How To Master Your Budget Wise Budgeting

A Guide to An E-Z Zero-based Budget Process – Your Expenses

Before you can ever begin living under your monthly income, you need to be able to live within your income for any given month. I created this as a guide for an E-Z Zero-based budget process beginning with your expenses. Before you reach this level you need to brainstorm and list every bill or person you pay in a given year. Just grab a sheet of paper and start writing in no particular order or format

Start with a List of YOUR Expenses

Now that you have your list compiled, and know that it may not be in any way totally complete, as you open emails and look at your statements. Be sure you are reading each statement and putting any purchases you have made on your bank and credit card also on the list. Anything that is a one time expense put (1x) next to it. For the monthly expenses put an (M) next to it, and any expenses like car insurance – say your car insurance is $900 and you pay $100 for nine months, code that as (T100/9) which would stand for true expense paying $100 every month for 9 mos. Any credit or debt payments you make just put a (D) next to those.

Break List Down into Categories

Now, take your revised entries and break the list down into three categories – current, true, and debt. Be sure to cross them off the original list as you go. These are all listed put the amount you pay every month next to the current expenses. Take your true expense and list what you pay each month or need to set aside each month so you
have the funds when the bill comes due, and for any debt entries, list the minimum you need to pay next month with the due date next to it as well as the current balance you owe.

Add Any Debt You Currently Hold

Now the expense side of your budget for next month is starting to take shape, but you are a way from its finality Under the debt section, add your debts lowest to the highest balance. It may sound weird, but now I actually understand why I chose this method. As I work down the line paying one off at a time, it gives me the momentum and inspires me to just keep going onto the next one.

Be aware, it takes time to pay off debt and may seem frustrating. It has taken me to finally get down to 7 debt payments from about 20 since 2012, and I am not stressed now as I know where I am now, and where I am going. This is why I start you on the expense side first, you get to see just where you are spending and get to allocate your expenses accordingly.

Subtotal Current/True and Debt Lines

Now, once you have all your expenses categorized take and subtotal each section of expenses. Take a look and notice where all your expenses lie on the form. Take time to really study your expenses and see if you can find just ONE item that you feel you do not really need or are paying for and not using as much as you thought you would.

Contact that company and ask them to cancel their services to you, as you are trying to work out your budget right now and feel you don’t use them enough and just want to save money in this area for now. Not when the last time you used their services was, if you see you have not used them in 2-3 months, see if they will refund the last 3 months to help you with your new budget. You never know until you ASK!! What is the worst thing that can happen, they will say NO! But you don’t know, until you move forward and simply ASK them to do it.

 Complete Next Months Budget with Total Expenses

Now total all your subtotal lines, and enter it at the end of the worksheet, This is what you need to be bringing in to support your budget next month. In the next lesson, you will be addressing just what you have to work with now and what anticipating your inflows to next months budget that your tallied the expenses for.

Okay, great job!! Go treat yourself for getting this far – get a coffee and donuts and just CELEBRATE the moment!


Create Vision Boards How To Never to Late for Success

Create Your Vision Board for 2020 – ShareYour Dreams

The power of a vision board is mystical to me. I did my first one in the fall of 2015 for the upcoming 2016 new year. This is the last one I did, but sadly did not do one for the current year. The one pictured here I did in the latter part of 2017 for 2018. I advise to hang your vision board somewhere you see it or pass by it every day.


I want to show you HOW to create your first vision board for the new year. So let’s begin by getting a few friends together, set a date, and make a few goodies to share for the occasion. Okay, with the date is set you need a few more things, like what media are you going to put your boards on. One year I provided 12″x 12″ cork boards, another just a piece of colored construction paper (let them pick their color).

What is a Vision Board?

A vision board is a collection of visual images or words that represent the life you want to live or dream about having. Literally, it is a tangible portrayal of the vision you have for yourself.

It is a representation of your dreams, goals, and things that make you happy. Creating a vision board helps one realize their goals and can serve as a means of motivation in working towards achieving your dreams.

It brings everything on it to life. First, think about what your goals are in the following areas: relationships, career and finances, home, travel, personal growth (including spirituality, social life, education) and health.

Start with a Blank Slate

This year I chose a square sheet of paper which I have hung behind me. For a gathering of friends, have a table or space with enough room for all to sit around and work on their individual boards for the upcoming year.

Gather A Few Tools (and friends)

Now go get all your old magazines and newspapers together and put them on one end of the table with scissors and tape, some glue and any other fun stuff to make your visions come alive. You can even use those stickers that come in the mail with funny sayings or words or pictures.

The most important thing is to have fun and share your dreams with others. Listen to their dreams. Add some crazy things you may think are ridiculous, but just add a touch of color to your life and thoughts – who knows what will appear from your board.

Have all these things available and out the day of your event for all to share, and ask them to bring their collections too.


The more variety your vision board has the better your vision for your future will be – from hopes and dreams to things you’d like or people you would like to meet, trips you’d like to take. You may also see these objects as things on your bucket list to do before your life ends.

Magazines and fliers, even your mail, is filled with ideas to include – even a simple word or phrase.

Gather Clippings of Images, Words & Phrases

You are ready to begin going through all the magazines and media, clipping items that strike you as something you would like to shoot for in the upcoming year ahead. Have fun, and don’t forget to gossip or share chitchat as you do.

As you find things, snip them out and place them on your sheet Just leave them loose until you feel you have everything you want and have covered all your interest and dream with things from the magazines and other tools provided. As you snip pictures that strike you, place them loosely on the sheet.

When you have enough then begin to organize and fasten them to the background with paste or tape. Include feelings you want, as well as just images and words. Make it fun, and exciting and focus with purpose in mind. Say you are in a wheelchair, and they say you will never walk again, you may find pictures of someone walking and a smile as one of your pictures – then post it on your fridge where you will see it every day, who knows but by end of the year you may report how you walked out of your wheelchair and got back to walking.

Don’t Forget to Add New Year on Top & Initial Lower Right Corner

Your vision board tells a story of where you would like your life to journey to in the new year. It gives you something to strive for and see new dreams come true. I had one cat dying from cancer, and when she passed early in the next year my sister encouraged me to get another, so I went to the shelter and found Pixel, who looks similar to the one in the vision board. I also did a lot of organizing my home and finances. Don’t ex[etc everything to happen, but just a few is enough to propel you into the next new year with a new vision.

Now, I would like to see your vision

Go gather a few friends and tools, then get together and put your vision on paper, or cork boards, or poster board, whatever. When done, take a photo of your vision board and please post it below to share in the comment section, then hang it where you will see it every day of the new year. Next year plan to get back together with your group of friends, see what on your board became reality and share with the group before you start your new Vision for the next year.

This makes a nice tradition to start and carry on, year after year, to see where you and your friends are in their journeys. In addition, you get the benefit of sharing your ideas with friends and creating a group of cheerleaders supporting you in reaching your goals – plus there’s wine. It is fun for people of all ages – men and women can equally benefit. It is equally fun to bring everyone back year after year to create a new vision board and share what has actually manifested itself into reality.

Now, I Want to Wish You All Very Merry Christmas,

and a Happy New Year!!

How To Master Your Budget

A Look at How to Save Money on Coffee

If you are like me, you need that first cup of coffee in the morning. However, we tend to always be running and in doing so grab a coffee en route to work through one of the many drive-thrus. Until we have had that first cup, many of us do not even give a second thought about where it will come from.

Let us take a look at how to save money on coffee – here are the two ways and determine the best value for saving your hard-earned money while living on a budget.

Home Brewed at Home

The first option is home-brewed – you could get the pot all ready to go and even get one of those coffee makers with a timer that starts the coffee at a certain time so it is ready for when you get up. The aroma of the brewing will awaken your senses and help you get up and get ready for the day.

If you are a single home-owner, many of us now can purchase a Keurig very affordably and make a cup at a time – rather than making a pot and leaving it all day until you get home = then dumping and wasting most of it. This is my choice. The K-cups come in packages of 3, 12, and even 36, with no waste. The cost of the machine can be as low as $99. Up to $129. The K-cups are then your only expense once you get the machine. The average cost for a box of 12 is about $7.99 (a mere $.79 per cup). If you add cream and sugar to it, that cost could be as low as $.85 a cup at home.

On the Road Stop Options

However, many people roll over and try to grab a few moments of extra sleep before they have to get up. Then find themselves racing around and running out the door with no time to stop to make coffee at home. There are many one the road stop options on the way to work – MaryLou’s, Dunkin Donuts, Krispy Kreme, Gunther Tooties, and many more – and they choose the one with the least line and pull in.

Well, if you are in this group – you are looking at paying anywhere from $1.79 up to over $5.00 for that morning coffee. The cost of the coffee alone has doubled or even tripled depending on your choices. Oh, and then you see a lonesome donut calling out your name – at that to the cost of the coffee.

Don’t Forget to Cash-in with Coupons & Senior Discounts Available

Whether you brew your own at home or stop on the way to work, do take advantage of any cash-offers for coffee. And if you are over 55 or 60, ask if they offer senior discounts – and ask for it if they do. Remember, it’s your money and you have earned the rights to those discounts, but many times you MUST ask as we have been taught growing up it is not nice to inquire about someone’s age.

In my area, we have Cumberland Farms, and they offer free coffee on Fridays. If you find deals like that, by all means, treat yourself on Fridays as a reward for making your coffee all the rest of the week at home.

The Choice is Yours – Home or On the Road

Look at both methods closely and compare the costs – what saves you the most? Is your morning coffee shop run something you are willing to give up, or not – this is something you must decide for yourself. For me at the is time, it’s coffee from home with an occasional treat on the road.

How To Master Your Budget

Master Your Budget – The Limitations of Debt

When I was looking to build my credit as a teenager and securing my first credit card, like everyone else I never stopped to realize the limitations of debt I would be placing on my life. Its true, if I knew then what I know now – I would probably never wanted to build my credit, at least in that fashion. I may have stopped and given it more thought.

Understanding the Truth About Debt

The truth as I have come to learn about debt is that it is NOT added income available to spend. Sometimes I think we get a card and see it as added funds to our budget. The fact is, IT IS NOT! When I got that first credit card I thought “WOW!” thinking I had more funds to get things with. Debt is future money with interest – YOUR MONEY less interest. We see our neighbors showing off their new fancy car and think, “Gee, I can use one too – this clunker is older than dirt!” So you traipse off looking for a new car to keep up with your neighbor and come back with a new one ON CREDIT.

You are not your neighbor, and they may have saved up for that fancy car and paid CASH for it. They could own that car outright, and because you feel you deserve the same – your new car is not yours, not until you have made all the payments with interest.

When you realize the importance of a budget over accruing more expenses using credit – you can begin to see, the wealthy people know how to manage their money with a budget. Talking about your finances and having a budget is the only way to go for the wise budgeteer.

BUDGETING SAVES!! Budgets allow you to HAVE more and get the most from your income. Now let’s see how much debt you owe.

Listing All Your Debts

On the Simplified Budget Worksheet I provided you, lets move to the bottom third of expenses and list ALL your credit cards, loans, and anyone you still owe. This will show you how much less your net worth is. Use a separate sheet, and then transfer them to the worksheet with the lowest balance FIRST under the “BUDGET” column. Once done, tally up your debts.

Now go back to your statements to find the minimum due this month on each and list it under the payment category.

Snowballing Your Payments

This is the best method in eliminating debt, but it takes time. One by one you will witness them falling off your financial grid increasing your payment to the next one on the list, until they are all gone. You possibly could through more money into your smallest debt on the list and pay it down a little or best yet, pay it off and cut up the card. But wait, we have one more area to look at tomorrow to find out if that is possible.

Imagine the Day You Have NO MORE DEBT PAYMENTS….

This is my ultimate goal waking up one day, after paying all my essential bills for the month having $300 – 500.00 with no place to go but my Savings. I could then build my savings for those rainy days – $500 a month free to save is $6,000 a year.

Tomorrow we will look at the other bills left in the pill and see what really is necessary as a non-essential bill, and what is. Then you will know how much you can afford to apply as an extra payment to the first debt on your list.

Please share your thoughts and opinions so far? Does it make sense? Anything I can add to make it better. I look forward to your comments and opinions below.

How To Master Your Budget

Master Your Finances – Put Essentials Things FIRST

As you start to master your finances, it is important that we put the essential things FIRST and make sure they are paid each month – what’s left is what we will use later to work on paying off our debt.

What are Essentials?

Okay, I know you are thinking – What do you mean by essentials? Very good questions! Essentials are those things that we NEED to pay each month just to live day to day without sacrificing your basic needs:

  • A Place to Live (your home)
  • Food to live on
  • Basic Utilities (heat & electricity)
  • Transportation

Entertainment and dining out are NOT essentials but are excellent tools to used to help you celebrate when you reach your goals. So, once you have your essentials down and know what you need to meet this portion of your budget – go ahead and celebrate. Treat yourself to a Dunkin coffee and donuts, you will have earned it.

List Your Household Essentials FIRST and their Status

So its is time to list out your essentials followed by a (C) if they are current, then the amount you need to pay each month in the second column labeled “Budget”. Here is a list of essential categories which may or may not apply to your situation.

  • Mortgage
  • Rent
  • Food
  • Insurance
  • Car Loan / Transportation

These are the true necessities you have to pay to meet your basic needs. Many things we spend money on are pure luxury items to make us feel good. Personally, I will feel the best when my debt is paid.

Are You Current on These Essentials

Now that you have a list of essentials you must pay each month to meet your basic needs, have you placed a (C) next to those you are current on – hopefully all. In the next column, write how much you owe each month or need to pay in order to bring the item’s current. If they are already current, you will just put your monthly payment or an estimate.

Then tally up your budget column to see how much of you need from your paycheck to satisfy this area of your budget.

That Wasn’t so Bad Now, Was It?

I hope this helps you see where I focus first when preparing for the new month ahead. Download Simplified Budget Worksheet. Your categories may be different – using this worksheet put together your essentials. If you are not current on a particular item, add what you need to bring it current to your normal monthly payment. You will start to see your new monthly budget coming together

Interested to get your feedback and opinions on this article.  Did it help you get started?  Do you have any suggestions?