There is a 6 letter B-word that strikes fear into the heart of many adults. Bagels–no. Bounce–no. Bakery–no. Booger–well maybe, but no. Budget–that’s it. If you are starting to perspire already, wait! Don’t close your internet browser just yet, there is hope! I’m excited to share with you a resource I’ve started to use that has completely transformed budgeting for me.
Before I get into what tool I use for budgeting, you may be wondering why you’re reading this on the Living Wellness Blog. Great question! Our hope in writing these blog posts is to bring you relevant and encouraging information that will nourish your body, mind, soul as well as your family and home. In Living Wellness for Growth Groups, Ashley gives a great list of resources that have helped to mentor her on her journey of Living Wellness, including a resource for finances (check out page 243).
Budgeting can be a huge source of stress (I know it was for me!). Stress negatively effects how your body is functioning, predisposes you to illness, puts tension in relationships, and can encourage unhealthy coping strategies such as binge eating/drinking…none of these sound like fruits of the abundant life that Jesus wants us to be living in. Ashley talks about stress is one of the leading causes of chronic inflammation (Living Wellness for Growth Groups, p. 92).
The Bible actually has a lot to say about money (here are 50 verses that discuss money), but the biggest take-away is that we should not be controlled by money. Matthew 6:24 states, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” I don’t know about you, but when I’m stressed about finances or budgeting, that sure feels controlling! It does not have to be this way!
Couple disclaimers: I have no financial ties to this resource (wish I did!) and the company has not asked me to review their product. I’m doing this review completely for your benefit. Also, by using this resource, I make no guarantee that you will have more money or find the secret money tree seeds that seem to be out of stock at all greenhouses. What I can say is that if you invite God into your current circumstances and ask him to guide and direct your thoughts and actions about money, then God will be faithful and help you.
About a year ago, a good friend of mine was telling me that she found an awesome budgeting app. It was so awesome that she was paying a yearly subscription for it. I was flabbergasted. #1 She was totally calm and said the word budget. No perspiration present. #2 She PAID for a budgeting app??? Sounded a little fishy to me. She clarified and told me that the Every Dollar App is free, but you can pay to have your transactions be tracked automatically from your bank, credit card, etc.
I dabbed some sweat of my forehead, put on a fresh layer of deodorant, and started looking into this Every Dollar app. This app was created by Dave Ramsey Solutions and fits well within their approach to finances. I personally have not attended any Dave Ramsey classes or used any other Dave Ramsey products. Needless to say, the app is super easy to use and you don’t need to attend a class to use it to manage your budget (though those classes may help you with the fundamentals of financial management/stewardship). You can assess Every Dollar as an app on your smart phone or on their website: https://www.everydollar.com.
The app and website seemed pretty straightforward, and it even gave me a bunch of sample categories that I should be considering in my budget including various household expenses, car expenses, giving, income, etc. I decided to give it a try but moved ahead cautiously.
The first few months of using the app were eye-opening. I only added our big category expenses (groceries, gas, income, giving, etc.) and decided to exclude things that were not easy to put a dollar amount next to like personal fun budget, gifts, health expenses, money for Christmas presents, clothes, subscriptions, etc. We quickly realized that even if we met our budget for the big categories, our bank account was continuing to dwindle. We had to come to terms with assigning a dollar amount for everything.we.spent.money.on….yuck! Once we finally did that, we quickly started realizing where we needed to reallocate funds and curb spending. I don’t think my husband would ever use budgeting and fun in the same sentence, but for me it was kind of fun to see if and how much we could stay within our budget.
The first few months of using the Every Dollar app was also exhausting. I would easily spend 1-2 hours once or twice a month adding our expenses to the app or reconciling expenses in the app to our accounts. This tedious number crunching was creating a whole new kind of budget stress. We decided to re-examine our budget and see if we could squeeze out enough to cover the Every Dollar subscription price of $99 a year. I wasn’t completely sold on the subscription idea until we started a two week free trial of the subscription. I no longer had to spend hours reconciling various accounts and the app.
Fast forward to Christmas: this was the first time I had ever planned how much I was going to spend. We started making financial goals: renovate the basement, slowly increase giving to be 10%, create an emergency fund. I never felt like I could make financial goals before because I had no idea where we were spending money or how much. Through using a budgeting tool, we came to experience a whole new level of balance that I’ve never known. I also no longer felt controlled by the stress of budgeting—what freedom! By no means has this app allowed us to magically multiple our income, but it has helped us honor God with what resources he has provided us by being good stewards of our finances. One last perk–using this budgeting tool has helped me to see more of God’s abundance. He knows my needs and provides for them even during the times when it seems like he is not giving me enough.
I hope this honest review of the Every Dollar app/website has been helpful for you. My prayer is that these blog posts will help to nourish you and your family so that you may find greater freedom and balance and live in the abundant live Jesus wants to offer you. Blessings on you.
You are worth more than mediocre. You are worth exceptional health!
Caitlyn J. Hanson
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