Updated: May 14
"You can be as romantic as you please about love. But you mustn’t be romantic about money." - George Bernard Shaw
Are you happy with how your finances are organized? What about how you are spending, saving, and giving?
Personally, even when I only earned .50 an hour as a babysitter from my first full-time summer job when I was just 12 years old, I have always liked figuring out what I could do with the money I earned, and pondering how I could learn more about using it best. And of course, being me, I was always looking for good ways to organize my money!
My money-organizing method way back then? I stuffed all my babysitting quarters in a little brown purse that measured about 5x7 inches until it nearly burst at the seams. (That's a lot of babysitting!) And then, I was taken to the bank to open an account and instructed how to deposit all those quarters and use a checkbook. My financial education had truly begun, and because life evolves, and I love to learn, I've made sure my financial education has never stopped.
Fast forward many years and one thing I firmly believe is that we all need a system that works for us to keep track of our finances, and that works for the life stage we are in now. I think we also need to develop a personal philosophy of money as well so that we are spending, saving, and giving within our personal values, and those are different for everyone, of course.
How we organize and manage our personal finances and other resources below for you:
Everyone is different, and our money methods have varied over all the years we have been married, (39!), and with the advent of technology, but we always have a system. And we use our system as a "map" to live within our current means so we can save, invest, avoid as much debt as possible, and give from our hearts too while on our earthly "money journey."
My husband Steve likes spreadsheets and financial statements and sets ours up and monitors them closely. Um, scratch that. He thinks spreadsheets are "art!" I like a pencil and calculator and notebooks, so I am in charge of creatively planning our overall household and life expenditures and purchases and watching for sales etc. to stay within our spending budget. And I'm the one who hits the Amazon BUY NOW button most of the time. (Planned out, though.) And he's a master in-the-grocery-store shopper while I order some foods online, for a couple examples. (No pun intended!)
BTW, I think art is art ... as in "Picasso and Monet!" So I doodle my budget-planning on floral paper with colored pens and I think a tiny calculator from the Dollar Store is the best money tool God invented! Anyway, we always discuss our financial plans together, but my hubs actually "runs the numbers." (Those spreadsheets again! I so detest using those things, but I value them.) I'm a super fast reader and good researcher though, so I read a lot of practical financial books and articles and give my hubs oral summarized reports. He doesn't have time to do that with his structured-hours career and long commute, so he appreciates me doing that as I have more flex time, and doing so saves him time.
In summary, we divvy up the money "tasks" according to our personal skill strengths and work styles.
Our money management m.o. might not work for you, but surely something will so ...
These are some of my favorite resources and books for finances:
Even Jesus Needed Money by Rev. Dennis R. Maynard
My favorite money book, by far, and if I could only buy one money book, it would be this one. I personally LOVE this book because of the Christian mindset/theology behind it that ultimately "God owns it all, not us" and to work hard, live under your means, give, and plan and save ahead rather than debt. The money stories from the author's 40-some-years as a minister in churches around the U.S. made me laugh and cry. I've read this money book twice, and it really touched me like no other. His chapter on frugality and thrift being described as sometimes close to greed sure got me thinking because apparently my tendency to be a "Dollarwise Duchess" might actually be the plain ol' self-righteous sin of greed. Oops! Another sin, Lord please give me grace! Seriously, my husband and I were blessed to meet Rev. Maynard personally when he was the minister at a church we attended in California years ago. He is a learned and highly accomplished Episcopal priest, a consultant to churches around the U.S., and he has also written several Christian fiction books read and loved by Episcopalians everywhere. (His Magnolia books.) I was blessed that he wrote a nice testimonial about my Doorways to Grace eBook. Free to download.
The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley
The classic book about living under your means as a way to lifestyle freedom, rather than being a slave to debt and trying to keep up with the Jones', who um, look like they aren't doing so hot anymore, by the way. I like this book as to me, it's good old fashioned common sense.
Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robbins
I read this book years and years ago due to my preferred penchant for living simply, so I'm always reading on the topic. She has a new edition out, but personally I like the first edition more which is basically about living simply and adjusting your spending around your particular values and asking yourself continually, "How much is enough?"
I Will Teach You to be Rich by Ramit Sethi
As I was learning to consider automating finances due to technology, (Lord help me with apps!), I liked his original book because automation is a big part of what he writes about in it. He has a new book out now but personally, I like the first one best. Don't expect him to babysit you with your money. (He writes to a young target audience overall and says things like: "Listen up cry-babies!"). I like his overall premise that you will improve your finances or even "get rich" if you're organized enough to automate to save and invest.
The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach
Times have changed since I kept our newlywed budget in a 3x5 floral-cover notebook in 1980, to put it mildly, and this book will help you if you're a Boomer wanting to automate your finances to get up with the times. Or if you're younger, it'll still help you! I really like all David Bach's money books that I've read to date even if they are a bit repetitious. (How many lattes can you not buy, anyway?!) :) Kidding; his books have helped many and I like them. He helps you set up a finances paperwork system in a couple of them too, which is good!
Orchids on Your Budget by Marjorie Hillis
I have no memory of how I actually came upon this little vintage money book but I absolutely love it. Written in the 1930s by a single working gal in New York City during the Great Depression, it's filled with witty tips and humor which some are, of course, dated by now, but one thing that is still not dated is her advice that it's our job to figure out how to live under our means, save, and have a good time doing so. (i.e. Figure out how to splurge for orchids even on a small budget. Or if you prefer, Bubbly on Your Budget.) Her stories are really charming and fun, especially her tips about frugal fashion. (Even if we ladies don't wear white gloves anymore!) I also love one of her stories about a lady whose job change suddenly cut her salary drastically and how she creatively (and honestly) dealt with it.
How to Make Your Money Last by Jane Bryant Quinn
I enjoy Jane Bryant's many money books because she has a journalist's research mind and attention to detail and excels at financial writing, in my opinion. She's been around the financial realm a long time, so she's experienced. If you're planning your retirement strategies, no matter what your age, I think this book is a good resource to get you thinking. Prepare to read lots of heavy-duty topics, but she summarizes and distills it so about anyone can understand it. Although I read the first edition from 2017, I plan to buy her updated version when it comes out and read it with my husband. (Yeah, I know, I'm a really fun date!)
Invested: Changing Forever the Way American Invests by Charles Schwab
This book is on pre-order and since I'm a Schwab client, I plan to buy it. So it's not a favorite book of mine yet, but it looks interesting enough to me that I want to buy it.
Living Rich for Less by Ellie Kay
I read this book years ago and liked its Christian slant, humor, and how as a military wife on a tight budget she still managed to give and save.
Financially Chic by Fiona Ferris
A small self-published book that's big on the common-sense dictates of work hard, be super-frugal, pay off debt early, and be self-disciplined enough to save -- all the while enjoying life in your own way to become "financially chic." I think this is a good book for young couples to read together. It's a charmingly enjoyable read, too.
The Old Money Book by Bryan Tully
I like this self-published book because once again, it's the "old-fashioned" principles of save before you spend, invest in your education, be wary of debt, and oh by the way: have manners while you're at it! Written by an "Old Money Guy" with a dry wit and old-money ancestors who wisely taught him these principles, plus an "Old Money Wife" who shares his money-moxie m.o., it's a fun common-sense-style read. I like his Old Money New Woman book too, (especially the classy cover), but not as much as his original Old Money book.
Living the Savvy Life by Melissa Tosetti
A great little book about living a balanced life around money in a way that works for you and brings you happiness in your chosen lifestyle. An enjoyable, and smart, read.
The Dollar Stretcher by Gary Foreman
Not a book, but a big blog written for a long time by a Boomer financial planner. Lots of down-to-earth articles, by many authors, on every money topic imaginable.
I've read many more money books, articles, and blogs over the years, but these are the ones I've liked the most and applied in various ways to my/our own finances.
Need financial forms to help you out? I'm big on forms! Crown Financial Ministries, a Christian-based ministry, has a great set of worksheets and a great website of resources too. I personally think their various budget/finance forms are about the best you can find for simplicity and clarity.
If you need help with decorating and organizing your home on a dollarwise budget or setting up an easy home filing system that will help you keep track of all your financial-related papers too, my eBooks can help you.
May financial blessings, faith, and self-discipline be yours.
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