Julie from the Bossy House joins the Grace for Single Parents podcast to discuss why everyone needs to get bossy with their budget.
Jen: Hi, this is Jen from Grace for Single Parents where you’re parenting and God’s grace collide. Today I’m talking to Julie from the bossy house about money systems and budgeting as a single parent. If you hate budgeting or feel like what’s the point? Since you’re already in debt, then this episode is for you.
Okay. Welcome, Julie to our show today. And can you just give us all a little background of who you are, what you do it a little bit about your life?
Julie: Yeah, I’m Julie and I blog at the bossy house and I create systems for women who want to take charge. My day job is that I’m a school principal of a Pre K through eight charter school in New Orleans. And I do that during the day and then at night, I read about finances mostly.
Jen: And you have one daughter, is that right?
Julie: Yup. I’m a single mom. My daughter just turned six and she’s in kindergarten at the school where I’m the principal, which is such a delight.
Jen: And I’ve seen lots of different pictures on your blog, which is super cute. Like if you being at different, I don’t know, pep rallies or I’m different, I don’t know where you’re at, but you have or like slung on your, you know, on the babywearing thing and It’s just adorable.
Julie: I mean, when you’re a single mom, you bring that kid everywhere. Right? Like, you know, so she came to work with me. She, you know, came to meetings with me for a really long time and at some point, they get too old and then they have to get babysitters. But now she’s back with me every day, which is really fun.
Jen: So I brought you on the show today because I wanted to have you walk us through what it’s like to set up a budget system to help us manage our money, especially for single parents.
And when I’ve been on your site before, I really like the message that you have out there, which when I look at it, I, I kind of take that you do a lot for organization, money management and empowering women, which would you agree that that’s kind of like your main message?
Julie: Yes. I think that no matter what your circumstances, whether you’re a partnered mom or a single mom, whether you have a ton of kids or not that many kids whether you know you’re single or in a relationship, you’ve got to take charge.
And I just want to be every woman’s cheerleader to take charge of whatever part of their life they’re taking charge of. And sometimes the difference between taking charge and not taking charge is actually ideas about how to do a thing.
And so I create systems and tools for women who want to take charge. And sometimes it’s as simple as and, I do this all the time, stealing some other mom’s idea of, you know, a sticker chart or a, you know, routine for long road trips or whatever.
So I have a system that I created for myself that works really well for me and has worked for me since before I had my daughter and has been really helpful in a variety of different times in my life when I was broke and I couldn’t afford the minimums to now, and I make more of an executive-level salary and can afford more in my life.
I still use the same system. And I think a lot of folks out there feel like there’s nothing I can do about my finances. I have a finite amount of money coming in. I have all these bills, the kids want a bunch of stuff. I’m just, I’m just never going to get out from under this.
And I create really simple systems for women to try to take charge and move towards getting out from under things. It’s really going to take a lot longer if you don’t take charge. So that’s why I’m cheering everyone on to take charge. Even if you’re married and your partner usually does the money, maybe it’s time to think about taking charge. So for every woman out there.
Jen: And I think actually when you don’t and you’re married, that’s where a lot of single people get into quite a mess as well, where you know if you get a divorce or something and you never even had any eyes on your budget, that can really get you in a lot of trouble.
Okay, so can we look into that? Can you bring us through, I know you have like some, first of all, if we want to start off with some big don’ts as far as budgeting, which probably a lot of us fall into because honestly, budgeting is not really all that much fun.
Julie: I know I hate budgeting, frankly. I don’t really think about my system as a budget. I think about it as a system and I think the red flags for me when I talk to women,
I support women to take charge of their finances. There are three main things that I see that are big red flags for me. So number one, when bills come in and they’re a surprise. So I hear a lot of women say things like, I’m just, I’m managing my money all the time. I’m in my bank account.
When a bill comes in, I check my bank account to see if I have enough money and then if I don’t have enough money, I’m writing a note to myself to say, okay, you’re going to pay a little bit from next month’s bill and maybe at the end of the month we don’t have any money for a week because we sent all that to debt or we tried to send some to debt, but we got to the end of the month and we don’t have any left to sound a debt cause I can’t send any money to debt.
I got to the end of the month, there was nothing there.
The first red flag for me in that scenario is why was the bill a surprise?
Most of our bills that come in are the same amount every month, so your light bill, your mortgage, your rent, whatever it is, they’re mostly the same amount every single month and they also mostly come in at the same time every month.
So none of our bills except for the surprises should be a surprise.
And there is a way, if you’re living pretty tight on the margin, if you don’t have a lot of extra income despair, you can save a lot of grief by actually really timing out your bills.
So knowing when they’re coming in and making a plan for which of your paychecks are going to pay each individual bill every month. So thinking about things in terms of a system instead of like a linear process that whenever a bill comes in, I try to pay it.
If instead you kind of telescope out and think about this as a big-picture system, you can calendar all your bills, decide what your paycheck is going to go towards each of those bills and then not get surprised every month and not actually feel like you’re always behind and don’t have enough money for your bills.
So that’s the first one. The second one is this thing about relying on your memory. So you know like remembering how much you had in your bank account and whether you can afford certain things. Those things are red flags.
And I have frankly, you know, if you hate budgeting, you’re going to forget what you decided. You know, you’re going to say, I’m going to put $200 to this bill on the 15th and then the 15th rolls around, you’ve completely forgotten you’re going to go back into your online bill pay and send some money to that other bill. So relying on our memory is really bad. That’s the second red flag.
And the third one is when people say things like, well, any leftover money I have at the end of the month, I’m going to put towards my debt or I’m going to put towards my savings.
And we all know we don’t have any leftovers at the end of the month, we will spend whatever is in that account.
And so I help women set up systems that account for all of the timing issues and account for all of the revenue that’s coming in, your paycheck that’s coming in and plan how the bills are going to get paid and make all of your financial decisions one time.
So how much do you have leftover typically in a month? How much could you send to savings or debt? And then as soon as the paycheck comes in, sending the debt and the savings first, which sets you up then to leave just enough money in your account that you decided to spend. And it tricks us actually into spending a little less. I have found that whenever I get a raise, I spent all that money and don’t feel any richer, you know.
So this system allows you to kind of make a plan for every dollar that’s coming into your account and then making those decisions once and then I automate everything.
I do very little with my budget every month. Everything is automated, my paycheck comes into my account. I have five other accounts in my bank and it goes to all those accounts and what is left in my spending account is what I have to work with for cash for the rest of the month.
And that system has really helped me build up an emergency account, which I never had before I started this plan. I just said, well emergencies, they’re going to go on the card. Right? You know, and then you’re in this debt cycle over and over and over again. You can’t afford them. You build up more debt.
So setting up a system is the big thing.
Instead of just seeing bill pay as this sort of process that’s happening all month, most women are doing way more work than they need to in their finances. And by setting up a system one time, you’re actually setting yourself up to meet your goals as well as get your money managed without having to think about it so much.
Jen: And when you refer to the system, are you talking about the assistant that you have or a system as far as like putting everything up on bill pay or is it both because I have seen you have really cute color-coded sheets or if the financial system which looks really easy to go through.
Julie: Yeah, so what I did was I just took the system I made for myself, which was in some Google sheets and created some routines around it and made a little step by step process that folks can follow. This is really called a zero-based budget. So I didn’t invent it. I think they said that Jimmy Carter invented this and introduced it to the federal government. I don’t know about that.
It’s a zero-based budget, which basically means your account’s going to go down to zero every month. And some of us have that happen whether we want to or not because we’re really tight with our money.
But even when we make more money than we need, going down to zero every month is great because it means every dollar that came in had had a purpose and we put it to that purpose instead of hoping at the end we wouldn’t spend some of it and could send it to our goals.
So that system, in general, is a zero-based budget system. You can look up lots of ways to do it. The system that I’ve created is tailor-made to people who hate budgeting like me. So I’ve made it really simple. You know, you write down your goals on the pink sheet and then you enter those on the pink spreadsheet. You can get a free version of them at thebossyhouse.com/templates and there’s lots of blog posts and stuff there that you can look at to walk you through the process. And it basically involves a little bit of auditing your bank account, setting some things up for yourself, figuring out exactly how much you spend in a month. Figuring out when all your bills happen, calendaring your bills, making some decisions, and then toggling between the amounts you have leftover and deciding where to put the money.
And the free templates will help you figure that out about where you want to put your money in when and then there’s some deeper stuff you can look through on the, on the site.
And I’m actually finding that sometimes people have a hard time doing that on their own. So I’m actually in the process of making a digital course that will launch sometime in January that’ll walk people through step-by-step.
But if you’re good with pen and paper, you could get these sheets, spreadsheets, these templates and a, and take charge a little bit and see what you can do.
Jen: So how long does it to work through something like that? Because when I think about doing that, I just think, Oh my gosh, that’s kind of the last thing I want to sit down and do and how overwhelming. But you know, I can see the benefit in doing that. But for someone who might be like, I know I don’t have enough money to make it through all my bills. So how much time do they have to spend doing that? And then is there a benefit to doing it if you know that you probably aren’t going to have any money to cover it all anyway.
Julie: Yeah. Well number one, I think it’s worth it because if you write down all of your bills and when they come in and how much interest they’re charging every month for the debt that you have and you get an honest picture of what your situation is like and whether you can afford your life or not, you at least have an honest look at it.
And you know exactly how much of a difference there is between what brings in an income and we’ll have to put out in affording your life. And I actually think there have been several women who I’ve talked with who’ve gone through the system of adding up their bills and figuring everything out and have decided they have to move to a different place. They’ve motivated to get a different job. They’ve taken on side work that they didn’t really know the dollar amount difference between what they had to put out and what they were taking in.
And once you know that dollar amount it empowers you to do something about whatever that is changing come stance maybe. I don’t, you know, there’s all kinds of life decisions that we make.
You go further into debt when your expenses are above your income and if you knew exactly how much it was, yes, you can cut costs and maybe we shouldn’t get that latte in the morning and all that kind of stuff.
But like, you’re not going to latte your way to $1,000 a month. Like if you have $1,000 difference between what you can afford and what you get that month, something in your life has to change or you’re going to go $12,000 into debt every year. And then when are you planning to get the windfall to pay it off?
There’s this weird statistic that 80% of Americans believe that they are going to get a windfall to help them pay off their debt. Like they’re going to win the lottery or they’re going to get an inheritance or they’re going to get an enormous raise. It’s just like sort of magical thinking that somebody’s coming to give you 15 grand to get you out of debt.
And so many of us have debt that, you know, I think it’s really good to get an honest picture. I will say to your point, it is not fun, but I also think it won’t take that much time. And if you know, I take, I have some blog posts that take you step by step. So if you really need a little handholding, I can help you. But ultimately you need to through, you need to take a couple of passes at your online banking.
So this isn’t about getting out every receipt cause nobody’s going to do that. This is about going into your online and debit account or wherever you make most of your purchases. If it’s on a card because you’re trying to get points or whatever it is, you go through that and you’re going to make some lists.
You’re going to list all of your bills, you’re going to figure out in one month what are all the regular bills that come in and you just have to go back a month to do that. So that’ll take you 15 minutes to figure out what are all my regular bills. You probably remember most of them.
And then I would take another 45 minutes, go through again and list out all the items you spend money on in a given week or in a given month. So like your cash spending, your yoga class, your groceries, the latte, a babysitter for the kids.
You know, you might give some money at church on Sundays, whatever it is that you’re spending cash or your debit card on.
Finding out exactly how much you need to live on in a week. And you might find like maybe I need to skip the yoga class and do the online yoga through YouTube or whatever it is because that’s $40 a month that I could save. So there are ways to find out exactly how much your spending is and with just those two pieces of information, how much your spending is and the timing of your bills, you can make a lot of really big decisions about how to use your income.
I think those are the first two places to start. But if you get the templates, you can fill them out. There’s an audit sheet you can use to audit your bank account and really just sort of get started and you are right there, pink and purple and blue.
They’re really cute looking. Maybe that’ll cheer you up. But it’s a couple of hours of work and then you make some decisions. That’s what needs to happen.
Jen: Okay. And we’ll have links to all of your templates and also whatever blog posts you think would be most helpful. We can link to those as well. Is there anything else you wanted to mention about spending or budgeting or anything?
Julie: Well, I think the only other thing to say is that a lot of us grew up with this idea that the men in our lives were in charge of the money and a lot of us maybe were in marriages or in partnerships where the men took care of the money and maybe some of us found out that they didn’t do such a great job. And what I would say is women manage most of the finances in this country.
The majority of households are basically run by a CFO woman who is managing the money.
And if you have an idea that this is somehow not for you, or if you have an idea that this just isn’t, you’re not good at it, this is something you can learn. There’s not a genetic component to this that some people come born good at money and some don’t. All of us can learn this.
I empower everybody: Take charge of your finances.
These are like finite skills you can learn and you can learn by doing them in your own bank account with your own money management system. So I empower everybody. Take charge, you know?
Jen: Great. That’s an awesome thing to end on. Thank you.