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Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Money Saving Mom's Budget by Crystal Paine

Often, one of the many responsibilities of a mother is management of the finances. Even if it is not solely her area, she still must manage the money she spends while doing the family shopping. It can really become just another thing on the plate to stress over. Crystal's book, The Money Saving Mom's Budget, may very well be the key that can get moms moving in the right direction, releaving stress and clearing guilt.
by Crystal Paine
Crystal's book, The Money Saving Mom's Budget, could not have come at a better time for me. As a mother of four in just five years, life washed me over and swallowed me up without warning. My health, my house, and my finances in cluttered messes around me, I realized about six months ago that it is time to swim to the top, break through, and breathe again.

Crystal offers straightforward, step by step advice for those who find themselves needing a financial make over, but have no idea where to start. She takes the overwhelming concepts of budgeting, saving money, and managing money and breaks them down into manageable steps of action.

With each page turn, I became more and more confident and excited to jump in and get started. “We can DO this!”

I am most excited about the chapter on clutter reduction and the chapter on writing a budget. These are two areas that very quickly frustrate and overwhelm me.

Crystal poignantly demonstrates just how much money we waste when our homes are cluttered and chaotic.

I throw away toys and other items that have broken when stepped on. I spend money on fast food or expensive frozen convenience food because I cannot find my kitchen counter for cooking space. I could not find my children’s socks on Sunday mornings. After several stressful Sundays, I just went out and bought more. When I see marked down children’s clothing, I swipe it up, purchasing items they do not need because I have no idea what they do or do not have. I waste money on water and laundry detergent, washing loads two or even three times, because I totally forget about the load in the washer for days on end.

You get the point. I waste money, because my home is cluttered and chaotic. Crystal gives very precise, “get it done” steps for decluttering your house from top to bottom.

Chapter three addresses the ins and outs of writing a budget. I’m going to be completely honest here. Budgets scare me. Not because I’m afraid of skimping or having to stick to it, but because I’m clueless. How do you know how much to budget where? What if you don’t even have enough to cover the bills? What if you’re behind in bills… do you budget that in or do you budget according to being caught up? If you follow the cash system, what’s cash and what’s not? Confusing stuff.

Crystal’s guidance in The Money Saving Mom's Budget is the only budgeting help that I’ve heard or read that has not left me feeling like an idiot. She assures that it’s ok to take it slowly and learn as you go. I like her “Three Months to a Realistic, Workable Budget”.

Month One: The Food Budget

Month Two: The Bare Bones Budget

Month Three: The Full-fledged Budget

I’m still a bit scared of the complexity of the full-fledged budget, but I think setting up and following a bare bones budget will make it feel much less like a gigantic algebra equation and much more like a simple plan of action.

Overall, I give The Money Saving Mom's Budget a solid five stars. This is definitely going to be my financial guide for the coming year.

(Disclaimer: This post contains referral links.)


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