Money. This has been a learn from experience matter in my life. As Paul once said, "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty..." (Philippians 4:12). As a child I was so lucky to have soup beans for dinner seasoned with the ham bone given to us by the neighbor. Today, I can barely remember the last time I had soup beans. If you want to keep your resolution of better money management, here is what I recommend you do to get started. I have broken it down to 3 steps.
Step One. Take one week, perhaps this week and go without your daily pleasures.. Starbucks, any fast foods, any shopping at all except for products like milk, bread, and eggs. After the week is over, notice that you are still living and still have friends, family, and other important relationships in your life.
Step Two. Take a month (February is a short one) and write down everything you and your family spend on everything.I mean to the penny! If you don't have much money this should be an easy task. Then categorize your spending and see where your money is really going. It is one thing to make a statement like, "I need to spend less" but totally different to be specific like, "I need to only eat spend $5 for lunch each week."
Step Three. Have a friend help you create a budget. I know money is often personal and I also have no idea why but a close friend can add some accountability to the process. Your spouse would also work for this assuming one of you can be strong when it comes to reality. Include everything in your budget, even things you don't spend on every month. It is good to see just how far in the red you are. Then, realistically make it green, one thing at a time. What can you spend less on? What can you do without? Really! Removing dining out with friends because it is not a necessity doesn't make it a reality. If this is something you enjoy, maybe you could do with out 300+ channels instead, or monthly subscriptions of playing with fake friends on-line.
Debt. It is a common mis-belief that better money management means less debt. This is not the case! Money management and debt are totally different beasts. One does help with the other but their relationships are reciprocal. There are three common ideas when getting out of debt. Consolidation, Stacking, and Snow-balling.
Consolidation. Let me start by saying, NEVER consolidate debt, this often leads to higher debts and longer pay off times and in most cases a higher interest rate. It does not make sense to go into more debt to get out of debt!
Stacking. Stacking is acceptable, basically you take all of your non-mortgage debts, pick the one with the highest interest rate and pay as much as you can on that one while rounding up and paying the minimums on all the rest. Once that one is paid for, you take the money and extra you were paying on that one and start with the next.
Snow-balling. Let me start by saying, I know mathematically this is not the best option, I started off by stacking myself but don't knock it until you try it. This is basically the same concept of focusing on one debt at a time but instead of looking first to the higher interest, look to the smallest amount. You will be surprised how good it feels to get the victory over a debt payoff. It energizes you somehow to get rid of the rest as well.
Conclusion. If you continue to act as you have always acted, you will continue to get what you have always gotten. Check out this link: What does the Bible say about Money? Finally, there is much more to all of this and if you are sincere about doing better in this area, I would suggest subscribing to the Christian Personal Finance blog and take notes whether you are a Christian or not.