Budgeting in Tough Times Master Your Budget

Preparing A Zero-Base Budget for September

The bills have been paid for August – it’s now the 29th. Pension check will be received in another day or so. To prepare s zero-base budget for September you enter the balance you are carrying over from the previous month (August) and any monies you receive on the first of each month, if any.

Retired? Start with Your Pension Amount

In my worksheet I start with my pension amount at top of the income portion of the sheet, then I post payments for the current (fixed) costs which I make it a point to pay each month for basic essentials. These fixed costs I need up to date include, but are not limited to, mortgage, property rent, utilities, food, etc. This way I ensure my basic needs are met as the new month commences.

Supplementing Your Income

However, other incidentals come along and you need to account for those as well. DO NOT rely on credit to meet these needs. In doing that you set yourself up for stress and frustration, sometimes even tears, fortunately I still hold a part time job as a waitress. Just a day or two a week can make a lot of difference.

List out ALL your credit accounts from lowest to highest and post it over your desk where you work on your budget. To the left of the credit name you should put the due date for each one, and then to the right put the total amount you owe. Once you have that done, put the MINIMUM you must pay each month to keep the account current to the right of the total you owe. Total up ALL the minimum balances due for the month – this is what you need to supplement your income to keep your creditors happy.

In Case Emergency Strikes…

Now that your main bills are paid for the month, and the minimum payments have been met on all your credit accounts; take a moment to put cash into a separate account, preferably savings, and RESIST TEMPTATION to touch it. This is an account if you DO touch, you MUST replenish. This is crucial and is the first baby step towards success. Dave Ramsey, the founder of Financial Peace University, says we need to set our initial goal to have $1,000 in this fund for starters – I lean more towards having $2,000 for greater peace of mind.

If you put just $25.00 a month into this account from supplemental income or after all your fixed expenses have been met and minimum credit accounts paid for the month – you will have achieved $300 in this by year-end. Though small, this will get you into the habit of saving. The chart shows how the more you set as your monthly investment in yourself the faster you will get to either $1,000 or $2,000.

Well, It’s Time to Give Yourself a Pat on the Back

As you see it takes time to learn to live within your means, and you will master this skill over time until it becomes second nature. We must learn to do things differently in life, and find new ways to amuse ourselves that steer us away from those deadly credit cards. If you didn’t noticed by purposely managing our funds so you put a little away in savings each month, you are not just living WITHIN YOUR MEANS, YOUR ARE LIVING BENEATH YOURS MEANS.

Budgeting in Tough Times Handling Our Finances

Handling Our Finances – When Times Are Tough Can be Rough

The way we go about handling our finances especially when times are tough can be rough on us all. If you are not careful, it can lead you into a depressed state of mind, Depression is a serious condition that can cripple you. It produces negative effects on its victims in the way they think, feel and function in their daily life. Let me ask you a question, who in your life do you look up to and know who had a rough time in life, but managed to come out ahead?

The Inspiring Role Model in My Life – My Mother

In answering that question I would have to say “my mom”. In my eyes, she was a pillar of strength in a rough time. My dad walked out on us when I was nine, and my sister was only three. My My Momparents had just built a home near the High School in my hometown, and we had only been in there for almost a year. My mother designed that house as she loved split-level design, and my dad wanted an in-law apartment for his mother.

Mom had no income coming in except for what he brought home. So after he left, we lost the home to foreclosure. It had to hurt, but she never let on as we (her children) were what mattered more than material things. I remember we would go all over with realtors looking at places that were affordable for a mom who is being supported by the welfare program- Aid for Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). This program allowed her to keep a roof over our head and food in our bellies so she could stay home and take care of us.

Finally, she found a place that a friend had in Green Harbor and we moved in. There we lived for the next seven years in the heart of summer residences. The winters were cold and blustery, with few people around. Come 4th of July, all hell broke out – the summer people returned. She made sure we were never in want of anything, even giving up things for herself so we would have enough,

My dad’s best friend in High School stepped in to fill the void he left, and supplemented the small check she received once a month. He was divorced, and loved kids – but his ex didn’t want children. So he accepted us as his own. After mom’s divorce was final in 1972, they got engaged and she designed her second home which they built on a lot he owned in the north end of my hometown. – not far from the first home she and my dad built. We moved in first with mom, then they were married by a justice of the peace in Scituate on the 11th of February, 1973 afterward he joined us.

On the 30th of July, 1973 our youngest sister was born. Mom always told me she knew she was having three children, and she was right. God blessed her with the time to see each of us to adulthood – unfortunately, she never got to see grandchildren. She passed at the age of 69 from complications of diabetes the morning of Christmas eve in 2001. Our stepdad passed fifteen years later a few days after there anniversary at the age of 89 from colon cancer on Valentine’s day, 2016. It’s true that parents are the glue that holds the home together, it was not the same there – too quiet and sad now for they both had moved on.

My stepdad left the family home and land to his daughter, and my sister – my sister smiled and gleaned with pleasure to tell me now I would be the boarder only for the rest of my life. Only the personal property and possessions however belong to all three of us according to his last wishes. My sister immediately had her friend install locks on all the inside doors while our younger sister was taking some time out at a spa for the weekend unannounced to any of us..

I had a ground floor bedroom, and it was February and quite cold. Having just got home from work as a waitress, I went to turn the heat on and discovered the locks. So, I picked up my blanket and went upstairs to the living room to sleep on the couch. My sister woke up to feed the dog and found me there, and hollered – “GET UP! GET UP! We don’t sleep on the couch. Now you will owe us a new sofa.”

Well, I texted my younger sister and she didn’t want to hear anything while she was on vacation. So, I went and had coffee to think. God has ways of always stepping in when I needed Him most, and I know mom somehow managed to get his attention. My friends started telling me, he left you in a great place – you can get your own place and learn to manage your life without asking for permission. I was working with a realtor friend helping her, and we started looking.

It was May 2016, after looking all over this place stood out – where I am today. I never thought I would ever be able to afford a place of my own in my life. I was dumbfounded. Though in high school I had said if I didn’t marry, I would get my own place by the time I was 40. Well, here I am at nearly 60 or so – I guess in today’s society, sixty really is the new forty.

How Her Role Helped Me Face the Adversity of Debt

I learned at a young age how to budget and shop wisely. She taught me well, and then when I got my first job and decided I wanted to build credit – all that slipped away. I saw credit as having more money to get things with. When I realized I took steps to correct the situation and slipped into the dark side of credit two more times. Mom was great, she would slip me extra cash every month to pay my card down. The second time I was denied a loan, so I talked to my mother and she agreed to get a second job to pay back my stepdad’s loan was a good idea and she went with me to apply.

After paying him off, I held on and gave mom money each week to put to new appliances for the house. She would hold the money and then we all would confront my stepdad to tell him we wanted to go look at whatever mom wanted to replace. She was the example I had to follow – when dad left, she could have gone back home to her parents with us and we could have grown up in her hometown. She took the road less traveled by and did not want to up route us from school and our friends. She understood struggles and I believe she used herself to show me how to stand up to it and not let her struggles take us down.

Greatest Lesson(s) Learned in My Own Financial Struggles

After the third time down, I finally got the picture and was older. For years I thought I would never be able to retire with my debt looming over me – however, when forced to make the decision I realized I had the time and age, I could not live another year under the work pressures arising any longer. Suddenly I realized how she managed – to survive struggles you sometimes get lost and just need to find your Alpha state (where you are in the moment), then set an Omega goal you want to achieve. Knowing we cannot go from Alpha to Omega in one step without risk of failure; I set few mini-steps in between (usually 4-5 smaller, bite-sized steps) to make achieving our end goal more doable. My initial first end goal was to establish a working budget and work on living within or just under my means.

Advice for Today’s Young People

You may not realize it until later in life, but your parents are your greatest role models. Look back at times in your life when they were there and made things better. How they made things look so easy and offered advice to help you through. Remember the little things about them and how you felt – I know I felt a sense of security with my mom. She would never let anyone or anything hurt me. I know now she was preparing me to one day stand up on my own two feet and step out into the world poignant and alive as she always seemed. As I stepped out into the world for the first time, it was scary and I felt alone; but then I sensed she is still with me giving me the strength I need to carry on. I will never let her down!.

Let’s Sum Things Up!

Whoever that inspiring role model in your life has been, take the time to stop and thank them! If you wait too long you may never get the chance. I want to thank my mom for showing the great strength in overcoming her struggle raising two girls alone in a state assistance paycheck and never caving in under pressure. It is through her adversity and strength that I now see I have the same spirit of strength in me to never give up. Life is tough enough – always keep a goal in front of you to strive for and keep chasing your dreams – you will get there!

Now I ask you, who is YOUR inspiring role model and why? How have they made a difference in YOUR life? I welcome your comments and thoughts.