7 Smart Ways to Save Money On A Wedding

My wife has been a professional wedding photographer for 25 years. And through the years she has worked to help couples discover their priorities and smart ways to save on a wedding.

She has seen couples spend a lot of money on their wedding. I’m talking about brides spending up to $25,000 on a wedding dress, Grooms fly to Italy for a custom tailored tux, as well as couples spending $20,000 or more on floral decorations.

Admittedly, some couples have well-off families and can splurge. But I feel that too many couples are throwing lavish weddings to keep up with the Jones’.

How much do weddings cost?

The Knot conducts a “Real Weddings Study” every year. In 2018, they surveyed over 14,000 wedding couples who were married the previous year. What they found was that the national average cost of a wedding (excluding honeymoon expenses) was $33,391.

7 smart ways to save money on a wedding

Of course, these are national averages and are grossly deflated here in New England. Here area averages by states in the northeast.

7 Ways to Save Money on Your Wedding

Boston: $44,028
Cape Cod, MA: $58,608
Rhode Island: $52,608
New York City: $78,464
New Jersey: $62,606

Source: TheKnot

Before you say, “I do”, let’s get some ideas as to how much a wedding actually costs, and discover some ways to save money on your wedding.

A friend and client of mine was adamant on spending just $10,000 on her wedding. It was her second wedding and she wanted to do this smart. With help of friends, she was able to meet her goal and be happy about it. So it is possible.

You can have anything you want in this world: a beautiful house, lovely family, even a dream wedding. But also strive for the “happily ever after” ending, and you can only achieve that with a well-defined budget and finding smart ways to save money on a wedding.

Here are 7 smart ways to save money on a wedding.

1. Prioritize Two or Three Vendors

We all want the fairy tale wedding: the ravishing dress, beautiful flowers, and a gorgeous venue with a view. But that wedding can be expensive.

Dana, a recent bride, reports that her wedding cost her $100,000 to throw.

“It was the wedding of my dreams, and I have expensive taste… The dress of my dream was $8,000, and I spent close to $20,000 on flowers for decoration.” –Dana, 32

Learning to prioritize where to spend your wedding dollars will not only keep the costs down, it’ll also give you a better chance at a “happily ever after” ending.

After all, money is one of the leading causes of divorce. So find smart ways to save money on a wedding.

To help with this discussion, I invited Susie Martin (my wife), Founder & CEO of Wedding Couture by Netmartin. I asked Susie what her clients do to prioritize to keep within their budget.

Here’s what she had to say:

“Planning a wedding can be overwhelming. Part of my job is to teach couples how to dream about their ideal wedding, within reason. Our first meeting is designed to see where their priorities lie. For some couples that could be their photographer. For others, it might be entertainment or floral decorations.”

She goes on to explain that most people have a budget. Whether it’s realistic or not is something else. And she’s right, we live in New England and things are more expensive here than the national average.

However, money limitations are real. In order to see if people should spend their wedding money on her, Susie gives people permission to splurge (within reason) on one or two vendors.

This allows people to wisely invest their money where it matters most and trim expenses everywhere else.

2. Keep the Head Count Down

It can be stressful planning a wedding when you have a huge family. If you don’t learn how to keep the wedding small, you’ll end up (like me) having 450 people at your wedding for $65-$100 a plate.

That’s a lot of money. $29,250 – $45,000 for food and drink. Sandwiches, anyone?

Keep your head count down by only inviting the people you care most for. My wife’s family is pretty big so it comes as no surprise to us that we weren’t invited every wedding in the family. There’s a lot of us.

This also trims wedding costs for all items based on head count. That’s dinner plates, food, drinks, save the dates, rsvp cards, formal wedding invitations, favors, and thank you cards.

It’ll also save you time in planning seating arrangements. Use the money that you keep to fund your honeymoon or be smarter an invest it.

3. Leverage Technology

I believe that technology is going to disrupt the wedding industry and how couples plan a wedding. In the not so far future, wedding couples will be able to book their wedding venue online, choosing where to seat guests and perhaps control the ambiance of their reception hall from a smart device.

Who knows? Perhaps we’ll attend a virtual wedding in our lifetime. It’s not farfetched.

New and Notable Wedding Tech Companies

Today, there are a number of wedding tech companies that they can save us precious time and money. Companies like TextYourGuests.com help couples save precious time and money by eliminating non-essential paper products that can be replaced by a text message.

Donato Petegine, Co-founder of TextYourGuests.com, says

You don’t need to eliminate the paper wedding invitations if you don’t want to. However, couples can save hundreds of dollars by eliminating non-essential paper products like RSVP cards, individual table placement cards, thank you cards, and even save the date cards.

Petegine also adds:

While these are nice to have, couples have to chase people down guests for their RSVP; wedding guests can never find their name on individual table placement cards, pushing back your introductions and dinner. However, we all check our text messages within 5 minutes of getting them.

In a click of a button, you can text all your guests their seating assignment. If they’re inclined, they can even check who their sitting with from their smart phone, tablet or computer.

Donato is right. Most of us use text messaging as a primary method of communication. People don’t answer their phones unless they know it’s you.

Zola is another wedding tech tool striving to reinvent the wedding planning and registry experience. From engagement to wedding and decorating your first home, Zola offers an all-in-one suite of tools to help you save time and money.

Paperless Post offers gorgeous digital invitations and save the date cards. Digital invitations will not only save you a lot of money, it saves trees. Paperless Post also collect RSVPs. You’ll get faster response from your guests and you can feel good about your environment impact.

If you’re a modern chic bride that’s also socially responsible, try keeping the paper products to a minimum. Not only will it save you a lot of money, it’s good for the environment.

4. Negotiate

Many wedding vendors charge by how they value their time. There’s no method to the madness, so don’t try to making sense of it.

There usually is room for negotiation, especially if you’re speaking to the owners. Don’t feel bad about asking them for a lower price. You could save yourself a few hundred dollars.

It’s not a bad idea to shop around to understand how other vendors work. But you usually don’t need to do so to negotiate. So don’t get hung up trying to build a case to lower the price.

For starters, the vendor might not appreciate being compared to another professional. But also, wedding dates are usually on a first to book basis. So if you like a vendor, go to them with the intention of booking. Just negotiate.

If you’re successful and open with them, they’ll do everything they can to work with you. They don’t want to lose you.

Also, some vendors create wedding packages. You might be able to remove a service or two in that package that’s driving your price beyond your budget.

As long as it leads to a booking, your vendors will be happy and help you out. They might also extend a cash discount that could save you a few hundred dollars.

5. Buy Recently Owned

Another way to save money on your wedding is to buy pre-owned wedding dresses and decor from recent brides.

That’s right! You don’t need to buy everything brand new. Somewhere online, yesterday’s bride is selling their wedding stuff. Online shops like Facebook Marketplace, StillWhite, Wedding Recycle, and BravoBride are websites where brides can sell their wedding stuff.

7 ways to save money on your wedding
Find Recently Owned Wedding Dresses on StillWhite.com

Check out these online second-hand shops!
Facebook Marketplace
Stillwhite.com
BravoBride.com
Wedding-Recycle.com
Craigslist.com

6. Get Creative

If you have a modest budget, you’ll have to exercise your creativity. If you’re not that creative, find a friend who is to help you.

You’ll most likely spend most of your wedding budget on the wedding venue (location for the wedding) and flowers. Instead of splurging on a banquet hall or restaurant, try looking at the following areas:

Create locations to set the scene

Country Club or Golf Course. If you or a family member knows someone who’s a member, you can rent space in the club’s banquet room for relatively cheap. Try speaking to the course or club manager to see if you can work out a favorable deal during the off-season.


Public Event Space. Organizations like churches and American Legion have a good amount of space. The main rooms can hold 200-300 people, depending on the community.


Campgrounds. An outdoor wedding in the woods makes for a beautiful, rustic scene. Modern, rustic weddings have been popular for years. Wedding publications love photos from them.


Someone’s Home. If you know someone that has a good amount of land, you can ask to have it hosted there. You can hire caterers to handle the food, and hire a couple of people to serve drinks. Having been at a wedding like this, I do recommend some outdoor fans for July and August weddings.

Recently Owned Floral Decorations

For flowers, look again to Facebook Marketplace or reach out to a recent bride. I’ve seen bouquets and floral decorations for cheap.

Also some floral shops have excess inventory and are willing to give them away or sell them cheap.

7. Forgo Gifts for Help

The chances are leveraging your relationships for help will be more meaningful than actual gifts for your wedding. You get help, and the value of their help will probably exceed the gift.

When my wife and I planned our wedding, we did a significant amount of bartering with people in the wedding industry. We secured our wedding photographer and videographer by bartering. We also had family members call in some chits as well.

Just remember what I said, we have 450 people at our wedding.

While you might not have that many wedding guests, you can still ask friends to chip in on the tent rental so that you can provide your guests with cover from the sun or a shower.

You might know a relative or friend that do photography for a living. If not, perhaps see if you can book a photographer for a couple of hours for formal and creative pictures.

Final thoughts

While these are all great ways to save money on your wedding, nothing will save you more money than avoiding a costly divorce.

I highly recommend scheduling routine Money Dates with your partner. Most relationships operate under a “You do it, or I’ll do it, but let’s never talk about it” philosophy when it comes to finances.

This is a poor way to approach finances and often leads to negative feelings and finger-pointing.

My wife and I ran our finances this way as well until I realized it didn’t work. It’s very stressful to be solely responsible for the finances. But it also makes the other partner unaware of what’s going on financially.

Today, we schedule Money Dates every other week, on the first and fifteenth of each month (give or take). During those Money Dates, we go over our finances and pay our bills together. We talk about things we want to do or experience the following year, and we take some action to make it a reality.

Afterward, we do something fun together like prepare lunch or dinner, go for a walk, or just sit outside and talk some more. Admittedly, there are times where I don’t really do much on our Money Date, but my presence there puts my wife at ease.

Also, if you’re credit isn’t where it needs to be (for buying your first home), CreditKnocks shares some tips to easily boost your credit score.

Now I want to hear from you. Are you planning a wedding? How are you planing on saving some money?

How SMART goals are killing your dreams, and what to do about it

It’s scary to me how we’ve gotten so wrapped up in setting SMART goals. SMART goals are those goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

Somehow, SMART goals have become the staple for setting achievable goals. If you’ve ever had a goal that was important to you, chances are you turned it into a SMART goal.

A lot of people think that goal-setting and SMART goals are synonymous. However, that is not necessarily the case. As a matter of fact, it’s a pretty poor way of going about setting goals.

Is your goal specific? Can you realistically achieve the goal? If your answer isn’t a resounding “yes”, then you’re told not to go for it.

And that’s precisely what’s wrong with SMART goals. Has any goal that’s worthwhile been reasonably attainable?

Let that question sit for a moment.

  • Think of the greatest achievements mankind has ever experienced:
    Traveling to the moon
  • Personal computers
  • The 4-minute mile run
  • Civil Rights Movement
  • Women’s Rights Movement
  • LGBT Social Movements
  • Telecommunication
  • Electricity
  • Air travels and fighter jets
  • The Discovery of America

None of these were reasonable. They weren’t realistic or time-bound.

Think about the journey to the moon. Was that reasonable? No. It really wasn’t. Was it time-bound? President Kennedy said, “within a decade”, so the time frame was ambiguous at best.

How Smart Goals Are Killing Your Dreams And What to do about it

 

Where are the big dreams?

The problem we have in today’s world is that we’re all dominated by having realistic goals.

What happened to all the “walking on the moon” dreams? Where’s the “Let’s create an empire and take over the world” dreams?

They’ve been replaced with tasks that need to get done today. They’ve been replaced with smaller, more realistic SMART goals.

But it wasn’t a SMART goal for Columbus to travel west across the ocean to get to India. And in the process, finding America.

It wasn’t a SMART goal for Martin Luther King, Jr. to say, “Let’s march on Washington”.

It wasn’t a SMART goal for us to put people into a metal container and launch them into space.

These were not SMART goals.

They were seemingly impossible dreams. And they changed our world forever.

Yes, eventually we need to take a goal and break it out into measurable steps, but that’s where most people start; they start small.

Because we tend to smart small, our greatest achievements are limited to checking off items on a list or filling in a graphic organizer. But do these lists add more joy and vibrancy to our lives? They just become replaced with more things to do.

 

D.U.M.B. goals

I want you to start thinking bigger for your life. Get over your failures, and get back on the path that matters to you and stop managing to-do lists.

When your life becomes managing lists of things to do, you end up losing the fire of inspiration and have a difficult time finding  joy in your life.

When you opened up about your dreams to someone, they may have told you, “That goal sounds realistic. Go for it.” Because of that, there’s nothing exciting to work toward.

I want to challenge you to become inspired.

Instead of always defaulting to SMART goals, I want you to take the opposite approach.

I want you to try creating DUMB goals.

I learned about DUMB goals through my mentor, Brendon Burchard. DUMB stands for Dream-focused, Uplifting, Method-based, Behavior-triggered.

  • Dream-Focused: Is what you’re seeking to achieve really your dream? If you were to achieve it, would it bring more vibrancy and meaning in your life?
  • Uplifting: Is this goal uplifting? Will achieving it build you up, give you more purpose and  happiness? What would you gain by achieving this goal?
  • Method-Based: Does this goal have a blueprint for success? Following a proven method will increase your chances for success. For example, if you want to change your finances, follow a method proven to be successful.
  • Behavior-Triggered. We have to establish a behavior trigger to help remind us of our goal. Otherwise, we’ll forget all about it. Ever try to diet only to forget that you were on a diet? Try to think of something that will frequently remind you that you are striving towards an important goal.

I love DUMB goals because they broaden our perspective.

They focus on setting goals that are important to us: buying that first home, setting up an annual vacation savings plan, or discovering our purpose.

DUMB goals push us to work towards creating a future we once only imagined was possible. Download this worksheet to help you structure your DUMB goal.

 

Conclusion

SMART goals aren’t relatable to your real dreams. They’re just something you check off and maybe give yourself a high five for completing.

I want you to move onto a whole other level. A new stratosphere of your work and contributions.

What goal could you have that would feel magical? What goal ignites a fire in you?The world needs that special gift that only you have to offer.

As soon as you figure out what that is, you can dream up something huge. When you look within yourself and figure out what you really want, you’ll have no choice but to ask yourself, “How do I do that?”

That’s what happened to me. That question changed my life.

I became a financial advisor to work with people just like me; young professionals in their thirties and forties. I wanted to help people just starting out in life with good jobs, but also a mountain of student debt.

My challenge was that I worked for a large Wall Street firm. These firms have substantial revenue goals for their advisors which traditionally can only be met through working with retirees.

If I made young professionals my niche, I’d be fired.

I really wanted to make this work. In my eyes, it was genius. 99 percent of financial advisors only work with retirees. I would be competing against less than 1 percent of the industry. Even though it wasn’t what Wall Street wanted me to do, it was an industry that was mine for the taking.

Naturally that lead me to the question, “How do I do that?”

I had no idea how to register as a Registered Investment Advisor. I didn’t know anything about student loans or planning for college. I just knew those were the skills required to serve the needs of growing families.

First, look deep inside yourself to figure out what it is you really want to do. If you could accomplish any goal, what would make you happy? When you get to the point where you’ve zeroed in on your goal, use this worksheet to it  into a Dream-focused, Uplifting, Method-based, Behavior-triggered goal.

“How do I do that?” is a life changing question, and I’d like to help you find the answer.

 

Now I want to hear from you.

What kind of questions do you have for me? If they’re good enough, I’ll answer them on my next episode of #AskTommy.

5 Life Lessons I’ve Learned In My 30s

I recently celebrated my 40th birthday. Because this is a new chapter in my life, a new decade, I wanted to find something valuable that I could share with you. Having reflected upon my thirties, I found a major theme and dominated the last ten years of my life.

I discovered that my thirties was dominated by pressure and responsibility. It’s important to understand your relationship with each because it can be easy to let the pressures of life weigh us down. We have bills to pay, traffic to deal with and people that are just rude. There’s also the demands of our husbands and wives, sons and daughters, bosses and clients. It’s a lot.

Learning to master the pressures of life will help you live your most expansive, expressive and meaningful life.  You will be able to initiate crucial conversations, make 5-second decisions, and work towards what’s most important to you.

I’m committed to sharing the best of what I’m living and learning, and to keep it real and honest. Here are 5 Life Lessons I’ve Learned In My Thirties. Enjoy.

 

1. Don’t be all work and stress

My thirties was a time dominated by my desire to keep moving forward. I had built two companies from the ground up. My wife and I brought two children into the world and raised them with our values.

If we’re not careful, we could end up with too much pressure and responsibility to enjoy life. If you’re all work and stress —if you’re dealing with pressure all the time — it’s going to weigh you down. It’s possible to be so busy raising your children that you don’t have the time to enjoy them. If you’re busy chasing after your children, changing their diapers, getting your kids to and from school -it’s all work and no play. You won’t be happy. You’ll be too busy.

Don’t get lost building whatever it is you’re working on: your family, your career, your hobbies. Find a healthy release to keep a light-hearted spirit. Don’t be so serious all the time.

 

2. Avoid bad relationships

If you don’t take the time to enjoy your life, you won’t have good relationships. Nobody wants to be around a grumpy, sour person. Similarly, it’s difficult to enjoy your life while letting bad relationships into your home or business.

We all experience that person that always seems to make wrong decisions in life. Maybe they’re childhood friends or a family member. Just being around these people is exhausting. And, the only time it seems they call is when they want to discuss their problems. Like the good friend you are, you listen. You offer your opinion. But they never seem to listen.

Getting rid of bad friends can do great things for your mental health. You also become receptive to forging new and better friends. And that’s awesome.

If you need help ending a bad relationship, check out this article from Dr Juliana Breines.

 

3. Find a reason to laugh every day

I love my wife. She always finds something to laugh about throughout the day. Even if it’s me that she’s laughing at.

We work from home. I could be in another part of the house and hear her laughing about something. Being a curious person, I have to see what’s going on -because I can hear her laughing so hard.

The funny thing is, it wasn’t even funny. It was just a video clip of a dog that someone posted on Facebook. Other people would have ignored it, or just give it a thumbs up and move on. Not my wife. She’s always looking for a reason to laugh. She loves to have fun. She keeps a joyful atmosphere in our home.

Finding a reason to laugh every day will help you relieve physical tension and stress. It leaves your muscles feeling relaxed for almost an hour. Laughter also boosts our immune systems and decreases stress hormones.  Clearly, laughter heals more than just the soul.

If you were to log into my Netflix account, you’d be amazed to see all my recommended videos are stand-up comics. Finding reasons to laugh, helps me deal with life’s pressures.

 

4. Keep respect and laughter in your relationship

This is the secret sauce to happiness in any relationship. Always respect your spouse -even when your girls or guys are bad-talking their spouse.

Love is the ability to forgive your spouse. It’s the ability to forgive them and then forget whatever it was they did. If you can’t do that, you’re not in love. Forgive and forget, then try to find the humour in it all. A family that laughs together stays together.

Couples that fall apart stop laughing. They stop having fun. They let the pressures of life take them over. There are bills to pay and children to raise. They’re busy dealing with problems and don’t see eye-to-eye on every situation. Having a high regard for your partner, respecting them and find joy together is what’s going to help you through the tough times. Laughing together and having fun, that’s going to help keep you together.

I was meeting with a potential new client. It was clear that she was annoyed with her husband. Everything he said just irritated her. She told me that she’s not sure if they’re going to be together in the future. In short, their laughter died. They let division into their home.

How long has it been since there’s been laughter in your home? Maybe you could take your relationship to a new level if you could bring joy and happiness into your home. Speak highly of your spouse. Avoid gossip. That’s going to bring tension, division and stress into your home. That will only drive you apart.

If you want help understanding your partner, check out this book: Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus, by Dr John Gray.

 

5. Make your home a cheerful place

If you’ve ever held a job, you’ve felt the pressures of work-related stress. Even if you love what you do, your job can have stressful elements. We have unreasonable deadlines on projects and revenue quotas to meet. And there’s always that call from a customer that took over an hour to resolve.

Unfortunately, work-related stress doesn’t just disappear when you head home for the day. We often bring it home. We want to share it with our husband or wife. When stress persists, it can take a toll on your health and well-being.

Yes, we all need to deal with tension and stress. But you need to create a joyful atmosphere in your home. Don’t bring home pressure from work or stress from school. Leave it at the front door. Your home should be a retreat from the negative things that you have to deal with during the day. Your home should be a cheerful place.

If your stress levels are high try going to the gym. You’ll feel fabulous after a good workout.

 

In conclusion

I wasn’t looking forward to turning 40. In truth, I dreaded it. It almost felt like I was losing something. However, my wife threw me a Big 4-0 party with all my friends and I had a good time. I laughed a lot.

From there, I made the decision that I wasn’t going to grow into a grumpy old man. I’m not going to get more and more sour, the older I get and the more responsibility I have. I’m going to stay full of joy. I’m going to have fun in my forties.

As you live out your thirties, work hard. Make good progress toward your financial goals. Give yourself permission to enjoy your life. Don’t be all work and stress. Bring some cheer to people around you and put a smile on your face.

 

I want to hear from you

Do you have a pressing question. If so you can drop it in the comments below or ask me privately. If it’s good enough, I’ll answer it and mention you on my next Q&A Tuesday on TommyTV.

 

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How Can I Budget My Money Better?

how-can-i-budget-my-money-better

“How can I budget my money better?” I get that a lot.

I know how stressful managing your money can be. There’s never just one financial goal to work towards. There’s quite a few.

Becoming skilled with your money is like anything in your life. It have to learn it. We learn it by observing our parents growing up, through the school of hard knocks, or through a mentor.

That’s why I’m here to help.

There are many benefits to managing your money better. Those that manage it well develop financial security. They know how to:

  • Pay their daily living expenses
  • Keep their debts manageable

To help you budget your money better, I put together six easy steps for you to follow:

 

Step #1: Start with Goals

Before I can begin to budget my money better, I need some goals. What do I hope to achieve by creating a budget?

A budget will help you put your money to good use. But crushing your financial and life goals will long-term happiness.

To help you think of meaningful goals that will better your life, try this exercise:

Write down 5 things you want less of in your life. You might come up with something like:

Things I want less of in the next 12 months:

  • less unexpected bills
  • rushing last minute
  • lack of confidence
  • conflict
  • negativity

These were some things that I came up with a few years ago. Today, I have to say that I’m pretty happy with my life in these areas.

Next, write down 5 things you do want more of in your life. Here are some things I came up with:

Things I want more of in my life in the next 12 months:

  • Travel
  • Build my new business
  • Make new friends
  • More money
  • to blog

I learned early in life that I could have anything I want in life —as long as I paid for it. That still rings true today.

If you want to travel more, then create a dedicated travel/vacation fund. The start building up the savings today.

Would you like $2,000 each year to travel? Set up an automatic transfer from your bank account to your travel fund. You’ll need to save $88 from each paycheck (if you’re paid every two weeks). You’ll have the money this time next year.

Stop using debt to fund your travels and don’t burn your tax refund.

Related: Sign up for my 30 Day Money Challenge

Get my best money tips sent right to your inbox

Step #2: Find your starting point

Have you ever been so lost while driving? I do. I’d be driving — paying attention to the road — but my mind drifts off. Before I realize it, the route doesn’t look familiar.

Has that ever happened to you? I’m sure I’m not alone.

When you’re lost (in travel or money), all sorts of emotions start to crop up: fear, anxiety, anger.

People feel similarly towards money when you don’t know how much you have in the bank. They’re scared that purchases will get declined. They get anxious when they don’t know how they’re going to pay the bills. And they feel angry (at themselves) when they make a mistake.

This all could have been avoided if they only took the time to understand how much they make and spend. I talk to a lot of people about their money. Very few know exactly what they make in a year.

For this reason, your income is your starting point.

To find your starting point, download my Monthly Budget Sheet.

Download and print it. List your income on the worksheet (bottom left of the page). If you have a side hustle or income from rent, add it in.

For most people, this is simply your take home pay from your job. If you’re business owner, add what you pay yourself. Add in all the cash that I know you probably don’t claim as well. (Please note that I don’t support not claiming cash).

If your income is variable, take your average. If you don’t know your average, break out your tax returns and figure out what you claimed for the year and divide by 12.

 

Step #3: Add up your typical monthly expenses

Using the same worksheet, start filling out your typical monthly expenses.

Let me share with you how I have my students fill out their expenses. First, I have them write down what they think they spend. Put that in the “Budget” column for each item.

For instance, if I think I spend $100 a month eating out. So, I’d put that in the “Budget” column of “Eating Out”.

Got it so far? Great. Let’s move on.

Next, break out your monthly credit card and bank statements. We’re going to find the real numbers.

Review every transaction. Circle the transactions that aren’t routine monthly expenses. Enter the rest on the the Monthly Budget worksheet. Compare what you thought you spend to what you now know you spend.

How close were you?

My students are surprised to find that they spend twice as much as what they thought.

Complete the rest of the Monthly Budget worksheet. While you’re reviewing your transactions, add them to the Finance Calendar worksheet (pg. 18). Add all your fixed expenses like your student loans, rent/mortgage, and utilities.

 

Step #4: Add it up

Take your income and subtract your expenses. What does it look like?

Are you making more than you spend? Spending more than you make? Or are you breaking even?

If you’re making more than you spend, that’s awesome! You have some money to save. But hold off on the high fives just yet. You may still have room for improvement. Start putting some of that extra money to work. Review your financial goals in Step #1.

If you’re breaking even every month, this could mean that you’re getting too comfortable. You’re doing what’s called, “Lifestyle Inflation”. It’s where you take the extra money that you earning and spend it.

Revisit Step #3. Break out those statements again.

If you’re spending more than you make, you’re leveraging debt to make ends meet. You’ll need to run a tight ship for a little while until you figure out where you’re bleeding money.

Print out your bank and credit card statements for the past 3 months. Go over each transaction. Circle transactions that weren’t necessary for survival. Focus on transactions under $20. Purchases under $20 tend to bypass our buying filter.

Add up all those purchases. If you can cut those out of your budget next month, you can redirect it to savings.

For most people, there is always money to save. It just requires a little treasure hunt through those statements.

Related: Unbudgeting

 

Step #5: Put Your Budget into Action

Next, you need to put your budget into action. You’ve identified and set goals. You know what you make and what you spend, as well as a tip on how to free up some cash.

Now you need to set up automatic savings for each of your goals and monitor your cash flow. Make sure that you’re not saving in one area of your financial life at the loss of another area.

It might take a little while to get used to managing your money this way, but it’s worth it. Stick with it and you’ll start to see some great results.

 

Step #6: Monitor and Adjust

Every good plan involves monitoring, periodic reviews, and the adjustments. Your budget and spending plan is no different.

It can take two or three months for you to feel confident with everything you’ve set up. You’ll learn to trust the automatic transfers to fund your dreams and goals.

Sometimes you need to make temporary changes to your budget. A situation may come up that you couldn’t foresee or avoid. You might be invited to attend a wedding —or asked to be a member of a wedding party.

When these events come up, don’t panic. Give yourself some flexibility. Give yourself permission to make changes. Make the adjustments to your budget and monitor the change.

On the other hand, if you know that you cannot commit to being in a wedding party, decline the offer. You might regret saying yes, to find out that you have to throw in a lot of money.

In conclusion

I remember speaking to a group about saving money. One lady in the crowd told me, “That might work in theory, but in real life —at the end of the month — there’s no money to save”.

She told the group this as she was holding a large specialty coffee from Starbucks.

I asked her how much that drink was. It was $4.75. I then asked her how many cups she buys in a day. Her girlfriend laughed and answered for her. “Two — sometimes three”, she shouted, chuckling.

Let’s round it up to $5. She was spending $10-$15 a day.

I broke out my financial calculator and punched in the numbers.

$10 x 5 days a week = $50 per week

$50 x 52 weeks = $2,600 a year

If she only invested that money, assuming a 10% return (investing in low-cost funds)… Over 30 years… she could have

$427,684.46!

And that’s not including the coffees she most likely picks up on the weekends.

Her jaw dropped.

“My coffee is costing me $427,000?”

Now I’m not saying that you can’t have your specialty coffees. Just be aware of what they’re really costing you. In this situation, that lady’s coffee is costing her a beautiful vacation home on the beach.

What about you? What would budgeting your money better help you to achieve in the next 12 months? 24 months? What about in the next 5 years?

As a financial mentor and coach, I can help cut the amount of time and money it would take you to achieve your goals. Schedule a free coaching session with me.

 

I want to hear from you

Do you have a money question? If so you can drop it in the comments below or ask me privately. If it’s good enough, I’ll answer it and mention you on my next Q&A Tuesday on TommyTV.

 

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Let’s Make This the Best Year Ever

Best Year Ever

Creating the best year ever

I absolutely love kicking off the New Year. Let’s make this the best year ever with New Year’s goals. Personally, it’s a time for me to wind down after a very busy year and holiday season. It’s also a time to reflect upon the previous year, and for me to determine what I want more of in my life–time with friends and family, make new friends, and golf–and consequently, determine what I want less of–stress, anxiety, doom and gloom people, and unexpected financial problems.

It’s also a great time to create new goals. After all, it’s a New Year. But a word of caution. Don’t confuse creating New Year’s goals with a New Year’s Resolution. New Year’s Resolutions are like budgets – they don’t work. New Year’s goals are followed by scheduling success on your calendar!

Instead of going down that traditional road of making a New Year’s Resolution, why don’t you try something new?

 

 

I’m a believer and practitioner that progress equals happiness. No matter what you want to achieve, create or experience in your life, making meaningful progress is the only way that you’ll be happy.

I want to share my 2-step process for designing a life of progress -happiness. If you want to better yourself, enhance your relationships, and progress in your business or career, this tool will help.

 

Step 1: The Brain Dump

We’re going to write down everything that you want to do or experience in the next 12 months. Creating the best year ever doesn’t have to start in January. It can start today.

A “brain dump” is a complete transfer of accessible knowledge from your brain to some other form of storage medium, such as a notepad. You would be surprised at how many people never perform a brain dump. Their brain is in a continuous process of recycling important thoughts. It’s a very draining process that often puts people in a state of panic and stress. Just imagine what you would do to your computer if you never shut it down, or rebooted it. Eventually, it runs out of virtual memory and can no longer run important processes.

 

Brew your favorite cup of coffee or tea because it’s time to get all those wonderful dreams, goals and to-dos out of your wonderful head and onto a notepad.

 

Take Action: Write down all the things that you want to experience or achieve in the next 12 months. Grab our free downloadable Brain Dump tool below. It’s what I use in my personal life and business to organize my thoughts, sift through everything, and identify what projects are going to take priority throughout the year.

Watch this episode and design a life you love by completing key tasks that will get you there.

 

Make this the Best Year Ever

 

 

Best Year Ever

I want to hear from you

What’s the number one goal that’s going to help you design a life you love this year? What’s it going to take for you to make this goal a reality? And, how’s it going to make you feel when you actually accomplish it?

Also, do you have a money question? If so you can drop it in the comments below or ask me privately. If it’s good enough, I’ll answer it and mention you on my next Q&A Tuesday on TommyTV.

 

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