According to a 2015 CNBC article most Americans are still struggling to make ends meet financially. I can only imagine the case is worse for families in small towns, and for many pastors who serve in these communities.
When it comes to managing finances, the answer seems simple. Spend less than you make.
As easy as this sounds, few people can seem to get it right. For the ones who do, tremendous benefits can be had.
But where do you start, and how do you prioritize?
I like to think about it in terms of gotta, outta, and nada.
There are some things that I gotta pay. There’s no wiggle room, no getting it around it. These are top priority.
There are also things I outta pay. Most of the time these are going to get paid, but if something comes up, I can cut these out of the budget with little consequence.
The rest are nadas. Things that are nada necessity. We may think we need to have cable tv, but in reality we could easily do without it.
To give you a better idea I’ve listed my gotta, outta, nadas below.
Tithe – People will have different opinions on this, but for me, tithing is something I gotta do. God has blessed me, so I can bless others. The church gives me the greatest opportunity to do this.
Pay Rent/Mortgage – The majority of us have one or the other. If we don’t pay it, we lose our home. This has to be at the top of the gotta list.
Have Insurance – Insurance has become a gotta. Home, automobile, and health.
Pay Utilities – Electric, water, gas, etc.
Eat Something – Groceries, kids’ lunches, we all gotta eat.
Wear Clothes – Clothes and shoes wear out, especially when you have children.
Put Gas in the Car – Very few of us live in an area that we can get away without having a vehicle. If you have a vehicle, you’re gonna have to put gas in it.
Pay on Debt – Car payments, student loans, credit cards.
Give Gifts – Christmas, birthdays, weddings. This seems to be the budget category that keeps increasing for me.
Have a Telephone – Contrary to popular opinion, a telephone is not a gotta. People got by long before phones were invented, but by this point you outta have one.
Have Life Insurance – I know way too many families financially devastated because someone died unexpectedly that didn’t have an insurance policy. You should have at least enough for funeral expenses.
Maintain House/Car – Every home and car is going to need repairs and maintenance. You outta maintain them.
Go on a Date – If you’re married, you need to continue dating your spouse. Plan at least one night a month to go on date, more if you can afford it.
Take a Vacation – I may be a bit biased here. I love traveling, so for me, this is something you outta do. In reality, this probably should be a nada.
Put Money into Savings – One of the hardest things for me to do is save. I outta do it, but I don’t do it enough.
Eating Out – This is the budget killer in my house. Fast food is easy, but it’s not cheap. And it’s nada necessity.
Hobbies – Golf, fishing, crafts, whatever your hobby is, it’s nada necessity, and chances are it’s killing your budget.
Buying New Things – The only thing you need to buy new is underwear. Every thing else is negotiable, and chances are you’re much better off buying used.
Buying Name Brand – Same as buying new, it’s nada necessity. Keeping up with the Joneses doesn’t work if you go broke in the process.
Having Internet – I didn’t get internet at my house until I started this blog. Does not having internet stink? Yes. But for most people it’s nada necessity.
Having Cable/Satellite TV – Same as the internet. Just because everyone else has it, doesn’t make it a necessity. Most people could save significant dollars by cancelling TV services and getting Netflix or something similar.
Addictions – For some people it’s coffee, for others it may be cigarettes. In many cases your addictions not only kill your budget, they’re also killing you. Give them up.
I know this isn’t a perfect system, but for those who are looking to better manage their money I hope it is a help to you.
If you like the Gotta, Outta, Nada system I’ve developed an Excel spreadsheet complete with all the formulas you need to make it work for you. Leave a comment below and I’ll make sure to send it to you absolutely free.