"The Money Saving Mom's Budget" by Crystal Paine – Chapter 1

"The Money Saving Mom's Budget" by Crystal Paine - Chapter 1

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From one of Nielsen’s Top 50 Power Moms comes advice you can take to the bank—literally!

Crystal Paine, who has helped busy women everywhere take control of their finances, presents her most effective strategies designed for families of all sizes and income levels.

With hundreds of inspiring “why didn’t I think of that?” tips, plus worksheets, Paine breaks down your goals into easy, manageable steps so you can:

• Achieve a complete financial makeover
• Set up a realistic budget
• Never pay retail
• Slash your grocery bill
• Organize your time & your home
• Use coupons wisely
• Pay with cash only
• Live simply
• Become debt free
• Choose contentment
• Make every dollar count

“This book will help you make dollars and sense of your life again!”
-Dave Ramsey, New York Times bestselling author and nationally syndicated radio talk show host

“A great solution for anyone who’s struggling to get on a budget!”
-Mary Hunt, founder of Debt-Proof Living and award-winning author of 7 Money Rules for Life

“Fresh inspiration… A practical, creative plan to make your life priorities a reality.”
-Ann Voskamp, New York Times bestselling author of One Thousand Gifts

“The Money Saving Mom’s Budget offers real hope to real families who want to escape the cycle of overspending and debt. With a guide like Crystal Paine by your side, you can do this!”
-Mary Ostyn, author of Family Feasts for $75 a Week

chapter 1 if you don't know where you're going any train will get you there our culture is prone to impatience we have fast food restaurants microwave meals instant coffee disposable diapers and overnight shipping every day we are bombarded with information how to live longer lose weight and make more money within minutes everyone is looking for a quick fix the one step program to have it all I wish I could tell you that there's a simple two minute plan you can implement and become a millionaire tomorrow while you might see advertisements promising new ways to make a thousand dollars per day with little or no effort shortcuts and gimmicks to financial freedom will ultimately fail and land you back in the same place you started or worse there's no way around it true financial success is bred and born of patience sacrifice hard work determination and discipline until you stop messing around and start getting down to business you'll likely live your life running around in circles never getting a handle on your finances as I've run money-saving mom calm over the last five years and interacted with thousands of readers in person and through email one thing always astounds me only a few people know how to take the first step toward financial stability oh yes many people have lots of great big ideas they want to make a million dollars or move to a bigger house or land a six-figure salary however very few people know how to make their ideas reality but guess what you can it starts with a very simple principle rule number one set big goals and break them down into bite-sized pieces you have a choice you can stand in gates at the mountain you want to climb and think about how it's too steep too treacherous and too overwhelming because you have too much debt too many bills or too small an income to get where you want to be or you can map out a way to reach the summit put on your mountain climbing gear and take the first step and the next step and the next paying down one bill saving up for a big purchase instead of buying on credit or clipping coupons to cut your grocery bill even if you don't succeed in climbing all the way to the top though I hope you do if you don't know where you're going and don't take the first step you'll never get anywhere at all a can-do committed attitude can propel you to greater financial success than you ever dreamed don't waste another moment sitting and sulking about your struggles or how you wish you had more money more time or a better job commit to change right now the only way to gain traction and make significant progress is by setting specific realistic written goals and then breaking those goals down into bite-sized pieces how to begin goal-setting number one clear out a one-hour block of time in your schedule this week that might not seem possible if you have a jam-packed calendar but I promise it will be worth it skip your evening television ritual get up an hour earlier or find some other creative way to squeeze it in number two sit down with a blank piece of paper or use the chart found on the PDF included with this audio and ask yourself where do I want to be financially five years from now number three write down everything that comes to mind the big ideas the little ideas the sane ideas and the crazy ideas write them all down there are no wrong answers well if you say you want to amass $50,000 in debt that is a wrong answer number four after you've brainstormed a bunch of ideas go back through them and choose three goals pick one financial goal you're sure is possible in the next six months to a year pick one financial goal that you think you could reasonably achieve in the next few years if you really set your mind to it finally pick one financial goal that you love but that feels like a near impossible goal and know if you have credit card debt or car loans medical debt student loans or any other consumer debt paying it off should be your primary goal once you've paid off your consumer debt prioritize paying off your mortgage or saving for a large down payment on a home number five write down your three goals if you feel like you are spinning your wheels and getting nowhere financially this one step will change everything about how you view your money writing down your goals focuses your energy and allows you to start moving forward toward a specific target your written goals become your financial roadmap giving you purpose even during the most mundane day-to-day tasks like grocery shopping they also serve as encouragement for you to press on even if you have a month of unexpected bills and setbacks or if you're going at a slower pace than you'd hoped number six break your goals into bite-size measurable pieces figure out what you need to do over the next five months or five years depending upon the goal to accomplish each of your goals break these goals down into yearly chunks break those yearly chunks down into monthly chunks and then break the monthly chunks down even further into weekly chunks if you're struggling to break a goal down into bite-sized pieces start with when you want to accomplish the goal and work backwards for instance if you want to pay off fifteen hundred dollars in credit card debt over the next 12 months divide 1500 by 12 months this gives you a figure of a hundred and twenty-five dollars per month divide the hundred and twenty-five dollar monthly goal by four to get your weekly goal of thirty two dollars per week determining the weekly amount of thirty two dollars gives feet to the goal now you know exactly how much extra you need to make or save each week in order to pay off that fifteen hundred dollar credit card in the next year while fifteen hundred dollars might seem like a big amount especially if you're living on a tight budget or struggling to make ends meet once you break it down into the bite-sized piece of 32 dollars per week it becomes much more realistic and doable it's not enough to just have that dollar figure though you also need to have a Vick plan for how you'll actually come up with that extra money will you work a few extra hours each week have a big garage sale or take on an extra side job cut or lower some of your expenses think through your monthly spending and see if there's something you can reduce or eliminate for at least a year in order to accomplish this goal I'll be sharing hundreds of ways to lower your expenses creatively in the following chapters but for now if you can't come up with any way to scrape together an additional $32 per week to put towards your $1,500 credit card debt then you probably need to go back to the drawing board and extend your time frame for completing the goal to something more realistic maybe you need 18 months or 24 the last thing you want to do is set yourself up for failure from the get-go some of your financial goals might not be so concrete for instance if you want to increase your income by $500 per month developing a plan of action isn't going to be as clear-cut you'll probably need to allow for some variables but don't let that keep you from setting the goal and breaking it down into bite-sized pieces you can still come up with specific measurable things to do on a weekly basis to put you where you hope to be in a year 5 years or 10 years from now number 7 post your goals in a conspicuous location and review them often every month track your progress at a monthly goal accountability meeting and be encouraged by the traction you're getting this is your opportunity to review your progress from the past month pinpoint areas you struggled with consider ways to make faster progress in the future could you cut another unnecessary expense or further reduce a necessary one reassess your goals and see if they need any tweaking even if you end up taking longer to accomplish the goal than you'd hoped you'll still be much further along than if you never set a goal in the first place and who knows maybe you'll end up reaching it sooner than you'd even thought possible and number eight reward yourself for a job well done one of the best ways to keep yourself motivated is to reward yourself for accomplishing goals knowing there's a reward at the finish line can give you greater motivation to keep pressing forward if your timetable for completing a goal is longer than six months just specific milestones to celebrate along the way say a reward for each time you hit another 25% in savings or pay off another 25% of that particular credit card why you won't get anywhere without setting goals am I really telling you that something is simple and uncomplicated as setting goals will help you pay off your $15,000 student loan or pay cash for a car absolutely although it sounds straightforward goal-setting is more than tacking a list to your bulletin board it's a mindset goals give you purpose I love watching the Olympics every two years the dedication and determination of Olympic athletes never ceases to amaze and inspire me many of these athletes spend the bulk of their lives training preparing and practicing for the Olympics they want to be the best that they can be and ultimately take home that much coveted gold medal do you think they'd have the same kind of drive and determination to keep a grueling workout schedule if they don't have a goal of participating and hopefully bringing home a medal in the Olympics likely not there would be no reason to miss sleep and social events are put in massive hours at the gym at the Olympics or another big competition were not at stake goals give meaning to your efforts without a goal you have little motivation for putting forth effort however if you set a goal to pay off debt or to save to pay cash for something there is going to be much more incentive for driving an old car instead of buying a new one or clipping coupons and bargain shopping instead of just buying whatever looks good at the store when you know your money saving activities are ultimately going to push you closer to your end goal you are a much more apt to actually stick with them how Lin they use goal-setting to jump start a photography business my friend Lindsay and her husband have four young children and live on one come Lyndsey loves to take pictures and is hoping to start a photography business however she knew that the only way she could refine her photography skills sufficiently to earn a side income was to upgrade from a point-and-shoot camera to an expensive camera now Lindsay and her husband are very frugal and creative with their resources but they don't have a lot of wiggle room in their budget for extras especially things like a pricy camera instead of going out and buying the camera on a payment plan as she was tempted to do Lindsay decided to pay cash for the camera on their tight budget this seemed like an almost impossible goal but she didn't let that deter her she figured out how much she needed to save and then begin thinking of specific things she could do every week to work toward that goal she came up with the idea of offering fun Fridays an opportunity for moms to drop their children off for a few hours on Friday afternoons for games and activities she also accepted a cleaning job she could do for an hour and a half once a week while her husband watched their children she set aside the income she earned from fun Fridays in the weekly cleaning drop into her camera savings account she tracked her savings by percentages and would update her facebook status every few weeks with how much closer she was to her goal we all cheered for her is she inched slowly closer to the finish line after cleaning 34 toilets vacuuming and dusting a hundred and ninety rooms and babysitting for twenty five hours over the course of four months she reached her savings goal and paid cash for a brand new camera she was thrilled and we were all thrilled for her too she told me that waiting to save up to pay for her camera was so hard but the reward of putting forth all that effort toward a goal was every bit worth it and made her appreciate her camera so much more plus while she saved it gave her time to research which camera offered the best features for the best price and she ended up getting a different and better camera than she was originally planning to purchase I loved Lindsay's enthusiasm and can-do attitude she didn't sit and complain because buying a new camera seemed impossible on their budget nor did she go out and buy the camera on credit when she couldn't afford it she's set a bit goal she broke it down into bite-sized pieces by determining what she needs to do on a weekly basis to reach that goal and then she got to work and her patience and persistence paid off because not only does she now have a brand new paid for a professional camera to start her photography business with she has experienced a great sense of fulfillment by working hard and reaching a goal when you set a big goal and then have the patience and persistence to stick with it even when it's hard and monotonous you will reap amazing rewards goals give you accountability if you don't have written goals it's easy to spend money like water there's always a new outfit or piece of jewelry or electronic gadget to buy if you don't have a plan for your money you might as well spend it because you've not set a true purpose for it anyway goals keep you on track it's much easier to pass by that half-price sale at Gap if you know that wearing last year's dress to this year's party is bringing you one step closer to being debt-free how we paid cash for our house my husband and I were both blessed with parents who taught us the value of hard work and financial stewardship from the time we were young we had both lived at home worked and saved as much as we could before we got married so the money we had saved coupled with the money jesse received when his mom died allowed us to have $35,000 in cash and no debt going into our marriage we earmarked the savings for a specific purpose three years of law school for Jesse we were both committed to continuing to work and staying out of debt while Jesse was in law school already thrifty by nature our self-imposed beans and rice law school budget pushed us to take frugality to a whole new level in the process we discovered dozens of ways to squeeze a dollar out of a dime creatively maximize the mileage of our money and even how to buy all our groceries and household products for only $35 per week our scrimping and pinching pennies paid off as Jesse graduated from Law School in 2006 without any student or debt of any kind after law school our income increased significantly but we decided to continue to live simply and save up for an audacious goal paying cash for our first home since we didn't have any debt we had a good income and we lived in an area where housing prices are lower than in many parts of the country it is possible to find a starter home for a hundred thousand to one hundred and ten thousand dollars in our area we knew that this goal could be achieved if we were willing to stay focused and persevere we'd already experienced the amazing fruit of focused intensity during law school so we were excited to set an even bigger goal to work toward we spent time discussing this goal and determined that we were willing to wait up to five years to buy a home because we didn't have any debt and were able to live on quite a bit less than we were making we calculated that if we continued to live simply and frugally it would be possible to save for a house within five years even while paying rent this would put us in a better position financially than we would be if we saved up for a downpayment got a 15 year mortgage and paid it off in less than 10 years once we had the five year time frame in place we researched and determine the lowest price we could likely buy a decent starter home for we divided this number by 60 since there are 60 months in five years and came up with the amount we needed to save each month in order to buy a home in five years this specific monthly savings goal made us accountable for how we were spending our money we carefully considered every purchase and much of the time found a way to make do with what we already had or go without in order to throw more money toward our house savings goals we didn't always hit our savings goal each month that first year life happened cars broke down and medical expenses came along but we never lost sight of the goal we sat down at the end of each month that had a monthly goal accountability meaning to assess where we were and the progress we had made seeing the ground we're recovering each month and how we were slowly inching toward our goal motivated us to continued in an older car packing lunches instead of eating out shopping at thrift stores using coupons sticking with a $40 per week grocery budget and delaying all other purchases that could be put off these little things might not seem like much on their own but combined they were giving a significant traction toward our goal our monthly accountability meetings fueled our drive we came up with new ways to save and creative ways to add additional income streams by the second year of saving we were reaching and exceeding our goal every single month and by the end of two and a half years we purchased a home debt-free it was an incredible feeling to work hard and reach our goal more than two years earlier than we'd hoped we know beyond any shadow of a doubt that if we hadn't set the goal in the first place broken it down into bite-sized pieces and then kept ourselves accountable by tracking our progress each month we never would have been able to attain this huge goal in such a short amount of time goals give you momentum many times people will say I wish I could be where you are financially and yet if I encouraged them to write down goals they will often just shrug their shoulders and defeat this always baffles me the crucial point that they're missing is what I have experienced many times firsthand when you start working toward your goals your whole outlook on how you spend your money changes you feel a sense of satisfaction as you make progress saving begats saving and suddenly you're finding more and more ways to achieve your goal faster than you ever thought possible setting goals when you're treading water are already drowning if you feel like it's impossible to set goals of any kind because you're just trying to keep clothes on your back food in your stomach and the light bill paid don't be discouraged as counterintuitive as it might feel at first now is the perfect time to begin goal-setting why because you are the solution to your financial problems yes you can turn things around starting today you might be in a major financial mess right now you might have more credit card debt than you know what to do with and bills that come in faster than you can track you might be a struggling under the load of school loans or an upside-down mortgage maybe you're considering filing for bankruptcy but guess what you don't have to be stuck unless you choose to be no matter the state of your finances there is always hope the $60 principle here's the key small steps can make a big difference if you're in serious financial straits when you sit down to write your goals you're obviously not going to set a goal to pay off thousands of dollars in debt this year or save to pay cash for a house in the next few years instead you're going to employ the $60.00 principle your goal will be to save just 60 dollars over the course of the next year that's five dollars each month or a dollar twenty-five each week even on the tightest budget there is almost always a way to scrimp out extra change each week to put toward your financial goal you might be thinking why bother 60 dollars isn't going to do much for me well you're right 60 dollars isn't going to make a significant dent and paying off debt or buying a house yet but the mentality behind saving $60 a year will help you get there inching forward even on a microscopic rate is still moving forward and that's always better than standing still or going backward what we've found to be true time and again is that when you start moving in the right direction financially you gradually start picking up steam you discover new and creative ways to lower your expenses you find extra sources of income once again that momentum kicks in it starts to build and soon the five dollars you're saving each month turns into ten dollars and then $50 before you know it you've paid off a credit card or saved to pay cash for Christmas gifts just by starting out with a goal of saving $60 a year commit to short term sacrifice getting out of a financial mess will take serious work and short term sacrifice you will have to make hard countercultural choices your friends will likely not under dan they might even criticize you or call you crazy don't let that discourage you focus on your long-term goals and let that motivate you to make short-term sacrifices it's not easy to make do with what you have instead of going out and buying something new it's more work to make dinner from scratch than to stop and get carryout it's hard to say no to things you really want so that you can funnel all your extra money toward digging yourself out of your financial hole choosing short term sacrifice won't be fun or glamorous but it will be every bit worth it in the long run how Eric and Liz overcame eleven thousand dollars in debt Eric and Liz decided shortly after marrying in 2005 that they would buy a second car only if they could pay off their debt and save up to pay cash for a second vehicle since they had over eleven thousand dollars in debt Liz said this seemed like an impossible goal they spent the first 18 months of their marriage just trying to make ends meet Eric worked his way through school and all of his paychecks went toward tuition while they subsisted off Liz's salary as a medical secretary to keep expenses low they lived in an old trailer and bought most of their groceries with coupons when Eric graduated in 2007 and began his career they made an important decision instead of upgrading their lifestyle and moving into a nicer apartment they stayed in their old trailer and put all their extra income toward paying off their debt by doing this they were able to pay off eleven thousand dollars in just one year in 2008 they began looking into purchasing a home they decided to purchase a home only if they could afford the mortgage payment on Eric's income alone allowing them to save much of Liz's income after purchasing their home they continued to save all of Liz's income and six months later they finally had enough save to buy a second car a used 2006 Ford Fusion for $8,000 Liz says I've learned much about patience contentment and stewardship in the past few years although reluctant about this whole idea at first I'm glad for the whisk my husband had financially and I'm so thankful to not have a car payment Liz and Eric never would have paid off $11,000 in debt or been in a position to pay cash for their second vehicle if they had not first set achill developed a plan to follow through with that goal and been willing to make many short-term sacrifices to achieve that goal when Eric was in school they didn't have the room in their budget to save much or make much financial traction but they did what they could and this put them in a position to pay off their debt and buy a car once their income increased they also could have ditched their penny-pinching ways once Eric was out of school and they were making a lot more money instead they made hard choices to live well beneath their means and their persistence and perseverance put them in a much better long-term financial situation thinking long-term rather than just living in the moment is the first step toward financial success start today by setting goals breaking them down into bite-sized pieces making short-term sacrifices and keeping yourself accountable to stick with it you just might end up amazed at how much further you'll go when you know where you're headed and you have a rock-solid game plan to get there

7 thoughts on “"The Money Saving Mom's Budget" by Crystal Paine – Chapter 1

  1. thank you for posting this. it helped me to get back on track with our goal to be debt-free, pay 20% down on a house and not have to worry about money as I age.

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