Long Way Round Blog

Discussing social and cultural inequities and advocating change.

Updated: Dec 7, 2020

Finally, we come to the end of the cycle, from organizing accounts to creating a sustainable plan for financial stability.


It all started with Jordan Page’s Budgeting tips, workshops and tricks and it ended with a simple (though time consuming) system of budgeting system. The Eazy Peezy Budget Sheets were built to be an easy way to build financial freedom, it was tested while living on less than $1000 a month, and refined during the COVID pandemic.


TO RECAP


In step 1, I organized 5 accounts to label where my take-home income is distributed. My take-home income totaled $541.00 bi-weekly; this comes out to $1082 a month after taxes.


In step 2, I created a monthly snapshot of which expenses take priority, what my goals are for the month, and displayed all of my bills for the month in one easily accessible place.


In step 3, I budgeted based on the exact amount of income and expenses, developed a fool proof way of making sure my bills are always paid and to constantly re-evaluate what I’m spending my money on.


Now, we are finally at Step 4, credit budgeting.


STEP 4: CREDIT BUDGETING


To increase my success of becoming financially stable with an income of $15,000 a year, I wanted to create something that helped me capture three things:

  1. Access to all of your collections, loans, and outstanding credit NOT included in your monthly bills already.

  2. Credit Scores for all three bureaus

  3. A clear end goal!

If you are wanting to build your credit and/or decrease your overall debt, the absolute best way to do this successfully is to have a specific goal in mind.

Building Credit to Buy a Home

Speak to a housing counselor, they are free and will give invaluable information, including pre-qualification standards and the necessary assets and credit scores. Figure out what your options are today and then plan to be ready to buy 'tomorrow.' You can also reach out to a mortgage lender to ask for a free consultation but be weary, it can be difficult to vet reputable lenders.

This is where research is key.


Whoever you talk to, don’t be surprised if they ask you questions you may not have the answers to. I had no idea how to even apply for a mortgage, let along the minimum and maximum price of a home I was looking for or how much I could put down.


Start with how much you can afford a month for a mortgage and fee's. You can easily search for a mortgage calculator and try to figure out some of these answers before speaking with a professional.


Your 'tomorrow' may seem likes it's far off but consider using other services and gathering more experts to help you plan out a success path.



Cleaning up Credit/Collections

Your path to success doesn't have to focus on credit building or buying a home, it could just mean you have no more debt.


Think of what your next step goal is, discuss ways to improve your credit and decrease debt with a debt professional. I used Ovation but there are plenty of other agencies out there; be warned that this may be where you need to spend a bit of money. There are also third-party places that refer you to services based on your need like debt.com, they do the vetting for you. Really the right option for you, depends on what you need.

If you need to clean up very old credit, try disputing items on your credit report yourself, you can go to the bureau's websites to dispute collection items. If you need to build credit, then paying off debt and then disputing the 0 balance might help you get a loan or credit card. If you need to clear a specific large debt – like an eviction charge or utility bill, then consolidation might be an option.

Again, make sure you consult a professional before going head first into any of these strategies; I found a few thorns were hidden in some of these strategies.

Paying Off Loans

These are the most stressful but there is a system to the madness. If online access to your student loan accounts are available, use them! Organize your loans based on when they become active. Ignore consolidation until you are stable enough to be able to pay regularly. Although the rule of thumb is always to pay on interest even when your loans aren't due, if you are living in poverty, that's usually not an option.


Most people have to apply for a economic hardship for years before they secure a job that pays enough for them to actually afford paying their loans, and at this point you're usually only paying the interest for a while. There are several professions and service opportunities that can help alleviate the student loan burden but they often require commitments that some of us aren't able to take advantage of.

Overall, I’ve found that crashing your credit and getting buried in debt is much easier than building your credit and erasing debt. It's hard and it's almost impossible if you aren't privileged enough to be able to pay for professional help or even just make payments on time.


It can feel like an uphill battle and for a while it will be but your dreams and aspirations are worth the climb.

The Eazy Peezy Budgeting Templates:

Step 1: Budget Set Up

Step 2: Monthly Budgeting

Step 3: Paycheck Budgeting

Step 4: Credit Budgeting

If there is one thing I’ve learned after changing careers 12 times and enjoying 10 years of higher education, it’s that I knew exactly what I wanted to do for my career when I was 7 years old and it only took me 13 years to actually get there.

So what happened between age 7 and 32 to cause me to travel down every path, jump head first into every opportunity and take several unplanned detours when ultimately, I’m led right back to 7 year old me.



THE CAREER TASK CHECKLIST


For a long time, I thought career meant a job. A career meant I would receive a consistent amount of money doing whatever I had been hired for because obviously, I was good at it.

I had a natural propensity for active listening, encouraging others to speak, and creating a space for others to express themselves without a fear of prejudice.


I loved school, my favorite subjects were writing and history, I was the founder of my high schools' first diversity club, the speech writer in policy classes and the vice president of the Japan club. My career path wasn't blatantly obvious and I was told by several people that the things I loved weren't 'money making careers'.


Now with COVID as a major determining factor in a person's career, I wish I had these tools to help me plan for a career years ago, so I can only imagine the anxiety many may be feeling as they step into a COVID workplace.


You may not know exactly what you're looking for but I bet you know exactly what you're not looking for. Use a career task checklist to connect the dots between what you want to do, what's actually out there and what you need to get there.


A few tips to help you get started:


Tip #1: Don’t bother with the career quizzes. I’ve taken so many of those tests over the years and while I understand their use, honestly, career quizzes show you the career you think you want at the time but it doesn't give you a plan to get there.


Tip #2: Talk to someone. What led me to where I am today was a person, I spoke to someone who I thought was ‘cool’. I admired her work ethic, I wanted to be able to inspire people the way she did, to be kind and strong in a profession where I felt I was contributing to society.


Tip #3: Be aware of how trauma and poverty is affecting your decisions. I may have known what I wanted to do when I was 7 years old but I didn’t believe I could do it until I was 29.


Starting your Career Checklist


The goal is to have a clear end point, a list of what you’d need to get there, and reviewing your current accomplishments so that you feel empowered to continue down that path even when things get difficult.


First Step


Where I want to go?

There is no right answer or one answer, try not to think so much of a career title and instead think of: what work makes you most happy, what work provides a livable wage, and what work do you have the ability or passion to become proficient in.


Where am I now?

List your accomplishments, years of experience, natural talents, passions, educational pursuits, etc. Think outside the box here, don’t just go off your resume, think of what you know you have the capacity for but may not be taking advantage of right now.

Second Step


Things to research?

This is where those passions and interests can be explored, ask questions like: how long would pursuing this career take, what education would you need, what’s the best location to work, live or go to school, are there alternative options?


Next steps?

Here is where things get real; you may complete this worksheet several times without ever completing this section. You’ve researched, you know where you are and where you want to go, now what? This will be the most difficult section to complete because this is where you take action. 

  • Step 1: Write down your immediate next step and your end goal.

  • Step 2: Create a master list and list everything you need to do or complete first, second, third, etc. that will get you to your next step, than do it all over again until you are finally at your end goal.

Third Step


Task Check-in Timeline

Create the task check-in timeline section once your master list is complete. Organize your master list based on your timeline(s). Any risks or doubts will become clearer as you begin to complete your running master list and check-in timeline.

You will feel such a state of accomplishment and empowerment as you check things off your master to-do list and see yourself move one step at a time closer to your goal.

Updated: Dec 7, 2020

The saga continues! To recap, last year I studied the financial guru and YouTube star Jordan Page, to see if her tips and tricks to financial freedom could work for someone living on less than minimum wage. Short answer – yes, long answer – it required a few tweaks.



If you’d like to learn more about my review of Jordan Page’s Fun, Cheap, or Free blog and YouTube channel, you can read my blog here or read my Budget Set Up blog here.


PAYCHECK SET UP & GOAL TRACKING


My overall budgeting goal was to increase my success of becoming financially stable with an income of $15,000 a year. I created the Eazy Peazy Budgeting Templates to help me capture three things: 

  1. what/where I am spending my money

  2. how often I’m attempting and hitting my savings goals

  3. and what needs to change for me to continue to improve my finances. 

My Budget Set Up assisted me in tracking and re-evaluating my finances and gave me a foundation to begin monthly and paycheck budgeting using Eazy Peezy Templates.


This system includes simple and to the point budgeting sheets that grow with your financial goals but don’t overwhelm you. These printable budget sheets were created specifically on the tried, failed and tried again method and are designed to allow you to edit them as your life and finances change. 


Step 3: Paycheck Budgeting

In Step 1, we used the Eazy Peezy Budget Set Up packet to organize 5 accounts to label where my take-home income is distributed. My take-home income totaled $541.00 bi-weekly; this comes out to $1082 a month after taxes.


In Step 2, we used the Eazy Peezy Monthly Budget packet to organize and prioritize your bills, spending and savings for the month.


In step 3, we are using the Eazy Peezy Paycheck Budget packet, a three page organizing tool to help you see exactly where you're money is going from each paycheck to help you keep track of your monthly goals.


Every paycheck is an opportunity to increase your financial stability - it all starts with a plan. Tracking your expenses based on what is actually coming out of your paycheck is the best way to start budgeting if your new to budgeting or trying to practice good financial habits.


Make sure to have your monthly budget sheet and the EXACT amount of your paycheck ready.


Organizing your Bills

Add your exact due date to the first page of the paycheck budget and organize your bills by their due date. Add bills in order starting from your paycheck date and end it by the following paycheck date.


If you are paid bi-weekly, your due dates should include the first bill due within that pay period and the last bill due either on or before the next pay paycheck date.


Knowing exactly how much money you’ll need each paycheck for bills, savings and investments, will inform you on which paychecks you may have a surplus of income vs the expenses due and vice versa.


This doesn't mean that when you have a surplus you should go out a buy a Maserati. If you want that new car or new phone, than get in the habit of saving for it.


Get into the habit of saving for EVERYTHING! – whether it's a the newest cell phone or a new desk lamp.

Make a list of everything you want to buy and add them to your savings goal. As you continue to work on your paycheck budgets, you'll get closer and closer to buying that item.


Spending your Money

You should experience a sense of ownership over the money you earn. No one wants to just live with their head buried in bills and their pockets empty.


The best way to spend your money is to spend is safely. Developing safe financial habits, budgeting and being accountable for the expenses you take on and the luxuries you choose to buy is all part of being an independent human.


Start by seeing where your priorities are and try to expect where extra expenses may pop up. Organize your spending account by most important to least important. Take stock of what you already have and list those needs first.



Tracking Savings & Changes

There may be some paychecks were you aren't able to add to your savings but don't forget, your savings accounts are used for much more than just emergency saving.


This is especially important if you have debt you are trying to pay down. After completing the first two pages, if you haven't already added your debt as a bill, add you debt payment to your savings account.


If you have a large collection debt to pay, you can save up by adding a small amount of money every paycheck or every month. Track any changes or additions you want to remember but aren't applicable to your current paycheck.


What's the Point?

At this point you may be asking what exactly is the purpose of all this budgeting and planning?

Accountability

Saving money is difficult, even more so if you usually don’t have enough money to pay for your basic needs. Conversely buying items is the easiest thing in the world to do. Make your purchases carry weight by planning to buy luxury or extra items after you've paid for the necessities. Rework your budgets frequently, try to buy sustainably, and get in the habit of putting something into savings.


Financial Habits

There are so many bad habits we learn as consumers, habits that often begin early in our lives. What you aren’t told is that some habits can severely damage your credit, effect your buying power and create a serious issue for the financial security you'll want in the future.

"Financial stability alleviates some of the strain of our everyday struggle; it's not a cure by any means, it is just one less thing you need to worry about.”

The Eazy Peezy Paycheck Budget sheets are meant to be so easy that you could pull out a piece of paper and start budgeting even without the templates. Just start; wherever you are in life and whatever your working with, start budgeting towards a financially stable you today.



The Eazy Peezy Budgeting Templates include Monthly Budgeting but there’s more:

Step 1: Budget Set Up

Step 2: Monthly Budgeting

Step 4: Debt / Savings Budgeting


Future posts will debut the rest of the Eazy Peezy Budget Templates AND subscribers of the newsletter will receive blank printable versions!

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