Happy Friday. Just returned from a double dog mile. A lot like a double-dog dare, but far more interesting. No rain. But there was a dead possum requiring super human strength to avoid running pell-mell into its rotting carcass. There was the, of course, full bag of puppy not-so-treats. (Not pink. We blew through those by Wednesday. But, I digress. )
My focus today is money. (It was pay day for me, so I think its an appropriate day to discuss money.) Though I haven't read the book yet, so I can't offer a review. I can give you a quiz and some money wisdom from the authors, Curt and Marybeth Whalen.
Are You A Financially Focused Couple?
Tally up your score and use the guide to the right to see what category you fall into.
0-2 points: Don't get discouraged. There's nowhere to go from here except up!
3-5 points: You are taking steps towards being a financially focused couple.. Keep working together and you will get there.
6-8 points: You are almost 100% financially focused. Keep up the good work and get intentional about those trouble spots.
9-10 points: You are a financially focused couple and could show us all a thing or two! Consider sharing your wisdom with other couples who are struggling in today's uncertain times.
Top Ten Tips For Saving Money In Tough Times
1. Make a budget (and stick to it). A budget overwhelms many people but it is really nothing more than devising a plan for every dollar you bring in. Having a budget helps you spend smarter and think more. It also helps to improve your buying power. The best way to make a budget is to start by sitting down with your spouse and deciding how much you spend on regular categories like groceries, gas, medical, etc. each month. Talk through these things and get them down on paper. Then spend accordingly. An article that goes into step by step detail about making a budget can be found at:
2. Stop using credit cards. Studies show that people who use credit cards buy more and think less about their purchases. By learning to spend cash and limiting your purchases, you make your money work for you rather than against you. Credit card companies are getting craftier as the economy struggles. 25% of all credit card users in this country will have their rates raised this year, or their monthly payment raised. When you are in debt, you are at the mercy of the company you owe. Don’t let yourself get bogged down by credit card debt.
3. Cook at home. It sounds so basic and yet how many of us resort to eating out because we just can’t deal with dinner? By taking a few moments once a week to devise a menu plan, shopping for the needed ingredients for that menu plan, and cooking the meals in your home, you can save lots of money and have more time to gather as a family and enjoy a slow evening at home. Eating at home not only saves money, it saves valuable family time.
4. Buy clothes at thrift or consignment stores. This is especially true with children’s clothes. When you are in a department store, always shop the clearance racks and avoid the other racks so you aren’t tempted. It’s also an income generator if you consign your own clothing. You can then take the money you earn on consignment and buy clothes for a new season without being out of pocket any money!
5. If you must eat out, only go to places you have coupons for. Keep a small photo album and arrange restaurant coupons so they are easy to find as you are heading out the door. It’s also a great idea to look for “kids eat free” nights and frequent those. Other ways to save on eating out include ordering water (big savings on this), share meals, order a kids’ portion if the restaurant allows it, and go out for lunch instead of dinner. For people who work, it’s always a good idea to pack your lunch regularly instead of running out to eat. A jar of peanut butter and a loaf of bread will go a long way.
6. Learn to play the coupon game. Many people devote themselves to clipping and organizing coupons—and reap great savings from doing so. There are many frugal websites and blogs that detail exactly how to save a lot of money with coupons. A great one to start with is http://www.couponmom.com/. And here is a great tutorial video you can watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?
7. If you have children, limit the number of activities they do to one per child, per year. If you are struggling to pay for even one activity, consider asking for the activity as a gift from grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends, etc. Instead of another toy that will end up broken or lost, your child can receive a gift that truly keeps on giving as well as one that invests in their future.
8. Think about the things you regularly spend money on like gas or utilities and research ways to save money on those things. For instance, http://www.gasbuddy.com/ tells you where to buy the cheapest gas according to your area code. Bundling services with your cable provider can save money each month. Calling your energy company to find out when their off-peak hours are and doing your laundry or dishes during those times can save on your monthly bill as well.
9. Don’t shop as a recreational activity. If you can’t see it, you won’t feel a need to have it. Use time you used to spend shopping to go for a walk, visit a park, exercise, read a book, or spend time researching money-saving sites on the internet! If you have a friend you used to enjoy shopping with, sit down and list out other alternatives for your time together.
10. Look for ways to generate additional income. Whether it be an additional part-time job or a way to make money from home using a skill or talent you possess, get creative, get motivated, and get excited about the potential you have to generate income that you didn’t have before. Every little bit helps, so put on your thinking cap and don’t be shy about stepping out and trying something!
Here's a bit about the book.
About the Book:
(North Carolina) - The fear and reality of tough economic times, foreclosures, bailouts, bankruptcies and falling stocks strike fear in the hearts of many Americans today. With investors, newscasters and bankers giving advice, who can you trust? Marybeth and Curt Whalen share their financial successes and failures in their new book, Learning to Live Financially Free: Hard-Earned Wisdom for Saving Your Marriage & Your Money. If a family parenting six children can get out of debt and live financially free, anyone can. The Whalens readily admit they made their share of mistakes the first ten years of marriage. Becoming more disciplined and intentional in spending and saving helped them learn valuable lessons for better financial stewardship--lessons you'll want to learn too.
Learning to Live Financially Free not only focuses on building a stronger financial understanding in the home, but also encourages couples to communicate, thus building better, stronger marriages. The Whalens clearly comprehend the need for careful money management and commitment in marriage. Money-strapped families will find peace of mind as they begin the process of becoming financially responsible and debt-free.
And About the Authors
Marybeth and Curt Whalen know what it's like to juggle marriage, kids and money. Their new book will encourage readers to manage their money and marriage more effectively.
Marybeth Whalen is a speaker and contributing writer for Proverbs 31 Ministries. The author of For the Write Reason, Marybeth has also written for Parent Life, Money Matters newsletter, The Old Schoolhouse, Hearts at Home magazine, and Homeschooling Today. She contributes regularly to the daily online devotions of Proverbs 31 Ministries.
Curt Whalen is a trained financial counselor through Crown Financial Concepts. He has years of experience helping couples establish budgets, solve financial problems, and learn to communicate more effectively. He has written articles for TEACH Magazine and Money Matters Newsletter and has contributed to books by authors Lysa TerKeurst and Melanie Chitwood.
Each blogger with at least 10 comments can send a name randomly drawn from the comments to submit for the grand prize drawing. The winner will receive:
1 copy of the book, Learning to Live Financially Free
1 copy of Financial Peace Revisited by
1 subscription to P31 Woman Magazine
1 copy of God's Purpose For Every Woman (collection of the best devotions from Proverbs 31 Ministries)
1 cd of Marybeth's message "Becoming A Woman of Influence"
1 (because everything is better with chocolate!)
Leave comments, people. Ready, set, go. Deadline is May 14th.