Start With Why – Why Do I Need a Budget?

01

NOV, 2016

Budgeting
Life Change
Vision


Start With Why – Simon Sinek, TedX

Why Do I Need a Budget?

I’ve discussed before the importance of having and keeping a budget but ‘to start with why’ is truly the most important factor in creating, keeping and maintaining a budget for the long game. It’s not a coincidence that I use the title to match the book from Simon Sinek. In fact, you should watch his nearly decade-old video from Ted on youtube about how great leaders inspire action. Here it is to the left for your viewing pleasure. (18 minutes in length, grab a cup of coffee, its’ worth it.)

Simon went on to write a book about the concept and although it’s been seen and read by millions, we still don’t give it enough weight. If you don’t start with why, you’ll never finish the race. So again, “Why Do I Need a Budget?” You need to answer that question for yourself in order for you to reach your goals. For me, I have many reasons and I think others will relate.

What Do I Want Out of Life?

In this life, when I look at my family, my career, and this world all through the lens of Jesus Christ, I can’t help but be reminded of how we are to be good stewards of what we are given. And we are given much, aren’t we? So what do I want? What is my “Why?” I want to be a light and to make a difference in the world. I want my life to live loudly to exemplify the freedom and grace we’ve been given to show others that there is hope among the destruction, the bad news, the disgrace and sadness. There is hope. I want to raise my kids in a safe environment. I want to spend more time with my family, more time in thought, more time living in this beautiful world that God has given us dominion over. To enjoy the scenery, to appreciate the flavors and smells and to do all of this with the people that I love. I want to help provide heaven on earth through the spreading of the message of Christ. That is my big W-H-Y. It’s a bit all encompassing and the tid-bits may change on a daily basis but there is no other reason that I do what I do.

How Will a Budget Get Me There?

You have to think about what has brought you happiness in the last few days, months, and years. For me, it wasn’t money. In fact, money delivered sadness, disappointment, futility and more. It wasn’t until I decided to quit the chase that I began to feel freedom from the oppression of the American dream. But a budget is what got us there. We had to pay off a pile of debt. We had to reorganize our ‘wants’ into basic ‘needs’ and evaluate the cost of maintaining and minimizing our current standard of living. We had to downsize our expenses, upsize our values and look sideways at the world’s many enticing offerings. It has taken time, but our vision has changed. We don’t see value in early adopting technology at a high price. We don’t see value in eating at restaurants as much as cooking some seriously tasty and different foods at home. And as you may have read in my previous post, we don’t value an abundance of expensive and often mortgaged living space.

“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe” -Simon Sinek

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Live Out Your Why

We may already know our ‘Why’ but does our job, actions and relationships reflect our why? It probably doesn’t. We tend to make decisions more often based on money when cash may be the last thing we choose in the ‘pile’ of family, love, relationships and happiness.

How to Get Where You’re Going

Obviously, starting with ‘why’ is one of the most important steps you can take. But you do have to actually start. So how do we even start? I talked about ‘intentional budgeting’ here but I’ll give you a couple additional key points in starting your budget today beyond that. I can’t stress enough to take baby steps and concentrate on them. No one wakes up one day successful. No one wakes up and has a complete change in their budget, life and schedule unless outside circumstances dictate it. We are already filled with previous habits so let’s create new ones slowly.

  • Find a way to start visualizing your spending. If you need an excel sheet there are plenty online. If you need a program, check out YNAB, EveryDollar from Dave Ramsey, Mint.com or plain old Excel. Visualize your spending daily if you can. You don’t need to change it, but take note of where your money is going. Even just looking at your bank account or statements at the end of the month or week will give you a better vision of what’s happening to your money.
  • Make a small change in your budget in something you’re already aware of. This could be deciding not to eat out because you’ve become aware of the cost. Or perhaps, being more careful of the ancillary purchases you make that add up to hundreds of dollars at the end of the month. This could include sodas at restaurants, gas station purchases when getting gas, grocery store extras that are not value adding or nutritional.
  • Take a look at your bank statements to see what you’re still spending money on that isn’t being used or adding value. A great example is cable television or subscriptions. Make sure you’re actually going to the gym if you’re paying for it. If not, just drop it. Don’t even think twice. If it’s not being used, lose it. (Beware of contracts, don’t make bad decisions that may cost you later. That means, don’t cancel a subscription if you’ve committed and will be sent to collections)

I hope these few ideas will get your gears rolling in the right direction to make some minor changes that could lead to major changes. It could take years to start ‘living your why’ but it’s worth it. I wouldn’t trade it for a job at the best company in the world.

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CAUTION: Income Not Guaranteed!

24

OCT, 2016

Income Solutions
Self Sufficiency

income not guaranteed

Your Future Income Depends on Your Ability to Appear Employable

Job Loss

Eventually, I’ll do a post on the number of jobs I’ve had over the years. With a rough first count, I’d say I’ve had over 15 different jobs or sources of income, depending on how you categorize it, over the last 12 years. That’s more than a job change every single year. However, it’s very rare that I’ve been laid-off or quit a job outright without first having a better opportunity to transition into. I’ve always felt the need to never burn bridges and to always be thankful for the opportunity to learn, grow and experience different jobs. But there is one thing I learned during this time when I experienced a couple layoffs or unexpected job changes. It’s that your income is not guaranteed. This also means your job that you depend upon now could up and disappear in the morning. I’ve experienced it myself. Now, I’ve been a part of a lot of private companies and some start-ups that may depend on private funding or revenue but that doesn’t mean your public job will last forever either. Don’t let job loss take you by surprise. It’s definitely something to think about before you commit to that 5 year or 30 year loan right?

Hedging Your Risk

Every job you have gives you the opportunity to learn, build relationships and new skills that you’ll take with you no matter what happens. We may spend all of the money we make at each job without putting a significant amount of resources in saving or reducing expenses along the road but no one can take away what you’ve learned and experienced along the way. This is essentially the best way to hedge your risk in preventing the significant impact an unexpected job loss may have on your financial and family situation. By thinking ahead of time about the skills you have, the resources you’ve developed in relationships and knowledge, you can plan ahead for what your next steps would be if and when your current job ends. Every single day we have the ability to create value in ourselves through education and relationships. We build a figurative brick upon our mind each time we invest in ourselves. If we don’t, we tend to become stagnant and then the potential job loss is like jumping into a stagnant, mosquito ridden puddle. Except, that puddle is you. That’s right, you lose your job and then you’re mad that you’re ‘stinky and rancid’ self doesn’t know what to do because you haven’t spent the time to develop yourself, plan for the future or build your brand. If you did spend the time to develop yourself in the public light, you could be one Tweet away from a new job.

The Long Game

I just recently finished the book “Crush It” by Gary V. If you haven’t read this book, get on it. It’s a quick read and it’s entertaining. One of the biggest take aways from this book is that you are your own product. You will sell yourself at your current job, your next job, to your future spouse and to your kids. We sell ourselves every single day in so many ways that it’s really second nature to us. But since we may seldom change jobs, we don’t sell ourselves often enough to our next potential employer. That’s when we cram to prepare for an interview, pay someone to write our resume and hope for the best. But as you’ll read, that’s all going away. Gone are the days that you can just hand someone a nicely organized piece of paper and say ‘hire me.’ Instead, new employers are searching Google to learn more about you. They’re looking for your Facebook and Twitter posts. They’re seeing what pictures your posting and what your friends are like. They are viewing your character in a way that a resume will never display. At this point, isn’t it better for you to control and optimize those search results than to leave the results in the hands of Google? You better believe it is. So how do you do it?

“Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity
than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.”
Proverbs 28:6

You Are Your Own Brand

We can no longer get away with our private life being separate from our public appearance. You can run away from this, or use it to your vantage. Your next tweet will be visible forever.

Build Your Resume

As we’ve seen from the 2016 election, our popularity can be the product of what dirt can be dug up from our online history. Of course we won’t be under the same scrutiny as a presidential candidate but what’s important is that you control your destiny through being quick-to-think, slow to speak and by controlling your public display of information. You are building a brand by putting out Tweets, posting pictures to Facebook and sending images through Snapchat. That brand is out there for people to see, research and reference. That brand is where your future income may come from. As I mentioned, your income is not guaranteed but your brand can help ensure that your income stays somewhat consistent and that you are a valuable commodity in a constantly changing and struggling market. How are you moving your brand, aka yourself, into a better and more visible direction? Send me a message, I’d love to hear about it.

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The Bearded Budget Movement – Grow a Beard. Get on a Budget.

16

SEPT, 2016

Budgeting
Investing
Quitting Your 9-5

ways to save money

The BeardedBudget Family

“Don’t you have to shave for work? I can’t grow a beard, my job won’t let me.”

I know you’re tired of hearing other people tell you what to do, what doesn’t work and how to live your life. I know, because I’m sick and tired of it. It’s driven me to the brink of exhaustion and defeat. I’m tired of the 50-hour work week that gets you nowhere and cares nothing for you. I’m ready for a life beyond the 9-5, beyond constantly being away from my family and relationships, beyond the way the world has taught me to live. We’ve been led to believe we need more money, more time, more of everything when that journey leaves you drained, defeated and devoid of life. It’s time for the Bearded Budget movement.
This blog is about doing what you’ve always wanted to do because you finally have the drive, the means and the ability to do it. If that means starting a business, then get out there, find a way to make it work, and start your business! If that means quitting or changing your soul-draining job and preparing for a more balanced life, then find a way and DO IT! For me, it means working smarter with less, having more fun and building deeper relationships with the people that we love.

This blog creates a clear vision of how life would look if we were not chasers, but doers, not consumers, but creators, not drained but filled. The BeardedBudget life is about connecting yourself to the world around you in a more extraordinary way by making the decisions you’ve always wanted to make, through deeper relationships, more rounded skills and a schedule that doesn’t revolve around the consumer lifestyle. Cash is but one tool in our arsenal of skills, relationships and products. Let’s stop treating it like it’s the only way we relate to the world.

“That’s great, beard man, but how can I get from the mess I’m in now to that glorious lifestyle?”

Listen, I’ll do the heavy lifting and bring the articles, podcasts, interviews, recipes and ideas for success, you focus on taking the baby steps needed to live the BeardedBudget lifestyle. The path to extraordinary living will be bumpy, but I know it’s going to be worth it. Let’s consider our goals:

• Drastically reduce your expenses
• Live off of a smaller percentage of income
• Spend more time with family
• Learn new life skills
• Constantly leave room for self development
• Eat better foods, have healthier bodies, exercise
• Find fun and unique ways to earn more money

Wouldn’t it be worth it? This is the journey I’m on and I can never look back. I’ve seen the light and from here on out, I’ll do whatever it takes to make it work. I’ll never feel like I’m missing my kid growing up. I’ll never look back and wish I’d been closer to my wife so she wouldn’t feel lonely. These priorities in life are much deeper and stronger than any cash I can earn today.

Change Your Family Tree

Our family life has changed drastically over the last year. Some of the circumstances were unexpected and some of it was a product of self-pursuance. Either way, we’ve grown to cherish the priorities we’ve made prominent over the last year and I want to share that process and strategy with you. We’ve always been frugal and lived well within our means. However, now we have a vision to live on less and to continue to challenge our spending, learning, reading, earnings and to develop new skills so we can enjoy the abundant God-given gifts of this life.
We’ve all heard it said before: my priorities are God, Family, Work. But what do those priorities actually look like when they’re actually lived out each day? Does it mean spend 50 hours at work during the week, come home and kiss the wife, put the kids to bed and say a prayer? I think that is the exact opposite of those priorities.

“When your actions in life do not reflect your vision and priorities, you need to change your actions before your true priorities disappear.””

I want to cast the BeardedBudget vision not because everyone needs a beard or a budget but because doing what is mainstream leads to the same stuck lifestyle that the world has been pitching to us for centuries and it’s failing our families and our lives. You know the lifestyle that I’m referring to, it’s the one that attempts to keep up with the Jones’s, that needs a bump in salary every year, that needs to pay for higher education for their kids because the public school system stinks. What if we were instead empowered and invigorated because we had the extra time to spend teaching our kids valuable life lessons, skills and knowledge? These typical, mainstream worldly ideas that are shutting us down are kindled by our high consumer lifestyle. Think about what we’ve created: Fast food so you can work more. Daycare, so you can work more. Coffee shops on every corner, so you can work more! (Don’t get me wrong, I’m a coffee addict but we don’t need it on every corner.) The time to truly live the life God has called you to live is now!

“When your actions in life do not reflect your vision and priorities, you need to change your actions before your true priorities disappear.””

Stop Listening to the World

We can’t keep implementing how the world has taught us to live and expect better and better results. Make a commitment today to stop the cycle and live life abundantly.

The Journey

We’re going to go on a journey that will challenge your thinking in almost every area of life. As BB followers, we’re going to go through how we can make major changes over time to our attitude and our schedules to accommodate the priorities we truly feel are important. In addition, we’ll talk strategies on how we can escape from Corporate America and build the freedom that we were originally created to experience. This is a big challenge and for some of us, we have a long way to go. But keep these goals in mind, that here at Bearded Budget we’re going to envision a more fulfilling life and we’re going to take the steps to get there every single day. I’ll see you on the other side.

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Inverse Investing – Seven Easy Ways to Save Money

26

AUG, 2016

Budgeting
Investing
Quitting Your 9-5

ways to save money

Investing In Yourself Will Yield More Revealing and Immediate Results

It’s Your Future

Financial Advisers will talk a lot about how we can all do better about investing for our future. “Invest for retirement.” “Find the right mutual funds.” On and on. That’s important, I agree. But what advisers should talk more about is the idea of ‘inverse investing’ or more directly said: different ways to save money. Part of our cultural issues stem directly from our spending habits. The banks and institutions have setup countless products that allow consumers to get into debt for any reason or for no reason. Consumers can actually pay off credit cards with credit cards. But what if we could invest in our lives in an way that provides immediate and constant returns?

The Ebbs and Flows

Nearly everyone goes through times in their life where finances are tense and we start looking for ways to save money. Perhaps cash isn’t coming in as quickly. Maybe a family member was laid off or their hours were reduced. An accident or disability could just as easily cause a family to lose a significant portion of income or savings. If any of this happens, what do we often do? We tighten our belt, reduce our expenses, stop eating out as much, etc. But once the money flows again, we let loose and catch back up to the high-consumer life. Ahh, feels good to be back on top right? Maybe for a while, but it’s a cycle and it will happen again. You’ll look back and wonder how nothing has changed. Let’s take some time to think about how we can divert this problem.

Inverted Thinking

I’ve heard the question quite a bit when someone has a nice chunk of money that they’d like to invest. They don’t want to lose the investment, but they want X% return within a certain time frame. Yeah, they could dabble in the stock market and watch their money grow at a snails pace. But I love the idea of Inverse Investing in that we invest in the things that give us an immediate return by saving us money over time. Think of it this way: everything is going well, money is flowing in, Starbucks cups are piling up in our trash can. When trouble hits the fan, perhaps Starbucks is the last thing we want to cut out? What if we instead invested in making our own great coffee at home or work? Coffee isn’t rocket science. If instead, we put the $5 a day toward a nice coffee maker and invested in our knowledge of how to make that frappe or delicious latte we could save at least $5 a day and we’d be proud of ourselves for learning a new skill. I did this exact thing since I loved drinking latte’s every day. Instead, I bought an AeroPress from Amazon and a milk frother to start making my own latte’s at work. Think about that. Less than $50 of product used daily could save me over $1500 a year. Do you know how much money you need invested at say a modest 7% return to make $1500 in a year? Roughly $21,000. Saving money daily on a habit like coffee is just a starting point. Think about where else you can invert your thinking to invest in ways to save money and also enrich your life in the long run. Check out a small list of examples below.

Investing in your future through knowledge and skills will pay more dividends than the stock market ever could

&

Your Future Depends on What You Change Today

Every single day you have the opportunity to invest in your own life through skills, knowledge and relationships. Don’t let a day slip by that you haven’t asked yourself about how, who and what you’re investing in.

Inverse Investing

Cooking Utensils – Learn more about cooking at home and save money from eating out
Car Wash Kit – Wash your own car and enjoy the fresh air outside, maybe get a tan if you’re as white as I am
Spice Cabinet – Invest in spices that make your home-cooked food taste delicious
Water Dispenser – Fits 5 Gallon jugs, saves you from constantly buying those small bottled waters and you can also get a little exercising filling and carrying them home. (It also doubles as an environment saver by reducing plastic garbage)
Recycled Toys – If you have kids, check the second hand stores or people who have older kids and see if they have extra toys they aren’t using. Our son will literally play in a box from Costco instead of some brand new toy we bought him.
Home Exercise – Save on gym memberships by finding ways to exercise at home. Borrow DVDs from friends, use YouTube. Run to a local park and bring the kiddos! Or lift the kiddos, man they get heavier by the day.
Movies – Did you know your local library may have a lot of newly released movies for rent for free? Yeah. Check it out.

There are a lot of little ways to save a dollar here and there. If you save a dollar a day in 10 different ways you’d be saving $300 a month. That’s $3,600 a year and you’re better off because of it.

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If Cash is King, Trade is Queen – How to Trade For What You Want

08

AUG, 2016

Budgeting
Investing
Quitting Your 9-5

how to trade

Trade Can Involve Skills, Products or Even Time

What is Cash?

Since the beginning of civilization there has been an abundance of unique ways that people have exchanged goods or services. Of course, this originally can be boiled down to the example of a wheat farmer and a cow rancher. We could go further back but let’s talk about that. You’re a farmer, growing wheat and it’s time for harvest. The problem is, you can only eat so much bread, crackers and tortillas before you’re ready for a glass of milk. But you have no cows. Your neighbor has cows and he’s grubbing on butter and cream and milk. You then think, I bet that rancher would give me a gallon of milk in exchange for a loaf of bread. Bingo! A local currency has now been establish. One loaf of bread now equals one gallon of milk. The problem with this is when another farmer moves in and starts selling a different product; say goats milk. Well, the wheat farmer decides he likes the goats milk better, the goat rancher wants cows milk, and the cow rancher still wants some bread, so neither of them can trade directly for what they desire. We are at somewhat of an impasse. This is an oversimplification of where fiat currency comes into play to provide for the means of exchange.

Fiat Currency and Trade

Cold hard cash has become a means of exchange because not all of us can trade directly with each other. We’ve instead created fiat currency, or a product with declared value, that allows all of us to value our goods or services to one generally acceptable item of trade. Of course, this is a solution to the problem above but it also causes other problems. Like the Dollar, the item has no intrinsic value beyond the paper it’s printed on and is only valued through the declaration of the issuing party; in this case the US government, and may lose value over time depending on the carefully managed supply and demand. Ok, so what are we getting at. How does this matter to my budget?

The Value of Time, Products, and Services

The point is, you don’t always need cash to get the product or service that you want. All of us have products, services or time to distribute and there are people out there who are willing to trade us for it. Your very job or career is the agreement that your time, work or knowledge is worthy of trade for a pre-determined number of dollars. The problem is, work typically ‘caps’ us on our earning potential based on the number of hours we work during the week. This is different if you produce a product and can increase your production or sales through different means, but let’s say we can’t and our only income is based on a standard work week. Money is tight but at the end of the week or workday, you still have some time to spare. Does the value you provide to your work end the moment you walk out the door? I hope not. Perhaps you can provide that same value to your community, friends or family in trade for other products and services.

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

-Luke 12:6-7

Z

Trading Can Also Help Develop Your Self Worth

Trading can not only make parts of your life easier, it will also improve your skills and abilities and increase your self worth.

You Are Valued

Budgeting isn’t just about putting numbers on a piece of paper and making sure it all ads up. Budgeting is a way of life where we can be frugal, understand our worth and use the resources we have available to us to balance our life because we know that we have value and we deserve to be better than just another line item in the largest banks balance sheet or credit card companies. We put money toward that which we value. If we want something, we can use our skills and knowledge to increase our income so we can save and/or trade for that which we seek. Look around and evaluate what you can provide and who needs your service. Do you do art? Hair? Web design? Cleaning? I bet there’s more you can trade with someone else than you think. Maybe someone else knows how to clean and service a pool and you know how to nurture a lawn and garden. You can save money by trading with friends and your community who already professionally do the work you desire. It also gives you a new perspective on what trade is and what trading your hours and services are really worth. When I worked for an hourly wage and I wanted to make a large purchase, I’d ask myself: “Is this purchase worth 40 hours of work?” Would I trade hours of my life for this? Put that into perspective when you’re making new purchases and you’ll think differently about the trades you’re making, the value of products, and your budget.

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