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It’s that time of year again.  Even if you’re like me and decided not to make ‘New Years’ Resolutions’ per se, and you’ve only chosen one word, the beginning of the year is still valuable for some things.

Budgeting, alas, is one of them.  I have a tendency to start out strong, and make these beautiful budgets up and determine how many thousands of dollars I’m going to save or put extra onto my debts.  I do it every January.  I calculate, number-crunch… what have you.

And by February, I’m wondering why I don’t know where my money went again.

I’d like to say that I want this year to be different.  It’s my hope that by sharing my intentions (and some of the resources I found today) on here, that people who love me and read this (*cough* my parents *cough* wink wink nudge nudge) will keep me accountable to this goal.  I like the idea of seeing where my money goes.  Knowing where every cent has been spent or used (either well or poorly) makes me happy on the inside…… but this hasn’t always been true.  Maybe it’s because I’ve grown up A LOT this year.  Maybe it’s because I have a plan in mind for all those extra cents (I am redecorating in March, plus I really want a new violin), or maybe it’s even because I am working on getting myself ready to someday be married, and managing my own finances is a huge step toward being able to help manage a family’s finances.  Whatever the reason, I want to be a good steward of what I’ve been given.  It’s all part of valuing myself (see my One Word post), knowing that the time I spend working for all that money is worth something, and there’s an end product that doesn’t need to be squandered at fast-food joints and clothing stores.  That’s right — squandered.

Anyway, I thought I’d show you some of the nifty resources I found while I was perusing the internet (with a purpose!) today.

I made a budget binder.  In it, you’ll find the following things.

First of all, a financial checklist for all the bills.  I find I have a terrible time remembering whether or not I’ve actually paid a bill.  I set reminders on my iCal and on my phone, but sometimes those arrive at inopportune times, and I think it’ll be very helpful to be able to look at this on Saturdays (my proposed budget review day), and go “yup, I’ve paid all those that were due.  Excellent.”

e0def-financialchecklist

Secondly, a printable budget sheet that is broken down into every category imaginable.  I didn’t have to use them all, but it’s fantastic.  And if I need them in the future, they are there!  I printed 12 of these, and they are all labeled with the correct month.  This one doesn’t have an image, it just goes right to downloading the PDF, so check the link out here.

Thirdly, an expense tracking sheet so that I know precisely how money was spent and where, especially in the areas that weren’t budgeted… like my copious trips to Subway and Wendy’s.

Fourthly, a monthly calendar template, which I also printed 12 of, so that I can write down when each bill is due and put a check mark in it when it’s paid.  I’ve also highlighted the bills that DO NOT come out of my account automatically, because I believe there are only 3 or 4 left in my life that aren’t automatic withdrawal.  It may surprise you, but these tend to be the ones I forget to pay ;)

Lastly, and this is not budget related, I printed a weekly meal planner.  Well, I guess it’s sort of money related… because I suspect it will save me money at the grocery store, knowing exactly what I need to buy for the week instead of just guessing.  I have a terrible habit of over-buying and then I can’t eat everything I bought before it all goes bad, and I have to throw stuff out.  It disgusts me.  I’d like to stop doing that.  Never mind my hard-earned money, it’s just such a disastrous habit, and the money I save in not doing it could be funneled into a charity that takes care of those who lack enough food to eat on a week-to-week basis… and isn’t that a bigger issue than just “I bought too many baby carrots?”  My meals are planned for this coming week, and I’m going grocery shopping after church tomorrow, buying ONLY what is on that list.

In completely unrelated news… in an effort to value my health, my life, and the piles of money I spent previously on clothes that used to fit me and now truly don’t, I am dropping refined carbs and sugars like they’re hot …. and I’m dropping them cold turkey.  I can’t see any other way to do it.  I know they’re my stumbling block to weight loss.  Bread, pasta, candy, and chocolate always have been.  I know I need to lose weight — not to ‘look better,’ but because I refuse to buy new clothes again when I can just eat better, and because I know I felt better thinner.  I don’t have a goal weight in mind, I just want to feel better physically.  Sadly, I know the only real and effective way for me to do this healthily is to eliminate the foods that cause me to keep weight on.  Everyone’s bodies are different.  Mine likes to hold on to simple carbs like there’s no tomorrow, and it doesn’t seem to matter how hard I try to wean myself off slowly, I also crave them intensely.  It’s not just a sugar problem, though.  I wrote a post a year ago today after I finished reading Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Made To Crave, about how I use food in a way that it shouldn’t be used… and I’ve slipped back into bad habits.  I need to give up these things, and go to God with my cravings when they show up — not the cupboard.  That being said, if we have to cross paths in the next little while, I’m sorry…. because the sugar withdrawal is hard to go through for the first few days.  I’ll do my best to stay pleasant and not take it out on innocent bystanders….  but it must be done.  Pray for me, friends?

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