I had been working at my first ‘real’ job for a few months but had nothing to show for it.
Sure, I had the new furniture I bought to replace the hand-me-downs I used throughout college. I never went into debt, only spending money I earned. But my savings was sparse. And after months of working, I was becoming a cycle of working and spending.
My journey into personal finance started soon after that. I made a few mistakes, such as the time I paid the minimum amount on my credit card bill. Not knowing how they worked, I assumed I only had to pay the minimum each month. The $3 fee I incurred taught me a quick lesson.
But it was during that time I devoured personal finance books and blogs. I learned about index funds, retirement, and ‘paying yourself first.’ I realized that wealth isn’t measured in income, but the gap between income and expenses. I also learned to stay away from needless debt and to use credit to my advantage.
Years later, I’m doing decently, despite living with a tight budget. We live frugally and sock away as much as we can into savings. All those years of establishing sound financial habits paid off.
But what if I had to start over? Budgeting can be overwhelming even for adults well past their 20s and 30s. We all know we should save and spend less than we earn. But we have our reasons for putting it off, or feeling like we’re not starting off right.
Enter The Beginner’s Guide to Budgeting. My friend Allison who blogs at Frugal on the Prairie wrote this ebook to help just that person. She too dug into personal finance and absorbed as much as she could. And she wrote all that she’s learned into an ebook to help others get a handle on their budgets.
And guess what—from December 30 to January 3, The Beginner’s Guide to Budgeting is free! Head over to Amazon to download your free Kindle version of the book. You don’t need a Kindle to read it either. Use your tablet or smart phone to download the Kindle app.
Want behind the scenes info on the book? I sat down with Allison for an author Q&A:
Nina: What do you think are the biggest reasons people struggle financially or don’t budget?
Allison: Not knowing where to start is a large part of why people struggle or don’t budget. It can feel like a scary, unknown endeavor. But it’s really just a matter of stepping up to your money and saying, “Hey, I’m the boss and I’m going to start spending you in the right places.” Once you realize it starts with your mindset, it’s a lot easier to sort your priorities.
N: What would you tell someone who was struggling with their finances? What should their first step be?
A: First, I would suggest a break (or a permanent breakup!) from spending. Even if you don’t have a shopping addiction, your bank accounts and credit cards need to take a breather. That way, you can evaluate your financial goals or troubles. Stop spending!
Second, have your total income and expense figures down to the penny. Struggles usually come from not knowing where the money problem lies. Knowledge and determination are the strongest weapons in finance troubles. Small expenses add up faster than you think (Hello, Starbucks!) and they can hurt you over time if you don’t catch them early enough.
Third, you’re the only one who can take control of your finances, so do it today! There’s an answer to your specific financial problem out there. Don’t stop researching until you find it.
N: Tell us how you started on the subject of personal finance.
A: When I was in college, someone told me to study my biggest weakness so it could become my greatest strength. I was so neglectful about managing my money back then. I would pay all my bills and spend the rest on shoes. It was terrible!
But I turned things around, got a degree in finance, and fell in love with the subject. I get excited trying out new personal finance ideas or techniques and sharing them with others
N: How is The Beginner’s Guide to Budgeting different from other personal finance books?
A: My book is concise and to the point. I provide direct answers and guidelines without extra fluff because who has time for that? We’re all busy! Budgeting isn’t rocket science, so you shouldn’t have to read 30 chapters to create a successful one.
The book is compact but trust me, every word counts. It helps you identify budget weaknesses and choose a budgeting method. The book also guides you through the implementation process with step-by-step instructions.
N: You listed 13 reasons a person’s budget can likely fail. Of those, which mistake do you think most people make?
A: I see most people struggling with keeping track of where their money is going. It’s so easy for expenses to slip through the cracks when you don’t have a set budget or tracking plan in order. Keep a close eye on every penny going in and out of your account and how often each expense occurs. Knowledge is power and you want a lot of it with your finances.
Grab your FREE copy of The Beginner’s Guide to Budgeting before the promo ends! Along with the book, you get freebies like spreadsheets and printables.
Tell me in the comments: What is your best budgeting strategy? Then, download the free book!
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