Budgeting: As Told by a Broke, Married, College Student

Let’s start this one out by agreeing that money is stupid. It’s the number one cause for fights in a marriage and also one of the biggest challenges that the old men in Washington face. According to the University of California over 43 million Americans (13%) live below the poverty line. PRB then reports that 32% of Americans live in a low-income family. These percentages were given between 2011 and 2015, however, I would not be surprised if these percentages were the same or higher in 2017.

So, how do we fix this. What do we do to begin helping ourselves and families when it comes to managing our money?

Well I cannot tell you what to do, also I am by no means a financial advisor, but here’s what I’m doing.

Awhile back I took a family budgeting course that focused on Dave Ramsey, and let me tell you, that man knows what he’s doing.

One of his concepts involved an Envelope System. This is an all cash budgeting system where you separate your physical money into envelopes labeled with bills and other expenses.

Now, getting rid of credit cards and debit cards is practically impossible, especially when most bills are paid online. However, you can still use this budget system.

What I decided to do was first, take my credit card out of my wallet. Then I went out to buy a box of multi colored envelopes and separate them into categories: Orange is bills, Green is expenses, Yellow is savings and receipts, Pink is extra (fast food, date night, etc), and Blue is vacation. As a side note you will also need an Envelope for church, our church provides envelopes so we replace that one each Sunday and it sits on the corner of our envelope board.

Once I separated my envelopes I then labeled them. This resulted in 8 bills, 3 expenses, 1 saving, 1 receipt, 1 extra, 1 vacation, and 1 church.

As I said earlier, some bills are paid online, I still made an Envelope for them and wrote “online” under the label, that way we still had a physical representation to remind us to put money in our bank account.

The hardest part about the envelope system is knowing how much money to put where. This will 100% depend on you, your bills, and your income. However, what works for my family is this:

At the begining of the month I open my calender, open my notes and figure out what bills are due when, then estimate how much they should cost based on previous months. At the end of the month I compare my estimates with my total and adjust the next month after. My notes look something like this

After the monthly budget is intially set, we take each paycheck we receive that month and cash them. (The only deposits we make are to cover our credit cards and my student loan). We then take the cash home, put our church offering to the side, look at our notes and put enough money into each envelope that the bills in between paychecks are covered. After those bills are accounted for, we then put a small percentage into future bills, expenses, and savings. Whatever is left we use as extra. (As a side note I am a firm believer in having spending money. Budgeting should not make you feel like you cannot have fun or buy something extra! If after your immediate bills are paid, and you will have the money for upcoming bills and expenses then order that pizza! You deserve it!) After double checking all our envelopes and notes the physical management is done!

However, if you’re like me, cash is scary. I want to know where exactly it’s going, how much is being spent, and if we can better use that money in the future. This is why, I keep track of all income (paychecks, tips, refunds, etc) and expenses (gas, food, grocery, etc).

By doing this we become accountable for every dollar spent.

With this system of budgeting you will also come in contact with A LOT of change. Save it! Put it in a plastic zip lock, a jar, or something. Just save it. There have been times where we used change to go on a weekend trip. We’ve also had too much month and not enough money, so we used change to buy groceries. Either way change adds up. Save it.

To recap, leave the credit card at home, use cash and envelopes, be organized, be accountable, and always give to God first. This is only our third month using this system and it is working. We stopped over drawing our accounts, we have been able to pay bills that before were coverd by family, and we are improving.

In closing, I’m sorry this was so long, but I hope it helps! ❤

God first, important bills second, and everything falls into place.

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Why I waited 

“Everyone’s doing it”.. that’s what I was always told. Everyone was doing it and hell, even my college roommate was doing it.. right under our bunked beds I may add. It’s not like I didn’t have opportunities or relationships that it could have easily happend with. I even put myself in situations where saying “No” was a tough decision, in full disclosure alcohol was normally involved. However, I waited. 

I did not wait for reasons most people think though. I didn’t wait for religious reasons. I didn’t wait because my parents told me it was the right thing to do. I waited because I wanted to. I wanted to wait until I met the one guy who knew me better than I knew myself. The guy who loved me for my physical and mental imperfections. The guy who no matter what would hold my hand and help me through life’s toughest moments. So I waited, until I met him. 

I didn’t wait until I was married or until I was engaged but I did wait until I was in love and with the person I wanted to spend forever with. 

Now the reason I’m telling you all this is because today it is so common for girls to have sex, not because they are in love, but because they think they should. Their best friend is doing it, TV shows are encouraging it, we have terms like “f*ck buddies” and one night stands are ‘cool’. Sex is no longer special. Sex is just a hobby. We are encouraging girls to embrace their bodies and their sexuality all while ignoring their mental health. We don’t tell them that sex won’t make him love you and we don’t inform them that it’s more than just a physical game. It’s a connection, it’s a feeling, and it’s not something that needs to be given to everyone who smiles at you. 

So embrace yourself. Love yourself. Remember your worth. And do what is right for you not for everyone else. 

How to be a Christian in College

Let’s be honest, being a Christian in a world such as ours is not the easiest thing to accomplish; people will degrade you, offend you, and make you question everything you believe. So what’s harder than being a devote Christian? The answer: being a devote Christian in college. 

I grew up in a Lutheran Church. Twenty years of my life have been devoted to early Sunday services, participating in and teaching Sunday school, church get-togethers, praying before meals, before bed, and well really just praying at all points of the day, and being asked ‘why I believe in God and His teachings’. Now, normally I love this question. It gives me an opportunity to tell people who I am and what I believe, along with sharing God’s word and love. However, what I don’t love is when these questions turn into judgement and anger.

 It is unfair for Christians to feel obligated to forfeit or hide their beliefs in order to feel accepted in this current society. 

As a twenty year old Christian in college I have made my decision to follow God and his word despite what other may think or say. So here are my unprofessional and unsolicited tips to being a Christian in college. 

1. Do not confuse earthly happiness with spiritual happiness. 

2. Make friends with like minded individuals, talk about your faith, and talk about the struggles and judgement you feel from those around you

3. Make friends with individuals who do not share the same views as you. Talk to them about your faith. Let them tell you what they do and do not believe. Keep the environment calm and listen to eachother. Let them know not all Christians are the same as the ones seen in the media

4. Fall in love with someone who loves Jesus. Help one another grow in faith. Not only will it strengthen your relationship with God, but it will also strengthen your relationship with your significant other. “Couples that pray togther, stay together”

5. Talk to your parents or someone you can trust. Whether they share the same beliefs as you or not, they love you. And if you are struggling they will help you find your footing. 

6. Read the Book. Whether you read the Bible cover to cover, or you’re like me and just have a Pinterest board filled with versus, read it. Absorb the word, find meaning in it, and trust what it says. God knows what he’s talking about. 

7. Pray. I cannot promise instant results, but I can promise a feeling of ease. Know that God loves you and is always listening, even if it feels like He’s not. 

8. Be open. Do not hide your beliefs for fear of judgement. We love God because he first loved us. Embrace that

9. Find a church or community to worship with. This can be a small group, campus ministry, local church, or those friends you made thanks to tip two

10. Understand that everyone makes mistakes. Everyone sins. Everyone questions their faith. Believe that God loves you and that he is with you and that unlike your earthly people, He will never leave your side, nor lose faith in you. 

Walk by faith, not by sight” 

-2 Corinthians 5:7

The UnCollege Experience

College. Studying. Papers. Work. Family. Friends. Relationships. Laundry day.

It’s a lot to handle and frankly I wasn’t as prepared for it as I thought I was.

Freshman Year 2014-2015: I had everything figured out. I knew how much I could drink and how late I could stay up without feeling terrible the next day. I knew how many classes I could skip before it would start impacting my grades. I even knew that as long as I pretended everything was okay, it was. That was until I found out my first college relationship was built on deception. Then everything came into light. I realized I had actually nothing figured out and if I kept going at the pace I was going I would actually self-destruct; and that was not me.

Sophomore Year 2015-2016: After the travesty that was my freshman year, it became apparent that I needed some time off. I needed a break from University and some time to find myself. So, I left all of my friends and the bad decisions, moved back home and enrolled in community college. That decision was the best decision I ever made. Obviously I missed my freedom and friends, but living at home, driving to class, and having a job gave me the exact structure I needed. Not to mention during this semester “break” I found the ‘perfect man’. You know, the guy who understands and supports you in everything. The guy who the second after you meet them you know you will never be able to not know them. The guy who 11 months after meeting and 10 months of dating I am still, unfathomably in love with.

Fall semester didn’t last long though and I made the decision to transfer back to university and with the support of my family and boyfriend, I knew it would be better the second time around. I was wrong. Apparently I am one of those beautiful humans that only thrive with structure and without it I turn into a slimy ball of depression.

Junior Year 2016: So far it is only four weeks into my Junior year at university and honestly I am not sure what to think. I have my friends back, I have an organization system, I’m in bed by 11pm every night, and I’m still rocking this whole distance thing with my boyfriend. However, driving home every weekend to work endless night shifts is more tolling than I thought. Not only does it throw off my sleep schedule, but it is also just plain exhausting. Between work, classes, homework, laundry, and socializing, along with keeping in contact with those farther away, it all seems impossible when you look at it as a whole. However, I wouldn’t change a single thing.

I am currently working at a job that is going to enhance my future career goals an exponential amount. I am taking classes that are preparing me for this future career I dream so fondly about. Not being around the people I love everyday makes the hours we have together that much more enjoyable. And, I am also growing closer to God and growing stronger in my faith, because without Him, there is absolutely no way I would still be functioning. He has blessed me with patience and a generally positive outlook, along with giving me not only a family that always supports me and loves me, but also someone who chooses to love me no matter how much we both seem to be struggling.

It’s easy to think you have everything together. It’s easy to pretend life is great and you are having the ‘perfect college experience’, but to be honest I would rather struggle everyday while at university and have an amazing adult life, than party every weekend and secretly hate myself.

I still have a lot of growing to do, I have many lessons to learn, and I may cry a lot now, but one day it will all be worth it.

Stay Cool and Stay Smart. May you reach all of your goals and fight your own demons. Much Love ❤