Archives For Money

By Eric on October 14, 2014 3

My daughter is a very deep thinker, she’s cautious, and she loves routine. When Rooney has the opportunity to try something new, she first observes. I love this about her. She’s just like her Mamma. It’s not necessarily a strength of mine, so it makes for a nice balance in our house.


So, when we visit places like the Heritage Carousel of Des Moines, it can be challenging on both ends. It’s challenging as parents to drive across the city to provide your daughter with a fun experience, only to have her stare at it.

This happened at the Iowa State Fair this year. She went down the Giant Slide once with Kelsey (proof below), so the next time we went, we doubled down and bought two tickets for the slide, and she refused to go…

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset(Kelsey and Rooney are half way down the slide on the very right edge)

And it’s challenging on the other end, when she finally gives it a try, falls in love with it and never wants it to end.

Once Rooney figures something out, or takes a calculated risk and likes what she is doing, she’s all in. Focused on mastering that task, and repeating the behavior, over, and over, and over, and over again.

When she finally gets to that “a ha!” moment, my heart melts. She’s got it! She’s doing it! She’s loving it! I couldn’t be prouder.

This is how habits are formed as well, by repetition.

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By Eric on October 7, 2014 17

In preparation for the big job transition, we decided to trim our budget from some of the “luxuries” that we had become accustomed to over the years with a steady paycheck.

It’s amazing how “must-haves” in the budget can melt away when faced with a new goal and new circumstances.

Let me begin with telling you that our food budget is almost sacred territory. It’s fluctuated over the years, but it’s the first category to get an increase when we’ve gotten raises or cut back in other areas.

There are a few reasons for this…

  1. We are trying to eat healthier, which usually means a bigger grocery bill. (Organic fruits and veggies can be nearly twice the price of regular)
  2. We added a toddler to our dinner table and when the expense for formula went away, that money was moved to the food category.
  3. We like to eat, and we like to eat out when we can.

How Our Food Budget Works

Before I tell you about our food budget, let’s talk about the rest of our budget. I’m not going to get into all the numbers, but just know that before the month starts we set our budget based on our monthly bills, non-monthly bills, and savings categories. These fluctuate a little bit from month to month based on what we have going on in the month ahead, but stay fairly consistent.

If you want to start your own budget, pick up a copy of my free budget spreadsheet.

Our food budget

  • We withdraw cash from the bank on the first of the month and the 15th. We keep our food budget in $20 increments so it’s easy to pull it out from the ATM. (Our bank is right on the way to Kelsey’s work, so she does this most of the time, and then Rooney likes to say… “bye bye bank!”)
  • The cash is then split into two envelopes. Half for the first eight days, and half for the second seven days which covers us for the first half of the month. (We split the money into weeks so that we can better keep track of how we are doing throughout the week. When the money is getting low, we eat leftovers and scrounge around the house for things to eat to make the cash last until the next week.)
  • Groceries and eating out is all kept in the same pile of cash. This works for us, because we have overcome impulse spending at the grocery store (for the most part), and keep track of what we need, know how much it is going to cost, and then eat out if there is money left over. (Bottom line, we make the cash we have work. There have been several months that we have run out of cash. We don’t go hungry, and have survived every single time)

I should also say that we do have a separate category for organic grass fed beef that we order from a farm. We love Wallace Farms and fund a separate category for buying ground beef, burgers, steaks, and Nick-sticks throughout the year. We order/pay online and pick up at a church near our house.

Chopping the Food Budget

After being set in our ways with the same $600 food budget for the past year or so, Kelsey and I were both concerned with how we would handle cutting back on our food budget.

In September we cut our budget back from $600 to $500. A 17% cut… and I’m happy to report that we had just enough money in the food envelope to order Applebee’s curbside to go on the last day of the month, which also happens to be Kelsey’s birthday. Whew!

I honestly thought we would be panicking the last few weeks of the month, but again, because we separate our money out on a weekly basis, it’s easier to stay disciplined with our food budget throughout the month. Of course that lesson was learned after blowing through all our cash a few times and really having to scrimp for food in the cupboards a few times.

Sometimes we solidify numbers in our head and convince ourselves that there is no way we could ever live on less, spend less, or save more. It’s been a long time since we’ve had to squeeze our budget like the last few months, and it makes me wonder what more we could have done over the years if we hadn’t been so comfortable…

When was the last time you tried to trim something from your budget?
Was it harder or easier than expected?

By Eric on September 30, 2014 1

August 29 was my last day of my previous job. So, I’ve essentially been a full-time financial coach for one month now. I’ve been thinking, and strategizing on this transition for at least a year. Big moves like this are worth taking the proportionate amount of time for the risks involved. And since there are two other humans in my household, there was greater weight to the decision.

It’s surprising how hard it is to prepare for such a big transition. From steady paycheck and benefits, to working for yourself (but not by yourself) and having to “earn” your own benefits. But, there is one factor I’ve left out and that’s the work itself. The work is rewarding beyond any other work I’ve been apart of before, and on the flip side, there is pressure to provide.

The Work

I get to be apart of something big. I get to work with folks trying to change their lives and wanting to be the best they can be. And being part of that ride as a financial coach is an awesome thing.

Is the work easy? No.

But, I’m learning so much each and every day financially, spiritually, mentally, physically. It’s been a whirlwind of a month and a lot of change for me and my family. There has been tons of sacrifice in one short month in our house. But, for me personally, I wouldn’t change it.

Change can be really hard. Taking risks isn’t always fun either, but looking back, I have no regrets (much like Tim Riggins in Friday Night Lights).

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By Eric on September 25, 2014 4

I know, I know… fall just began… why am I talking about Christmas? I don’t know about you, but I’m certainly not ready for winter. Winter weather is not the concern today, but Christmas spending is…

If you haven’t begun saving for Christmas, I hate to break it to you, but it’s right around the corner. If you’ve not been saving up for it until now, you’ve got just a few short months to save up, or deck the halls with bills come January, and that would be unfortunate.

1498857_659495574150_975903173_oPhoto by Megan Schapp

Don’t panic! There is still October, November, and December to save up.  Here is a simple three step process to help save up some cash for Christmas.

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By Eric on September 17, 2014 9

Getting the mail is NOT one of my favorite things to do. For some reason, Kelsey likes it, but since our mail-box is right on my way home I usually pick it up before pulling into the garage.

I guess I really don’t like it because we typically don’t get anything worth getting excited about. Except when my Grandma sends me cards. They are the best!

My grandparents venture their way down from Iowa to Texas for the winter every year. And once or twice she’ll send a card with a note about how they are doing and what they are up to.

It’s my favorite thing to receive in the mail! Here’s one that my grandma sent to me once.


In case you can’t read it, here’s what it says…

Dear Eric,

We don’t see robins in Texas. Right now the mocking birds are singing and are very busy starting their nesting. They are very pretty singers.

The shuffle (board) tournaments are over for us. In 2 or 3 weeks the Canadians will be going home. 5 to 6 weeks and we’ll be coming. Aunt Wilma is on her way down.

Hope spring is soon in your area.

Have a Happy Birthday.

Grandpa & Grandma

So, imagine my delight when I saw this envelope in the pile of mail last week. It looks eerily similar to a card that my Grandma would send. So…. I did what I normally wouldn’t do with most mail…. I opened it.

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