I’m Co-Leading a Financial Peace University Class this September!

Hello hello!

I’m pretty excited to share that in September, I will be co-leading a Financial Peace University class at our church! For those who don’t know, FPU is a 9-week class created by Ramsey Solutions. They designed it to help people pay off their debt, build wealth, become financially independent and be unbelievably generous.

A lot of the writing on this blog revolves around pursuing passion in a responsible way. Master the Simple to Become the Expert. That’s partly why I’m so excited about this class — I have passion for this.

Shortly after Bailey and I got married, we took Financial Peace University online and learned a lot about finances, budgeting, retirement, insurances, real estate, and mortgages. I’ve also listened to well over 100 hours of the Dave Ramsey Podcast. So I’m very familiar with the organization and the financial principles they teach.

To anyone who has read my book or followed this blog, it’s no surprise that I like Dave Ramsey and the resources his team has built to help people.

Here’s why I like Financial Peace University and why you should take the class.

1. It aligns with my beliefs

What FPU teaches it biblically based. Stewardship is a significant theme in the Bible and Ramsey’s program focuses on that as a goal.

What God calls us to do with our finances is to be stewards of the money He has given us to manage. Just take the parable of the talents. In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus calls people to be wise with what God has given them.

Plus, the Bible clearly states in Proverbs 22:7 that “the borrower is the slave of the lender.”

2. It’s not a Get-rich-quick scheme

What Ramsey teaches is not a get-rich-quick scheme — he literally says it’s slow and steady that wins the race. He teaches that becoming wealthy comes from consistent saving and investment through intentional decision making.

This means taking responsibility for personal choices. No one can make your money behave but you.

3. It focuses on generosity

Something I love about the Ramsey plan is that it doesn’t focus on becoming filthy rich for the sake of having money. FPU focuses on creating flexibility in your life while being unbelievably generous.

Generosity is one way how we show God that we trust in his provision for our lives. And with wealth and no debt, you can do a lot of good through giving to others.

Live like no one else so that later you can live and give like no one else.

Dave Ramsey, Financial Peace Univeristy

4. It creates hope

One of the most inspiring parts of Dave Ramsey’s show is the “Debt Free Screams.” In these, normal people come into the headquarters and tell Dave about their story and how they worked their ways out of debt. In the last 17 years, people who have done the screams have paid off a combined half of a billion dollars. That’s just the people who have told Dave about it in studio. That’s inspiring and hopeful.

And that’s why I’m excited to help teach this class.

If you live near Columbus, Ohio, consider joining our class. I would absolutely LOVE to see you there!

Plus, if you use this link to sign up, you’ll get $20 off your registration!

If you have any questions, let me know in the comments or you can email me at cbtiger1@gmail.com!

How to Reduce Stress with an Emergency Fund

Here at Master the Simple, my goal is to help you become an expert of the small stuff so that the big stuff actually becomes manageable. Finances are somewhat of a bedrock for much of life. It’s not everything, but becoming proficient in finances will diminish plenty of unnecessary stress in the future. One way to start reducing stress financially is by creating an emergency fund!

In some research conducted in 2017 by Career Builder, 78% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. Can you even believe that? That means well over the majority of Americans couldn’t cover an unexpected financial crisis if necessary!

An emergency fund will help diminish this problem (Grab my book Graduated and Clueless for a whole chapter on it).

Let’s get an emergency fund definition

But first, if you’ve known me very long, you should already expect a Dave Ramsey quote when I’m talking finances. So here is the definition of an emergency fund straight from him.

The emergency fund is your protection against life’s unexpected events, and you are going to have a lot of them through your lifetime. They’re not really “unexpected” if you think about it. You know they’re coming; you just don’t know when, what, or how much. But you can still be ready.

-Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide to Money (p. 11)

Predictability is the key when determining if something qualifies as an emergency. This is not for impulse purchases! Otherwise, our emergency fund might vanish while my collection of drones turns into a fleet.

No, your emergency fund is for things you know will happen — you just don’t know when. Like a car dying. Or a surprise visit to the emergency room! If it’s a predictable cost, plan for it but don’t use your emergency fund for it.

make some space between you and a tragedy

people holding empty piggy bank with no emergency fund

Based on the previous statistic, you’re pretty likely to be one of those Americans living paycheck to paycheck, which means you probably couldn’t cover a large emergency if you had to. By the Ramsey recommendation, pulling together a small emergency fund of even just $1000 will give you a bit of breathing room while you pay off debt.

After becoming debt free, however, the goal is to figure out what your absolute necessary costs are every month and save a 3-6 month emergency fund to cover those costs in the event of the loss of a job or another personal tragedy.

$1000? How am I supposed to get that together? I can barely pay for my weekly chocolate milk from the grocery store!”

First of all, I feel for you. I am in love with chocolate milk. But it’s not absolutely necessary (ok, debatable) and that’s an extra $2.99 you can put toward your savings every week. Find places in your budget you can cut spending (Don’t have a budget? Check out my blog post on why you need one!). Start by packing lunch for work tomorrow.

We all have things we don’t need. Sell them. Sell anything you can to save that $1000! Find another job if you have to as well. Anything to get some space between you and an emergency. Here’s a great article about ways to save an emergency fund.

Do you have an emergency fund and have you ever had to use it?

I want to hear from you in the comments! As always, if you found value in this post, give it a like and give me a follow!

-Caleb

Thanks to Kaboompics .com from Pexels for the use of their photo!

Four Ways a Budget Will Make Your Life More Fulfilling

“Do you have a budget?” I asked. My friend smiled slightly and answered, “Kinda…I mean, I pay my bills every month so I use that as a way for me to see where my money is going at least.”

I suspect this is the way many people answer this question. But this isn’t budgeting. Budgeting is by far the most important piece of your finances. It is the tool that will control your impulsiveness (did someone say Black Friday?) and give you freedom in the end! Trust me, I know this from experience.

A “benchmark” by Dictionary.com’s definition is

any standard or reference by which others can be measured or judged

An example of this is a benchmark software that is used to compare the computing power of two completely different laptops. Since the software sets a standard, both computers can be equally compared.

A budget is essentially the benchmark for your finances.

It is where your finances can be measured month after month so you can compare normal behavior with where you want to be.

Well known leadership guru, John C. Maxwell, says this about budgets:

A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.

That’s what we want – a way of telling our money where it goes. A plan. And it doesn’t who you are or how much money you make, you need a plan for your money. 

So what exactly are the four ways a budget will help your life feel more fulfilling?

1. A budget will show you exactly where your money is going

When you make a budget, you will get to see exactly where your money is going. Start by going through your bank or credit card statements. List them out in categories like giving, housing, transportation, food, entertainment, insurance and debt. What categories are the largest? What are you most surprised about when you look at your spending?

A coworker of mine recently told me that his bank app broke down his spending so he could see it. You know what he found? He was spending upwards of $300 alone on restaurants per month! What! 

Fulfilling Way #1: Awareness

2. A budget will help you design a plan to pay off student loans (or other loans)

Since you now have a benchmark for your finances, you can use it to determine a plan to pay off your loans more quickly. If you were my friend in the previous section, I suspect you could drastically reduce spending in the restaurant category. Think about it. You could knock down the amount on your student loans (or maybe a mortgage) by over $3000 extra per year if you dedicated yourself to a plan. That adds up quick. Especially in interest saved.

Fulfilling Way #2: Freedom

3. A budget will help you set up a plan for saving 

You know how you’ve been telling yourself you can start saving when you receive the next paycheck? Well, this will make you do it! Savings fall into a few categories. One is saving an emergency fund, another is saving for general expenses (college, a car, a home) and the last is saving for retirement. If you don’t have a plan for saving already, make it happen. Get an emergency fund. Start saving for a house. Get involved in the 401(k) program at work.

In his book Profit First, Mike Michalowicz outlines his business plan where he says you must pay yourself first from revenue. That ensures you get paid and then you must figure out the rest of the expenses accordingly to fit with the rest of the revenue. I think this is how your budget must be. Savings is important. If you have trouble saving, have it automatically withdrawn from your paycheck or account into another account (like your 401(k)). Then you make the rest of your personal revenue work for the rest of your expenses. Don’t have enough? Cut something. Like restaurants 😀

On another note, I’m a Christian so my first thing I do is withdraw for giving. But savings is second and it’s taken straight out of my paycheck and put in another account.

Fulfilling Way #3: Security

4. A budget gives you a plan for giving

What do you value around you that needs financial support? Church? A nonprofit you believe in? A budget allows you to put your money where your mouth is!

As a Christian, I greatly value the work of my local church. So Bailey and I give regularly as a way to help them with the finances they need and as an act of faith on our part. Having a budget lets us know how much we can sacrifice. It’s not about giving what’s left over at the end of the month (that you didn’t use on restaurants). It’s about giving first and knowing how much we can put into other categories.

Fulfilling Way #4: Sacrifice

Side note: A budget will give you the freedom you didn’t think you had

I like to spend money but I also like to focus my saving. I can honestly say I would feel bad eating out at Chipotle if we didn’t already have a set amount of money we agreed at the beginning of the month would be for eating out. (Why all the restaurant examples? I love food. It’s as simple as that.)

People think that having a budget will take away the freedom they had before they had a budget. I am here to tell you that isn’t true! You didn’t have freedom before. It just appeared like freedom because you weren’t focused with your finances or were going into consumer debt.

Budgeting isn’t hard! It just takes some time. Don’t get frustrated with it. Just set up a general budget, track your purchases and income, then refine it the next month. It will work the kinks out if you are focused. Stay disciplined and it will work. I guarantee it!

What should I use to budget?

I personally like budgeting apps. I think they’re convenient. A few that are great possibilities are Everydollar, YNAB, and Mint. They all are available as apps for your phone but they also provide the convenience of being able to be used on your computer browser as well. Personally, I use Everydollar and have loved it.

You wanna Become the Expert? Master the Simple and a budget definitely qualifies as part of the Simple. And the essential.

How do you keep track of your money? Do you budget and does it work for you? I want to hear from you in the comments!

-Caleb

I wrote a lot more about finances in my book Graduated and Clueless. Check it out here!