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BY SUSAN R. KILEY

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Budget Awakening
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Have you ever wondered, “Where did my paycheck go this week?” Yup, you are not alone.

Budget Awakening

After reading numerous articles on budgeting and saving money, I’ve concluded that only a tiny portion of people know where their money is going.

Heck, the statistics, especially over 2020 when Covid hit, some 78% of all Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck. Budgets do not exist – it’s survival – or as my mom would say, “Rob Peter to pay Paul.”

My compelling budget awakening happened in 2015 (when I was going through a divorce), 2017, 2018, 2019, and finally in 2020 when I was over being stressed and overwhelmed. Why so many ‘awakenings’?

In 2015, I was going through a divorce after a carefree living – there were no budgets. I had three children. Things should have been great for me, but I seemed to be spinning my wheels. 

Although I didn’t care while I was married about saving for retirement at a hefty rate, being single with a budget and saving for retirement was a huge stressor.

During the divorce, I realized I would need a budget. Hell, I needed a massive budget awakening. I went from stay-at-home entrepreneur puttering around, not caring if I made money or not, to a single parent with a lot of expenses and limited income. I needed to save as much money as possible.

Can you relate? Have you ever felt like you needed a budget awakening?

Budget History Unveiled

Before I got married, I had $10,000 in credit card debt. Nothing too wrong, it was all from my last semester in college while I took my unpaid internship, and scholarships didn’t cover that portion of college. My soon-to-be husband had almost $200,000 in debt because of college and an unpaid residency. 

During our courtship, we were only making the minimum payments toward them. At that rate, we were never going to pay them off – literally.

Seeing this as an issue, we made a plan to plop a significant portion of our weekly paychecks to them. I took on a full-time and a part-time job while my husband established himself.

Couples Budget Awakening

Back in 2000, when we married, we could have easily used a balance transfer card option with 0% interest to pay our debt off quicker. Part of our budget did not include opening any credit cards. 

Many people take a balance transfer option, and I’ve learned that this may be a good option for you (depending on your situation) over the years. However, there is a downside to this practice.

Opening another credit card may cause a hit on your credit score. What I’ve noticed over the years is that when you attempt to move to another card for either a lower interest rate or a 0% interest balance transfer, three things happen.

Your score will take a hit and will be lowered. You have to pay a transfer fee, 0%-5% of the total amount transferred (or more).

The total amount given on your new credit card may not cover the total amount you need to transfer. Now you have two credit cards to manage. For some, this could cause more stress and debt.

Once you decide how you will manage your debt, you’ll need to write out where your money is going and the bills paid monthly. If this is your first budget awakening, prepare yourself for a major eye opening experience. 

During my first year of marriage, we lived in an apartment. We didn’t have car payments or subscribe to cable – essentially – the bare necessities. In one year, we paid off my credit card debt, bought jet skis, went on a vacation, and started our retirement funds. Removing our credit card debt gave us the ability to buy our first house. We’d done many things right, but in other ways, we had no budget awareness.

Fast forward to 2015. While our annual household income had more than tripled, we faced divorce, which caused a massive budget awakening. 

Sure, we now had three children, a house, three new cars, businesses, retirement funds, investments, and all sorts of extras. But, dividing everything showed the true story of our money. What the heck had we done wrong?

Fixing Finances

First thing I had to do to fix my finances, get on an uber tight budget. I had to watch every penny spent. Despite being thrifty and not spending on clothes or unnecessary impulse buys, I had a primary shiny object compulsion – buying courses and classes for entrepreneurs.

As a couple, I had someone holding me accountable for my spending habits on shiny objects. Being single, cha-ching was easy, accessible, and there was no one to answer to every time I wanted to buy another shiny thing.

Every year after 2015, I indulged in another budget awakening, each time hoping for a different result. I had no one holding me accountable as debt kept me hostage.

During each of my budget awakenings, I took a piece of paper and wrote everything down the first thing I did. My budget-focused my attention on where I spent (and saved) money. The goal of the exercise was to draw attention to where I planned on spending my money-making better choices before impulsively buying another shiny object.

Paying off debt and saving money became less stressful. I went to my clipping coupon days, cutting unnecessary shiny objects out of my budget and refinancing my car and house. 

Within a year, I managed to save a few thousand – all while being a single mother, building a business, and being less stressed. I was happy and felt successful in life. It took a shit ton of discipline, budgeting, and a lot of hard work, but it was all worth it.

Related Articles: How Single Mom Naseema Went from Broke to Paying Off $300,000 in Debt and Five Practical Tips for Paying Off Your Business Debt

Budget Awakening Tools

If you find yourself in a similar situation, there is hope. Whether you’re deep in debt or can’t figure out where all of your money is going, there is a way out. 

Here are some of the tools you’ll need to whip your finances into shape right away!

3 Super Tools

 

Budget – Your budget is the most important financial tool that you have at your disposal. It’s the key to controlling your money. Once you learn how to budget and hold yourself accountable, your life will change forever.

Tracking Expenses – Tracking your spending is the best, hands down, way to understand where your money is going and why you may not be reaching your money goals. 

Expense tracking can be a challenge – it requires commitment and patience. You must jot everything down or use expense apps. At the end of the month, brace yourself for what you’ll discover.

Patience, Patience, and More Patience – You didn’t get to where you are overnight, nor will your situation change instantly. You will need to apply sound financial principles to your life, but you also have to have a shit ton of patience… and perseverance. 

The struggle bus is real. You’ll want to quit and probably will. It’s okay. If you stop, start again! Refer back to your goals when you are struggling or want to stop. You will (eventually) succeed… and be so damn proud of yourself when you do!!!

More Related Articles and Resources

Where Am I Now?

I made the decision that I wanted to be debt-free by the time I turned 45. From the belly of my debt-free dream, Success You was birthed.

It’s been about six years since I started this blog. In the meantime, I am close to being debt free (now nearing age 47). I’ve worked my budget to become debt-free (except for my car and house)… but that’s not the best part. You can read why I kept my car and house debt (for a few more years).

Fighting debt has changed me as a person and allowed me to do things I never thought a single mom of three could ever do. Because the money I owe is manageable and without credit cards, I’ve experienced financial freedom beyond my wildest dreams. I’ve been able to:

  • Grow my blog and business from home
  • Go to every activity for my kids
  • Travel with my kids and make memories
  • Change my money mindset
  • Live life on my terms

In Conclusion

Budget awakenings can be stressful. Debt is stressful. If you find yourself needing a budget awakening to get out of debt, I encourage you to keep reading. I’m here for all your success.

A big reminder when you enter any personal change: patience. Nothing happens overnight. You will fail. You will quit. Like the famous saying, “It’s not about the number of times you fall, it’s the number of times you get up that matters.”

Squashing your debt is no different!

Suppose this is your first visit to Success You, welcome! I hope to share with you my successes and failures. I hope to inspire you to control your life by becoming happy(ier) and successful (in life and business). 

I invite you to join me (and my guests) on this journey. So, belly up to the computer, grab a fruity drink, and join the Success You party!

Happiness & Success

Happiness and Success are achievable, you have to believe you are worthy! I believe in you, you found this post and read all the way to this point. When life gets tough take a moment to breathe, remind yourself that “this too shall pass…” because it will. 

Keep going, Happiness and Success is just around the corner! 

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Susan R Kiley is an author, content creation expert, blogger, podcast host and YouTube host. She provides real-world information on how to build wildly happy and successful businesses using content without overwhelm. The Success YOU podcast is all about empowering today’s content creator, aspiring writer and YOU to finally do the dang thing and start doing today that truly makes you happy! Susan also runs a digital agency, Kiley Media.

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