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OT Budgeting

Hey all
Can anyone recommend a book or a website where I can learn about couples and budgeting?

I know it sounds a little pathetic, but I don't know where to begin. Neither of us has ever been great with cash, and we have a baby on the way, so needless to say we need to get our act together!


Mon. Jan 21, 9:31pm

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Anything by Suze Orman - her books are solid, and she's got several out for different life situations (her most recent one is for women specifically). She has a televised radio show on either CNBC or MSNBC - check her out there before you pick up one of her books to get a feel for her advice and style.

Monday, January 21, 2008, 9:54 PM

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Does OT mean "on track"? Just curious.

Monday, January 21, 2008, 11:06 PM

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I like Jean Chatzky, too. I got her book for 20-Somethings - this was 10+ years ago = and I found it so helpful for us. Congrats on the baby and good luck! And good for you for wanting to get your finances together. It creates a great peace of mind :)

Monday, January 21, 2008, 11:07 PM

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OT - off topic

Monday, January 21, 2008, 11:10 PM

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I'm sure most books will back me up, but the best place to start is to do the same thing you are doing here on PT - log. This is really hard for a lot of folks - but you can't make a plan without it.

Download all your credit and debit transactions onto your computer. Categorize them and figure out where your money is going. Then figure out where you need to be more disciplined. If you spend cash - keep the receipt if possible. Reconcile once a week. This is pretty easy if you have something like Quicken or MSN money since many banks offer online access and downloads in compatible formats - ie: you bring up the program, download your tracsactions and the info goes into the right columns. Guys particularly dig this because you can easily create graphs and charts and they both love the gadget factor and the visual factor. Personally I use a good old-fashioned spreadsheet. Like diets - use whatever tools work best for you, but consistency yields the best results no matter what tools you use.

Once you know where your money is going, then you can decide what you want to keep doing and what you can be more disciplined about. Just like dieting, don't cut out all the 'bad' stuff - leave yourself a little 'mad money' for coffee runs, trashy magazines etc, but be smart about it and know how much of that you can afford.

Start by noting what you make and when you get paid. Then look at what you spend. Your spending will divide itself into 2 general catogories: 1. Fixed expenses (rent, car payments, credit card minimums, student loans, etc) - stuff that isn't going to change anytime soon. These will likely be your big ones. 2. Discrectionary expenses - this is all the stuff you spend on, but where you have room for immediate savings (groceries, coffee runs, clothes, eating out, etc). You probably won't be able to save as much on these as you could by getting rid of a fixed expense, but if you can move enough money from this category into paying off something from the fixed category - you can free up a whole lotta $$$.

The great thing is that once you get a handle on your finances you can do more than just react - you can start to predict your own behavior. Once you can do that you can start really planning for the future - investing, IRA's, college plans, home improvements, ect and know with certainty where you will be financially best and worst case scenarios. For example, what if one of you loses your job - do you have savings? How many months could you make it? Could you even answer that question right now? I can - we could make it 6 months with our current spending patterns, 9 if we tighten our belts. I like knowing that.

Best place to start though - write stuff down. Best wishes!

Monday, January 21, 2008, 11:25 PM

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There's an online course here--it's got some references to tithing and stuff but if that won't bother you, the budgeting information is simple and clear:



Link

Tuesday, January 22, 2008, 1:08 AM

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I bought my husband a book for christmas called Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. He finished it in 3 days and is making me read it now. It is a total commitment but it is awesome. It has budgets and everything in the book. Tons of success stories and things like that. It is a very solid plan and written in plain english with nothing hard to understand. It is all the basic principals that everyone already knows about saving money it just gives you a plan of action and a place to start. I'll keep you updated as we reduce our debt!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008, 1:45 PM

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I use to be bad with money, but decided to pay myself 10% no matter what, first thing. That changed everything for me, once the money in account gets to $1000 I invest it, I have saved over 100k.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008, 2:04 PM

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One thing I have done to keep within a budget (once you have one!) is to use cash to pay for things. I had envelopes for the month labeled groceries, house stuff (shampoo, toilet paper, etc.), and personal. That way once you're out of money, you're just out. Sometimes it meant I saw something I really liked and wanted, but had to wait until next month. And it's a lot harder to shell out cash for stuff than to put it on a card. People laughed at me, but those were usually the people who were panicked at the end of the month because they had no money!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008, 2:17 PM

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I do the envelope thing too!! I budget out my money for gas, groceries, spending $, etc. and stick it in an envelope. once its gone - its gone. makes me think about things before I buy!!
my other suggestion is to check the oprah web site for the "debt diet". there is some very useful info there!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008, 3:45 PM

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Dave Ramsey, I have been debt free by following his principles for two years now and the budgeting is great.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008, 5:51 PM

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Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace is the best. it is straight talk and you can understand everything. You can check on the internet and find out if he is on the radio in your area. Debt free is the way to go. Good luck you can do it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008, 7:05 PM

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OP Here

I wanted to thank everyone for the fantastic advice. I haven't bought any books yet, but I have been carefully collecting all receipts whenever I spend money. Having things spelled out so clearly has been eye opening, in terms of where my money is going.

I have also paid myself first.

Thanks so much!

Sunday, February 03, 2008, 11:51 AM

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Look at the library for the books - save yourself a few bucks.

Sunday, February 03, 2008, 11:54 AM

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we should have money here at peertrainer, a money group to help us all get our finances together.

Sunday, February 03, 2008, 8:08 PM

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