A Bodey in Motion

Building momentum, one step at a time

Bonus Quick Hits

After the holiday, I had more hits than could fit in one post. Actually I had more than I could fit in two posts, but I’ll get to the rest of them later. Here’s a round bonus hits.

  • Having the perfect plan to move forward is ideal, but the world we live in is neither perfect nor ideal. Waiting for a divine sign or an opportunity on a silver platter will just result in more and more waiting. Most of the time we just have to decide to move with the only plan we can see, and learn from it.
  • Sorry, that last one got a little out of control. Still, you should read all of those links.
  • Here’s an unintended consequence of the many hops that have been erected by the TSA to board a plane: More people driving on the roads instead of flying means more people dying in car accidents every year. Flying is statistically safer than driving, even with the vague threat of airborne terrorists, but the hassles and occasional hardship of airport security has been enough to keep me and my family out of the airport for all but the most essential of trips, choosing the family van instead. I guess we’re not alone.
  • The Oxford English Dictionary has chosen its Word of the Year. Omnishambles. Add it to your spellcheckers. Use it in a sentence every day. It’s a noun, meaning “a situation that has been comprehensively mismanaged, characterized by a string of blunders and miscalculations.” I’m using it as an direct replacement for clusterf#&%.

Is there something valuable or important or cool or funny or weird or awesome out there I missed twice this week? I can’t hit it all, but you should let me know about it by dropping me a line or sharing it in the comments below! I’d appreciate the heads up. Also, how is it that none of you took a guess yesterday? What the heck? 

November 30, 2012 Posted by | Quick Hits and Links | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Bonus Quick Hits

Zero Is My Hero

Fair warning: We’re talking about writing a monthly home budget again this week. I’ve done it a few times before, especially since I’ve started doing more and more home finance coaching. If the word ‘budget’ scares you, I’m sorry. Try calling it a ‘cash flow plan’ instead and keep reading.

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We’re in the thick of June as I write this. In a couple of weeks I’m going to sit down at my computer, open up my budget cash flow plan spreadsheet and work out where the money is going to go for July. Some things are the same every month, like groceries or the mortgage. Some things change, like school supplies or medical bills. Did the cable bill go up? Do the kids need haircuts this month?

I do this usually the weekend before the first of the upcoming month so my wife and I have time to go over the details and make any changes, and so we can both agree where every dollar of our income is going to go. Our income equals our outgo, and our spreadsheet ends with a big fat ZERO at the bottom. It’s called a zero-based budget, and it changed our financial future.

See, before we did that, we were like a lot of people. My wife would figure out how much we needed to pay the bills and take care of our outstanding expenses. Whatever was left we’d leave as carry over for the next month.

The problem was that it never carried over. In fact, we would often over-run and let our credit cards catch the slack. It’s one of the biggest reasons that we were saddled with unnecessary debts and failed to gain momentum with our finances for as long as we did.

When you’re staring at several hundred (or even a couple thousand) extra dollars, it looks like a lot of money, and that list of things you’ve been wanting to buy pretty much writes itself. Plus, if some small purchase comes up, you write it off as no big deal, because there’s “plenty of extra cash this month.” Yet, no matter how big the pile, it’s never really as large as we imagine it is. It could never cover all of things we want.

That’s why you have to make a plan for every dollar that comes in. Nothing gets left over. It all gets spent, saved or invested somewhere. Zero is my hero, because it puts all of my money to work.

Give every dollar of your income a name before the month begins…Income minus outgo equals zero every month.

– Dave Ramsey, The Total Money Makeover

Now, having drilled into that like an over-eager dentist, I need to clarify a couple of things.

1. Saving to cover a general category is a good thing. You don’t need to get overzealous about specifically naming every dollar. For instance, we save ahead for car maintenance. We don’t have money set aside individually for each upcoming oil change, and tire replacement, and minor repair. Instead, we have a general Car Maintenance Fund that we sock a little away into each month. In the same way, we save for medical expenses by putting a little away into a Medical Fund. And so on.

2. Your budget needs to end with a zero, but your bank balance doesn’t. Not everyone is going to be comfortable with draining every last penny out of their accounts to achieve financial goals (like paying off a debt). That is perfectly alright. In our home there is a figure in the bottom of our checking account lovingly referred to as the ‘bounce’. When I create a budget for the upcoming month, and I’m looking at our current balances, I pretend that amount doesn’t exist. It gives my wife peace, and that lets us work together on every dollar that’s left.

So, what’s your plan? How do you make the most of every dollar you earn?

June 11, 2012 Posted by | Work and Money | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Zero Is My Hero

Resolutions

It’s the start of a new year, which means that it’s a time to make some resolutions. Making a written list of your goals and plans is a nice practice. It gives you a better chance of actually accomplishing them. Sharing them with others provides some accountability, which is even better.

Still, even if you’re doing those, there’s one more thing that you can do to give yourself the best chance for success with your resolutions. Sit down and write them out in October. Really. If you review them every week until the New Year, adding to them and modifying them as needed, you will be able to make the necessary decisions and begin planning so you can hit the ground running on January 1. Waiting until January puts you behind on your desired goals.

Here are my resolutions for 2011:

  • Pray daily with my family. This is the one thing that in my life that I will see implemented over all the rest. I’ve been too lax with my role as the spiritual head of my home in this area. We pray together at dinner, but that’s not the kind of leadership that being a husband and father requires. It’s my responsibility to bring my family to God. Making time specifically to pray with each of them, individually and as a whole, is what is really needed.
  • Become a Financial Peace University Coordinator. Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover plan was pretty key in our family going from broke and frustrated to more financially secure than we have ever been. That influence has led me to read and learn more about career planning and personal finances in the last year than I ever thought was important to know about, and that’s made me want to reach out and  help others grow in the same way.
  • Read 20 books. That’s a pretty conservative number, actually. You could say that I have a stretch goal of 25 books, but I’m realistic. I’m one of those people who takes it one book at a time and reads every last word, but that might be changing. Getting the new Kindle for Christmas means that I can always have two or three books on hand easily. I’m going to try to polish off two (or more) books at a time, now.
  • Lose 20 pounds. I’m very hesitant to make this commitment. Here’s the deal: I’m pretty comfortable with my weight and my body. I’ve never had the drive to count calories and stop eating food I enjoy. Still, I know that I need to get more intentional about exercising regularly. If I do that (and say no to some of the between meal snacks) I should be able to shed some unnecessary weight.
  • Write 100 blog posts. I’m officially committing to continuing this experiment. Last year, I wound up writing just over one post a week from the date of inception on. (Yes, I realize it required a hard push at the end, what’s your point?) I don’t see any reason why I can’t double that this coming year.

I have a few others, but they’re more private and not appropriate for the entire Interweb to read. Also, I’m going to continue to maintain a lot of the good habits developed in 2010, but I don’t see a need to list, for example, “Write a budget every month.” or “Date my wife.” because I want my resolutions to be about new developments and improvements.

As always, feel free to ask me how I’m doing on these goals. I’m always open to being held accountable. Feel free to share your thoughts, or what your plans are for the new year in the comments below. Have a happy New Year!

January 1, 2011 Posted by | Past and Future | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Resolutions