the rest!

There were definitely waves of difficult times when we really wanted to spend more money and have more “splurges,” but I’m so glad we stuck it out in the end.

 

So there you have it. I hope this strategy encourages you to start tackling one source of debt!

What’s stopping you from pursuing a debt free life today? I’d love to know how I can help, so please comment below!

 

XoXo.

Em ❤

Faith and Financial Resources

3 Scary Statistics that Point to Our Serious Money Problems

3 scary stats that point to our money probsEver wonder how much debt and/or savings most Americans have? My curious mind couldn’t help think about this, so I went on a research “adventure” to learn more. Today I’m highlighting 3 scary statistics that point to the serious money problems in our society.

My hope is by shedding light on these issues, we’re all more motivated to fight consumerism, have a plan for our money, and encouraged to “swim upstream” in a culture who tells us we should live outside of our means.

So here’s what you’ve been waiting for…

Scary Statistic #1: average household debt

Check out each category below. Did you know the average household owes over $15k in credit card debt, alone?

household debt pic

Main Source ; Other Source

Scary Statistic #2: zero savings and no emergency fund

Shocked that 49% said they don’t have a savings account or have $0 saved??

savings and ER Fund pic

While the majority of us have thousands of dollars in debt, many don’t have a savings account or an emergency fund (often defined as 3-6 months living expenses). So while we’re indebted to someone else, we don’t have much of a cushion for ourselves.

I’m convinced even if someone’s on a tight budget, most of us could save for an emergency fund if we’re intentional about it.

Main Source; Other Source

Scary Statistic #3: car debt

car keys

“Today, outstanding vehicle loans add up to more than $1 trillion, with the average consumer carrying $12,000 of auto loan debt. The total student loan debt of the country stands at $1.3 trillion, not that much higher.”

Source

These facts are bad, right? I don’t share this to depress you, but to highlight the problem many are facing. We live in a culture where it’s normal to spend more than we make and not plan for the future.

“For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.” Luke 14:28

I think the information above is true because we compare ourselves to others, feel discontent, and make unwise purchases. I also believe we live in a “you deserve it” influence. The question as to whether you can afford it goes out the window if you “deserve” something.

So what if we got “weird” and crazy about paying off debt, using wisdom in purchases and savings, and started fighting the trend?

What if we bought a less expensive home than the loan amount we’re approved for?

What if we drove an older vehicle that cost less than the car dealer approved?

What if we cut way back on purchases that aren’t needs and tackled our debt or saved for the future?

What if we did all of this so we could be more generous?

Just because living outside of our means has become so normal doesn’t mean it has to stay this way.

My vision for this blog is to create awareness of our spending habits and an area where like-minded individuals (you and me) can encourage each other to view our resources differently. I hope to partake in the movement of thinking and living differently and ultimately impacting God’s Kingdom because of it.

 

Peace and joy!

Em ❤

 

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Random

“If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat”

My dream to be a voice about how we view and use our resources has been a dream for about 8 years. I chose not to take action on this dream because I feared what people would think (Would people like it? Agree? Read it?). Yet every time a motivational speaker would share or I’d see someone pursue their passion, I’d have that same stirring going on in my heart around my passion.

If you want to walk on water, you've got to get out of the boat. blog

Can you relate? Do you have something you’re inspired to pursue or feel a calling on your life? Do you fear what people will think or have other fears?

Today, I’d love to share that you’re not alone. I think it’s extremely common to have these thoughts and be held back from stepping out and going for it.

I’m just getting started with my blog. I have no idea how God wants to use me, but I’ve felt so much freedom and joy in just moving forward, stepping out in faith to pursue what I feel like God’s placed on my heart.

I’d like to share some questions/concerns I’ve had, along with how I feel God’s been helping me overcome these hurdles:

What if I run out of things to write about?

At the end of the day, any gift and/or passion is God-given for Him to use for His purpose and glory, and my good. If God wants to continue to use me in this capacity, I believe He’ll continue to give me things to write about. I play a part in this by learning, reading, preparing, etc. but, ultimately, my faith is in Him.

Besides, nothing I do will make a difference in someone’s life unless God chooses to impact someone through it.

What if people don’t like it?

I’ve got to remember who I’m writing for, ultimately. While I’d love to help people with their finances, and change the way we view our resources (myself included), I’m ultimately writing to be obedient and use my God-given interests for God’s purposes. Keeping this perspective helps me think less of people’s opinions. The moment I start writing for people to like and/or agree, I’m in for a mess of emotions.

How on earth can I please everyone reading this? Can you imagine how many opinions are out there, let alone trying to predict what people “want” to hear. Writing for an audience of One is way less stressful!

What if no one reads it?

Again, if I”m writing to use my gifts and be obedient, does it matter? I hope to help many people, and it’s been a huge joy to pursue this desire to speak into the topics I’ve been writing about, but, in the end, I want to please God.

I think we all struggle with similar thoughts, and I hope this encourages you that you’re not alone and to pursue your dream.

Bonus Points:

  1. What are people missing out on by you NOT pursuing your passion? You were made for a purpose and wired like no one else on the planet. Who could you be influencing, encouraging, or helping by stepping out and saying “yes” to your dream?
  2. Like I said, it took me 8 years to act, but the last 2 were spent preparing and reading books on topics I wanted to share on. You may not need this much time (and mine was spread out with various life distractions), but I think more often than not things take time to prepare for. Maybe you can’t pursue your dream 100% today, but what can you start doing to get there?
  3. I believe Satan wishes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). I think he loves making us afraid to do anything of significance. Realizing this, put on your war suit. Fight the battle…you’re not alone.

Lastly, I recommend reading Visioneering by Andy Stanely. It gave me direction and “arms and legs” to my vision. This also gave me fuel to step out, and keep going. It’s a short read, but a great one!

“If you want to walk on water, you’ve got to get out of the boat” – John Ortberg

Disclaimer: I love this phrase, but I’ve yet to read the book. I purchased it several years ago because the title inspired me. #dontjudge  😉

Ask any questions in comments below!

.Em ❤

Contentment in Consumerism World

Benefits of Living Debt Free

It’s been 8 months since Drew and I made our last loan payment. I can’t tell you how refreshing it’s been to keep roughly $2,500/month vs. paying it towards loans. We still joke around and ask each other, “how much do we owe this month?” and then respond “ZERO!!!!”

But we made “sacrifices” to get here.    Benefits of Being Debt Free, blog

For almost 3 years we barely ate out, had minimal decorations for our home, and bought basic groceries. Snacks and desserts were treats, we ate lots of spaghetti, and bought the most affordable meats—lots and lots of chicken! If you were a guest in our home we’d offer you “water or water.” 😉

No doubt we had all we needed, and we didn’t go as far as to only eat rice and beans like Dave Ramsey references, so all and all we had a lot to be grateful for. Nonetheless, we were still making sacrifices.

Was it worth it? ABSOLUTELY!

There are so many benefits in being debt-free. By God’s grace, we’ve been able to build our savings and start investing in retirement and mutual funds.

Sidenote: we chose to put all our extra money towards loans and put off investing/retirement. We took this strategy since we were losing about 6% in interest, and we wanted to focus one one thing at a time -paying off debt, than investing.

Having financial margin has reduced stress and provided options. Like I mentioned in a previous post, Drew was able to quit his full-time job for a year to pursue a career change. We have a buffer if the economy crashes or we have a significant unexpected expense.

Ultimately, our trust and security are in Christ alone. We know that we could lose everything of earthly value today, or God could clearly lead us to give it all away. Outside of scenarios like this, I think it’s wise to have financial margin and savings for retirement, if possible.

So without getting into the weeds of our strategy, I want to encourage you with yours.

I want to encourage you that making some extreme decisions, and perhaps living a little different than the trend of our culture, is totally worth it!

What vehicle, house, new outfit, or living room set is worth being a slave to debt? What’s worth the stress that being financially burdened brings? Would you rather make some tough sacrifices now, or continue living strapped?

But…our culture tells us that if we want something, we deserve it.

Think of all the advertisements. How about the commercial this Christmas that showed one neighbor buying the “lame” snowman while the other bought the new truck. Or Verizon, “Didn’t get what you wanted this Christmas?” “There’s still time to get the new iPhone” (paraphrased).

We live in a world where billions of dollars in marketing are spent each year to make us feel like we need more to make us happy. We have to be aware of this and be ok living a bit differently.

So, what actions can you start taking, today?

Perhaps it’s selling a car and sharing with your spouse. Downsizing your home. Wearing what you have and pursuing contentment. Eating out less, and grocery shopping with a strategy and budget.

All of this sounds awful, right? But I can tell you it really wasn’t that bad. When it’s a choice to cut back in pursuit of a preferred future, it can be invigorating! It’s all about shifting your perspective.

“But I want to enjoy my life…”

You may be thinking you’ll miss out on life. We found ways to have fun on our budget, and I don’t think we missed out on anything of significance. Like I said, Drew was able to quit his job, there’s plenty of ways to enjoy life without spending a lot of money, and now we have plenty of cushion for fun.

I have no regrets!

A few closing tips:

If you start changing your spending habits, I recommend viewing your decisions as an opportunity to share with others why you’re living differently rather than feeling embarrassed by your frugal lifestyle. I think you’ll be surprised with how many people will feel encouraged to do the same, as if they wouldn’t be alone if they stepped out of the norm, too.

If you make some intentional choices to pay off debt, it’s so important to renew your mind often and remember why you’re choosing to do this. Between wanting to purchase something, comparison to others, and consumerism, it can be tough. But the battle is worth it!

Ok, ok, one more thought: there’s GRACE in all of the above. Think of ways you can start managing your finances better, and find what works for you.

That’s all for now, folks!

Comment with any questions, and start following for future posts (right-hand side of page)!

❤ Em

Practical Budgeting Tips

3 Ways to Start Saving Today!

I recently shared how my husband and I paid off $76,000 of student loans in less than 3 years. While this was a huge accomplishment, it can be intimidating to know where to start.

Today, I’m sharing 3 simple ways you can immediately improve your finances.

1. Determine Why You Want to Spend Less: 3_ways_to_start_saving_blog pic

It’s almost the end of March, so I imagine most of us have dropped off from our goals for the new year. Did you hope to get in shape, lose weight, or maybe change your finance situation? I think the reason most of us have a hard time sticking to new goals is because we don’t have a good enough reason to have the goal in the first place.

I think we need a clear vision and reason for a goal to actually achieve it. What’s your reason, your “why”?

If you don’t have an answer, pause and make this clear before starting a radical new change in the way you handle money.

Think about your future and how finances fit in. I get the impression that many people have accepted living with debt, and/or gotten comfortable living with little to no financial margin. Do you live under the “if you have it, spend it” mindset?

Here’s some key areas worth considering when thinking about finance goals:

  • Do you have debt to pay off?
    Paying off debt is one of the quickest ways to make money. Imagine what you could do if you kept or invested the money going towards debt this month! Not only do you keep it, you’re not losing interest every month. Our loans were ~6% interest…aka someone was making money off of us vs. the other way around (dang it!).
  • Do you have an emergency fund and savings?
    An easy way to prevent debt is having cushion in your budget. When the car needs repair, do you have money set aside, or would you need to use your credit card? I recommend building towards 3-6 months savings. If this would be too big of a goal today, set an achievable goal to work towards. Maybe start with $500-$1,000 and then increase again once you hit your goal.
  • Do you hope to save for a home?
    Perhaps you want to save for a down payment on a home. I think this is a great goal, but I do recommend having some savings before purchasing a home because of the risk you take on with unexpected repairs and other expenses.
  • Do you want to save for the future?
    Have you thought about the future and your finance goals? Are you saving for a family vacation? Replacement car? Retirement? If not, would you like to be?
  • Do you wish you could give more?
    What if you could increase your giving and make an impact with your monetary resources? What if you could manage your resources and build a lifestyle conducive to regularly increasing your giving?

For Drew and I, all of the above were and are our goals. We knew having $76,000 of student loans was a huge hindrance in pursuing the other goals, so that’s why we tackled it first.

2. Determine What You Currently Spend:

Genius idea, right? I know this is simple, but it’s so important. If you see a nutritionist they’ll probably ask you to do the same thing (i.e. write down what you currently eat). You’ve got to know where you are to know where you want to go.

Try this. Write down everything you spend money on for a month. I suggest a month so you capture recurring bills (rent/mortgage, car insurance, utilities etc.), in addition to general spending. If you can’t stick to tracking it for a month, start with a week (then repeat x3…just teasing!).

After measuring current trends, learn from your spending habits and get motivation to start cutting back in areas. Could you eat out one less time/month? Shop when you have a need vs. want? How often do you spend $1-$3 without even realizing it (ordering a drink at a restaurant, getting coffee or snack on the go…)?

3. Focus on Areas You Can Save Money:

Find areas in your budget where you can save money, then set goals and stick to them! Again, not rocket science, but super important.

The areas that typically have the “lowest hanging fruit” to save money are groceries, spending, and eating out.

If you start using a budget and set a goal for how much you’ll spend in groceries, I’m confident you can find ways to cut back each month. Maybe you currently spend $400/month and you can shave off $30/month by being intentional with what you purchase.

It’s crazy how you can easily spend $10-20 more each time you get groceries if you don’t have a plan! Think about it, if this is true, and most of us don’t need convincing that it is, this means we could save $100/month just by having a goal!

Where would you prefer that $100 go each month?

Additionally, $400/month was what Drew and I intentionally budgeted for the first year of our marriage. If you’re not currently using a budget for groceries, I bet you could easily save 15-20%/month by starting a simple budget! Do the math for motivation!

*Note: it’s just my husband and me, so these numbers are based on feeding two people.

Here’s some grocery saving tips we used:
We would often cut back on buying sweets, snacks, and drinks (easily saves $20/each week). We’d frequently choose to eat spaghetti in efforts to make that month’s goal, or eat a bland meal instead of trying a new and exciting recipe (ingredients add up quick!). I’d check the budget before getting groceries, and add up what I thought I was about to spend before checking out.

Make a game out of it. Try to balance the budget without going a penny over. Put stuff back if you need to. Not because you have to, but because you choose to for your preferred future!

As mentioned here, we used the YNAB budgeting tool to help us stick to a budget. One thing I love about this tool are the reports it provides so you can look back at spending habits (data below).

To illustrate how much you can save in the areas mentioned above, check out what we spent in these categories over the past 3 years (the time-frame in which we were paying off our loans):

Groceries:
2014: $4,285
2015: $3,730
2016: $4,350

Spending*:
2014: $2,385
2015: $1,600
2016: $1,840

Eating Out*:
2014: $880
2015: $630
2016: $1,830

* “Spending” includes the “entertainment” budget Drew and I share, as well as the “fun money” and “food money” we each individually have.
* “Eating Out” is a budget Drew and I share, unlike our individual food money listed under “spending.”

I’ve emphasized 2015, because this is the year Drew quit his job to pursue a career change. Literally living on one income, we tightened down our budget even more. This is important for you to see because this was the year we were most intentional with our budget.

Check out the total savings all of this adds up to:

If you compare 2014 to 2015, we spent a total of $1,500 less in 2015. If you compare 2015 to 2016, we spent a total of $2,000 less in 2015.

How many of you could pay off a small student loan or credit card bill with $1,550 or $2,000? The small changes in how we budget for groceries, spending, and eating out go a long way!

Here’s how much we saved in each category/month in 2015 compared to 2014:

Groceries: On average, we saved ~$45/month, ($4,285-$3,730)/12.
Spending: On average, we saved ~ $65/month, ($2,385-$1,600)/12.
Eating Out: On average, we saved ~$20/month, ($880-$630)/12.

So there you have it; cutting back a little each month goes a long way! What one thing can you take from today’s post to apply to your finances?

Please share if this was helpful! ❤

.Em