Friday, November 22, 2013

Budget... So Unsexy.

I hate money. Well, no, that's not true. I love to SPEND money; I just hate MANAGING money.

No one told me that being a responsible grown up would be so boring and difficult and unpleasant, and the most obnoxious and stressful adult task, I've found, is setting up and sticking to a budget.

Ugh. Budget. It's anything BUT a sexy topic. Nevertheless, it's an important subject to research, and implementing some sort of financial plan is vital in order to be dependable and successful.

One way I have tackled this disagreeable job is to GET INFORMED. The best guy out there on the issue of personal finance, in my opinion, is DAVE RAMSEY.

Now, this isn't just the money guru your parents listen to on the radio. He is the real deal. Having faced financial ruin himself, he knows what it's like to come from nothing and try to build yourself up to something. He's honest, practical, funny, and smart on money matters.

Recently, I checked out the book that goes along with his financial advising seminar, Dave Ramsey's Complete Guide to Money.

Most of what he had to say wasn't rocket science. It was common sense information, but packaged and explained in a way that made it compelling. For me, I KNOW what I should be doing, I just have trouble actually DOING it. Dave agrees- "Personal finance is only 20 percent head knowledge. The other 80 percent- the bulk of the issue- is behavior." (Page 6)

Even though Dave goes in-depth on a variety of topics- savings, getting out of debt, budgeting, manipulative marketing, insurance, college and retirement planning, etc., I found the review of his Financial Roadmap for Success to be especially helpful. He has seven baby steps that will get you to where you need to go:

                Baby Step 1: Put $1,000 in a beginner emergency fund ($500 if your income is under $20,000 per year.
                Baby Step 2: Pay off all debt using the debt snowball.
                Baby Step 3: Put three to six months of expenses into a savings account as a full emergency fund.
                Baby Step 4: Invest 15 percent of your household income into Roth IRAs and pretax retirement plans.
                Baby Step 5: Begin college funding for your kids.
                Baby Step 6: Pay off your home early.
                Baby Step 7: Build wealth and give.
                (Page 9)

Now granted, not all of these steps are entirely applicable to me as an unmarried twenty-something living at home with my parents while I just start off my professional career. Begin college funding for your kids? I'm still deciding if I'M going back to college. I don't HAVE kids.

That being said, I KNOW Dave's plan is important, wherever you're at in life. A couple months back, I had a severe neck injury that prevented me from working for almost a month. And with no savings plan, no emergency fund, and suddenly no source of income, I was in deep trouble! Now, three months later, I'm STILL trying to recover financially. I wish I had taken Dave's advice seriously and implemented it sooner.

"The emergency fund is your protection against life's unexpected events, and you are going to have a lot of them throughout your lifetime. They're not really "unexpected" if you think about it. You know they're coming; you just don't know when, what, or how much. But you can still be ready." (Page 11)

Saving is hard! There are so many things I'd rather be doing with my money than just sticking it in a savings account. I want to do something FUN with my money! Even though I struggle with this concept, I think Dave makes so much sense- "Today, my motto is, 'If you live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.' " (Page 22)

One illustration Dave gave blew me away. It's one thing to think conceptually about saving consistently over time, but Dave actually calculated out what it would look like if a little bit of discipline and sacrifice is made:

"What if you squeezed an extra $100 out of your budget every month? If you saved just $100 a month, every month, from age twenty-five to age sixty five (your working lifetime) at the stock market average return of 12 percent, you'd retire with more than 1.1 million! You'd be a millionaire with just $100 a month! But is it easy to do that every month like clockwork for forty years? No!... Something else will sneak in and try to take away that money. It takes discipline to stick to your goals, but that little bit of discipline will take you a long way." (Page 17)

Holy crap on a cracker! I can retire as a millionaire with only $100 a month?! That's actually DOABLE!

All throughout the book, Dave gives super practical ideas about how to deal with money, and many illustrations of how this actually pans out in real life, just like the example above.

I know money stuff is hardly glamorous. I get how reading an entire book on budgeting and saving and planning might make your eyes glaze over like a dead fish. Let me tell you, the information and suggestions in this book are WORTH IT.

Be a little nerdy. Ditch the light chick lit and pick up this personal finance book. Your life will change for the better.

Happy reading, folks!

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