The Life Not My Own

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

MSOI: My New Favorite Budgeting Tool

Little confession here:  I enjoy money.  Not in a wealth-craving, materialistic way or anything.  I just really enjoy working with numbers and budgeting.  When I say I'm an on-again-off-again administrative assistant at Stone County Ironworks, what I really mean is that I enter endless invoices and bills into the accounting software...and thoroughly enjoy it.

Sometimes, though, life goes too fast and I don't have the time to budget and track money and save like I want to.  Sometimes the checkbook goes unbalanced for an embarrassingly long amount of time.  And sometimes I overspend and then put off working on the budget or balancing the checkbook because not hitting my goals is just too dang depressing.

Enter my new favorite budgeting tool.  I have two crazy kids to keep up with and since this tool entered my life in December, I've still been able to keep up with the money amazingly well.

It's actually a software called You Need a Budget.  Basically, it takes everything I've ever tried to make on my own with spreadsheets and online budgets, and boils it down into a simple, easy to use program that literally anyone could figure out.  It doesn't hurt that they also have a 4-step plan to get your finances in order, plus a myriad of videos and webinars to help.

My favorite part about the program is that, instead of working off of your expected income for the month, it goes off of what you already have in the bank account.  You'll never wonder if you have enough money to cover a bill again, because you'll only budget the money that you have.

Unfortunately, this neat aspect can also be a caveat.  One of the steps in their 4-steps is to create a buffer so that you're literally a month ahead on spending and bills.  For instance, if you budget $2000 for expenses in a month, you'd ideally already have $2000 in the bank at the beginning of the month for them.  Then, any income from the current month is set aside for next month.  If you've already got a buffer, then no problem, but if you don't then you'll find yourself only able to budget parts of the month at a time (usually budgeting more each time you get paid).  While this can be a pain, it can also be very beneficial, because you obviously won't have $2000 available to you to spend on the 1st of the month if you get paid $500 each week.  So, if you only have $500 in the bank, you only budget $500 and wait until the next paycheck to budget in more.  For any Dave Ramsey fans out there, it literally gives "every dollar a name"...and only the dollars you already have.  However, unless you have that buffer already, you will have to have a basic budget figured out so you'll know what to fill in.

Another feature I like about You Need a Budget is that it gives me to ability to have an array of things I'm saving for, from vacation to just setting aside a certain amount each month for our yearly Amazon Prime subscription.  I can keep all of the savings in one savings account, but easily see how much I have saved for each thing.  Goodbye annoying spreadsheets that I used to try to do this with, but never really succeeded.

Credit card debt is also handled excellently with this software.  Once you've paid any existing debt off (the software really helps you do this), anything you spend on the credit cards is automatically taken out of the cash you have available.  So, swiping that credit card is basically the same as paying for it with cash, and money is already set aside to pay it off at the end of the month.  Easy as pie!

Previously, I used because it was free and connected to all of my accounts automatically.  You Need a Budget doesn't do that.  You can download transactions (a bit of a pain), or enter them manually.  Surprisingly, this hasn't been a big deal for me.  I usually try to enter transactions on the nifty smartphone app as they happen.  But even if I get behind, it's pretty easy to catch up.  PLUS, entering the transactions manually really keeps me accountable.

I could say a lot more, but I'll leave you with that for now.  Go to the website, watch a few videos, and download the free month trial.  Unlike, the software costs some money ($60), but it is so, SO worth the money.  If you get a referral from someone who has the software (you can email me at and I'll send you mine) you get $5 off, plus the person who refers you gets $5 too.

Disclaimer: I'm not getting paid or anything to write this.  I'm just really passionate about budgeting and saving, and this software has been so hugely beneficial to me that I just couldn't keep it to myself.  Check it out...I promise you won't be disappointed!



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Monday, April 6, 2015

Dear Single Girl: Think Outside the Box

As long as I could remember, I was encouraged by youth leaders and well-meaning mentors to make a list of what I "wanted" in a husband and to stick to my standards.  While some of the things on my list were good, like "Christian" or "honest", I've come to believe that we girls all too often put our future husband in a box.

If you want to homeschool, you look for someone who was homeschooled.  If you don't want to homeschool, you look specifically for someone who wasn't.  If you're Baptist you look for a Baptist.  If you come from a stable family, you look for someone who comes from the same background.  We assume that a guy meeting these criteria will mean he's a good fit for us.

The only problem is, all of those things are outward.  God doesn't look at the outward appearance...He looks at the heart.  Marriage is meant to balance us out.  The perfect person for you may have an opposite personality or come from a completely different background.  Also, having the same background as you doesn't ensure that they'll have the same convictions...or the same heart.  I'd venture to guess that not every homeschooled guy wants to homeschool, or that every public schooler doesn't want to homeschool his kids.

I believe that girls limit the pool of potential husbands too much by assuming that the guy for them fits in a certain box.  I'm not saying you should settle or throw all caution to the wind and get rid of all your standards.  Know your convictions and your standards...just don't write off a guy just because he's not who you pictured marrying.  Sometimes the best diamonds come from the roughest places.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Taking Motherhood for Granted

The other day Miles crawled up into my lap while I was feeding Nora and said, "Mama, you've got your big boy and you've got your sister."  I smiled, knowing what he meant.  Sometimes, in the midst of wiping bottoms and cleaning up smoothies spilled all over the play mat and the baby and trying to stuff something edible in my mouth before the next crisis, I forget just how blessed I am.  For a moment, I held my baby girl and my "big" boy (who's still a baby to me), and just soaked in the sweet little blessings that they are.

When I was pregnant with Miles, I couldn't wait for all of the "mom" things that came with motherhood.  I couldn't wait to be putting my son's carseat in the cart at the grocery store, or picking him up from the nursery at church.  With two little ones, those things can become burdens rather than blessings.  Today, I'm going to view them as gifts once more.  

Here are a few more blessings that motherhood brings that I often take for granted:

Getting to run errands with my children and buckle them in car seats.  

Before Miles was born, I drove around with an empty car seat...I couldn't wait until it was occupied with my own tiny baby.  I couldn't wait for the challenge of learning to run errands and grocery shop with him.  When I was pregnant with Nora, I looked forward to the challenge of juggling two.  It's still a challenge, and going anywhere is quite the ordeal, but those sweet chubby faces are so worth it.

Always being needed.  

It's nice to be really is.  It's nice to be the only one that can make that boo boo better...the one who they trust.  Puke and poop and pee are so much easier to clean up when you are needed.

Teddy Bear Picnic at the Park

Getting out of myself.  

It's really hard to be selfish when you're a mom.  You have to learn to deal with the sleepless nights and never sleeping in.  The needs of a tiny little person come before yours and even your plans revolve around the kind of day they're having.  This is a wonderful thing.  Motherhood forces us to stop thinking about ourselves!

It makes you raw.  

Sure, hormones and lack of sleep and tiredness play a part, but being a mommy makes you emotional just by it's very nature.  You suddenly see movies and events in a completely different light when you have your own little ones to think about losing or getting hurt.  Motherhood wears off the tough outer shell and makes you vulnerable...but it is through this vulnerability that you find the most amazing blessings.

Getting to dress your kids.  

I don't spend a bunch of money on kids clothes, but it's still fun for me.  When Miles has his little suspenders on, or I find the sweetest tiny bow for Nora, I am delighted.  Andy teases me...but he can't help but pick out cute stuff too.  You can dress your kids however you cotton picking want...and that's fun.

My Favorite "Dirty Laundry"

Seeing them grow and discover.  

The other day Miles and I watched the bees landing on my spring flowers.  He was fascinated with them...especially when I told him that the bees were collecting pollen to make honey.  My sweet little girl has started reaching for us when she wants to be picked up.  It never gets old.  It's amazing to see their little eyes take in something an amazingly absorbent sponge.

Giving them baths.  

Suggesting a bath to my son is like telling him he's one the lottery.  The joy that comes from such a little thing is amazing.  Yesterday I set Nora's bath tub in the big bath, so that my two munchkins could have a bath together.  They laughed and giggled the whole time.

Sibling interaction. 

Nora just adores her big brother and, while it's taken some time, he adores her as well.  I can't to watch their relationship grow and change.

What are some of your favorite "little" things about motherhood?   

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