Count Your Beans in a Crock Pot

Skimming Google News for personal finance articles can sometimes leave me a bit bummed out. While the economy learns how to walk again, we too must re-learn how to approach our personal finances. Both Eli and I believe education provides a foundation for financial sanity. Knowledge of how to manage finances can be found in many places: classrooms, books, blogs, seminars, experts, you name it–you can learn from it. The difference between reading a book about how to ride a horse and actually riding one is a tad different and experience and practice is key, just as it is with managing finances.

“The solution to our financial problems is not lending more money or making interest rates cheaper. The solution is found at the core, and that is the education of the next generations regarding personal finance.” – Ben Mulling, Huffington Post

There are fantastic financial advocates writing and reaching out to communities and providing ongoing free education. They speak from a place of financial enlightenment with a common forumla of less stuff equals less stress and more happiness. I recommend you bookmark all of these sites as well as add them to your morning reading routine.

I am going to skip past talking about avoiding revolving debt, reducing frivolous spending and balancing checkbooks. While those concepts are important chapters in learning about personal finance they are not easily adopted behaviors and are often seen as not applicable in daily lives. At least not in a way that creates an internal Jiminy Cricket voice that says “save,” “naw, let’s not use the credit card…,” and things like “today, let’s send in an extra credit card payment.”

Claratii was built with a different approach. Instead of financial tools shaking a finger at you saying “Hey… you spent a lot of money… tsk tsk,” Claratii looks into the future giving you a financial lighthouse keeping watch for dangers that may lay ahead. The icing on the cake is that Claratii tells the date when you can have the things you want, whether that is a new car to paying off debt.

The newest update is a quick snapshot of your incomes and expenses. Clearly see what are the big recurring hits to your wallet and what are things that might be easy to trim. Remembering that you can cut down on the quantity without cutting quality.

Bring on the Beans! Simple Real Life Tips to Managing Finances

“A quick search on “financial tips for college kids” left me with more of the stuff I already knew: don’t go crazy with credit. Limit how many loans you take on, particularly ones that accrue interest. Get an on-campus job. Don’t eat out every night.” – Kelly Dickinson, Buquad.com

Thanks Kelly, that was a perfect segway. I am going to jump on the idea of spending, specifically about food. Having a steady income felt a bit like opening Pandora’s box. Now, I could buy anythng that suited my tastebuds. Well, sort of. What happened recently is that we saw items being categorized as food in Mint increasing. When I starting working part time that needed to be reeled in.

Finally, I get back to the title of this post. First off, I am going to repeat myself: you can reduce the quantity you spend on food without reducing quality. Gourmet meals don’t need to drain the bank in order to fill your belly. If you are dreading giving up going out due to a lack of creativity in the kitchen then take comfort under the lid of a Crock Pot. Williams Sonoma The New Slow Cooker made me one wild hot meal cooking momma. Eli is willing to eat for days from left overs and I am proud to call them my creations. The result – gourmet flavors that reduce our food spending, improve our diets and provide excuses to invite the ‘rents and inlaws over.

The lesson is: catch yourself before you panic about the “right away” to manage your personal finances. Use Claratii as a guide, use Mint to learn about your spending habits and categorize purchases and practice practice practice. Little things like using a crock pot to make multiple tasty low-cost meals are real steps and experience points towards tackling other areas of managing finances.

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