Where to begin? Debt can be overwhelming. Your initial instinct is that you should do something about it, but you do not even know where to begin. You may feel that you have to pay off the largest amount of your debts first. You may then become discouraged, thinking how impossible it is to ever eliminate that largest amount, and the idea becomes futile. You feel helpless, so you decide to go into debt even deeper, blaming all of the problems on society being the reason for your debts. Then you decide to eliminate the highest interest rate debts first, which is a step in the right direction, but not entirely accurate.
I am not a wizard of Excel. I teach you basic skills to organize and manage your future finances. Economics is fundamental to your future, and it provides a hopeful route for you to achieve success. Management, time management, time organization, all of these skills are developed in the practice of your management of your finances. Your future is in the palm of your hands. Learning basic skills in Excel can help you achieve whatever it is you want to achieve. You will find, once you start paying down debt that you are in control of your future, not the banks. Positive things will start to happen to you once you begin to develop and progress your B.I.E. You have the power. There are some realities you must come to grips with first.
It is not societies fault for creating your problems. It is YOU who have created your problems. Once you realize you are in debt, you are like many others across the world. There is no shame in finding out you are in debt, the real shame is finding out and doing nothing about it. Denial is not a way out. Recognizing that it is YOU who have put YOU in this situation, and recognizing that it is YOU who are going to get YOU out of it is the first key step towards financial freedom. You can no longer practice a shoot-from-the-hip approach with your finances, it’s time to start organizing them and joining millions of other people across the nation reaching their goals on a path toward financial freedom. No one is going to help you except YOU. If you want success and financial freedom, then YOU must work for it. Organization and management of your finances is hard work, which many other successful people have been able to find out on their own. You need self-restraint, which can only be achieved if you have the ability to see what a purchase will do to your future account. Excel enables us to be able to look ahead into the future to see how a purchase now will impact our finances in the future. This approach moves beyond the paper old method, where your budget stops once your pencil leaves the paper. You may hear others espouse a Biblical Code of King Solomon, but this strategy is simple: you are in it for the long haul.
People who work hard should gain from their labor. This system I show you in this book will teach you how to organize your money and to save money using several different scenarios to organizing your BIE. I use the term “save” loosely, because no one truly “saves” money if they are simultaneously in debt. In order to differentiate from the use of the term monthly “savings,” I simply refer to it as “carry-over” amount, and not technically “savings.”
The key to eliminating debt is this:
- 1. Finding out that you are living beyond your means each month using your BIE.
- 2. Recognizing that you have a spending problem, i.e. spending more than you bring in.
- 3. Making cuts to stay within your budget to either stay in the black (stasis), or green (positive number), but certainly not red (negative) territory.
- 4. Next, ine all of your debts up from smallest to largest, pay the minimum
amount on all of them, except the smallest one. Throw everything you
have, even the kitchen sink at it, until it is eliminated.
To allay the fears of the conspiracy theorists and nay-sayers out there that think I am another get-out-of-debt gimmick, I AM NOT being paid by Microsoft for touting Excel. There are many other spreadsheets available on the market, and the fundamental principals for organizing a budget are the same. I am simply advocating a proven method that works. It is up to YOU to test it out. The worst thing that can happen is you learn a little bit about Excel, because you will learn to budget! In fact the only person standing in your way of achieving success is YOU. As soon as you learn this then there is nothing in your way, now is there? There are many nay-sayers out there that didn’t want me to write this book, because I believe it will help people. Keeping people miserable is a profitable industry, and I want to reverse that. I just need YOU to read on and follow through this book to the end. The reason I chose Microsoft Excel is threefold, 1) I had some formal training in its use through college, 2) it is a ubiquitous program, and 3) I wanted a mechanism to reach the greatest number of people I could positively impact in the nation and abroad. In today’s day and age, there is far too much skepticism and negativity. I wanted to begin to spread positivity like Dave Ramsey.
Now that you know the basic formula for financial success, there is no excuse for you to not implement it. Once you alleviate yourself of the normal monthly payment on that lowest amount, you then roll that amount which you would normally pay on it into the next lowest amount. You need what Dave Ramsey calls “quick wins!” This is real, and it works. It becomes an obsessive-compulsive passion, where you want to eliminate debts and move onto the next lowest amount more and more aggressively until you isolate only your last largest debt (usually the mortgage). By this time, you will not even notice that you have gone from poor credit rating to excellent credit ratings, qualifying for things like home mortgages, and low interest credit cards and charge cards, despite your remaining debt.
There are undoubtedly more complex formulas that others will and have been figuring out using their own BIEs, like pivot tables, or linking multiple spreadsheets together. Although they may be helpful for some, this book does not teach you any of these complex methods. I make it simple for anyone to understand the basics of setting up a simple budget in Excel, and easily learn some cell functions for people to learn and practice. Repetition and practice will make you budget experience perfect.
Let me explain. Most people live paycheck to paycheck, where they simply check the availability of funds in their bank accounts to see if they can “afford” something. Dave Ramsey says that most people are in debt, so you don not want to be like most people. You want to be weird. So do not ask most people for advice on how to get out of debt. READ THIS BOOK ALL THE WAY THROUGH, or read Dave Ramsey’s books! You must KNOW if you can “afford” something, and not whimsically think you can afford something if you glance to check your bank account to see if you can buy something. Simply checking the availability of funds in your account is not management. Banks love people like you if you do this, because you are blindly managing your money. You must know several key things to actually manage your money.
- Find out precisely who it is you do business with, how much they take out, and on what day they take out the money. You are entitled to know.
- Find out what methods they take out the funds, i.e. electronically, direct payment methods, garnishments, etc.
- Do they take out their funds on a regular basis, i.e. a specific day once or twice a month?
- Line out precisely in Excel, using my methods outlined in this book, by lining up your expenses versus your income, copy and paste different months over and over again, linking to the previous months cell D20.
- Make the leap of faith once you’ve outlined all of your business transactions in Excel and stop paying attention to your actual bank account. Check it only every once in a while to make sure there are no erroneous charges. Your math in Excel is the same math that your bank should be following. So Excel is a good way to double-check their math. It should all add up. If it doesn’t then there is a problem.
If you follow these methods, then you will have successfully made the leap of faith from depending on your actual bank account, and begun the journey of trusting your B.I.E. Doing this will help better prepare you for what will and should actually happen in your bank account. Banks are designed to cheat you into poor decision making with your money. There is a reason most banks make you wait to actually get your money, or wait for checks to “clear.” This means they do not trust you, and they want to give you more opportunities to mess up and pay them more money when you overdraw your account. In this case, you are beholden to the bank, and you are not in power. The more possibilities for you to mess up with your money means more money for the bank. Never mind the multiple fees associated with accessing your own money, knowing precisely how much is in your account at any given time is hard enough to keep track of. This is why the leap of faith into your B.I.E. is so important, so you can determine exactly how much is going to be in your account at any time. You have to take the leap by entrusting that your math in Excel is more precise than what is actually happening in your bank. Stop being at the mercy of the bank, and start being a financial manager of your own money by entrusting your spreadsheet abilities you will learn in this book. Remember – you are in charge, not the banks!
Taking the leap of faith into Excel means dropping the checkbook and check register, and outlining precisely on what day transactions are to occur with whomever it is you do business with. Line up all of your expected expenses, and simply deduct them from your income plus how ever much money you currently have in the bank account. The point is this: you simply need to manage you money in such a way that you live within your means from month to month. This means that you have to bring technically just one dollar more per month than you spend each month of the total sum of money that flows through your business transactions. Someone who simply saves one dollar more per month is far better off than someone who blindly manages their bank accounts and pays $35 overdraft fees every month. The person who saves one dollar per month knows how to manage their money, whereas the other does not. You want to know how to manage your money. You are in control, not the banks.
Of course, having just one dollar more per month is just an example, and in no way would it cover emergency expenses, which do happen. It is the lowest form of saving money, one-dollar carry-over to your next month is still technically savings, but it is not optimal. We want you to shoot for more savings per month, which is what I will show you.
Never Underestimate the Power of Your Receipts
Many people for various reasons turn down receipts. Smart people collect them, take them back to their homes, sit down and open their spreadsheets and accurately make the deduction in their budget, crumble up the receipt (depending on if you have to save it on file or not) and throw it away. There is a different between people who do this and those who nonchalantly throw their receipts away. People may not care about their finances, but KNOWING what is happening with your finances is the key to debt freedom.
Organization and Time Management
You will quickly find out that your new habits you are practicing will actually begin to positively affect your social life. Your proper management of your finances will rub off on other people. Sometimes however, your friends who normally are successful at getting you to hang out at bars, and live lavishly in splendor, may not be able to get you out as often as you quickly realize it does not comport with your B.I.E. This is fine, because your future is much more important that theirs. You are in control, not them. They will simply learn to live with your new way of life. If they are truly friends, then they will learn to accept the new you.
You have the power to say NO to your friends, and others who want your money or your business or you time. Your time is important to you and your family, so spend it wisely! Your time literally is money, and every moment of it that people waste, you do not have to stand for it. Dave Ramsey likes to carry wads of cash around to places to make them come down in price to what it is he wanted them to come down to. This is all right, but somehow I do not like the idea of an elderly person carrying around wads of cash to stores, flashing it around to bring down a sale.
There is more power in simply asking a question to someone, anyone, than you might expect. Most people will answer, and ramble on giving more information that expected. Most people do not even realize that they do not have to answer your question, and go on with their business. The power to ask a question is similar to the power to say no with your own money. You do not have to make a purchase when pressured. You have simply say – I have to check my finances, because I am budgeting. This is the best tactic to use whenever someone who thinks they are making a sale to you, and are pulling you in closer and closer to make the sale.
How to sell things on Craigslist or Ebay versus garage sales
Many people are ambivalent to do business on Cragslist or Ebay, because they are scared to negotiate with people in odd impromptu settings. That’s OK it’s just unconventional. Many people are used to garage sales, or yard sales, which are just a technicality of difference. Those who hold garage sales or yard sales first must have a garage or a yard to do the sale! This leaves out the entire apartment dwelling world. I sell on Craigslist, because I believe in the idea of redistribution for things that still hold value, where people can compete and out bid one another to give top dollar for the actual value of the items. This cannot be achieved at a garage sale or yard sale where the sales are first come first serve, out of sight and out of mind. It is out of sight and out of mind because once you sell something to someone, someone else who might have given you more for that item will have never known you had the item if they do not see it with their eyes. However, with Craigslist, many people have the ability to see the item for sale and instantly become worried if it is still available and are willing to pay the asking price for it as soon as possible.
Carrying Around Your BIE
You should get used to carrying around your B.I.E. with you everywhere on a thumb drive. You can encrypt your Excel spreadsheet with a password if you are worried of someone else accessing your B.I.E. Another critical piece of advice is to also have on that drive a Microsoft WORD document that you can also encrypt with a password, of all of your user names and passwords of all of your electronic accounts and confidential information. It sounds scary to do, but today everyone is on the go and this information, which is accessible from anywhere, should be utilized to maximize time management and efficiency for business transactions. Don’t worry – if it is encrypted, it is safe. Do not listen to anyone. Do not name the Excel and WORD documents “passwords” or “budget.” Name it something inconspicuous like “baseball games” or “contact list,” and encrypt them. It is only you who should have access to them.
Caring for your management skills leads to efficiency and time management. Having everything you need at the ready, and updated on a thumb drive can avoid countless hours of hassle in trying to access your accounts if you forgot a user name or password. It is also unwise to have the same user name and password for everything you do business with. Once a hacker learns your simple access names he can simply attempt to use it everywhere striking gold once or twice more! With an encrypted WORD doc you can save complex user names and passwords of random key generation, and simply highlight them – saving them using cntrl+c, and pasting them in the account prompt using cntrl+v. It’s that easy to avoid hacking. You can also easily change your user names or passwords using this same method twice a week if you are that leery of hackers in virtual world, but this may be unnecessary and conspiratorial. However, it is yours to safeguard, so do with it as you wish. Just get in the practice of using it! Take charge of your life using these simple tactics, and better manage your finances and your future.
Once you dive right into entrusting your B.I.E. over your bank account by taking the leap of faith, you are ready to take the next step: – EXPLORE – What I mean by “explore” is to throw in a few wish list items you’ve wanted to get into your B.I.E. Place items in future months like a car (13k), or a new washing machine ($400), or a new bicycle ($250). You can see what the addition of these items into your spreadsheet will do to your overall B.I.E. It is called the “butterfly effect.”
Once you become successful, or even while in the process, you should learn to give. This does not mean that you are becoming a Socialist. It means, just like tithing in church, that you can afford to help others less fortunate than you by giving directly or indirectly through organized institutions. Giving does not always mean monetarily. It could also mean giving someone else the know-how to implement a B.I.E. I refer to the old Indian proverb, “Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime” (Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune, Dec. 24, 1945). In this instance, KNOWLEDGE IS POWER.
The next chapter begins with basic problems for you to do in Excel. The chapter after that one delves into the lives of five different people. Each of them briefly, although similarly, sets up their own B.I.E. for you to follow along and learn the way to do it, several different ways. Scenario #1 is Lucy, who is an employee for Starbucks coffee. She has health benefits through them, but is attempting to work hard on her own and afford a living as a fulltime student at the University of Chicago. Tuition rates are high, but she is determined to get her Bachelors degree and move towards a Masters Degree in the social sciences. Scenario # 2 is Jim, who is an average blue-collar worker who depends on an irregular source of income from odd jobs, but wants some form of consistency in his life and seeks to establish it through his high school knowledge of Microsoft Excel. Scenario #3 is Martha, an elderly woman living on her social security deposits made directly into her bank. Scenario #4 is Tasha, a young single mother who is a teacher at the local high school, but struggles to make the ends-meet and make her payments for basic living expenses. Alfred is a wealthy self-made entrepreneur who seeks ways to maintain his assets by budgeting in Excel. All of the above scenarios are real-world people, who live near you. They are your neighbors. They are having problems. The only link that binds them all together is their own innate acknowledgment that IT IS ONLY THEMSELVES WHO CAN CORRECT THEIR OWN PROBLEMS. Therefore, they have all independently reached the same conclusion that they are going to fix their debts.
 butterfly effect
(Physics / General Physics) the idea, used in chaos theory, that a very small difference in the initial state of a physical system can make a significant difference to the state at some later time
[from the theory that a butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world might ultimately cause a hurricane in another part of the world]