Archive for the ‘Budgeting’ Category

14 Days To Finding Money – My Experience With Rachel Cruze’s Program

I’m on a quest.  I want to save money, reduce my debt, increase my credit score, save for retirement, save for a rainy day, and save for the kid’s college, I have five and I require all five of them to go.  That’s a lot and I’m tired just thinking about it.  I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels that way.  Am I right?  In my quest I come across many different programs that promise to do just that.  Rachel Cruze, daughter of Dave Ramsey has a program designed to do just that.  I was intrigued; finding money in 14 days was there something she knew that I hadn’t tried already.  After all the daughter of famed Dave Ramsey had to know a lot on the subject right.  The fact that the program was free and stated the average person could find $2000 a year made the choice to jump head first with only a signup of my email, after all that’s what a junk email is for, even better.  You can sign up for the 14 day money finder program here.

Day 1 – Connect to your bank’s website.

I love the convenience of online and mobile banking.  This being a step I already was doing, wasn’t a big revelation to me.  In face I encourage everyone I talk to about finances to sign up for online banking.

Day 2 – Find out your take home pay.

This day Rachel has us recording our take home pay.  This is not a new thing for people who are serious about their finances.  I know what my take home pay is and I check my pay regularly along with checking my expenses.

Day 3 – Be Generous.

Today Rachel has us doing something with $5-$10 dollars for a friend, family member, or stranger.  A few of the programs I have do something similar with having you portion funds to a charity or a cause you believe in.  I brought my coworker breakfast as my generous act.

Day 4 – Put $20 cash away for a surprise.

My first thought, aren’t I supposed to be saving money?  I don’t carry cash; I only have cash if someone gives it to me.  I keep everything in my account with an account for saving money I don’t touch, one for bills and one for my spending.  My savings wasn’t always this way and I think I want to go back to my old way of 2 accounts.

Day 5 – Entertainment Expenses

Rachel has us list out our entertainment, lifestyle, and other expenses from last month.  This is easy if you use your banks online tools for budgeting.  Many banks have a tool that allows you to group your spending together and see where your spending is.  If your bank doesn’t have these tools, maybe it’s time to choose another bank.  However Rachel recommends a free tool called Every Dollar.  You don’t have to use it and I didn’t particularly like it.  You can check out my lifestyle spending for November here.

Day 6 – Finding money and cutting expenses.

Today Rachel wants us to look at the lifestyle spending list we created on day 5 and find ways to cut these expenses.  I had previously found ways to cut my expenses but it was good to have a refresher in that department.  After you look at your expenses and determine how much you’ll budget for the categories for next month.

Day 7 – Gas

For day 7 we’re supposed to estimate how much we think we spend on gas and then write down how much we actually spend on gas.  After we do that, she gives us ways on how we can cut back on the gas we use.  I don’t use gas – I carpool so this wasn’t an option for finding money for me.  Her recommendations included carpooling (I already do this), gas savings apps, and taking advantage of savings when using cash at some gas stations.  Another option she doesn’t offer is purchasing discounted gas cards. Publix often offers $10 off $50 coupons for gas cards when you spend $50 on groceries.  Combine that with coupons for even more savings.  Kroger offers 4x fuel points at times, they also offer savings at Shell gas stations with your Kroger plus cards.  If you don’t have these supermarkets near you check with your local supermarket, they may have similar savings available as well.

Day 8 – Food

We all eat, well for day 8 we’re supposed to break down how much we spend on food in two categories eating out and groceries.  I eat out 5 days a week, I work at a restaurant and get a free meal as a perk.  You be surprised how much you spend every week and month in this category.  After you think about that, think about how much of the groceries you have that go bad and have to be thrown away.  These are all areas of needless waste.

Day 9 – Spend less and eat healthy

The point of the 14 day money finder is to find ways to save money by cutting expenses.  For this day she gives tips on how to spend less on eating out and groceries through …prepare yourselves I’m going to use the B word. Budgeting.  This shouldn’t be anything new to you especially is you are serious about saving money and changing your financial lifestyle.  Her tips include packing a lunch, buying generic, having a list, and planning ahead.  She doesn’t mention using discounts or coupons which I find is a great tip for those serious about getting financially fit.  The task we’re supposed to do is write down how much we plan to spend next month on groceries and dining out.  I always plan to spend $0, but it’s not realistic, there are times spend zero on restaurants and there are times I go overboard and spend .  My advice is to set realistic goals.

Day 10 – Treat yourself

According to Rachel, we’ve been working hard and deserve to treat ourselves.  That $20 we put aside we now get to use for ourselves.  She lets us know that it’s ok to have nice things as long as we plan for them.

Day 11 – Housing

This exercise requires us to write down all payments for housing.  She includes the categories below and we can add any others that we have for housing.  I don’t have HOA, I rent, so in this I would include renter’s insurance.

Mortgage/Rent ____________
HOA _____________
Water ___________
Electric ______________
Natural Gas ______________
Cable______________
Phone ___________
Lawn Care_____________
Other _________________

Day 12 – Cutting housing costs.  For day 11 we listed housing expenses, well today we have to find ways to cut expenses.  She mentions a list of starters cutting cable (I’ve already done this), getting rid of your land line (it’s been years since I had a land line), and mowing your own lawn (my husband takes care of this).  We’re then supposed to write down how much money we plan to spend on the housing costs and write down that money.

Day 13 – Insurance

We all pay for insurance, for this exercise we’re supposed to shop around for a better rate.  My parents recently shopped around and by combining their homeowners insurance with their care insurance they were paying less than their previous care insurance alone!

Day 14 – Finding your money

Today is the big day, were supposed to add your savings totals up from Day 6, 8 and 12. Then add your totals from Day 7 (gas) and Day 13 (insurance).

Day 15 – Creating your own budget.

The program promises small easy steps which is useful for someone who doesn’t already budget.  Since I already budget, I didn’t find it as helpful as I thought it was going to be.  I would have liked to learn some tools or ways to reduce my expenses that I didn’t already do. I’m sure it’s helpful for someone that doesn’t budget or look at their finances.

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