There are two things I’ve found through coaching people with their personal finances that keeps people from success, or even making progress, frankly. One I can help, and the other I can’t. The biggest one by far is the one I can’t help people with, though I’ve learned that the hard way -- marriage issues. You would think that if someone is willing to pay me to sit down with them to help solve their money woes that they could keep from blaming and bickering for one hour. But what I’ve seen happen between couples ranges from disheartening to appalling. Thankfully I’ve gotten better at recognizing the signs sooner, and now I just refer them to a marriage counselor before I get dragged in too deep. But it still saddens me greatly. Luckily, the OTHER thing is something I’ve gotten very good at helping people with, and that is the dreaded B word……budgeting. I’ve been leading FPU classes for over 10 years now and the one thing that stands out from watching those who succeed financially and those who don’t is this: those who live on a budget succeed at drastically improving their lives, and those who don’t, don’t. And again, the reasons for not doing it often go back to things like marriage problems, or at least one spouse who is willing to change and one who isn’t, or who does so kicking and screaming the whole way. But I’ve also found that a large number of folks just can’t get over that initial hump of creating a budget that can be reproduced and adjusted to each month, that includes all the necessary elements. I’ve looked at dozens of budget templates online, spreadsheets, programs etc. and continue to do so to see if any actually ARE better than mine (OK, in my humble opinion, but hey…). In fact, when I first became a Ramseyite, I spent many months trying different software programs to find the one that would work for us. But none of them were conducive to that “every month different” philosophy which is so important (because it reflects REAL life). So that’s when I buckled down and made a spreadsheet that we could easily change each month, and that allowed us to easily track, and review, our expenses in each category as the month progressed. I just finished checking out a bunch more free budget templates that someone else (who shall remain nameless) just posted, and still found all of them sorely lacking in some way. Primarily they fail to provide a way to tally up individual expenses over time in a category, and would cause you to have to get out your calculator every time you update your spending. (So what’s the point of the spreadsheet then?) The few exceptions did so in such a clumsy way that you couldn’t easily go back and just look at what you had spent in, say, entertainment that month, with notes about what, where, and when you spent. So the point of all this is…..I now provide a customized budget spreadsheet for my clients, as an integral part of my financial coaching services. But not everybody needs in-depth coaching. Some people just need a tactical boost to get started. Maybe that’s you. If so, let me know. I can just sell you a customized template for much less than a full coaching session costs.
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