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    The 31-Day Budget Challenge

    We are doing a 31-day budget challenge. There. I said it, so it must be true.

    I’m going to confess something to you. I am owed a lot of money …and I mean a lot. I have dozens and dozens of open invoices out at the moment and since I don’t have a steady paycheck, it’s not helping our financial situation. We aren’t drowning! I’m not filing chapter 8 or anything – I don’t want you to worry. But my husband and I have decided that we need to anticipate this kind of issue moving forward. On the books, I had a fantastic fourth quarter so far… but we’re still waiting for all of my work to literally pay off.

    This year, we also spent a lot of extra money on our house. Tens of thousands of dollars, in fact. It was all necessary. We’ve been here for a decade and so many things just sort of broke down. It is what it is. Life tends to come at you in this way. But you have to be prepared for it when it does.

    I can’t spend what I’ve earned if I don’t have it in my bank account. This is a big risk for an entrepreneur. I need to learn how to live smarter. I don’t want to deal with this issue again. In a few months, it will all straighten out. But what happens until we get there? We need to budget better. That’s where this budget challenge comes into play.

    In order to budget better, I have to know exactly what I am spending. Ready for some hard truth? I don’t. Full stop. I whip my credit cards out like they are made of steel and charge until my heart is content. Technically, it should all be covered because it’s been earned. But it’s not received and that is a huge PROBLEM.

    So, we decided to cut back in a big way. December isn’t a good month to do that, but we have no choice. After a long discussion, I told my husband that we need to start tracking everything we spend on a daily basis. Just so we can get an idea of where it is all going. Two things are omitted for us – heat and coffee/tea. Those are my non-negotiables. I don’t care how much it costs to amp up my heater, I’m doing it if I get cold. AND I also need a Starbucks every single day of my life. I also literally need that. I won’t fight you on either of these factors. They are pretty firm. Everything else is on the table.

    So, here it goes! Day one. Logging every single purchase we make together in a notebook. Tracking every bill that comes in, every shirt I pick up, every takeout order. Even how much money we donate to church on Sunday. All of it – the good, the bad and the ugly! We need to see where our money is going. Then, at the end of December, we will see what we’ve spent collectively and compare it to what we’ve earned collectively. Is there a shortage? What can we be smarter about in January? Did I buy too many clothes for the kids? Clothes that they absolutely do not need!  Then I will pull back HARD next month in that category. It all matters.

    Yes, I know you think I should use Google Drive to do our budget spreadsheet. It would be easier for the both of us. But I am a paper and pen kind of girl. No matter how digital I am in real life, I live and die by my planner and notebooks. I need to physically WRITE IT IN – every purchase. I need to be able to leaf back through the pages and see where the cold spots are. I need to hold this book in my hand.

    What do I expect from the budget challenge?

    To find out that we spend way too much money on food and entertainment. I already know this. It’s our favorite thing to do. Go out with friends. Every weekend. I live in such a social town!!! We need to dial that down a bit. Or maybe just have everyone over for pizza. It doesn’t always have to be so big and grand. What’s wrong with pizza? Nothing I tell you… nothing.

    Do you ever wonder how much money you spend on a regular basis? Have you ever done a budget challenge before? We hooked up every single one of our credit cards to ACORN – which is an amazing savings service by the way if you don’t use it – and can see line by line what we’ve spent between the two of us. We are going to use it as a backup for checks and balances. I cannot WAIT to see the outcome. It’s going to be horrible. I JUST KNOW IT. But knowledge is power and that’s what we are looking for right now. Power over our finances.

    Will you join me in this budget challenge?

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    Vera Sweeney, mom, blogger, social media influencer and New York resident, is the founder of She is considered one of the top female digital influencers in today’s social media space. Her lifestyle and parenting brand helps busy women stay on top of the latest trends in fashion, food, family and travel.