A lot of people are neck deep in debt because they lack one skill. The lack of this ability causes them to struggle—not only financially; their health and relationships suffer as well. This skill is called money management.
Money management is one skill you have to develop if you want to live a wealthy life.
In this post, you’ll learn how to master the art of money management.
You’ll learn how to utilize your money well and take your first step towards financial freedom. This post will not only help you to create your budgeting plan—but it will also motivate you to stick to it.
In this post, I’ll take you by the hand and show you step by step how to master the art of budgeting so that you can prosper financially. Let’s begin, shall we?
Section 1: Mastering the Budgeting Mindset
The man who acquires the ability to take full possession of his own mind may take possession of anything else to which he is justly entitled.
–Andrew Carnegie: One of the wealthiest men in recorded history
Belief #1: Money Management is Simple!
Money is a subject that a lot of people don’t like to talk about—yet it’s something we all need.
We’ve all heard phrases like “money is not everything” or “money doesn’t make you happy.” While this is true in some sense—it’s not a belief that you should nourish if you want a great financial life.
Money gives food on the table—a roof over your head and can provide a great life for you and your family. Therefore, money is important.
But I think you already know that since you’ve made the decision to read this post. I want to commend you for that since it shows that you care about your personal finances.
Guess what; a big reason why people struggle financially is Not because of outside circumstances.
They struggle because they haven’t made a decision to take control over their personal finances. They might say things like “I’ve never been good with numbers.” This statement is a limiting belief.
Having a great financial life does not require you to be an A-level student in math. All you need to know is how to operate a calculator.
Understand that financial experts often make the subject more complex than it has to be. So, the first step to mastering the budgeting mindset is to realize that the process of taking control over your personal finances is simple.
This is if you don’t do like most people—who rather closes their eyes, than taking a look at the numbers.
Belief #2: It’s Not All About How Much Money You Make
In the book Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley, you can read that most millionaires budget their money.
But, why does a millionaire have to budget money, you might ask? Well, they know that budgeting has not only played a big role in their rise to the millionaire status—it’s what keeps them being millionaires.
If you look, you can find many examples of people who became millionaires through the lottery or playing a professional sport. But many of these people did not keep their millionaire status for long. That’s because they don’t know how to manage money.
Millionaires often use phrases like it’s not how much you make that matters, its how much you keep or control your costs and profit is almost guaranteed.
Step number 2 in mastering the budgeting mindset is therefore to drop the belief that you have to make a lot of money to have a great financial life.
We’ll go deeper into this concept later in the post—but let me give you an example. Theodore Johnson was a man who worked for UPS. He never made over $14 000 per year, yet he died with a net worth of $70 000 000.
How is that possible?
I mean even if we exaggerate, $14 000 x 100 years is not even $1 500 000. Let me give you a hint; it has something to do with compounding. Keep reading to the end of this post and I’ll share a lot of actionable information regarding this phenomenon.
Belief #3: Commit
The third step is to commit. Nobody has ever achieved something great and lasting through dabbling. For every minute that passes, you’re getting older.
You have to make the decision—are you going to have a great financial life in the future where you live in a state of abundance and joy—or will you live your future life in a state of lack and stress?
You are the one responsible for your life. It’s not possible to control every circumstance—that’s true. But, you can always control how you respond to the event.
That’s the difference between two people who goes through the same—seemingly tough circumstance. They both lose their job, and one decides to quit and live on welfare while the other one sees it as a great opportunity to finally become a freelancer.
If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place. Commit yourself to living the next five years like most people won’t—to live the rest of your life—like most people never will.
Belief #4: You’re In Control
Stick to your plan even if temptation arises. It does not matter what your financial situation looks like now. Temptations to spend your money will always be present.
In the world today, you don’t have to wait to buy what you want. You can go online and through a few clicks—buy what you want. You don’t even need to be in possession of the money—you can buy it on credit.
This impulse to buy now is what causes a lot of unnecessary stress and suffering. This is why people don’t like to talk about money and budgeting.
It’s not as fun as shopping.
Yes, it’s fun to shop, but it’s not fun to be a slave to money. You control your money, or the money controls you—it’s up to you.
Belief #5: Reward Yourself
The phrase “whatever gets rewarded gets repeated”, is true. Budgeting is simple, but it does not mean that it’s easy. Most people will never do what you did—click on a blog post on budgeting.
Again, I want to commend you for that since it shows that you have greatness in you. W. Clement Stone said; if you cannot save money—the seeds of greatness are not in you.
The budgeting process includes two main keys. The first key is that you have the courage to begin. The second key is that you have the discipline to continue.
Rewarding yourself is a great way to continue. I have placed some suggestions about this in the budgeting plan.
But before we dive into the actual budgeting plan—let’s cover some more reasons that can fuel you to begin and stick with budgeting.
Key Takeaways From This Section
Budgeting is simple, but it’s not always easy. Commit to looking at the current numbers and create a budget with the help of the budgeting plan that you will find later in this post.
Good money management is not only the way to getting a great financial situation; it’s also vital for keeping it. Remember that it’s not the amount of money you make that matters. It’s how you manage the money you have that will determine whether or not you’ll have a great financial situation in the long-term.
Commit to living the next five years, like most people won’t—to live the rest of your life—like most people never will. Stick to the budgeting plan and reward yourself for doing it.
Section 2: Why Budget?
We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.
– Dave Ramsey and Edward Norton from the movie Fight Club
In this section, we’ll discuss why you should budget your money. I will try to avoid giving you the ideas that seem obvious and instead focus on what I believe to be the most important reasons.
Yes, budgeting helps you to identify wasteful expenditures, and it helps you to use your money well. But it contains a lot more value than what meets the eye.
Budgeting can change a person’s life. Money problems can cause stress, anxiety, and depression. Money problems can also dissolve friendships and be a big reason for divorce. As discussed before, we all need money, so why not give it the attention it deserves?
Budgeting is about getting the maximum amount of value—by using the least amount of recourses. This value is not only something that will give you short-term pleasure.
It’s also something that you can experience benefits from for a long time—if not for life. Let me give you an example of two people.
Person A and Person B
Person A and Person B have the same amount of income every month. A spends $5 every day on soda, which turns out to be $1825 per year. B instead chooses to save $5 every day for his newborn child so that he can pay for his college tuition.
He places the money in an index fund that gives an average of 8% return per year. After 18 years, person B will have more than $73 000 for that one little choice he made one a daily basis.
Can you see the difference it can make to use your resources in the best possible way? If you were to say to person A that he would get $73 000 after 18 years if he just skipped one unhealthy habit, do you think he would?
I think most people would want to, but if most people would follow through—that’s another story.
The essence of this example is that budgeting can make a huge difference—especially over an extended period. Now, think of your life; examine the stuff you have in your apartment or house. How much of the stuff you have do you use?
Do you have a bad habit that is costing you money? Do you sometimes find yourself thinking, “Oh, what’s a $5 per day expense”? Begin to think in terms of short-term value versus long-term value.
Small Daily Actions
Most people think that to make a huge difference; you have to have “big hit.”
For example, they believe that if you want to be enjoying a life with financial abundance, you have to win the lottery, start a company that invents a revolutionary product, become a superstar or rob a bank.
That’s one way of going about it but considers the fact that we discussed before.
Money that comes fast and in huge quantity to people that lack the skills to manage them—often disappear just as quickly.
This is the story of rock stars that made millions and then became broke. Michael Jackson or Mike Tyson should have been [according to the thinking above] extremely wealthy. That’s not the case, Michael Jackson for example, died with almost half a billion dollars in debt.
So what makes the difference then? The answer is habits. It’s the habit of saying no to buying things that don’t support you and instead placing that money where it can be saved or grow to bring more value at a later point.
Again, budgeting is about getting the most amount of value by using the least amount of recourses. We all have a certain amount of resources and how you use those resources is what makes a difference.
According to an article from Forbes, 63 % of Americans can’t afford an emergency expense of $500. That springs from a lack of knowledge about money management.
On a scale from 1-10, how much value would you put on being able to pay for a $500 emergency if it were to arise? Consider the amount of stress and anxiety that it would alleviate.
Now, on a scale from 1-10 how much value do you put on a $5 per day expense that you don’t need?
Budgeting and good money management can help you to increase your health and relationships.
Don’t think in turns of making it big. Instead, develop good habits that will carry you through to living a prosperous life.
Remember that things that seem small at the moment—can if repeated—give huge consequences—be it negative or positive—over an extended period.
Section 3: Fast and Easy Saving Tips
Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.
In the next section, we’ll dive into the budgeting plan. But before that—let’s go over some saving tips that you can act on to get more surplus on your budget. I recommend that you take action on this since it will pay off greatly compared to the time invested.
If you earn $25 per hour worked, and you can save $250 for 10 minutes work, would you? I hope you will. Here are ten quick and easy saving tips:
Compare and choose the electric company that will give you the lowest price. This can go fast and easy by using a service like power2switch.com. If you can’t avoid the cost—at least make it as cheap as possible. There is no difference in the quality of electricity. So follow the budgeting rule and get the most amount of value by using the least amount of resources. Make sure to check out the resources at the end of this section to make the comparison/changing steps as quick and easy as possible.
Compare and choose an insurance company with a lower price. This involves car insurance, home insurance, life insurance, travel insurance, etc. Again, check out the resource section at the end.
Compare and switch broadband, TV, home phone and mobile phone companies. Do it now. It should not take you more than 10-15 minutes. I recommend that you do a quick google search for “compare broadband, TV, home phone and mobile phone” or use uswitch.com for this.
Always shop groceries with a full stomach. By going hungry in a supermarket surrounded by temptations—you’re more likely to pick up additional food or snacks. Make it a habit of shopping after you’ve eaten.
Begin to walk or use the bicycle instead of taking the car. Good for your health and wealth.
Make an extra call or do some additional search before buying something big. The greater the price, the more you can save. Let’s say you wanted to purchase a boat for $25 000. It’s very likely that you can find the same boat or a better one for $20 000 by looking one or two more times before purchasing. Use that $5000 for other things than a rushed buying decision.
Put off making a buying decision. This is a great habit to develop. Wait at least one week before purchasing something expensive. This will save you from wasting your money on things that you don’t need.
Rent out space you don’t need. For example, there are a lot of people looking for storage for their car, motorcycle or boat. Put out an ad and begin to earn some passive income.
Look for special deals, but don’t buy things you wouldn’t have bought otherwise. Use websites like shopzilla.com or buy things that are used. Sometimes you can come across things that people haven’t even used. Join some local buy and sell Facebook groups and keep an extra eye open for great deals. Begin to sell off some stuff that you don’t use yourself. It will become fun once you realize how much money you save.
Shop for groceries once a week and use a grocery list. Taking that small trips to the supermarket will not only cost you money—it will cost you time. Be smart and plan what you’re going to buy and do it once or twice a week.
These things should not overwhelm you. If they do, write down the time it should take you to complete every one of these steps. I think that the first three tips alone should take you around 30 minutes and could save you a couple of hundred dollars—if not thousands per year. Instead of taking that extra shift to get the vacation money—why not just follow some of these tips instead?
Resources that can be of help when comparing and switching to a lower price
If any of these websites don’t work, or you don’t like them, just make a google search for “compare insurance prices” or whatever else you want to compare.
If you can earn (save) $250 by taking some small actions that can take you 10 minutes, would you?
A lot of the tips described in this section do not impose that you have to sacrifice anything. You just have to make smarter decisions.
Act now. Do at least one tip and begin to save some money for the future. As stated before, there is no difference in the quality of electricity. There might be greener choices, but the light will turn on and off for you—regardless of who’s delivering it for you.
Section 4: Quick and Simple Budgeting Plan
You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you.
We’ve now gone over the budgeting mindset, the different reasons to why you should begin budgeting and some saving tips. In this section, we’ll go into the details for creating a budget. You will receive an example of a budgeting plan.
But since no one knows you better than yourself—I encourage you to do changes, where it’s appropriate. For example, you might want to increase the percentage of savings depending on your situation.
To make this process as simple as possible—I’ve created a step by step guide for you to follow. Make sure to stop the reading after every step to take action. Your goal for this section should be to have a budget. Only reading about it—won’t do much good.
Step 1 – Looking over Past Expenses
When I did this step myself some years ago, I got surprised. My costs were way higher than what I expected. And even worse, my spending habits were flat out stupid.
For example, I was shopping in the supermarket several days a week. I was taking my vehicle to places where I could have walked and buying things I didn’t use. Short and sweet: I had no plan and no thinking behind my spending habits.
When taking all those small shopping trips to the supermarket—sometimes more than once per day—I didn’t realize how much it cost me. I would have saved more money and time while still receiving the same amount of value had I done what I do now, which is to plan.
Now, go over your expenses the last three months. Write down the monthly expenses to get an average. Don’t fool yourself by saying “oh but that expense was a one-time cost” and then not counting it. The one-time cost will most likely come again. But it may be in a different form.
A lot of people think that they are saving money. They might say that they save around $500 per month. But then if you ask these people if they’ve saved $6000 the last 12 month that is now in their bank account—the answer will most likely be no.
They might save $1000 one month, only to spend $2000 the next month. That’s the “one-time” expense, so count it.
Keep looking at your costs, because now we will begin to sort it using a spreadsheet.
Step 2 – Creating the Budget
For this step, you’ll either need an excel document or a piece of paper. If you don’t have a printer, I recommend that you write it on a piece of paper since it’s good to have your budget where you can see it. Use this spreadsheet as a basic template, but feel free to add or remove parts from it.
If you want to budget for two; write down your total income and total expense or write down information on person 2. I’ve made this budget as simple as possible to avoid procrastination.
But check the bulleted list to make sure that you add everything in the correct category. Use your past expenses to check that you’re on the right track. Perhaps you need to add some costs to the budget that are unavoidable.
Some income types to keep in mind:
- Both full time and part time jobs
- Unemployment Insurance (if applicable)
- Child support
- Tax Credits
- Incoming Rent for Rental Property
- Other income
Essential expenses to count in the right category (if applicable):
- Mortgage / Rent
- Home Equity Loan/Line of Credit
- Cable / Satellite TV
- Internet Access
- Electric Bill
- Water Bill
- Lawn Care
- Fast food
- Car Payments
- Car Insurance
- For you
- For your children?
- Pet Care
- Gym Membership
- Phone Bill
- Credit Card #1
- Card #2
- Card #3
Savings exists to cover unplanned expenses, vacation trips or other fun activities:
- Vet Bill
- Car Repairs
- Dinner Parties
- Parking Tickets
- Dishwasher Repair
- Reward for sticking to the budget
Step 3 – Placing Your Budget Where You Can See it and Adjusting if Needed
Now it’s time to print out your budget and keep it where you can see it or easily access it. I recommend having the budget on your fridge. If the income or expenses change for any reason, make sure to adjust the budget. Remember to stick to the budget that you’ve created and reward yourself for doing so.
As you can see, taking control over your personal finances is simple. You just need to add or subtract by using a calculator and then follow through on your plan.
Now, in the next section, we’ll dive into some more advanced strategies that can yield big results for you. I hope you’ve left room for investment in your budget.
A lot of people think that they are saving money even though their bank account says the opposite. Be honest with yourself when looking at your past expenses. Avoid the mistake of saying that it’s a “one-time” expense. The one time cost will probably come again—but in a different form.
Create a personalized budget with the help of this section. Keep it where you can see it and adjust it if necessary.
Make room for both savings and investments.
Section 5: Creating Your Own Money Machine
The most powerful force in the universe is compound interest.
– Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein also said that compound interest is one of the eight wonders of the world: He who understands it, earns it … and he who doesn’t … pays it.
My goal with this section is to give you an introduction to this powerful force called compounding. I will not give you direct instructions on where to invest your money.
I will, however, give you some examples of investments that have helped other people to become extremely wealthy through the help of compounding. But let’s begin by breaking down what compounding can do for you.
In section one and two, we briefly touched on the subject by giving you an example of Theodore Johnson and person A and B. Let’s see how Mr. Johnson might have been able to accomplish to get a net worth of $70 000 000 even though he never made more than $14 000 per year.
Success leaves clues, and as the saying goes—if you do what other successful people do, you’ll eventually get the same result. That’s the law of cause and effect. I think most people, however, would be happy with just compounding their way to a million dollars. If that’s the case for you, it means that you only have to achieve 1.4% of the results that Mr. Johnson got.
Let’s say Mr. Johnson invested $200 per month for 50 years. He managed to get an average of 19% return on his investment, and that’s the way he reached $70 000 000. I will mention that I don’t know exactly how he did it—but if he were to accomplish it through these numbers, his graph would have looked something like this:
As you can see, it’s slow in the beginning, but then it starts to take off. In the end, it almost looks like the line is going straight up. Compounding explains why the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.
Compounding can be to your advantage or detriment. It goes two ways with equal force. So be aware of any fees or interests on credit. Mr. Johnson used the compounding effect to his advantage. He put 20% of his income into an investment account and thereby created a powerful money machine. If Mr. Johnson had saved the money, it would have resulted in the following, $200 x 12 = $2400 x 50 = $120 000.
How can you create a money machine? Well, other people have done it through investing in index funds, businesses, and real estate. By investing in a rental property, you’re using leverage. That way you can see a bigger return on your money. Instead of getting 8%, you might end up with 20%.
Real estate has a tangible value as well which means that inflation probably won’t harm you. In the speed that the governments are printing money and increasing the national debt—I think that’s something we ought to be concerned about.
But this is a budgeting post and not an investment post so therefore I will not go too much into investing. I just want to open your eyes to the possibility of having a money machine. If other people have done it, so can you. Wouldn’t it be great to have a second or third worker in the household?
Maybe after a couple of years, the money machine alone could pay for your bills and even your food. Begin to make your money work for you and reap the benefits of it a couple of years from now.
That’s why I stated at the beginning of this post that you should commit yourself to living five years like most people won’t, to live the rest of your life like most people never will. I’m also confident that you won’t miss the 10% that you invest. If you make smarter buying decisions, you don’t have to sacrifice anything.
A Personal Story
I remember when I heard of the concept of creating a money machine for the first time. It was at a seminar and the speaker said something along the lines of: “I get paid $800 to live where I live now.”
The speaker moved on by talking about something else but the audience stopped him and asked if he really meant get paid, and not only pay. He calmly answered yes, I said get paid; and it wasn’t very hard to accomplish either.
He stated that he only had to pay $7500 upfront to accomplish this. I thought he was joking at first, but it turned out that he had bought a rental property with several apartments. By renting out all apartments except one, he was able to get paid for living there.
This story shows that if you’re creative, you can find or create great investment opportunities. You can choose to see either opportunities or roadblocks.
People that see opportunities can walk into a messy home that is for sale with completely different eyes. They might have heard that the seller needs to move quickly and offered to take over it over fast and also clean the property on one premise.
That is that the seller would put the money down for the deal. The buyer would, of course, pay it back to the seller like any other debt. For this loan, the seller would also receive an interest of 4%. That way the bank pays for 80% of the deal and the seller for 20%.
The buyer later rents out the property and manages to get a positive cash flow of $500 after everything is paid. Can you see how all four parties are benefiting from the buyer’s creativity? This example shatters the belief that all people who have a lot of money have done something unethical to get it.
Begin to look for investment opportunities today and don’t be afraid to use your creativity and imagination to accomplish your desired goal with money. Write down the goal and figure out a plan that can take you there.
Don’t compromise the target until it’s attained—but be ready to be flexible with the plan if needed. Dedicate yourself to lifelong learning and decide that if you can’t find the way, you’ll make the way!
Here are three books about investing that have helped me:
Compounding can either be to one’s benefit or detriment.
Make room for at least 10% in your budget that should go to investments. Create your money machine and reap the rewards a couple of years from now.
Learn more about investment opportunities and use your creativity to come up with ways to make money work for you.
I hope this post was able to help you to create a budget and inspire you to take the necessary actions that are required. Let’s face it; this post can only provide the best possible information to you and then you have to act to make a change.
In this post, you’ve received the five steps to mastering the budgeting mindset. You also received some information to why you should budget. I hope that section made you motivated to get started and to be consistent in your budgeting efforts.
Next, we covered ten fast and easy saving tips to make sure the budget makes a surplus. In section four, we dived into the actual budgeting plan. You learned the three step process to creating and maintaining a budget.
Lastly, we discussed the power of compounding and the concept of creating your own money machine.
The next step is to develop the habits that will lead to a great financial life. Come back to this post whenever you feel unmotivated to create or maintain your budgeting plan. Remember to reward yourself for being disciplined and not overspending.
I also want to encourage you to read more about investing. It’s great to be able to consume another person’s lifetime experience and lessons in just a few hours. You might receive one great idea that can double your income or help you in developing your money machine.
Have you received any value from this post? If so, I’d love to read your thoughts about it—drop a comment below. Also, please share this guide with anyone that you think will benefit from it.