Stressed with $$?! Where does it all go?

We just passed Giving Tuesday, Small Business Saturday, Black Friday, with Christmas around the corner.

Giving has been a big part of my life.  My parents were always very generous with their money.  My dad would pull out a board game that was to help teach kids about how to steward their finances wisely.  I didn’t care for it. All I wanted was to play a “FUN” game! But I did grow up knowing that giving was a value that mattered and should be practiced.

As my husband and I sat down to do our budget again, since jobs and living location have changed – we were excited to start giving again after having to pause for about three months as we dipped into our savings and implemented an emergency budget we put together after leaving our jobs.

We can be so possessive with money.  Trust me, it is hard for me to give sometimes.  It is hard for me to see why it is worth spending money on some things, or giving when I know I could use it to make my life more comfortable. My natural bent is to save as much as possible. Not a bad thing, just an unbalanced perspective.

As we are now in the thick of that time of year where we are being asked to donate, spend money on lots of Christmas gifts, and lose sight of any kind of budget we have or wanted to have because “that’s the right thing to do, is to just give,” I would challenge you with a few things and a few tools you can use to help you make wise decisions with the plastic cards in your wallet and dollars in the bank.

  • Put together a budget at the start of the new year for Christmas gifts specifically. Save a little every month, instead of waiting until the month of November to start thinking about where you’re going to pull that money from. Write down everyone you want to give something to, and a $ amount next to them. Divide and conquer for Christmas 2018!
  • Use a budget system that works for you! Research some different tools that are FREE to you, and start tracking. We use mint. It will take a few months of adjusting to figure out how much you actually save, spend, and give.
  • If you love to donate, put that in your budget as well! Do you enjoy giving on a spontaneous basis – creating a category in your monthly budget is a good idea! If you really love a specific organization or set of organizations, become a monthly donor and keep track of it in your monthly budget. Do you tend to give a lot during the holidays? You might want to save a little every month so you have a bucket of money ready to give from at the end of the year!
  • People hate bringing others into their finances. It is a very vulnerable thing; no one tells you what their salary is, what their bonus was, or what their debts are. Get it out of your head. We need help from others when we are feeling stuck. Money is a big deal, and it is important to get counsel from people who know us best and have worked through a lot of financial decisions to help us make ours. Paul and I brought our budget and our emergency budget to a couple we trusted, sat down with them, and showed them how much we both were making, how much we were giving, where we were spending our money, and what we knew we could cut back on to live off of savings for a few months to carry us through until we both were able to get jobs again. We walked away with so much peace as they affirmed our decisions and said “you guys are on the right track.”

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