I love to read books on all different subjects, especially those that have to do with areas of my life I’m trying to improve. One thing I’ve been trying to do is find ways to reduce my spending in different areas. I’ve tried different budgeting methods over the years, but found none of them really worked. Then I found a book called “The Authentic Budget” by Sarah Li Cain. It discusses a completely different way of saving and spending your money — spend money on and save money for the things you value most.
In this book Sarah Li Cain starts by discussing why budgeting sucks, then goes into talking about the different budgeting systems and their pros and cons. Then she starts talking about values-based spending, how to determine what your values are and how to track your spending so you can create a budget that will allow you to spend money on, and save money for, the things you value the most. For example, if you’re a creative person, you might find you spend your money on things that allow you to be creative, such as art supplies or art lessons. One thing that might be worth saving money for is a trip to someplace that’s very “artsy” — that has a lot of art museums and artistic areas, like Paris. Adventurous people might want to save money for adventurous trips, like white water rafting trips. If you value security, you might want to consider saving more money towards your 401(k) plan.
The next thing you need to do is take a look at your must-haves — can you reduce the amount you spend in these areas or even eliminate them completely? For example, one thing that my husband and I are looking into is Sling TV, which may help us reduce the amount we’re spending on our cable bill if it works out well. Reducing our cable bill will allow us to spend and save more money on other things that matter to us — for me it’s websites and services that will help me improve and market my writing, and for my husband, it’s parts for his ATVs. We’ll also be able to spend more money on the house we’re (hopefully) going to be buying in the near future.
The next step is to look at your “maybe” items — those things that you may be able to reduce or eliminate. You need to figure out if they align with your values. If they don’t, reduce or eliminate them.
After that, start tracking your spending. Sarah provides many ideas for ways this can be done — you can use a software program such as Quicken, which is what I opted to do, or you can create a spreadsheet. I use spreadsheets for certain things, but I find that for tracking my spending, Quicken is easiest because I can add tags to different items that show my different values. Less high-tech people can just use a good old pen and paper, though.
After you’ve started tracking your spending, you can start creating a plan and figuring out what your spending triggers are, and who your money frenemies are, if you have any.
In the final chapters of this book, Sarah talks about ways to automate your spending and saving, how to set boundaries regarding spending, how to work with your spouse or partner, and how to release your spending triggers.
One resource that Sarah does provide that will help readers tremendously as they work through the different steps in this book is a link to a workbook she created that readers can download and work through as they read the book. I highly encourage this, the workbook does make it much easier to work through the different steps. I will warn you however, it takes a lot of paper and ink, so you if you don’t have a lot of either for your printer, I would recommend working through the different exercises using a notebook or notepad instead. I tried going through it by just writing my answers to the different questions in a notebook, but that didn’t work as well for me as using the workbook did.
I won’t say this book completely changed the way I look at spending and saving money, but it does align more with the way I view spending and saving. I’m looking forward to using some of the techniques and ideas that Sarah discusses to manage my money better, especially after Kevin and I move into our new house.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the book, you can check it out here: http://amzn.to/2pRKSHL