Recalculating Challenge

The Recalculating Challenge is a 3-level set of hands-on, helpful steps toward financial peace and success. It’s a practical way for you to explore the financial teachings of the Recalculating series.

Finding good ways to manage our finances is an ongoing challenge.

We get lots of suggestions on what to buy, where to shop, and we’re encouraged to do it now! Without financial guidance it’s easy to make decisions we could have made more wisely.

The Bible has good and proven advice on managing our finances, and you can get Jon’s insights in our recent Recalculating series.

 

Quick Links:

Ready to start your challenge?  Let’s go! 

 

Challenge #1: Track it Down

Create a budget that tracks everything you make and spend for 3 months.

You can track it old-school on a pad of paper, use an app on your phone, or use a free online budgeting tool. Check out the resource list below for formats and ideas.

Why? So you have a conscious understanding of where your money actually goes.

 

Challenge #2: Trim it Out

You’ve spent fast in the past, now it’s time for a spending fast – for at least 6 months.

Here are some rules for living mostly with what you already have:

  1. No new clothes, only second hand clothes, and even then, only if I absolutely need it.
  2. No technology, new or used, unless something breaks and I actually can’t work without it.
  3. No new personal items at all (things you’d like to have but don’t need).
  4. If I am married and/or have kids, I will buy for my family, whether that’s a vacation or dinner out or for home or car repair etc., but not if it’s just for me.  Nothing personal that’s just for me.
  5. Gift cards can be used for personal shopping, but any cash gifts can’t be. They will be used for experiences shared with others.
Why? To see how you can be more content with what you have.
 

Challenge #3: Top it Up

Increase your percentage of giving by at least 2%, based on your income and current giving.

As an example, if you give $25 a week and make $500 a week, then you are giving $25/$500 = 5% of your income. Going up by 2% in this example is giving 7% of $500, which is $35.

Commit to increasing your level of giving for at least one year

Why? To practice generosity. 

Budgeting Tools

With so many people welcoming financial help, it is not surprising that there are lots of financial planning options, some of them free.

Since different planning tools suit different people, we’ve provided a variety of ideas – there are even more than this! A few items  that appealed to our webmaster (though maybe not to you) are marked in purple.

In no particular order, here are some options for tracking your budget.

1) Downloadable Excel Spreadsheets (also in Open Office format and Google Doc format).

These 3 worksheets are from the same provider, who also has helpful information on budgeting. You would download the worksheet and use it on your computer.

1) This Family Budget planner is an annual worksheet that has been used by hundreds of thousands of people. It can handle a whole year, so you can see changes from month to month. It has lots of categories already in place, and you can also put in your income. There are spots to fill in actual spending and income for each month over a year. It is good for figuring out where you are spending your money. It also creates a graph.

http://www.vertex42.com/ExcelTemplates/family-budget-planner.html

2)This Personal Budget planner is an annual worksheet just like the Family Budget planner, but is geared to a newly independent adult.

http://www.vertex42.com/ExcelTemplates/personal-budget-spreadsheet.html

3)This Household Budget worksheet is a monthly, by the same provider as the Family Budget planner. It has a large variety of budget categories, and you can compare your projected budget to your actual expenditures. This makes it easier to determine where you are overspending.

http://www.vertex42.com/ExcelTemplates/monthly-household-budget.html

Here’s a link to this sites’s budgeting tips:

http://www.vertex42.com/blog/money/saving/42-effective-ways-to-save-money.html

2) 10 free budget spreadsheets from the Christian Personal Finance page:

Here are various budgeting spreadsheets, including the selected spreadsheets above.

http://christianpf.com/10-free-household-budget-spreadsheets/

3)  A free online financial planning system, which also has apps for the iPhone, iPad, and Android phones and tablets.

Mint is a free, online system that lets you see your bank account information and connect it to your budget. It is used by 10 million people and is very safe (it can not be used to pay or transfer money – it’s just for looking at your bank account). You can set goals and track the money you spend. It even has app versions for Apple and Android phones and tablets.

You can read about it, and sign up. It will ask for an email account and a Mint password. After that it will ask for your bank account information (which sounds dramatic but is secure). Then you can see your actual bank balance and budget all in one place.

https://www.mint.com/what-is-mint/

4) Paid or low-cost online financial management systems (which usually offer some free tools and ideas):

a) I Was Broke Now I’m Not offers some free, downloadable worksheets:
http://iwasbrokenowimnot.com/tools/

At the bottom of that page are some straightforward, online budgeting tools that you can fill in and print out (without needing a spreadsheet), such as:

Monthly budgeting worksheet
Weekly budgeting worksheet

b) Dave Ramsey has a thorough financial planning site, and recommends making contributions a key part of your budgeting.

http://www.daveramsey.com/home/

It also includes free tools and information:
http://www.daveramsey.com/category/tools/

Here is a free monthly budget/actual PDF
Click here for the PDF.

c) Master Your Money is a Christian organization. Even if you don’t pay you can see some good resources, such as recommended books:

http://masteryourmoney.com/rb-books-1.html

d) You Need A Budget is an extensive program, which synchronizes your budgeting over your computer and smartphone. It costs $60.

http://www.youneedabudget.com/

e) Managing God’s Money has a lot of Christian-focused financial advice. There is a lot of good ideas in here.

http://managinggodsmoney.com

On this page you can fill in budgeting categories and print it, or save it to a spreadsheet:
http://www.managinggodsmoney.com/essentialtools/gpsmoneyguide.php

5) The income of people across the globe varies widely. 

You can use this next link to see where you rank.

Just put in Canada and your net yearly income. 

http://www.globalrichlist.com