Growing up can be tough. 

I got my first “job” at 15 years old. In order to help pay my school tuition, I worked as the aftercare attendant at school. I took care of 4 kids, age 10 and under, until their parents picked them up after they got off work.

The next year, shortly before I turned 16, I got my first real receiving-a-paycheck job at a little pizza place in Jenks. I usually had a lot of fun working there, and it made me feel big and important to have a paycheck.

HA! Maybe not. 😉

One thing I quickly learned is that money disappears right before your eyes! I didn’t have leisure money to spend on whatever I wanted, but I took care of gas for my “boat” (an old Pontiac Grand Prix), school lunches and other food… oh yeah, and school tuition. 😬

However, I also quickly learned about budgeting. Budgeting is SO important! Budgeting does so many great things…

  • allows you to save money even when you don’t think you can
  • gives you peace of mind knowing that #allthethings are taken care of
  • keeps you accountable and responsible for the financial blessings you’ve been given
  • and more!

I was looking through my old documents the other day and came across some of my budgeting tools I created in Google Spreadsheets as a teenager and single adult. I thought, “Wow! I bet some of my readers could really use some of these tools.” So, that’s what this post is all about! 

I’ve got an awesome FREE budgeting tool at the end of the post if you stick with me! 😄

 

10 Killer Budgeting Tips

Now, it’s one thing to talk about budgeting, even sit down and create one… But it’s a whole other thing to actual follow a budget. However, if you follow some practical tips, budgeting doesn’t have to be all that difficult.

 

Representing budgeting reasonable
Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

1) Make your budget reasonable.

Have you ever heard of S.M.A.R.T. goals?

Specific, measurable, attainable, reasonable, timely… 

One of my favorite aspects of S.M.A.R.T. goals is “reasonable”. It’s important that your goals (including budgeting) are reasonable.

For example, you may want to put $100 a month into your savings account. However, if you subtract all your bills from your paycheck and you’re left with $25 every other week, you won’t reasonably reach that goal unless you find an additional source of income. 

Or, let’s say you really like Starbucks. Guilty 🙈

If you only have $25 left after bills, and you’ve still got to put gas in your vehicle, it’s unlikely you’ll swing a trip to Starbucks every week. 

🎉 If you're looking for more ways to save money, be sure to check out my 5 Money Saving Tips! 🎉

So, a reasonable alternative might be to save $50 a month, or to only go to Starbucks once a month instead of once a week.

 

 

Represent surprise by budgeting
Photo by Xavi Cabrera on Unsplash

 

2) Don’t cut everything out all at once.

This is a huge one that I’m super guilty of.

Let’s think about this…

Have you ever started a diet of some kind? Maybe, you went on a no-sugar diet. So, you go from drinking Route 44 Dr. Peppers every other day and eating ice cream 4 times a week to no sugar

Yikes.

You know what’s going to happen? You may do really well for a week or two, or maybe even a month or two if you’re ultra disciplined. But at some point, you’re going to cave, and it’s not going to be pretty. As a matter of fact, you’ll probably devour more sugar in those few moments of desperation than you would have if you simply cut back a little at a time.

So, when you’re budgeting, don’t say, “Alright. NO MORE BUYING ANYTHING.”

Because, friends, that doesn’t work. 😏

From my own study of proper budgeting, the suggested method of cutting back is 10% at a time. However, you may absolutely need to cut back more than that. Do what you must, but if at all possible, cut back on spending in increments. 

Maybe you go from spending $100 a month on fast food to only $75 a month on fast food. Then the next month, you only spend $50. And so on, until you reach your desired goal.

 

3) Set your priorities.

Do you LOVE going out to eat with friends? Or would you rather buy a new clothing item every week?

When you’re dealing with limited funds, these are things you need to consider. How do YOU want to spend your money? What’s important to you?

Do you give tithes and/or offerings in church? If so, it’s important to set that at the top of your list so it always gets taken care of each month.

Before you create a budget, it would be wise to set aside some time to consider your priorities.

 

Representing making lists
Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

4) List out ALL your expenses.

Some expenses are obvious, like your car payment, or your school lunch bill, or your rent. But what about things like gas in your vehicle, or money for youth activities on Fridays, or a gift for an upcoming birthday?

Each month (or however often you budget), it’s wise to take time and think of all the things that will require money that month. This way, you know you’re not leaving anything out, thus coming up short for something.

 

5) Set your bills to autopay.

This. Is. A. Lifesaver.

I was always afraid to do this because of a survival mindset. What if the money isn’t there?!

But guess what? When you budget, you know the money will be there – even if things are tight!

So, go ahead… Log in to all the places where you have bills, or call up the companies, and get those things on autopay. 

You can avoid late fees, and sometimes you even get a discount for autopay! Score!

 

6) Try the cash envelope system.

My husband and I did this for a couple of months earlier in the year, just to give it a try. Let me tell you – it WORKS!

One day, my husband was at Sam’s getting meat to make beef jerky. He called and asked if we needed anything. I said, “Not that I know of.”

“Oh, well I was passing by the drinks here, and didn’t know if we needed some BodyArmours or something like that.” Funny guy, huh?

I smiled. “Well, you’ve got the cash. If you want, go ahead and use $20 of it for some drinks.”

*silence*

“I don’t want to do that!” He was flustered.

“Well, if you want them, you can have them. It’s just going to come out of the cash for this month.” 

He sighed. “I don’t like this.”

Mission accomplished. 😂 I’ve never seen my husband second guess SO many purchases as he did while we were doing the cash envelope system! There’s just something about actually seeing the money slowly decrease from your envelope that makes you not want to spend it.

Give it a shot. 😉

 

Representing setting up autopay
Photo by Cookie the Pom on Unsplash

7) Put something in savings every paycheck.

Eeek. I was so, so bad at this as a teenager and single person. 

I always felt like I “didn’t have enough”. I thought putting something in savings meant huge amounts of money. It was scary to me.

But you know what? It doesn’t have to be huge amounts of money. It could be $5. $10. $20. 

If you do that every paycheck, and don’t touch it, it will add up. Sure, putting more in at a time will cause it to add up more quickly. But something is better than nothing! Let’s look at some numbers…

Say you got your first job when you were 17. You get paid twice a month, and you put $10 in savings every time you get paid. You graduate at 18, continue working part-time while you attend college full-time, until you graduate at 22. 

You know how much money you’ve saved?

Yeah, only $20 a month.

Oh? But that’s $240 a year.

That’s $1200 by the time you graduate college.

YOU SAVED OVER $1000 while you went to college and worked part-time. By doing no extra work! 

Mind-blown. 🤯

 

8) Actually write out your budget.

There’s something about writing something down that…

  1. imprints it into your memory and
  2. makes it seem more real.

With budgeting, if you take time to sit down and list all of your income, then all of your expenses (as I suggested in #4), and even goes as far as to date each of your expenses (i.e., rent on the 1st), it creates a visual of where you’re at financially. Then, you can see where you may be able to save money or cut costs here and there.

 

9) Be accountable.

This is huge for anything you’re doing in life. 

If there’s someone who you KNOW is going to ask you how things are going, you’re more likely to do what you’re supposed to do. 

So, find someone who you can ask to keep you accountable with your money. It probably won’t be your best buddy, but maybe a parent, an older friend, your spouse, or a sibling could help you out.

Make sure it’s someone who you trust AND who you can count on to consistently ask you how your budget is doing. 

 

10) Make adjustments as necessary.

Some people think that a budget can’t budge. (I know, bad attempt at a joke.)

SO NOT TRUE.

A budget is there to be manipulated, changed, adjusted, whenever it’s necessary! Does that mean you say, “Oops, spent over my fast food allowance, I’ll just goes change the budget so you can’t tell.” 🤭

Nooooo.

But, if you make it through one budget cycle (whether that’s a month, two weeks, or a week), and realize that something was absolutely unrealistic or unattainable, make some adjustments that next time around. 

If it’s Christmastime and you know you’ll be spending more money shopping than usual, adjust the budget so it will work. You may need to cut back in another area, but it’s totally okay, and GOOD to adjust your budget as necessary.

 

Representing you got this
Photo by Emma Matthews Digital Content Production on Unsplash

11) YOU GOT THIS!

Wait, what? It’s only supposed to be 10 killer budgeting tips. 

This isn’t really a tip. 😉 I just want to say that you CAN budget successfully and use your financial resources wisely!

Take it from someone who’s budgeted near-to-nothing paychecks as a teenager, and now budgets a whole household’s income to help us pay down debt.

You CAN! 🎉


In addition to these 10 killer budgeting tips, I created an easy-to-use budgeting spreadsheet JUST for you!

This spreadsheet includes columns for projected amounts (your budget), as well as columns for your actual spending, then a pre-calculated space that will show you the difference from what you actually spent versus what you budgeting.

Advertise free budgeting spreadsheets

Also, there’s a pre-calculated section that shows you how much you’re budgeting, then subtracts that from your projected income, so you can see what’s left!

AWESOME!

Don’t know what any of that means? No problem! You can always shoot me an email, and I’d be happy to help you with the spreadsheet!

Simply enter your email below and eagerly await your AWESOME spreadsheets! 🎉🎉🎉

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music is one of my “things”.

You know, everyone has their “things” that they really love, things that make them feel alive, things that evoke passion and purpose.

Yes, music is definitely one of my “things”.

One day, I’d love to record an album. Not because I think my voice just needs to be heard, but because I’d love to help someone else through my music.

(that’s a topic for another time)

A few years ago, I wrote this song titled One Thing.

One Thing — A Song for the Hurting

The story behind this song is interesting.

Usually, when I write songs, I’m inspired during prayer or a church service, and they come to me very suddenly. It’s like BAM — you must write this now! 😆

It happened the same way for this song, but the background behind it is what’s interesting.

One year, during a conference our church hosts, I was singing during altar call. The message preached that night was “Trust God to Do What’s Right”.

We were singing Still I Will Trust You, and I happened to notice a young lady praying. She really caught my attention, for reasons I won’t get into. But I felt so burdened for her.

It seemed like she was struggling with something. Honestly… she reminded me of myself. The moment was strangely embedded into my memory.

Anyway, a couple of years later, this song came to me while I was thinking of her.

Listen to One Thing here. The lyrics are below.

Please note: I am no professional musician, nor do I have professional recording equipment, as evidenced by the link above. Hopefully you hear the message over my mess ups. ♥️


I don’t know your name
I don’t know your heart or your story
I don’t know where you’ve been
I don’t know where you are
Or even where you’re going

But I can tell that you’ve seen better days
And you may think your pain won’t go away

But this one thing I know to be true
Jesus, yes He’s calling you
Through the hurt and the tears
All your past and your fears
Could it be that all He’s telling you
Is that He’s faithful
He’s so faithful
I know that it’s true

You may feel like your world is falling apart
You may think that no light can shine in this dark
But I know that my God is always still there
If you’ll just call His name He will answer your prayer

Cause this one thing I know to be true
Jesus, yes He’s calling you
Through the hurt and the tears
All your past and your fears
Could it be that He could take it from you
Because He’s faithful
He’s so faithful
I know that it’s true
And you can know it too
Yes, He’s calling you


Did you enjoy the song? Think someone else might as well? Feel free to share!

 

 

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that if you make a purchase using the link, I will receive a small commission at no cost to you. Read the full disclosure here. Thanks for supporting the Curry House Blog. ♥️

 

5 EASY Ways to Save Money TODAY!

Most of these tips you can find just about anywhere you search on the Internet. So what makes this post different?

I have personal experience with each of these, and I’m going to share all the nitty gritty, ugly truth with you. #transparency


Eat at Home

Cliche. Yes. But it’s the truth.

Let me just be real for one moment…

At the beginning of the year, I printed out our bank statements for the previous three months and used different color highlighters to group the different ways we spent our money (i.e., yellow for groceries, green for bills, etc.). I calculated each category, and I was astounded – and frightened – to find out that we had spent $500 on eating out in just one month.

$500 IN ONE MONTH. FOR TWO PEOPLE.

What. on. earth.

Now, we can throw out all the excuses in the world to reason with the absurdity of this number. We had a new baby. We were busy with activities. I struggle to eat enough calories to keep up with Annie. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. 

But the ugly truth is that sometimes humanity is just lazy. You can do a lot of things such as meal planning, weekly grocery shopping (with a list!), meal prep, freezer meals, and much more in order to EASILY save money on food!

If you’d like some more in-depth ideas, I suggest you check out Amanda at The Little Frugal House. Her and her husband are money saving, debt paying PROS. They paid off their mortgagein just 5 years!! 😱 

So yeah… you should definitely check out The Little Frugal House.

 

Make Your Own Coffee

>>insert foreboding music<<

Not everyone drinks coffee, but a lot of people do. (Obviously, because I think I see more brands of coffee popping up all of the time.)

It may be a bit of a learning curve to make your own coffee at home, especially if you like *fancy* coffee. But i promise, it’s possible! There are so many DIY recipes out there for lattes, frappucinos, espressos – anything you can think of!

Here are a couple of my favorite DIY recipes:

I tend to make up the rest of my experiments coffees.

You don’t have to have a fancy coffee maker, but it helps.

You can even buy all the fancy syrups online to make your coffee taste extra fantastic (if that’s your thing).

Then, when you have company over, you can wow them with your amazing coffee making skills.

Speaking from personal experience, this is a lot of fun. 🤪

 

Use Reward Apps

People spend money. The end of the story. We buy gifts, we buy clothes, we eat out, we buy fancy coffee, and so on.

So, why not look for ways to be rewarded for the money you’re already spending? 

Plus, these apps are 100% free!

SCORE! 🎉

 

Rakuten

Rakuten is a money saving app that partners with a ton of online shops to give you cash back on the money you’re already spending. Basically, companies pay Rakuten to send traffic to their websites, which equals cash back for Rakuten users!

I’ll be honest here – I don’t do a ton of online shopping, except with Amazon (which unfortunately is not connected with Rakuten).

However, this was particularly awesome during the Christmas season, because I could look for cash back rewards that would actually make buying directly from a name brand store CHEAPER than buying from Amazon. 🤭

Sign up today and you’ll get $30 cash back after you spend your first $30!

 

Fetch Rewards

Do you ever keep receipts, but you’re not sure why?

Do you just throw them away?

Well… Here is a reason to keep those receipts! Fetch Rewards gives you points just for uploading your receipts! Then, once you hit 25,000 points, you get a $25 gift card! And you didn’t even do anything differently except take a photo of your receipt. 

I will say that it takes a good while to rack up points. However, if you watch out for *extra* point opportunities (for example, a certain brand rewards extra points for buying from them), then you can really rack up the points. Plus, they periodically offer extra points, just because!

If you sign up with my referral code 4ARA6 then you will get 2,000 points just for uploading your first receipt!

 

Ibotta

I’m still learning about Ibotta because there are so many ways to save money using this app.

You can get cash back from online grocery shopping (which so many people are doing now).

You can get cash back when you buy gift cards.

You can get cash back when you do your online shopping at so many of the stores affiliated with Ibotta.

You can search through the offers and get cash back on different items that are already on your grocery list, simply by snapping a photo of your receipt.

And the list goes on and on!

For example, I just selected 3 offers that popped up on the main screen of my Ibotta app:

  • $0.50 back on any item from any grocery receipt
  • $0.25 back on any brand of any variety of shredded cheese
  • $0.25 back on any brand of bananas

And BAM. After my grocery trip tomorrow, I will simply upload my receipt, and get $1 cash back for things I was already buying anyway!

 

Save Change

Okay, so this obviously only works if you use cash. 

However, I think we all use cash at least sometimes, especially with the growing popularity of the cash envelope system. 

If you don’t know what the cash envelope system is, it’s another great way to save money and make sure you stay in the budget. Basically, you withdraw the cash every month (or week, or however often) for the things you’ll be spending money on during that time. Then, once the cash is gone… no more spending!

Anyway, one thing you can do is save all the change that you get and watch it add up in a surprisingly quick manner.

Let’s say you spend $8.13 at Raising Cane’s for lunch, and you pay with a $10. You’ll get $1.87 back. Put the $0.87 in a piggy bank, or jar, or whatever other container you’d like. (Better if it’s transparent so you can watch the change pile grow!)

If you do that only once a week for the entire year, you’ll save over $45! Just by collecting the change that will probably fall into the cushions of the couch, or get lost under the seats in your car! 😁

It’s even better if you label your jar with a specific use like “New Winter Boots” or “Weekend Vacation” so you’ve got a goal you’re working toward!

 

Remove Saved Card Info

So this last tip seems so simple, it’s almost ridiculous. But guess what – it WORKS. 

I got this tip during a free webinar with Caroline Vencil, who is a money saving and money making machine. She claimed that it would prevent impulse shopping online. I went ahead and gave it a shot and…

She was right.

The convenience of having your card(s) info saved onto your phone or computer makes it so easy to buy, buy, buy without stopping to consider, “Is this in the budget? Do I need this? Do I really love this? Will this serve me well? Is it worth it?”

But those are all things that should be considered when making purchases.

Simply removing your saved card(s) info from your devices makes it an inconvenience to shop online, thus making it more unlikely that you will buy impulsively.

Just give it a shot. I dare you. You probably don’t need that lightning deal from Amazon, anyway.

And if you really do, it will be worth it to type in your card info. 😉


There you have it – 5 EASY ways you can save money TODAY, probably even before you go to bed tonight!

What are some ways you save money? Let me know in the comments!

 

If I’ve learned anything in life, I’ve learned that family isn’t always blood.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I’ve got some awesome family. Despite what’s happened in the past, I’m grateful to say that I have good relationships with all my family members. 

But over the years, I’ve needed a lot of extra help. Anyone else?

Every time Mother’s Day rolls around, I can’t help but think of all the special women in my life that have helped to make up the difference in my life. From youth leaders, to teachers, there’s a long list of people that I take special care to honor on Mother’s Day.

So, to all the mamas, by birth or by choice, here’s a special shoutout just for you.

 

To All the Mamas, by Birth or by Choice

Mamas that carry and birth their babies are crazy strong. I’m just saying, because now I’ve done it, too. That process showed me that God created me to do something absolutely remarkable, even though it seemed impossible (…really). 

 

To The Biological Moms

Obviously, there is no bond quite like the bond of a mama and baby that have spent nine special months together, then continue to spend many developmental years growing and learning. It amazes me every day how “in tune” you become with your child when you are with them almost 24/7 from the time they are born. 

To all the mamas out there that carried, birthed, and are raising their babies – you are so strong, so amazing, and so vital to the continuation of society. Even in the midst of overwhelm, stress, and exhaustion unlike any other, remember that you are everything to that baby, and there is no one quite like you. You are doing awesome!

Yet, there are plenty of other circumstances that end with a baby / child to be raised by someone other than their bio mom. And guess what…

 

To The Adopted / Foster Moms

Can I just pause a moment and say… Wow. 

I have a friend that is a foster mom to three cute kiddos. Over the course of this fostering relationship, she has shared some of her struggles and frustrations with me, as well as her joys. I am in amazement every time she shares stories with me.

My precious friend goes through SO much emotional, mental and physical exhaustion to take care of these kids, which have become like her own, and yet with no promise that they will be hers.

If that doesn’t sound like a mama, then I don’t know what a mama is.

To all the mamas that are fostering, whether in the process of adoption of not, or have already adopted – you are so selfless, so giving, and so important to these kids in need. Even when they yell at you or treat you terribly, or when you’re so done with “the system” – just remember that you are doing an incredible work, bringing hope to a young heart.

 

To The Special Moms

Even with a wonderful bio, foster, or adopted mom, I think almost every child finds a “role model” at some point in life. Sometimes, especially if there are issues in the home, these role models become pillars of strength and virtue, especially for a young girl trying to find her way in this big world.

This was certainly the case for me.

For a long time, my “special mom” was Grandma Marie. When she passed away, there were many women that helped me in various ways throughout my teenagers years. 

There’s something about a person that has no good reason to care, but does anyway. There’s something about people that see a need in a broken life, and work hard to earn trust so they can help fill that need. 

To all the special moms out there, who unofficially take kids under your wings, who expend emotion and energy to build relationships with broken people – thank you. You are doing a work unlike any other, that may seem to go unnoticed the rest of your life. Remember that God is watching, and you will receive your reward. 


Well, now I need some tissue. 😏 I’m grateful for all the amazing women in my life, whether they are “officially” moms or not. 

Just for fun, I’ve created some Mother’s Day files that you can send to all the special women in your life! These are 7×5 inch, one-sided Mother’s Day cards that you can easily save to your phone and send via text or email. You can also download the PDF file of all 7 cards, which would be perfect for printing out at home!

I’ve created a card for everyone!

  • Mama
  • Mother-in-Law
  • Sister (one child)
  • Sister (multiple children)
  • Friend (one child)
  • Friend (multiple children)
  • Special Woman

Just enter your name and email below, and I’ll send them your way! 😄

 

If you’re already part of the email list, just go to the Freebies Page and use the code from my weekly emails!


How about you? What special women are you honoring this Mother’s Day?