Tag Archives: Spending Habits

How To Develop A Savings Plan in 3 Easy Steps: Step 2


So boring right?

That word is not nearly as fun to say as spending. Yet true wealth does not come from spending, but from saving and investing.

Today, we’re back on the savings wagon, and the next stop on our “How to Develop a Savings Plan” journey is Step #2.

Step Two: Determine the Amount & Frequency of Your Savings

Once you have set your short term and long term goals (see Step One), you have to determine how much you will save and how often you will save.

1. Determine the Amount:

Researchers at USC have found that how you think determines how you save.

They found that abstract thinkers, who focus on the “why,” are more successful at saving when they have a savings goal with a specific amount (such as $200,000 for a house). The house then becomes the answer when the abstract thinker asks “why am I saving this money?” and it motivates them to save.

Concrete thinkers tend to get overwhelmed when setting a goal of a specific dollar amount. They focus on the “how” and get discouraged when they don’t know all the details of how they are going to save up for a specific amount. Concrete thinkers do better with simply saving as much as possible, rather than a specific dollar amount.

My suggestion would be for abstract thinkers to pick a dollar amount to save towards, and for abstract thinkers to pick a specific percentage of their income to save each month.

However, you have to do what works for you. For example, I’m an abstract thinker, yet Beth and I found that what works best for us is to save a specific percentage each month. I am still motivated to do so because I have a clear picture of why we are saving.

If you’ve never really saved before, or your monthly budget is very tight, we suggest starting out by saving 10% of every dollar that comes in. We’ll explain where to save it in our next post (Part Three).

2. Determine the Frequency:

How often you save will obviously have an impact on how much you will save. Our thought on this is that you should start saving a percentage of every dollar that comes in…immediately.

You have probably heard the phrase “pay yourself first.” Because of my Christian faith, I believe in paying yourself second, as giving back needs to be first. Even when we had over $100,000 of personal debt, we continued to tithe first on our gross income. We never once missed a payment on anything.

So when we receive income, giving is first, then we move a specific percentage into various savings accounts set-up for short term and long term savings goals. Then with the leftover we set our monthly budget allowances.

If you put your expenses first, then there’s never anything left for giving or saving.

Take Action (15 minutes):

It’s time to take action. Discuss the following with your spouse:
• Are you an Abstract thinker (“why?”) or a Concrete thinker (“how?)”?
• Should you set savings goals using a percentage of your income or a set dollar amount?
• Discuss when you will start saving. Immediately? After the debt is gone?

Stay tuned for step three. The easiest way to do this is to sign up for our newsletter. We send out one newsletter each week with links to that week’s posts.

Committed to your success,


Question: What are your thoughts on paying yourself first?

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Top 5 Unexpected Benefits Of A Budget

Ever see your bank account dwindle away and wonder where it all went? 

You have to understand this principle about money:

If you don’t tell your money where to go it will get lost.

Welcome back to our Managing Your Money series. This post is on Rule #2: Create A Spending Plan.

Rule #2: Create A Spending Plan

What is a spending plan? Very simply, it’s a budget. It’s telling your money where to go before it wanders off and you can’t find it anymore. And according to Dave Ramsey a budget is the number one tool for getting out of debt.

We’ve done numerous posts on How to Create a Budget. So instead of the “how-to” I want to give you five reasons WHY YOU MUST have a budget every month.

Top 5 Unexpected Blessings Of Having A Budget

1. A Budget Gives You Control.

Drowning in debt feels like you’re out of control doesn’t it? A budget puts you back in the driver’s seat. You start to feel like you can wrap your hand around your finances. It gives you confidence. Even if your budget is a mess, simply having one tells you and your money whos boss.

2. A Budget Brings Unity.

Ever have that “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!” experience when you find out your spouse spends money on something completely ridiculous? Creating a budget with your spouse eliminates that once and for all. It forces you to agree on what you will spend your money on every month.

3. A Budget Eliminates Conflict

Statistically, couples who argue more about money are more likely to separate. Why argue constantly when you can schedule one hour each month to get all of your financial arguments out of the way? (Shhh…Beth & I actually enjoy doing our budget together!)

4. A Budget Reduces Emergencies

For an event to be considered an emergency it has to be unexpected. But what most people call “financial emergencies” are actually normal events for which they failed to plan. The car needs new tires, the A/C went out, we have to buy Christmas presents, etc. A budget forces you to “expect the unexpected” and helps you be prepared for them when they inevitably happen.

5. A Budget Saves You Money.

Last but not least, a budget can save you ridiculous amounts of money. But there’s a reason almost 200 million Americans DON’T have a budget. It’s hard…it takes time…blah, blah, blah.

If I offered you $200 to sit down and create a budget in an hour or less you would take it. But what you must realize is a budget will SAVE you at least $200 a month, and every month you follow your budget that number goes up.

What You Manage Grows

Let me be candid for a moment. You know you need a spending plan. The people who don’t aren’t reading this right now. So why don’t you have one? What are your excuses? Time? Fear? Not enough money to manage?

T. Harv Eker says “You must acquire the habits and skills of managing a small amount of money before you can have a large amount. Managing your money is more important than the amount.”

Your excuses will kill your potential. Don’t let them. Take action now.

Committed to your success,


P.S. Do you have a budget? How has it helped you? If you don’t have a budget, what’s stopping you?

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The Seven Rules of Managing Your Money

The #1 key to growing wealth is understanding how to manage your money. In the outstanding book, Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, T. Harv Eker states that “the single biggest difference between financial success and financial failure is how well you manage your money. It’s simple: to master money, you must manage money.”

So how well do you manage money? Do you feel lost when thinking about your spending plan, your debt, and your investments? Do you ever catch yourself thinking “where did all my money go?” If so, you need to become a student of money management.

Don’t get overwhelmed, the rules of money management are simple. The problem we have is not in understanding the rules but in following them. We simply aren’t doing the things we know we need to do.

The Seven Rules of Managing Your Money

1. Take a Financial Snapshot: The first step in managing your money is to get an accurate picture of where you are financially. You may not like what you see but this is the first step to change.

2. Develop a Spending Plan: Give a task to every incoming dollar, such as buy food, pay the electric bill, or get rid of debt. Money gets lost when it doesn’t know where to go.

3. Develop a Savings Plan: Here’s where most people fall short. To grow wealth, saving is not optional.

4. Develop a Giving Plan: Want to read a crazy promise found in scripture? Read Malachi 3:10. It’s the ONLY time in scripture where God tells us to test him.

5. Develop an Investment Plan: To quote Eker again, “Rich people have their money work hard for them. Poor people work hard for their money.”

6. Track your Spending Weekly: Wealth is like a road trip, and tracking your spending is the same as keeping the car between the lines. Constantly checking and adjusting.

7. Review your Plans Monthly: This is like checking the map on a long trip, making sure you’re still on the right track.

I’m assuming if you’re reading this that you’re in a place where you are ready to take action and get control of your finances. Today is simply an overview of the seven rules of managing your money, however, stay with us for the next two weeks as we go into detail about each rule and how to take immediate action on each one.

Committed to your success,


Comments? We love hearing from our readers. Let us know which of the steps you’re working on!

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Couponer: Beware!

Today we’re featuring a second post on couponing by our friend Whitney Sparks, a financial coach recently featured on the Dave Ramsey show. Every year she literally saves THOUSANDS of dollars by her smart use of coupons. Since I’m not an expert at couponing, I asked her if I could share her message with you. I hope you enjoy! (You can find Whitney’s blog at www.whitneysparks.net)

Couponer: Beware

Well, the weekend is upon us and it’s that time again…time to go grocery shopping. Ugh! I know it can be dreadful and tiring but it has to be done. Eating at home makes more “cents” than eating out. Remember that when going on your dreadful shopping trip. So before you head out this weekend here are a few tips about using coupons (I learned some of this the hard way).

Using Coupons Could Actually Wind Up Costing You More Money

Last week I showed you where to find coupons. If you have forgotten then click here. Finding coupons and then ordering more can be a great technique if you are wanting to start a stockpile. I have a small stockpile of things in my garage and upstairs in one of our closets. The problem with stockpiling is that you could be spending your hard, earned cash on junk. When we were very poor and pinching every penny, I found myself buying a lot of junk just because it was cheap or free. Now I am a little more selective. I will say, though, that it’s very hard to pass up free. I was watching a television show on using coupons one night and I saw the funniest thing. One lady had stocked up on I don’t know how many bottles of mustard and the husband said, “Well, I don’t even like mustard”.

That’s what I mean by spending more than you actually need to spend. What a waste! Now if you were collecting that mustard to donate to a food bank then that’s one thing, but to take it home and have it just sit there on the shelf and never be used is ridiculous! If I can get something for absolutely FREE (and I don’t mean a rebate) then I might stockpile on certain things. But there have been times that I could have gotten certain items for .50 and I refuse to spend the money if it’s not something that I’m going to use or donate. I would rather spend that .50 on something that I’ll actually use!

Is Your Time Invested Really Worth The Savings?

I can speak from experience when I tell you not to go overboard with the use of coupons. I used to go out early on Sunday mornings trying to find 6 papers. Now that using coupons has been made into a reality series, it seems like it is getting harder and harder to find papers. Which is great! That means that people are getting out there and really using their coupons. But if you are spending so much time organizing and preparing your coupons for a very small savings then you’re having to take that time away from something, or someone.

Now, instead of running all over town on a Sunday morning, I enjoy that time with my kids. If I get out that afternoon and find a paper then great! If not, then I can order coupon inserts online. No biggie. I used to spend every Sunday afternoon clipping coupons and then organizing them. One day I would like to get back to that routine, but for right now a nap is on my agenda every Sunday since I work full-time during the week and devote most of my weekends to my small business. I hope this does not deter you from using coupons. Just like with anything, it just needs to be done correctly. Anybody can overspend if they’re not careful.

From Wesley

Whitney has a couponing class which she is going to start soon. If you’re interested, click here. You can do it in person if you’re in the College Station area in Texas, or you can do it via Skype. She is charging a ridiculously low-cost for this, which you will easily recoup on your next trip to the grocery store after taking her class. I’m not benefitting in any way from this, other than feeling good about spreading a message that you need to hear if you’re on the journey of becoming debt free.

Committed to your success,


P.S. Please leave us a comment – how have you benefitted from using coupons? Any tips you’d like to share?

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Where, Oh Where, Art Thou Coupon?

Hello DTL Community!

I’m very excited about today’s post! It was written by Whitney Sparks, a financial coach recently featured on the Dave Ramsey show. Every year she literally saves THOUSANDS of dollars by her smart use of coupons. Since I’m not an expert at couponing, I asked her if I could share her message with you. I hope you enjoy! (You can find Whitney’s blog at www.whitneysparks.net)

Where, Oh Where, Art Thou Coupon

Where do I go to find coupons? I have been asked this question more times than I can count so I thought this would be a great way to start off my blog about coupons – by answering this question. Be on the look-out for more blogs about using coupons to prepare you for my upcoming coupon seminar.

Newspaper Inserts

This is where I started first when looking for coupons. There are some times when I buy (2) papers each Sunday and there have been times when I didn’t buy any papers (coupons only show up in Sunday papers). It all depends on how hectic my life is during that particular period. I usually recommend that people buy a local paper and then a paper that comes from a larger city. For example, I usually buy a paper that is local to Bryan/College Station and then I buy the Houston newspaper. The reason for this is because I follow coupon blogs. The coupons listed on these blogs are usually found in the larger city newspapers. Inside of your paper you should find all the shopping inserts.

If you keep searching then you should see something that says “Red Plum”, “Smart Source” or “P&G”. Inside of the inserts are your coupons. I have seen some people cut each coupon out and others will just write the date really big at the top to help them find a coupon more quickly when reading a blog. I can tell you from experience that if you buy more than (2) newspapers then you are going to start feeling very overwhelmed. In the past, I have bought (6) papers and then had to go home and spend all day cutting out coupons. I was very dissatisfied and felt tired every Sunday afternoon. My word of advice is that if you need more coupons then order them online.

Online Coupons

If you are looking to add to your coupon collection then you can just print or order them online. Some sites that I have used often and trust are www.coupons.com, www.smartsource.com, and www.redplum.com. You can get on these sites and print off the coupons that are usually found in the paper. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, then type in a different zip code. Sometimes this helps you to find some really cool coupons. Just beware of using sites that you do not know. I was able to crash our computer due to coupon websites. I think I had contracted two viruses and the whole thing went down.

Also, most sites will lead you right back to www.coupons.com so you may as well start there. I had to learn the hard way not to just click on every link. Something else I want to add is that just because you trust the website does not mean you can trust the links to the coupons. There are a lot of really great blogs out there, but sometimes they are just copying and pasting these links without really taking the time to look at each one. So, just be careful. Plus if you crash your computer then you can’t read my posts anymore!

Ordering Coupons

Since I have a family of four and a full-time job I am finding it harder and harder to keep up with coupons. So, what I have done instead is order my coupons online. This is where I am able to get a lot of freebies. I will come back to this topic more in the next few days, but here is what I do. I buy a paper to see what coupons are listed. If I know that a particular coupon will result in freebies or it’s a high-value coupon then I will go to www.mycouponhunter.com and search for that particular coupon. (This is the only site that I use, but there are others out there as well.) I can then order in groups of five and get the coupons that I want. Sometimes I’m really disappointed when I go to buy a paper and spend $3.00 only to find out that I can’t use any of those coupons.

This is a guarantee way to know what I’m getting. Several months ago there was a VERY high value coupon for a certain brand of make-up. The coupon was $8.00 off when you buy (2) products. To find this coupon, I went to www.ebay.com. I actually just bought the complete inserts since there were several good coupons. I think I spent about $8.00 for (5) inserts but I saved $40.00 on just the make-up alone. Plus to this day I still have FREE base, eye shadow, mascara, and lipstick upstairs in my stockpile. That was way too good to pass up!

From Wesley

Whitney has a couponing class which she is going to start soon. If you’re interested, click here. You can do it in person if you’re in the College Station area in Texas, or you can do it via Skype. She is charging a ridiculously low-cost for this, which you will easily recoup on your next trip to the grocery store after taking her class. I’m not benefitting in any way from this, other than feeling good about spreading a message that you need to hear if you’re on the journey of becoming debt free.

Committed to your success,


P.S. Please leave us a comment – how have you benefitted from using coupons? Any tips you’d like to share?

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Why Financial Tips and Tricks Fail

Let’s be honest. Lack of knowledge isn’t the problem. I read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover before accumulating six figures of debt. The issue wasn’t that I didn’t know paying for our honeymoon on a credit card was a bad idea. The issue was that I didn’t care. I really really wanted an incredible honeymoon with Beth, and Visa was very willing to make that happen for me.

Everyone knows they can pay off debt faster by cutting out cable, entertainment, new clothes, Starbucks, eating out, etc. Financial tips and tricks fail to work because debt is not the root problem, it’s merely the fruit.

The Real Issue: Emotions Gone Wild

We like to joke about “retail therapy,” but pretty much everything we spend money on is either to meet a need or experience an emotion. It could be as simple as food and shelter or as complex as the desire for love or a release from anger or stress. We’re within walking distance from Starbucks, and I can guarantee that in my house the ratio of Cake Pops to Crying Babies is proportionate.

What’s Your Spending Trigger?

Everyone has spending triggers…specific emotions that drive them in search of comfort or escape. Research has shown that people spend 300% more when they are sad, happy people are less likely to gamble, and angry people take higher financial risks as a sort of self-defeating behavior.  The challenge is identifying your spending triggers and developing habits to deal with that emotion apart from spending money.

Personal Example

I drive a 10 year old Toyota 4Runner. When I see a nice Audi drive by it pushes my envy buttons. I know I could “qualify” to buy a new car, and to be perfectly honest we’re getting close to needing one. But deep down I know that’s not why I want one. Despite all the freedom that Jesus has worked in me, there’s still part of me that wants to impress people. Somewhere in there is the seed of insecurity, the same source of wanting to be popular in high school, to be part of the “in” crowd.

So on a surface level, I remind myself how great it is to be debt free, how the guy driving that nice Audi probably hates making the $450 payment every month, and how Paul wrote that “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” But on a deeper soul level, I’m asking Jesus to redeem that part of me that feels like it “needs” things that aren’t really needs. And to help me be confident in who I am in Him, not who I am in comparison to others.

Committed to your success,


Let’s dialogue – what are some of your spending triggers, and how do you deal with them without spending money? We respond to 100% of our comments!

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