In Search of Financial Peace: 5 Things I’ve Learned So Far

In Search of Financial Peace {5 Things I've Learned So Far}  Great tips for attaining true peace & stability in terms of money and personal finances--a must read!When I started this blog, it was not because I was some slick money guru or finance major who wanted to pass on my certified wisdom to the world.  Far from it, actually.  I started this blog because my spending was out of control.  I was unhappy and bored, and my husband and I were on the brink of both divorce and financial ruin.  I started this blog to save my marriage, my family, and myself.

My goal was simply to figure out how to stretch my budget so that I could buy all the things I wanted.  It was pretty simple math, actually: the less I spent on food , the more I could spend on shoes (and everything else.)  There was so much I wanted, so many pretty things out there just waiting for me to take them home.  And while I became quite good at getting discounts on groceries, clothing, & other household goods, I was still spending, not saving.

Eventually, though, all this stuff started to feel oppressive.  Despite the deep discounts, the great “deals,” I felt like I was drowning in things I didn’t need or want, and yet I wasn’t quite sure how to stop wanting it either.  I began to crave–and seek–true financial peace.

The changes started small.  I started the year with the goal of purging my life of unnecessary extras in order to focus on the essentials.  In June we began homeschooling.  In July we took away all my kids’ toys and was completely humbled by the results.  In August, my husband and I signed up for the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University class that was being offered by our small group at church.  We also decided together that we would commit to 31 Days of Living Well & Spending Zero.

I’m not sure exactly when it happened or exactly which event was the proverbial straw, but at some point, as Chuck and I stopped spending and instead started reflecting and talking about our finances, I realized that I had changed.  My goals had changed.  My desires had changed.  The way I viewed money and spending had changed.

And while I am still learning, still growing, still changing, and still terribly in need of Grace, when it comes to finding Financial Peace, this is what I’ve learned so far:

Pray hard

I will admit that my prayers have often been a tad on the selfish side.  In fact, if I am being completely honest, they probably still are to some extent.  Help me, bless me, be with me are still common themes.  But my prayer this year has been been for God to change my heart, to lead me where HE would have me go, and to take away my desire for the things of this world, the things that don’t matter.

This is a scary prayer to pray because if you pray for this, God will answer.  Your heart will change.  You will be led to do things you otherwise wouldn’t have, and to redefine your life and all your goals.

Give Freely

And no, I don’t mean money.  Give of yourself, your time, your talents.  In the words of Ruth Stafford Peale, “find a need and fill it.”  The best and easiest way to stop focusing on what you are missing is to start focusing on what you can do for others.  Stop being so stingy with your time!

Believe me, I understand feeling like you just don’t have time to do any more. But this is where prayer again comes into play.  When I started praying for God to change my heart, he began pressing on me to volunteer with the kids program at my church.  It was something I had always resisted.  It would take too much time, was too much work, too exhausting, too much commitment.  And besides, what if I missed out on some great sermons?

But when I finally gave in, finally started volunteering, it became abundantly clear that this was exactly where I was supposed to be.  And although sometimes it is hard and exhausting and a lot of work, it has also changed my perspective about what is important.  It is impossible to feel sorry for yourself when you are actively working to serve others.

So volunteer at your kids’ school or at your church.  Spend a few hours visiting with residents of a local rest home or assisted living center.  Serve food at a local food bank or become a mentor to at-risk youth.  Call a single mom and offer to watch her kids for a few hours so she can have a break.  Help an elderly neighbor with some yard work.  I guarantee you are needed somewhere.

Less is More

Our consumer-driven culture is SO engrained in this idea of more, more, more.  Bigger houses, better cars, wider televisions with more channels, the very latest gadgets and electronics.   As Dave Ramsey in his amazing, life-changing book, The Total Money Makeover, puts it, “we spend money we don’t have to buy things we  don’t need to impress people we don’t like.”   Our thoughts are so consumed by wanting that next big thing that we rarely take the time to even enjoy what we already have.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the changes I observed within my two daughters when I took all their toys away.  The difference it made for them was immediate:  they were happier, less bored, more creative, more empathetic, less whiney, more helpful.  In a word: content.

Over the past year, as I’ve tried to eliminate the excess stuff in our home and now especially during this month of no spending, I have been pleasantly surprised time and again at just how content I feel with less.  The more I get rid of, the less I want.  That constant pressure to buy the next thing has been relieved, and the stress of figuring out what to do with all this stuff is (almost) gone.

Spending is not Saving

This is often my biggest challenge.  Being Dutch, the thrill of bargain hunting is literally in my blood!  I convince myself over and over and over again that because something is a hot deal, I am saving money.  But spending is not saving!

Last month Husband and I had a fight when he discovered in the backseat a bag of clothes I had recently purchased at Anthropologie.  If you’ve ever shopped there, you know the clothes aren’t cheap.  But, being the “thrifty” shopper that I am, I of course headed straight to the sale room and found several darling items (that I couldn’t live without) for 75% off!  75% off at Anthropologie!  In my mind, it was a no brainer.  Of COURSE I had to buy them….what an amazing deal!   A bargain! I was literally saving hundreds of dollars.  Right?

Wrong.

In reality I wasn’t saving anything.  I was spending $150 to fill a closet that was already full.  Ouch.

And it’s not that there is anything wrong with wanting to wear cute clothes or have a nice house.  Stuff in and of itself isn’t bad.  But don’t fool yourself–like I did for a very long time–into thinking because you paid less you were saving money.   The only way you are SAVING is when it stays in your bank account!  (Another reason to join me for  31 Days of Living Well and Spending Zero!)

 Take Money Advice from the Right People

There are an endless number of people or companies offering up their “expert” opinion on where or how you should spend your money, and the scary truth is that the vast majority of them don’t have your best interests at heart.

Likewise, the societal pressure to keep up appearances can be fierce and it is easy to buy into the notion that in order to maintain a certain standard of living, you must spend money on certain things.  We see the people around us with better cars, bigger TVs, newer kitchens, the latest iPhone, nicer clothes and think “if they can afford it then I can too.”   We get so caught up in the image that we fail to realize that, many times, the people we are emulating can’t afford it either!

Dave puts it a little more bluntly:  Stop taking advice from broke people!  

Don’t listen to the people who tell you to spend more, or who make you feel like what you have isn’t quite good enough.  Actively search out friends, either locally or online, (there is even a great private group of LWSL readers on Facebook you can join), who are willing to support and encourage your journey towards financial peace and then do the same for them.

Finding financial peace is hard work.  It requires real sacrifice and real change, and can even feel a little painful sometimes.  Even so, the rewards are ultimately worth every ounce of effort you put in.

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What is your biggest struggle in the search for financial peace?

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{ 117 comments… add one }

  • Faith September 28,

    Our son plays travel baseball, which is a huge expense. He is 11 years old, is nationally ranked in baseball, and plays year round. We average $150-$200 a weeked on baseball expenses, and this does not include his private lessons, team fees, uniforms, and equipment. To save money, I look for hotel discounts, discounted equipment, and coupons. I pack a picnic lunch for games close to home, and I have developed several meals that can be made in a hotel microwave. We always have a cooler and snack bag, so we do not have to eat at the concession stand. While local rec league would cost us less than $500 a year, we look at this as an investment in our son’s future.

    Reply
    • Ruth September 29,

      Wow Faith, that is a LOT of money on baseball! I can understand wanting to support it though–my niece was the same way with soccer and now she is in her first year of college on a full-ride athletic scholarship.

      Reply
    • Cheryl September 9,

      Hi Faith. Have been where you are! My son is off on his own playing college baseball but it is not paid for. His baseball fees are extra to tuition. I don’t regret all the baseball travel years and I think our son has grown a lot through sport. We have some savings to help our three children through a first university degree but now my son will have to figure out how to finance his sport, and for how long he can afford to play at that level. While he is a good kid, I am not sure he really understands yet the financial sacrifices we made through the years while he focused on baseball and school. I loved baseball but this year we enjoyed our first summer vacation in a decade that did not involve accommodations near baseball diamonds. And now we have 10 years of repairs on our older home to catch up on! There is eventually reality for everyone. But for now, enjoy the game! We did!

      Reply
  • Kayla S September 28,

    My biggest financial struggle is knowing that just because there is a good bargain out there for something, doesn’t mean I need it! I’ll already have 40 of them lined up but getting it for a penny or free makes me feel like I can’t pass it up. But I should know better because the deals keep coming back around.

    Reply
    • Ruth September 29,

      I know just what you mean Kayla! :-)

      Reply
  • Marsha September 28,

    Your story totally hit home. I struggle with finding a balance between spending on a good deal or not. My husband and I have previously taken a Dave Ramsey class and were really inspired by it, however, have fallen back to old habits. I think its time we reinvest in ourselves.

    Reply
    • Ruth September 29,

      It is so easy to slip back, isn’t it?

      Reply
  • Lee Ann September 28,

    My (or I guess I should say our) biggest struggle is not being on the same page when it comes to spending/saving… We definitely have different opinions…

    Reply
    • Ruth September 29,

      That is hard! My husband and I are the same way–different goals, different priorities, etc. We found that the FPU program really helped us start communicating better.

      Reply
  • Patricia September 28,

    We struggle with budgeting and making sure we only spend the money we budgeted for certain things!

    Reply
    • Ruth September 29,

      I find budgeting difficult too Patricia–it seems like there are always things we didn’t account for!

      Reply
  • Jessica S September 28,

    Currently our biggest financial struggle is college. Hubby is finishing RN school and I just completed my Bachelors. Thankfully his school is covered by scholarships and grants but mine was not. RN school is very time consuming and he can not work and go to school at the same time. The time is now to prepare for our future and setup a real plan that we can follow once we both have jobs so that we can start a family.

    Reply
    • Ruth September 29,

      That sounds really tough Jessica! I wish you guys the best. :-)

      Reply
  • Mike Loomis September 28,

    GREAT post, Ruth!

    And, there are some awesome sermons online. ;-)

    Reply
    • Ruth September 29,

      Thanks Mike. And yes, I am very grateful I can get those awesome sermons online….if only I could figure out how to download them onto my MP3 player! :-)

      Reply
  • Karen September 28,

    At this time we struggle…..my husband is medically disabled, son has moved home (hopefully temporary), extended family issues, paying off kids student loans (NO, they never did finish….), working my job M-Fr and trying to cope!! Hoping to be able to retire at some point in my life, just saying!!

    Reply
    • Ruth September 29,

      That sounds really hard Karen. I hope things start improving for you soon.

      Reply
    • daphne August 11,

      Maybe you can get your kids to get a part time or full time job to start paying of their own student loans since they never finished. When I went to college I worked 3 part time jobs & carried a full load & managed to gradute with honors. and spent 10 years paying off my own student loans,. My single mom couldn’t afford to send me to college. also ask your son to contribute something to rent, even if he needs to get a paper route or some other temp job. Good Luck. I know it’s hard. I am struggling too.

      Reply
      • Venice Mitchell February 13,

        that is some good advice. have son pitch in by finding work n paying on his loans and contributing to the household. that will help with some of the finances. good luck

        Reply
      • Kristee February 22,

        Daphne is right and her approach helps develop integrity which these kids need.

        Reply
      • Anonymous May 20,

        If he can’t find a job – because he doesn’t have the education, then absolutely insist he work full-time around the house! There is always laundry and cooking and grocery shopping and maintenance and mowing and…. you get my drift. If he’s home on a “free ride” then he needs to provide service to his family. Not only to ease the household burden but also to maintain his self-respect. It does him no good to couch surf!

        Reply
  • Krista September 28,

    Our biggest financial struggle was buying a house based on two incomes knowing that when we one day had children that I would stay at home with them. Well, now I am a mom to three precious boys and am still staying at home until they all start school. It looks like we will continue to live on one income for at least 4 more years (grand total of 9 years) with only one income! I make every effort to clip coupons and save money wherever I can. I would love this course to help guide me further.

    Reply
  • Jill from Arkansas September 28,

    Hello Ruth,

    I think our biggest financial struggle is trying to adjut to different ways of living. My husband is from Scotland. He never had to plan for medical emergencies or prescription mediciations. He always thought he could just spend away once his bills were paid and life was fine. He had no emergency fund. My biggest struggle with it, is I have a a hard time sticking to NO on the written budget when he is used to spending, and then we both end up spending… It’s an endless cycle. I keep trying and trying to break it, but something kicks us down and we have to use our emergency fund…thenI build it up and KICK…wash, rinse, repeat. It’s frustrating.

    I really hope we win this…I think it would do him a world of good to look at the retirement plans he has to make as a soon-to-be American and I think it would really get us on the same page.

    Reply
    • Anonymous October 2,

      I know your post is over a year old, but I’d like to share that my experience was similar. My husband is the spender and I followed along when our “budget” was blown (we spent more than we budgeted on eating out this month already…oh well. What’s another dinner? Over budget is over budget). Dave Ramsey’s program helped us both immensely. We could see it’s not just about today, we needed a concrete long term plan, and quick and easy goals to start with a bang. We are doing great now…I’m not saying we never go over budget, but our mind sets have changed and more importantly were both on the same page.

      Reply
  • tatiana September 28,

    Oh Ruth, it has to feel great to know that you inspire so many of us!!! Your honesty, your wish to help others… it is just so nice to be able to come here and read and feel like we are part of your life and that you want to be part of ours. I am from Brazil and I moved to the US 4 years ago.. when I got married 2 years ago I had no idea how hard it is to keep a household on a budget! you helped me so much! and now we have a new house, a new baby and so many reasons to really work hard to have a healthy financial life. I just want you to know that you inspire and help me so very much! Thank you!!!!!

    Reply
  • Silvie T. September 28,

    Our biggest struggle is sticking to a rule “what we Need vs. what we WANT.” Having a husband with more then 3 hobbies, three kids and myself ( I LOVE to shop), every month when we see our credit card statement, we want to cry. Plus we have our kids in a private school, that alone is a big expense!

    Reply
    • Jay April 2,

      If your habits are hurting you, it is time to make changes. Here are some things that helped me. Leave your credit card at home. Stay away from places that tempt you to spend. Eat full meals at home. If you are well fed at home, you won’t be hungry when you are out. Same goes for beverages. Get and carry a filled water bottle. If you are a fashionista, learn to dress in classic pieces and create a trendy look with accessories. Learn to say no to wants. Say no to yourself, your husband, your kids. Saying no to buying more stuff will allow you to say yes to time with those you love. Loved ones don’t live forever, a short time might be all you have.

      Reply
      • tessa May 21,

        Very nice advice.

        Reply
  • Ruth V. September 28,

    Our biggest financial struggle is spending extraneous money on things we don’t need. I think I am pretty similar to you – I love to find a bargain and so I spend money on things I probably wouldn’t typically buy because it’s on sale. I am horrified when I look in my closet and see things I bought a few years ago with the tags still attached – what a sad waste of money. I need to start praying on it. Thanks for this great post and giveaway.

    Reply
  • Brandi Hall September 28,

    My biggest challenge is saving…it seems that every time I try to save, there’s something that needs to be purchased, fixed, or a birthday party to attend. Thanks for the great giveaway!

    Reply
  • lala r September 28,

    newlywed with one househole income paying the debt with a year-old baby

    Reply
  • Lindsay S September 28,

    Our biggest financial struggle is pretty much everything. When I was reading your blog I felt like I was reading about my life. I always convince myself that because it is on sale means that I am saving money so that can’t be bad, but I am still spending too much money on things that we don’t need, just because they are a good deal. Thank you for your honesty in this post, it is truly inspiring and nice to know that we aren’t the only ones in this situation.

    Reply
  • Denise September 28,

    Ruth, you did it again. I am so happy to see you writing more, it was worth the wait! Our biggest financial struggle is spending too much money on eating out! I’m guilty of the good deal trap too. Thanks for the giveaway, I hope I win!

    Reply
  • Stephanie September 28,

    Our biggest financial struggle is COMMUNICATION. I have always taken on the burden of finding a way to pay the bills and allow us to do the things we want to do. I have had many sleepless nights trying to figure out how to manage it all. Thanks to this blog I have started to talk more to my husband about where we are financially and where we want to go. My son is 11 and an avid hockey player and has BIG dreams that we want to support. I have been promoting teamwork when it comes to saving and spending and it has been a big help. So…thanks !

    Reply
  • Lynda September 28,

    My biggest challenge is credit card debt, I cannot get rid of it.

    Reply
  • Ellen T. September 28,

    My biggest financial struggle? Sheesh, where do I even start? Credit card debt, overspending on stuff we don’t need, too many expenses, not enough income, poor communication….I guess that is my biggest struggle: not knowing where to start! We need this class SO bad!

    Reply
  • Melissa September 28,

    Our biggest financial struggle is answering the question of “need vs want.” We have been working very hard over the last few years on “simplifying” our lives and we’re getting there, but we still have difficulty answering that age-old question of “do we really need it?” I agree that this blog has helped me tremendously in opening up the finance issues that I have been burdened with for the last few years to my husband and he understood and listened. And while I am not a coupon extremer, I have learned a lot of tips from this blog about using coupons and ads to get the best deal, so I am making huge steps. But I could still use more help!

    Reply
  • Hallie September 28,

    Student loans and credit card debt!

    Reply
  • Karen September 28,

    Thank you for such an amazing post. It hit on some key things that I think are an eye opener for me. Biggest financial struggle is spending! I am now a stay-at-home mom of 3 kids, so making my funds last as long as possible without hitting my husband up for more is a struggle. I like to have things, but mostly I like to buy for my children. After 3 kids, it’s become easier to be strong and not buy every cute outfit or toy, but there’s always something. And, even though I am a thrifty shopper, you’re right. It’s still spending, not saving.

    Thankful that I came across your website, you’re a true inspiration. Thank you.

    Reply
  • ailen September 28,

    our biggest struggle is spending money on things we want and not need. Our house is full of stuff.

    Reply
  • Jen September 28,

    My biggest financial struggle is spending on stuff I don’t need, usually because it is a deal, just like you said.

    Reply
  • Melissa September 28,

    My biggest finacial struggle was plain ignorance. Spending money that I didn’t have and having no idea where my money went. I have started making positive changes, tracking my money and knowing that every dollar has a name. I am currently reading Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover and working with a financial counselor. Already I am starting to see some changes and I am so happy that I stumbled upon your website as another resource!

    Reply
  • Vicky M September 28,

    I struggle with resisting the urge to spend, but so far being close to being debt free is keeping me in check…barely!

    Reply
  • raquel September 28,

    My biggest financial struggle is being one income family, I try to save and doing that I always ended buying things that I didnt need in the 1st place, but had to buy cause it was a good deal. Me and hubby would love to be able to save money even being just one income.

    Reply
  • Wanda Tyndall September 28,

    You are such an inspiration to us all! As middle aged newlyweds, we find ourselfs on the verge of adopting three children, ages 8, 4 & 2. Siblings who were in foster care for the last three years. It’s tough! They are always wanting and needing something, it’s hard to say no but we’ve given up my income so I can be SAHM and finances are already stretched to the breaking point.
    I am praying for God to continue to guide us and give us the strength and wisdom to do right by these kids, they’ve been through so much already. I really want to give them a great life of love, admiration, personal responsibility, self confidence and a great self esteem. They need to feel safe and secure to grow to become all that they can! Your prayers for our family would be appreciated! God bless you all.

    Reply
  • Laura Corlett September 28,

    There always seems to be one more thing…..one more thing before you work on getting out debt, one more thing before you start paying down on the mortgage, one more thing before you start saving for retirement…..but then you wake up and realize that you have wasted too many years. This has been a hard lesson to learn, thanks for keeping us on point.

    Reply
  • Maquel Derosby September 28,

    Our biggest financial struggle is that every time we get AHEAD, we seem to loosen the purse strings a little until we get BEHIND! We can’t seem to realize that these are things that we don’t need…we just want them!

    Reply
  • April September 28,

    Spending when I have a mountain of student loan debt!

    Reply
  • chrissy l September 28,

    My biggest challange is making ends meet on our income.

    Reply
  • Maggie September 28,

    Thanks to Dave Ramsey and you, I do not have to much of a challenge with money. You have taught me coupon, and how to stock pile, which saves our family alot of money. I can’t believe how much I use to spend for everyday things. I’ve been using the envelope system for years and help tremendously on staying on budget and making your money stretch. No scrambling for money when a large bill comes, just go to your envelope and their it is, because you have been filling it all year long. It is was less painful. I guess my biggest challenge is what to do with my 401K to get it to make money for us rather then lose money. Thanks to Dave Ramsey we a debt free including our house, and finially able to save some money!

    Reply
  • JRo September 29,

    The greatest difficulty I have is getting organized and knowing where to start. I’m in a small family of 3 with my husband and 2 year old, and am responsible for our finances in addition to working and caring for my daughter. I know have to budget and did really well as a single woman. It’s been difficult for me to do the same for us as a family by myself since I’m the one in charge of handling our finances. Anything to support putting us on the right track as a family would be a huge blessing!

    Reply
  • Janelle Gratteau September 29,

    My current biggest challenge is dental work with no dental insurance. We have many of the same budgeting issues, and we love listening to Dave Ramsey–we would love to get either give away!

    Reply
  • Julie Christine September 29,

    Growing up, we didn’t have a lot of money. Now, if we have money in the bank, then I want to spend, spend, spend. Unfortunately, this has not allowed us to build up a safety net and my husband will be laid off at the end of the year. His compensation pay will be 1/4 of what he brings home now. I don’t know how we’re going to make it. (Not sure if I was to post on the FB page or here. Feel free to delete if needed)

    Reply
  • Danielle September 29,

    Our prioritys need a good kick in the rear! And we feel so lost on budgeting. I’ve heard a lot of great things about Dave Ramsey and would love to get started with him. Thank you for this chance! And the great blog. Love it!

    Reply
  • carolyn September 29,

    Budgeting is my biggest struggle…. We spend tooo much on alot of nothing….ugh!

    Reply
  • Karilee September 29,

    My husband and I are finally on the same page after almost five years of marriage and we are on the verge of downsizing so that I can stay home more, work less, and homeschool. We have started reading Dave Ramsey’s total money makeover and have been able to see where we have gone wrong. We have student loans, taxes to pay due to being self employed nurses, and other little catch up things. We want so badly to own house in five years so we are downsizing from our 3 bedroom house (with my glorious basement of stockpiles!) to the cheapest thing we can find. I know we can live on the income we have but 1000 rent plus utilities is killing us! I know with strength from God we will adjust to a smaller place knowing we can get control of our debt and buy our own place!! Thanks for all you do.

    Reply
  • Amy September 29,

    My biggest financial struggle is developing and following a written budget. I just don’t think I have time.

    Reply
  • Carrie September 29,

    One of my biggest financial struggles is not giving in to the temptation to buy myself little treats. It’s easy to think I can reward myself for being frugal…and then the reward eats up too much money!!

    Reply
  • Tiffany September 29,

    Keeping track of our budget is the biggest struggle. It’s not hard to do (once you find the system that works best for you) but honestly, just carving out those 15 minutes a week can sometimes be too hard for us…to the point where we’ve totally fallen off the wagon and no longer really even have a budget. We’re pretty embarrassed by how ignorant we currently are about our finances, because we used to be rock stars at it…

    Reply
  • Tiffany September 29,

    fyi the pinterest link on the rafflecopter form isn’t working (but I found your link on your sidebar)

    Reply
    • Ruth September 29,

      Thanks Tiffany! It is fixed now. :-)

      Reply
  • reggie September 29,

    God truly led me to your blog. i love it and excited to explore more. my biggest financial struggle is my urge to spend. when i don’t have the money to spend I’m fine, I stay home, I’m ok; but as soon as I have the money, I’m at the stores looking for a bargain.

    Reply
  • Kate E September 29,

    My biggest struggle is that I never carrying cash and use my ATM card multiple times a day. I’ve even used it to buy a Diet Coke at McDonald’s because I couldn’t scrounge up $1.05 in change. When I do carry cash, it seems to disappear fast and in the end I have no idea what I bought.

    Reply
  • Lauren September 30,

    We have a hefty law school loan, that I would love to see gone sooner rather then later! It’s either win the lotto (which we don’t play),or learn how to spend less on the other stuff so we can get that sucker payed off ASAP!!

    Reply
  • Claire September 30,

    A perfect Sunday morning read, full of great perspective and things I needed to hear, as always. My biggest financial struggle has been balancing what we need with what we want. I have gotten better saying “No” to myself (clothes, shoes etc) but with three children (one a year away from college) it’s hard to say “no” to them sometimes. They certainly don’t get everything they want – hardly. But sometimes it’s easier to just say “ok, fine you can have the new app for the iPad because that will keep you busy for a bit so Mommy can make her shopping list to save money”. Go figure. We need to get serious about savings. It just seems there is never any extra $$.
    Thanks for another great post Ruth!!

    Reply
  • Kimberly Halquist September 30,

    Hi Ruth
    Every month I always say that Im going to save a certain amount of money each month, then a good sale comes, or I want to buy a certain amount of products and pay hardly anything for them coupons , coupon, coupons !!!!!!!!!!! Its good to use them , but they can also get you into ALOT of trouble because I feel I have to get every sale out there. So I plan to start with you tomorrow with no spending the month of October :) Wish me luck !

    Reply
  • michelle September 30,

    My biggest financial struggle is the fact that I just love, love, love to shop! I shop when I am happy to celebrate the day, Ishop when I am sad to make myself feel better, it doesn’t matter, I just love to shop! I am trying to learn to coupon and to get a handle on my shopping. I gotta say, couponing is overwhelming however, I am doing you baby step program and I love it! Thanks for your site too, I love coming here and feeling supported in my journey to financial freedom.

    Reply
  • leslie October 1,

    Our biggest financial struggle is having a large beautiful home that is proving hard to sell and not keeping track of what we are spending on the little things.

    Reply
  • Melanie October 1,

    Our biggest financial struggle is saving money! I find it difficult to prioritize between paying down credit card debt and saving money for our future.

    Reply
  • Robin Reed October 1,

    Our biggest struggle is owning two homes. When my husband got out of the military and found a new job out of state, he moved and we stayed trying to sell our home. Worst idea ever, we drained our accounts trying to sell that house in addition to paying for a temporary place for my husband to live. In a military town people often want to move in within the wek as they work on closing papers because they need a house right then, by us occupying the home it was a huge turn off to many buyers. Definetly a live and learn situation. After finally giving up since we couldn’t make another payment we rented it out, which we should have just done to begin with. Now we are in a two steps forward, one step back situation trying to rebuild our savings while dealing with the hiccups of dual home ownership.

    Reply
  • Adrienne October 1,

    Our biggest struggle is student loans. We are both lawyers and law school is soo expensive! We dont have any other debt- no credit card debt or car payment, but those loans kill us every month! We are committed to paying down our debt!!

    Reply
  • Brantlee October 1,

    I have a hard time sticking to a budget, I commit to spending only the cash I withdraw on payday but now it’s Monday and I’ve already withdrawn more! I would love to take an FPU class maybe this is the motivation I need to get started.

    Reply
  • Denise Robinson October 1,

    I’m starting the 31days journey with you and I am super excited to be following your blog and start spending less! My husband and I always start off strong in saving and then the excitment wears off and we are back to where we started… living beyond our means. The clearance section at Target always seem to suck me in somehow. ;) We recently made the choice to go down to only one income, allowing me to go back to school and finish the degree I started 10yrs ago before having children. So spending less is more important than ever!

    Reply
  • Alyson October 1,

    My biggest financial struggle is thinking that the only time I have fun is when I’m spending money.

    Reply
  • Kim October 1,

    Our biggest financial struggle is for my husband and I to take time to go over our finances together, and go over where our money needs to go before it is already spent and then wonder where it all went. We realize this it is important to do, just hard to actually take the time to sit down together and take care of it when life is full of things to do.

    Reply
  • Pattie October 1,

    I am joining in on the 31 days of living well and spending zero

    Reply
  • Donna October 2,

    Money is a security blanket for me. I have a hard time enjoying spending. I recently left my job and now am nervous about living on one salary. We never had to really budget before. I stopped working because the stress was dominating my life, instead of looking forward to the weekend on Thursday, I was fretting about the next week. Now, I don’t want the stress of wondering if we’ll have enough to replace the work stress. I also don’t want to be afraid to do anything because of money worries. I know we create our own stress but I struggle with it. I’m new to your site and hope that reading it will help me feel more secure and find a balance.

    Reply
  • Kristine October 3,

    My biggest financial struggle is trying to budget/live off an inconsistent income.

    Reply
  • Tori L October 3,

    My biggest financial struggle is too frequent mini purchases. I think I’m not spending a lot (under $10) so it’s okay, but then I keep doing that a few times a week, which really adds up. I could definitely use this to help me budget better!

    Reply
  • britney larson October 4,

    My biggest financial struggles are not sticking to my shopping list/ buying impulsively.

    Reply
  • Tonya October 4,

    One of our things we struggle with is not being on the same page when it comes to spending/saving/budgeting. We are slowling getting there :) Thanks for this post Ruth. I would love to do the FPU class with Hubby. Need to get him on board :)

    Reply
  • April October 4,

    My biggest financial struggle is fast food. It’s a horrible habit!

    Reply
  • Karen Hall October 4,

    Our biggest financial struggle is separating wants vs. needs. I recently spent a week in Haiti and realized how much I really don’t “need” so many things that I have.

    Reply
  • Susan October 4,

    Our biggest financial struggle is living on one income since the economy is doing so poorly. My spouse is in the construction business and is self-employed, since the downturn in the economy he has had a lot less work. Our health insurance rates are also outrageous! We have been basically racking up credit card debt to buy groceries and such. We have three small children that are not yet in school so it would not make sense for me to go back to work as child care would be outrageous!

    Reply
  • Lori McCrory October 4,

    I would love to win!!!
    Thank you

    Reply
  • Christie C. October 4,

    I would say our biggest financial struggle is planning for our children’s college. We seem to do well now with watching our spending and saving what we can, but we would never be able to save enough to put both through college and I do not like student loans

    Reply
  • Kristen S. October 5,

    Right now my biggest financial struggle would be not making enough money to pay the bills, provide the kids with everything they need for school that comes up during the year. I am a single mom of 4 so when projects, senior pictures, and college expenses come up I just don’t know how to do it all.

    Reply
  • Dawn October 5,

    My biggest struggle is buying “bargains.” My biggest struggle about my husband is that he spends more freely than I. Our biggest struggle is that we seem to spend what we have. Our only debt is what we need to pay on our houses and our business so we feel like we can spend, but really we should do more saving.

    Reply
  • Sam October 5,

    My biggest financial struggle is eating out. We LOVE sushi and Starbucks and every month we kick ourselves for how much we spend on them:( Making ends meet on one income in California is really hard so I need to make some changes. Thanks for the great blog! I read everyday!:)

    Reply
  • jamie October 5,

    paying off student debt

    Reply
  • Dianna October 5,

    What a perfect time for this. My husband and I have just begun the debt free journey. We are over $240,000 in debt and have committed together to dig our way out. Of course, the very first day we decided to work hard to get out of debt our washer broke. But, I am happy to report that we are currently looking for a used washer instead of buying a new one. We also are 1/2 to our $1000 emergency fund. I love your website and this month we are working on 30 day no spending. The best part is we are working together on this and we are not fighting. It really is building our relationship to work together.

    Reply
  • Victoria Bonilla-Snead October 5,

    My biggest financial problem is learning how to budget my finances with my husband so we can combine them so we both are spending within our means so we can save for our future.

    Reply
  • Sam DeLong October 5,

    My biggest financial struggle is sticking to the plans I make for longer than a few days!

    Reply
  • Laurie October 5,

    My biggest financial struggle is trying to stretch the budget further each month to try to pull us out of this hole of debt we are drowning in. The pressure at this time of year from endless fundraisers (scouts, school, band etc..) and the pressure of the coming holiday. It goes from overwhelming to depressing quickly.

    Reply
  • Sarah October 5,

    My biggest financial struggle is excessive buying for my girls. They have too much and it only overwhelms them and me. I LOVE your post on purging the toys. I need to do that too! Love your writings as always Ruth! We’ve been doing a Ramsey plan since last February and it has transformed our lives. I love his simple, straight forward approach and have gotten more than a few friends on board with me too!

    Reply
  • Rosie October 5,

    My biggest financial struggle is having my husband and kids on broad to spend less and get a family budget in place.

    Reply
  • Jena October 5,

    Our biggest financial struggle is spending money when we don’t need to! The cars are paid for, the house is paid for, we don’t have credit cards, just a student loan, and we spend spend spend instead of save save save!

    Reply
  • LD Michelle October 5,

    Saying No to my children or not buying things I think they will like.

    Reply
  • Judy October 5,

    Bargain shopping is my biggest financial struggle.

    Reply
  • Crystal October 5,

    Our biggest struggle comes in the form of medical issues. My husband goes in this week for his “confirmation diagnosis” for cancer. We have medical bills up the wazoo, but still have four kids to provide for. With all of this medical debt, I’ve had to use the credit cards just to buy gas some days- it’s so hard, but God is good all the time.

    Reply
  • Ali September 23,

    My personal struggle is I LOVE to go out to eat. No matter how much food is at home and how great of a cook my husband is I still want to take all the family out to a nice dinner. I will pack my lunches for work and then go take my coworkers out instead of just eating what I brought. Not only is it terribly expensive it’s also horrible on my waistline! I know it’s a problem but I just love the whole experience. I don’t buy a bunch of clothes or extras I just love going out.

    Reply
  • Sheila November 5,

    My biggest struggle is also learning how to say no to a great bargain…ugh. But I have been praying for help and it must be doing something because tonight I was tempted to buy something that I didn’t need because it was only for 1.00 each. I knew I didn’t need it but it was so cute and I thought I will use it…I started to grab three of them…and something paused me in my heart as I was about to walk away and said to me “Will you really use it? Just because its only a dollar doesn’t mean you have to take it home.” I tell you it was hard but I was so proud of myself when I walked outnof that store and did not walk away with them. I’m still exulting over that…and then I come across this blog tonight…lol too much of a coincident I think…Oh God I only hope it lasts. Lol. (One day at a time.) I feel like an addict. Lol….I think I will keep praying. I feel like its my only hope to resist the power that sucks me in to buy…

    Reply
  • Samantha November 6,

    Wow, Just found your site and can’t get enough. We are on a similar journey, and you’ve really inspired me!! Thank you!

    Reply
  • Jay January 28,

    We are in a good position financially, both retired early, no mortgage and a good works pension. This has been possible because from the start of our married life and through the raising of our three children, we always saved in individual accounts. It used to be in tins and envelopes and some weeks, when we were paid weekly, there were only pennies going in but we ALWAYS put something away.
    When our son announced his engagement we added a. ‘Wedding account’ which saw us through all three weddings and continues today with a name change …. It’s now for our grandchildren (still waiting on that one!)
    Today it’s all done through our internet bank account but our saving accounts include Car loan (we paid our last car loan off but decided to keep saving the same amount to put toward our next car) grandchildren (ex weddings) Holidays, General Savings, Christmas, House improvements, Emergency, Car (insurance, tax, repairs), Days Out (save whatever we can in this one and when there’s enough we take all three children and their partners for a meal) and finally Anniversary, because next year we want to take the whole family away for a week.
    We are blessed and I am so thankful for the life we have but 35 years ago when we got married, we walked into our first home with nothing but a few possessions given to us by friends and relatives, our mortgage payments were so high we worked overtime just to put food on the table, but we started that first week putting money away to cover everything.
    In the early days we quite often had to borrow from our tins/envelopes for an unexpected expense but we just started again the following week.
    Don’t think that because you haven’t got a large amount of money you can’t save, every penny counts and pennies make pounds.

    Reply
  • Katie E January 28,

    Wow. I mean, WOW. I grew up watching my mom spend THOUSANDS of dollars (mostly on credit cards) for crap our family didn’t need. I saw my mom fighting with my dad almost daily about her spending habits and I swore I would be different when I had a family. But when I answer that honestly, I’m no different. I do the whole “but I got it on sale so I saved” argument all the time. It’s seriously time to stop, before I do to MY family what my mom did to ours. And most importantly, it’s time to change before my kids (3, 2 and 6 months) are old enough to really pick up my terrible financial habits. Thank you for this post, I know it can’t be easy to be so open with the whole world (I can barely be this honest and open with myself most days) but you have truly inspired me to refocus my life – no matter how hard it may be. In Christ all things are possible, right? I’ve just been looking in the wrong places…

    Reply
  • Melissa January 28,

    I really appreciate this post and your blog in general. My husband and I are seeking Financial Peace ourselves. We are trying to follow Dave’s baby steps. We have a lot of debt but I also have a lot of determination to get rid of it. I don’t think God wants us to be in debt…it shows we aren’t being good stewards. We sold our house and are renting, drive older cars, etc. Half of my debt comes from student loans. God willing, we’ll be able to pay everything off in about 3 years….hopefully sooner. I’ll definitely keep up with your blog. It’s nice to hear other people’s journey to Financial Peace.

    Reply
  • Melanie @ Carmel Moments January 28,

    Such a great article Ruth! And it’s all so true. We’re finishing up our January of no spending. And it’s still hard for me even though we’ve done it before. But as you said when you fill your life with ‘things’ it doesn’t fill that void. My most fulfilling days are when I invest in people. I’ve been blogging about my journey over the last several months and it’s been a great adventure.
    Every move I make. Every week I begin with “Who can I help this week? How can little ole me make a difference in someone’s life?” And it’s working. My wheels keep spinning and I keep finding new ways to give, share and care.
    Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  • Anonymous April 2,

    I took this course quite a few years ago but my husband wasn’t supportive with it so i just gave up but this blog is inspiring me to pull out the books and go through it again… maybe this time he will look into it wiht me… he wants to retire next year but we have far to much debt for that to happen… thanks for your inspiration and I will be praying that the Lord will help me with this. I know if I had stuck with it and presevered we probably would have been debt free by now. Thanks again!

    Reply
    • Ruth Soukup April 3,

      Don’t feel discouraged. You can do this! :)

      Reply
  • Selma May 29,

    I think you are doing a brilliant job! We are slowly adopting a more ‘frugal’ lifestyle especially recently. I totally agree with you with regards to spending just cause it is discounted but not really saving. I had learned a few years ago Less is more. I’m not a fan of clutter therefore I don’t buy things ‘just cause it is discounted’ even though I don’t need it. It finitely takes time to adopt this new outlook and there will be a lot of ‘trial and error’. It’s really about learning from your slip ups and getting back on track. Keep it up :-)

    Reply
  • Hildegard June 4,

    Hello, I enjoy reading through your post. I like to write a
    little comment to support you.

    Reply
  • Amber September 26,

    This was a great read and very inspirational! I struggle with buying things bc it’s a good deal. I’ve finally come to the realization that buying things bc they’re a good deal, is still BUYING things and spending money. My goal is now to SAVE money, not just spend less. I finally closed my kohls credit card.. Although I kept paying it off, those 30% coupons make you want to charge all over again because it’s such a “great” deal. I finally made the decision, if we can’t afford to buy it, we won’t. I’ll definitely be following your blog and suggestions! Thanks for the help!!

    Reply
  • Chaya September 27,

    Our biggest struggle is medical insurance…DH and I are both underemployed/ pre-retirement.; both healthy but the least expensive health insurance is costing us just under $1200./mo. BEFORE deductables, co-pays, non-covered stuff (no dental or glasses, mine are 7 yrs old). Although we try to eat healthy, watch weight, don’t drink or smoke, not being young anymore it makes me nervous to totally go without any coverage. That’s our real budget-buster but we may need to go without.

    Reply
  • molly November 1,

    Our biggest struggle is student loans. We have a very small income and a tight budget so we try to put whatever we can on the loans to pay them down faster. We save wherever we can and have cut out everything unnecessary. We just have to trust that the Lord will provide when it seems impossible and He has proven himself faithful.

    Reply
  • Ashley Z. November 2,

    Thanks for the tips!

    Reply
  • Ashley Z. November 2,

    Thanks for the tips!

    Reply
  • Financial Seeker November 9,

    You are right with your tips. I believe the first one, pray hard, is the most important. God is the source of every thing. thanks anyway…

    Reply

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