Archive for January 2009

Stressed Out About Finances

When I teach the Financial Learning Experience, I always take some time to have everyone write down the reasons why they want to be financially successful.  I believe that when people know WHY they are sacrificing financially, it helps them stick to their plan.

Do you know what the number one reason is?


Nearly everyone in the room has written down that one of the reasons they want financial success is to have less stress in their life!

Is that you?  If it is, I want you to know that you CAN reduce the stress related to your finances!  You CAN!

Here is a short list of items that removed a ton of financial stress from my life: 

  • A written spending plan every month before the month begins.  It is truly EZ to win with money!
  • Stopped acquiring more debt
  • An emergency fund of at least $2,500
  • A wife that chooses to work together with me to manage our money
  • Paid off all debt except the house
  • Prayer
  • Realizing what "enough" was
  • Answering God's call on my life (you can watch me share my journey HERE)

What has helped you eliminate financial stress in your life?

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How To Save Money On Groceries – Guest Post

A couple who attend NewSpring were sharing with me how much money they have saved purchasing groceries with coupons.  I was blown away and asked them to write it up for me to share with everyone on the blog. They did and here it is!

You asked how we’ve saved so much money on groceries and household items. This is our story.

My husband and I attended both your one night lecture (FLE) and 6 week class last year (FFE) and knew that we had to make some major changes in our spending habits. After making a budget, I started to investigate areas that I could cut costs.

I had already developed an interest in green alternatives to toxic chemicals and started to make my own cleaners and detergents from common household items such as vinegar, baking soda, washing soda, and castile soap. The best side effect was that I was able to save money on both the cleaners and my allergy medication…  I did not need it every day anymore!

We also slowly switched to cloth napkins, towels, and unpaper towels (you can get 18 paper towel sized face cloths at Walmart for under $4). We keep a cloth bag in the kitchen and throw the dirty cloths in as we use them. One extra load of laundry a week is much cheaper than paper towels and napkins, especially when you make your own detergent for about 3 cents a load.

Our biggest money saver has been my newfound coupon hobby. My mother did not coupon so I really did not understand it, and was shocked by how much I could save. I learned about couponing on (yes we cloth diaper as well, and boy has cloth changed in the past generation!) and was linked to a great site  The gist of couponing breaks down to these 3 points:
1.    Get the coupons. Clip them out and organize them in a way that makes sense to you. Where do you find coupons?  (a) Sunday papers (b) Online company sites and coupon sites like (print and clip) (c) Company and store flyers (usually in a rack near the front of a grocery store) (d) has coupons that you can link to your Upromise card

2.    Match up your coupons with store deals. Grocery and pharmacy stores send out flyers on Wednesdays and Sundays, plus post their deals online as well. Look for deals like BOGO (Buy One Get One Free), 2/$4, Instore special prices and closeouts, competitor store coupons accepted, etc. Then match up your coupons to those specials to pay little or no money for items that you use! Sound like too much work? These sites have done the work for you!
a. (Publix, Kroger, CVS, Walgreens-WAGS, plus others)
b. (just about every grocery store I have ever seen)
c. (tons of stores)
d. (you have to pay for this one, but the first month is free)

3.    Stock pile so you can only buy what is on sale. Once you start saving money it’s easy to buy non perishable items (rice, pasta, canned goods, soap, etc) and frozen items (meat, vegetables, complete meals, etc) that your family uses when they are really cheap, or even free with your coupons, and keep them stored away. When you need the item you visit the stock pile instead of the store. Small trips for perishable items and special needs are much cheaper than paying full price for everything you use! Also, I think it’s important to add …  only buy what you need or will use. Paying a dollar for an item that you will not use or give away is a waste of a dollar.

To show you how we’ve saved …  I used to shop at Walmart and spent an average of $120 a week. I loved to shop at Publix for fruits and vegetables, but thought it was too expensive for entire grocery trips. Publix has BOGO deals every week, doubles coupons up to 50 cents, and accepts competitor $5/$25 type coupons from stores like Bloom and Whole Foods.  The past month I have been able to shop at Publix and spent about $40-$50 dollars a week. The one week I spent $80 I saved over $90 with specials and coupons and completed a one moth stockpile. It takes a little while to clip and print online coupons but it is so worth it! Couponing our way to financial freedom,

Thanks so much for sharing, Kestlyn and Mike!

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SERIES: I Lost My Job – Now What? – Part Four

Welcome to the latest series on – I Lost My Job – Now What?

In a time of increasing unemployment and job loss, I thought it might be helpful to write this series.  It is my hope that it is a help to those who have experienced a job loss.

Part Four – Resolve to never give an employer such power again!

If you have been laid off and are panicking about what to do, let me ask you a question.

If you had $20,000 in the bank, would you be as panicked as you are right now?

I suspect the answer would be, "Not nearly so much as I am right now.",  or "Not at all."

When you build a HUGE emergency fund of at least six month's worth of expenses, you build a hedge of protection around you.  It protects you from being horribly impacted by your employers decision to cease your employment.

Do not get me wrong.  A pile of money does not address all of life's issues nor is it a worthwhile item to place one's trust in, but it is excellent stewardship to hold financial reserves.  It just makes sense!

So …  If you have not experienced a job loss, resolve today to get rid of some expenses so that you can build up an awesome emergency fund.  If you have lost your job, resolve to never get into this predicament ever again!

You CAN do this!  Saving up a ton of money and denying yourself of some wants might not be fun in the short term, but it is SO WORTH IT!

So that is it for the "I Lost My Job – Now What?" series.  Is there anything that should be added to it?

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SERIES: I Lost My Job – Now What? – Part Three

Welcome to the latest series on – I Lost My Job – Now What?

In a time of increasing unemployment and job loss, I thought it might be helpful to write this series.  It is my hope that it is a help to those who have experienced a job loss.

Part Three – Stay Away From The Doubters, The Naysayers, and the No-sayers

I have seen it countless times.  A person is in a financial pickle and is pursuing income, and they allow others to shoot down their ideas for generating additional income or reducing outgo.

Here are some examples:

  • "You don't need to get a second job.  Think about how hard that would be."  Oh, so this is supposed to be easy?
  • "You can't possibly get employed there.  They only hire such-and-such type of people.  Not you."  If you don't apply, you DEFINITELY will not get the job!
  • "Why would you sell your motorcycle?  I will go broke before I sell mine."  Always check the financial advice against the financial condition of the advice-giver.
  • "Why would you go to a financial counselor?  That is just admitting that you are in a bad financial situation, and they will yell at you for it!"  Look, the fact is that it is a tough financial situation.  As a financial counselor, it does no good to yell at someone about past financial mismanagement or a tough financial situation.  A good financial counselor is focused on preparing a plan to walk out of the current crisis and prevent future ones.
  • "Your grandparents struggled with money.  Your parents struggled with money.  You will struggle with money."  Wrong.  Just plain old wrong.

Remove the negative people from your life.  Focus on using this job loss as an opportunity to go do something you have always dreamed of doing or as a stepping stone to get toward your calling.

I wonder what other negative statements you have heard (or are hearing) as you went through a job loss? 

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SERIES: I Lost My Job – Now What? – Part Two

Welcome to the latest series on – I Lost My Job – Now What?

In a time of increasing unemployment and job loss, I thought it might be helpful to write this series.  It is my hope that it is a help to those who have experienced a job loss.

Part Two – Understand And Fill The Gap 

I have met a lot of people who are so overwhelmed with making their financial ends meet that they have given up hope.  They have despaired of making it work at all.

This is not the case!  It CAN work.  It CAN be dealt with!  It is NOT hopeless!   However, you must understand the gap and fill it.

What is the gap?  The gap is how the amount of additional money needed to make the budget balance.  While the US Government might print more money to "fix" the situation, we cannot do that (although it does come with free room and board if you do print your own money).

Prepare a written spending plan using the priorities discussed in Part One.  This will allow you to understand the gap.

How do you fill the gap?  Well, using our equation, INCOME – OUTGO = EXACTLY ZERO, there are two ways – reduce OUTGO or increase INCOME.

Reduce OUTGO

  • Eliminate unnecessary expenses (cable, internet, home phone, cell phone)
  • Requote homeowners (or renter's) and auto insurance
  • Modify entertainment to no-cost and low-cost options (movies from library, hiking, swimming at the lake, fishing,
  • Eliminate health club membership (run outside)
  • Sell the car and purchase a paid-for beater
  • Groceries: Buy off-brands, use coupon services, prepare more food at home
  • Car pool
  • Work from home

Increase INCOME

  • Apply for jobs like crazy –,,
  • Get a job – any job will do for the short term – contract/temporary positions, deliver pizza, clean houses, fast food, work for a family member, commercial cleaning, deliver newspapers, polish shoes, wait tables
  • Sell stuff – yard sale, Ebay,

What other ways would you or have you increased INCOME or decreased OUTGO?

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