RealLifeBudgeting.com
(603) 887-0088
Susan Price-Batting
Budget Coach

FAQ

Q: Why didn’t I learn this stuff in school?

I don’t really know, but there is a concern across the United States and other parts of the world to correct this now. More and more schools are looking to include basic money management as part of their curriculum. I do know that I have an awful lot of student/clients who lament the fact that they didn’t learn this stuff earlier in their lives. But, it really is better late than never. Just start where you are, and you’ll be amazed at the positive changes that you can make. I can help you, no matter what stage of beginning money management (or mis-management!) you are at.

Q: What can I expect out of budget coaching?

Getting control of your money is a process and not a single one-time event. You will learn how to change your thinking about the way you have been handling money and make conscious, informed decisions about what you want to change. Change is mostly about attitude, not about action. This is not about someone telling you what to do, but a coach helping you to make your own decisions. It’s almost impossible to get your budget or spending plan perfect on your first try, and a coach can help you to navigate those murky waters and to cheer you on if you get discouraged or bogged down.

Q: Where is the best place to start on my own?

One of the most simple, but highly effective, things you can do is to start keeping a Spending Log. Get a piece of paper or a small notebook to carry with you and start writing down everything that you spend—the mocha java vanilla hazelnut double milk triple sugar coffee on the way to work, the basketball lottery at the office, the turkey club for lunch, gas at the pump (gasp! It’s gone up again?), and dinner out. You get the idea. Once a week or so, start adding things up by category. I can almost guarantee that you will find something surprising, if former student/clients are any indication. I recommend doing this for about a month and then evaluating where you need to make changes in your spending.

Q: Why is debt so bad, bad, bad?

Debt takes away your choices and your freedom. What you essentially do when you buy something on credit (whatever kind of credit it is—a credit card, a car loan, a mortgage), is to promise a certain amount of your future income to someone else. Part of your payment goes to pay for the actual item or service, but a certain portion also goes to pay interest on the purchase amount. Credit card debt is especially horrible.

Let’s say you go out for a nice steak dinner and whip out your beat-up, well-loved plastic Visa card to pay the bill. When the bills come in, you pay only the minimum due on the card every month for the next three years. You are basically paying and paying and paying for that dinner! Not only that, but that dinner is costing you a ton more in interest than the original meal. Now, really, I ask you, is that smart? Is that a choice YOU want to make? Not me; I hate debt!!

The biggest exception to this is a mortgage. Few of us can afford to buy a house with cash, so borrowing money is a wise option for this. The other big difference between mortgage debt and credit card debt is that you can get out from under the mortgage by selling the house and paying it back. (That’s why a mortgage is called secured debt. It’s secured by the house itself.) Try doing THAT with a credit card! If you are careful and thoughtful, you’ll look to get a mortgage that you can truly afford on your income and not get talked into the biggest mortgage that the mortgage company wants to lend you. This will also help you to avoid the problem some have, when real estate prices fall dramatically, of owing more on their house than the house is worth.

Q: How long will this take?

I’m not going to kid you—this is not a quick, easy fix. Despite what some debt management ads will tell you, there is NO quick easy fix for straightening out your debt, or getting complete control of your money. I’ve had people come to me after they’ve tried one or more of those so-called easy fixes (like refinancing your house to pay off your credit card debt) and invariably they’re back in the soup again in short order. Why is this? Because they didn’t change their thinking about money and continued to use their credit cards the same old way, racking up even more debt than they had before. So, if you’re looking for a magic bullet or pill to take for your money woes, I can’t help you. But, if you are at the point where you’re willing to put in some time, and you are ready for some serious change, I can help you change your future.

If you opt to take my online course, it runs for about six weeks, with a built-in extension period for a total of two months, and a new session starts every month. You should expect to be spending some time on the homework assignments which involve things like keeping a cash log, setting up a filing system, and gathering information on where your money has been going.

What you will be doing is taking the time to think about how you’ve been handling your money, and challenging your preconceived ideas about money from your past. As your thinking starts to change, you’ll learn some new habits and start to put them into action. The tools you learn will carry you through the rest of your life. So, how long will this take? The rest of your life!

Q: Is it ever too late to start?

Absolutely not! A number of older students/clients come to me and bemoan the fact that for their whole lives, they have never handled their money well. What they are really doing is beating themselves up for the fact that they never learned good money management principles. But it is never too late to start! I’m a big believer that the place to start is right where you are. You cannot change the past, so stop berating yourself for what you did or didn’t do! Just make a decision that today you’re going to start to do things differently.

Great class! I wish I had taken it about 10 years ago. We recently refinanced our house which took care of our debt. The bad part is this is the third time we have done this. We have excellent credit and found ourselves piling on the debt after we refinanced the first 2 times—this is the last time. Thanks to you, I feel we can keep our budget the way it should be. I am very impressed. Thank you.

This course has been very hard for me but in a good way! Writing down what was actually spent during the last two months has been a real eye opener. I had heard of doing the envelope system with cash but it only seemed practical for certain items, but doing it on paper, wow! What a difference that is making in our life already!

Susan Price-Batting, Budget Coach

1 Sandown Road
Chester NH 03036
(603) 887-0088

Susan@RealLifeBudgeting.com