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“I Just Don’t Have Enough Time” (and other poor excuses for not having a budget)

“I just don’t have enough time.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a person tell me this when discussing the importance of preparing a written budget each and every month.

But it’s not true. It’s a lie we tell ourselves. You see, if we can come up with an excuse, then it stands to reason that it is okay to avoid doing what we know we should be doing to maximize our money – a budget!

Here is a list of items of which at least one is true for nearly every single person who has told me, “I just don’t have enough time to prepare a budget.

  1. They have enough time to watch their favorite TV show each week
  2. They spent at least 45 minutes sitting on the sideline of their child’s sporting event (before and after the actual event)
  3. Facebook consumption exceeded 4 hours each week (probably looking at funny Cat and dog videos)
  4. They stressed out over money for at least 30 minutes each day (checking bank account balance each day and worrying about an expense clearing the bank too early)

Here is a fact: You DO have 1,440 minutes each day.

Here is a good question: What do you need to eliminate from your life so that you can prepare and follow a budget?

To help you get started, we’ve created a helpful set of budgeting tools as well as an instructional video for you HERE.

Other poor excuses for not having a budget:

  1. “I hate dealing with money.”
  2. “Money stresses me out.”
  3. “There’s just not enough money.”
  4. “I just need to make more money.”
  5. “I have no idea how much money I’m going to make this month because my pay is so crazy.”

4 Budgeting Steps for Irregular Income – Step 4

This series of post has been focused on how to manage your budget when it is powered by irregular income. It is my goal to help you eliminate the feast/famine lifestyle (especially the famine part!!). Before we focus on today’s step, let’s review the previous steps.

STEP ONE  Recognize it!
To avoid living the feast/famine lifestyle, you need to recognize that you are earning irregular income.

STEP TWO  Determine monthly  expenses
It is important to understand how much income is necessary each month to ensure that the household operates smoothly and free from the feast/famine lifestyle.

STEP THREE  Save up at least three months worth of expenses
This is your buffer that absorbs the wild patterns of your customers! It allows you to live life smoothly without the feast/famine episodes!

STEP FOUR  Become personally debt-free and operate your business debt-free
What are the advantages of operating a business debt-free?

  1. Monthly expense load drops! there are no interest payments to make!
  2. Your business can absorb dips in revenue much more effectively. Again, there are no interest payments to absorb!
  3. Breathing room. It is amazing how much stress a pile of debt brings on.
  4. When you spend your own real money, you will manage it better. I don’t know why it is, but if I am spending someone else’s money (i.e. the banks) I am much more susceptible to make a riskier decision! When I am spending my money, I am much more likely to do thorough due diligence before doing a deal!

Interested in learning more about irregular, seasonal and cyclical income? Check out my newly revised book, I Was Broke. Now I’m Not. Just click HERE!

4 Budgeting Steps for Irregular Income – Step 3

In this series of posts, we are learning how to manage your income when it is irregular or seasonal. Over the last few posts, we have learned the first two steps to prosper with irregular income and put away the feast/famine lifestyle forever!

STEP ONE  Recognize it!
You must recognize that you are living with irregular income!

STEP TWO  Determine monthly expenses
It is important to understand how much income is necessary each month to ensure that your household operates smoothly.

STEP THREE  Save up at least three months worth of expenses
WHAT?!!!!  I am sure that is what many of you are saying right now!  Yes, I did say that you need to save up at least three months of expenses.  Remember in Step Two that you calculated your monthly expenses?  Multiply that number by three, and you have your savings target.  I call this savings the “Known Slumps Fund”!  You know that slumps are coming, so be prepared!!!  This is HUGE in eliminating that horrible feast/famine lifestyle!

WHY?!!!  You might be asking this question.  Why on earth should I save up at least three months worth of expenses? I am glad you asked that question!

Irregular Income Image 2

Let’s say that you have monthly expenses of $3,000. This means that you need to have at least $9,000 in your Known Slumps Fund.

KUE Income-Outgo Only

Let’s look at a year’s worth of expenses. Now, it is easily seen that this person has earned enough to make it this year. They have taken $36,500 for the year. BUT look at how irregular the income is! Have you seen something like that before in your business? This causes life to be CRAZY. In January, you are eating ramen noodles like they are going out of style. February through April are decent, but then it dies down again May through July. Famine of the worst degree! All of the sudden, August through October are awesome! Feasts abound! Then November and December come in with back to back terrible incomes. Back to the ramen noodles!

What should you do? Get a Known Slumps Fund that equals three times your monthly expenses!

Let’s see what difference that makes!

KUE Balance

When you look at this chart you realize the POWER of having three months expenses in the bank! Whether you have a $500 month or a $6,500 month, you live on $3,000 that month. That means that you get to EAT!! That means that you can save money (remember the monthly expenses includes savings!). That means that you can have some fun each month!

The Known Slumps Fund absorbs the irregularities of your income! Fill out your Known Slumps Fund – it will take so much stress out of your life!!

Get a copy of any of our FREE tools located HERE

4 Budgeting Steps for Irregular Income – Step 2

Are you currently living with irregular or seasonal income? Interested in learning how to prosper while earning irregular income? It is my goal in this series to help you stop living the feast/famine lifestyle that is so often associated with irregular income. As we focus on today’s step, lets review the previous step.

STEP ONE  Recognize it!
To avoid living the feast/famine lifestyle, you need to recognize that you are earning irregular income.

STEP TWO  Determine monthly expenses
One of the key steps to budgeting is knowing how much income is necessary each month to keep your household running smoothly. That is why it is so important to determine your monthly expenses.

To determine your monthly expenses, you should pull up a monthly budgeting form and enter the following:

  1. Fixed Expenses – Enter all of your fixed expenses – house payment, utilities, car payments, credit card payments, cell phone, childcare, etc.  This also includes SAVINGS!
  2. Variable Expenses – Enter the average of all of your variable expenses – gasoline, groceries, clothing, spending money, entertainment, dining out, etc.
  3. Known, Upcoming Non-monthly Expenses– This is a KEY STEP!!!  If you do not add in all of those known, upcoming non-monthly expenses, you will continue to live the feast/famine lifestyle (more likely the famine lifestyle!!).  These type of expenses are BUDGET-BUSTERS.  Here is what I do.  I list all of the known, upcoming non-monthly expenses and place their annual cost next to them.  Then I divide that number by twelve to determine how much I need to save per month. Lastly and most importantly, I set up that amount to be auto-drafted into my Online Savings Account, Capital One 360. (If you’re looking for an Online Savings Account, just click HERE).

==Known, Upcoming, Non-Monthly Expenses Example==

KUE Example

So in this example, I would include a line item of $483 in my monthly budget for Known, Upcoming Non-monthly Expenses.  This would allow me to bring a stop to the feast, famine lifestyle!! You now have a monthly budget that will change very little throughout the year and Step Two is complete!

Stay tune for Step Three where we’ll tackle the toughest part of irregular income – having enough cash on hand when you need it.

4 Budgeting Steps for Irregular Income – Step 1

Irregular Income Image 1

I know that there’s a large group of people whose family economy is powered by irregular, seasonal or cyclical income. As I’ve continued to travel and meet people this recurring question comes up – “How do I budget when my income is irregular, unpredictable or seasonal?” In this blog post I want to address this exact question.

Real estate agents, hair stylists, commissioned salesmen, and business owners all experience cyclical income.

Several times, I’ve heard from people it is impossible to budget when you have this type of income. They say budgeting is impossible because they have no idea how much they will make each month. I say it is not only possible, but people with irregular income need a budget more than anyone!!!

For this very reason, I’ve broken budgeting with irregular income down into 4 steps. And here’s a hint – It’s EZ!!!

STEP ONE  Recognize it!
You must recognize that you have irregular income!  If you have ever starved to death during the “off” season, you KNOW what I am talking about!  In order to stop having your life severely impacted by “off” seasons, you must prepare!

If your family economy is powered by irregular income, what do you currently do to prepare for the “off” seasons?

In Step Two, we’ll go over actually PREPARING a budget with cyclical income!


5 Easy Steps to Budgeting – Step 5

In this series of post, I’ve been sharing the process that Jenn and I followed to develop a budget that actually worked! We have developed a monthly spending plan or budget every single month since that first one way back in July of 2003!

Here are the steps that we’ve already discussed.

STEP ONE  Decide to decide 
Until you decide that budgeting is crucial to taking your finances to the next level, you’ll be stuck! Decide to live differently and decide to start winning with your money NOW. 

STEP TWO  Determine the income (take-home pay) you will receive during the NEXT month
Planning ahead allows you to determine if there are any gaps. By being ahead of the game, it provides you an opportunity to avoid “budget-busting” events.

STEP THREE  Enter all of your expenses for NEXT month 
Tell your money where to go!

Whether you make $1,500 per month or $50,000 per month, it is limited. If you spend more than you make, you will erode savings or turn to debt!

STEP FIVE  Follow the budget!
Now you know all the steps. You have a spending plan for next month. Now is the time to live it. YOU told your money where to go now YOU make sure it goes there!

I’ve been able to see people completely break free of debt. I have seen people pay off their mortgages! I have seen marriages restored! I have seen the hopeless become hopeful!

Following a budget is about more than money. It’s about becoming FREE! Not being held by the chains of debt and despair. You will become financially free if you stick to a budget. This is a decision you will not regret.

Maybe you have read this series in a guarded, protected way while wondering, “Will this work for me? I don’t want to get my hopes up. I’ve tried this before.” I say that YOU CAN DO THIS!!! I believe in you! Why? Because I was there! I had an average bank balance of $4.13 and the STRESS was awful! The shame was real. I did not know how to break free.

Planning my spending one month in advance was what broke Jenn and me free! It will work for you too!

Why not pull up a free budgeting tool and get started winning with your money today?

If you get paid monthly or have at least one month of expenses in the bank, use our Monthly Budget Form. If you are living paycheck-to-paycheck, use the Weekly Budget Form.

If you would like to learn more about how to budget, check out my newly revised book, I Was Broke. Now I’m Not. Click HERE to order!   

5 Easy Steps to Budgeting – Step 4

In this series of post, I am sharing the process that Jenn and I followed to develop a budget that actually worked!

Here are the steps that have already been shared.

STEP ONE  Decide to decide
You can not start winning with your money until you decide that budgeting is crucial to taking your finances to the next level.

STEP TWO  Determine the income (take-home pay) you will receive during the NEXT month
The key word in Step Two is NEXT. A budget must be completed BEFORE the month begins and BEFORE the money ever arrives.

STEP THREE  Enter all of your expenses for the NEXT month
This is where you get to actually spend your money on paper before the month arrives!

YOUR INCOME IS LIMITED! If you bring home $3,000 during the next month and spend $3,208, your spending plan will not work! Where will the extra $208 come from? It will have to come from savings OR from debt – usually in the form of a credit card. If you spend more than you make, no matter how much you make, you WILL have to make that up somehow!

In Steps Two and Three, we entered all of the income and expenses into the budget and, no surprise, the OUTGO exceeded the INCOME. You can see the entire budget HERE.

budget image

So OUTGO exceeds INCOME…now what? We have two options.

  1. Increase the INCOME – you could get a 2nd job, work overtime, turn a hobby into a business
  2. Decrease the OUTGO – get rid of some expenses

NOTE: This is not a “perhaps, perhaps, perhaps” type of budget! This is how the family will ACTUALLY spend their money next month! Remember – if your budget is not 100% relevant for you and your family, you will ignore the budget and use it to start a fire in your fireplace!

What expenses can be eliminated from the example budget? Again, you can pull a copy of the budget HERE.

After working together on their budget, the family decides on the following changes.

5 Easy Steps Image - Changes


If you want to see the entire EXACTLY ZERO budget, you can view it HERE. You might be saying, “These people are CRAZY! They cut out 1/2 of their dining out, entertainment, blow money, and all of their babysitting money!” I would say – “NOPE! They have had enough. They are so sick of living paycheck-to-paycheck that they are willing to live differently and change their lives forever. All because of a little sacrifice now!”

We only have ONE step left!!

Monday Money Tip: I – O = EZ

I’m FIRED UP because it’s Monday and that means another Monday Money Tip! These tips were created as a weekly service to provide people, just like you, with a practical and simple money tip – right at the start of the week so that you can take action with it!

Register HERE (it’s free) to receive this weekly tip in your email bright and early on Monday mornings!

5 Easy Steps to Budgeting – Step 3

First, let’s review Steps One and Two.

STEP ONE  Decide to decide
You have to decide that you’ve had enough! The very day that Jenn and I started budgeting was the very day that we started winning with money!

STEP TWO Determine the income (take-home pay) you will receive during the NEXT month
This income is what you will be spending on paper BEFORE the month, the money, and the bills ever arrive!

STEP THREE  Enter all of your expenses for the NEXT month
This is where we get to actually spend our money on paper! So we have already determined our income for next month, now it is time to actually spend the money BEFORE the month arrives! The absolute best way I have found to input my expenses is to use real, actual expenses that will happen. NOT averages for the year. If you don’t know the actual cost, enter an educated guess based on recent spending.

If the expenses are not relevant to the next month, it is highly possible that you will consider the budget irrelevant for the next month!!

Enter all of the expenses into your budget. You can obtain a FREE COPY of our budgets by clicking HERE. To find out which budget is right for you, check out Step Two of this series.

Each budget form has some excellent features built into it:

  • If OUTGO exceeds INCOME, the TOTAL will turn RED and tell you how much you have overspent! Do not stop if the total goes red! Can you live with a total in the RED? Absolutely, with the help of credit cards! Living in the red is how people get into debt and stay in debt.
  • If INCOME exceeds OUTGO, the TOTAL will turn YELLOW and tell you how much more money needs to be named!
  • When INCOME = OUTGO, the TOTAL will turn GREENThis is the ultimate goal!
  • There is an ACTUAL column that can be used throughout the month to track your progress.

Our goal for this step is to get all the expenses into the budget. We’ll work on getting it green next.

How are you doing so far entering all your income and expenses into the budget?



5 Easy Steps to Budgeting – Step 2

I’m answering one of the most common questions that people ask me – “how do I budget?” In Step One, I wrote about the negative feelings that people have when they hear the word “budget”. 

Just remember that a budget is nothing more than telling your money where to go

So let’s review before we move on to Step Two!

STEP ONE  Decide to decide
This is where it begins! You must decide to live differently and not paycheck-to-paycheck. 

STEP TWO Determine the income (take-home pay) you will receive during the NEXT month
The key work in Step Two is “NEXT”. Preparing a budget for money you’ve already spent is not very fruitful. A budget must be completed BEFORE the month begins and BEFORE the money ever even ARRIVES!

The best way to stop saying, “I can’t believe I spent my money that way” and “I wish I could have that money back” is to develop a spending plan BEFORE the money is received that month!

So, what income will you receive during the next month?

  • Paycheck
  • Bonus
  • Side Job
  • Child Support
  • Alimony

If you get paid monthly or you have at least one month of expenses in the bank, we recommend you use our Monthly Budget Form (It’s FREE). If your income is unpredictable, write down the amount of money you can count on. (If your income is irregular or unpredictable, stay tuned for specifics of how to deal with that later this month!)

Monthly Budget - Income


If you are living paycheck-to-paycheck, all the bills probably cannot be paid at the start of the month. You will need to develop a budget for each individual paycheck. We recommend using our Weekly Budget Form (It’s FREE). Make the dates at the top of the weekly budget form match up to your income dates and enter the income in the INCOME section.

Weekly Budget - Income


Stay tuned for Step Three…


5 Easy Steps to Budgeting – Step 1

One of the most common questions I get asked is, “how do I budget?” Many people have tried budgets…and failed! That leaves people frustrated and in turn they say they will NEVER use a budget again. Here are some things people equate with budgets:

Budget = Restricting

Budget = I’m Broke

Budget = Controlling

Budget = No Fun

Budget = Not worth it

I would ask them the following:

  • How are you paying for Christmas this year? I am paying cash.
  • How much is your car payment? I paid cash for my car.
  • How much did you invest this month? I have invested for retirement for over 220 months in a row and my daughter’s college for over 150 months in a row.
  • How much money do you owe to your credit cards right now? I owe $0.
  • When is the last time you had a great discussion on finances with your spouse? Not a fight. A great discussion. Jenn and I develop a spending plan TOGETHER every single month.

Well I want to make a deal with you. Will you give budgeting one more shot? I’m going to do my best in this series to try and teach you a method of budgeting that works. A method I used and still use today. My hope is you will try a budget for the month of March.

In reality, a budget is nothing more than telling your money where to go. I have heard Dave Ramsey take the definition a humorous step further – a budget is nothing more than telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went! EXACTLY!

So our first step in budgeting is:

STEP ONE  Decide to decide
Until you decide that budgeting is crucial to taking your finances to the next level, you will always find a way to avoid this “unsavory” task. The very day that Jenn and I started budgeting was the very day that we started WINNING WITH MONEY! From this moment on, decide to live differently. Decide to not live paycheck-to-paycheck and in debt.

Decide to decide!

Make sure to check back for Step Two on Thursday!

Monday Money Tip: Budgeting?

It’s Monday and I’m FIRED UP! Are you ready to start your week off right with another Monday Money Tip? This video covers one of the greatest challenges people face when it comes to their personal finances – preparing a monthly budget that works. I’ve found that people either put together a budget that does not work, or they can’t even find time to even prepare one.  In this Monday Money Tip, I’ll discuss the reasons you should be budgeting every month.

Want to automatically receive a helpful and practical money tip every Monday? Register FREE at


Free Budget Template Tools

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 9.56.21 AM

The I Was Broke. Now I’m Not. Team takes great joy in being able to provide practical personal finance tools that help people win with their money. Over the past month, we’ve been working on a “How To Budget” series of videos, emails, and tools to help with this vision.

The series contains approximately 10 videos/emails that will be received over the course of a few weeks. If you have been struggling with your budget, I really encourage you to sign up for this helpful series. It even includes a special announcement about our Core Coaching Program – our intensive 12-month personal finance class.

Learn more and register HERE.

Can’t see the link? Copy & paste the following link in your favorite browser:


Time To Prepare Your Monthly Budget

As the month draws to a close, it is time to once again prepare your monthly budget! I’m passionate about preparing a budget every single month because it is a huge reason that my family is no longer broke. I want to help you get your budget working well for you and your family so you too can live a fully funded life.

5 Budgeting Tips To Remember

  1. Prepare the budget BEFORE the month begins. It is nearly impossible to budget “in reverse” after money has already been spent. Planning your money before you’ve received it will allow you to maximize every single dollar.
  2. Be realistic. Don’t lie to yourself. Many people reduce or eliminate spending categories that they know they won’t be able to follow. For example, don’t eliminate all of your “dining out” money when you have three children involved in three different traveling sports teams.
  3. If married, work together. It’s extremely difficult to make a budget work when both spouses aren’t on the same page.
  4. Use cash envelopes for “impulsive” spending categories. For my family, these categories include: Groceries, Restaurants, Clothing, Spending Money, and Entertainment. Cash prevents overspending the budgeted amounts.
  5. Save for Known, Upcoming Non-Monthly Expenses. If you choose not to save for Christmas, vacations, special days (like birthdays and anniversaries), property taxes, car repairs, and insurance deductibles, you are ignoring reality. Which means you should refer to #2.

BONUS TIP: Use our FREE budgeting tools located HERE.

What other budgeting tips have helped you make your budget work well?

How Budgeting Equals Fun

It is the passion of the I Was Broke. Now I’m Not. team to help people accomplish far more than they ever thought possible with their personal finances. These 15 words drive everything we do.

Many people hear me excitedly teach about budgeting, and they think that I am excited about the budget.

They say things like, “That dude is crazy about budgeting!” and “Joe is FIRED UP about budgeting!”

But they are mistaken. What I’m really excited about is what budgeting allows me to accomplish in life.

I want to provide well for my family. Budgeting is the key.

I enjoy giving money away to causes my family is passionate about. Budgeting makes this a priority.

I want to launch businesses that help people. Budgeting has allowed us to do this!

I want to go to plays, concerts, and special events. Budgeting has made it happen.

Without instituting a monthly budget way back in 2003, I believe I would be totally broke today.

Budgeting = Fun

I love my budget.

Do you have a budget? Grab one of our FREE BUDGETS.

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My book, I Was Broke. Now I’m Not., will teach you how to implement monthly budgeting – even if your income is crazy. Check it out and purchase a copy HERE.

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