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Cultivate Simple 52: Budget and Savings

November 4th, 2013

On this weeks episode we discuss coming up with a budget and living by it.

Budgets help keep us in line and help give us a baseline as to where we can spend our money. It’s like having a map of where you’re going. Without a budget, you’re spending blind and you might be spending more on things than you realize. It’s easy to lose track of where our money is going if you’re not keeping track.

GnuCash is free open-source personal finance software that can help you track how much money is coming in and going out. We started out with Microsoft Excel when we set up our first budget.

Brian on horseback

Books of the Week:

13 Comments to “Cultivate Simple 52: Budget and Savings”
  1. Lorna on November 4, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    Ah, budgets–perfect timing going into the holiday season.
    My husband and I have lived debt-free since our second year of marriage. We even paid for our current house with cash; no big paychecks–just a single wage in the education field, not much, but our housing was provided for three years and all that money and more went in the bank. We are currently, and for the first time, working with a budget now that family circumstances require us to care for a parent while living under-employed. So far we are fine because we saved and planned ahead. The budget is buying us a little extra time, as well as keeping us healthy (no junk food) and happy (less ‘stuff’ and clutter). Even the kids don’t seem to notice–we’ve always lived very simply, so a huge change in our circumstances didn’t even register on their radar.
    p.s. The next time you go by the marvelous shop with the cheese and salami, you might want to get some sauerkraut to put on your pizza. Oh my, I cannot eat home-made pizza without it! Well, I could, but I wouldn’t want to :)

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  2. DebbieB on November 4, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    I can SO relate to the “if you need more money, you get another credit card” upbringing. Years of uneven and sporadic employment and babies coming early in our marriage meant that we used that plastic entirely too often. We went through a Larry Burkett budgeting course at our church many years ago. It was eye-opening to see where all our money was going, but by that time the consumer-debt hole that we’d dug for ourselves as young marrieds was very deep, and we were unable to follow through with it. Things escalated, and we lived with the stress of being unable to even make the minimum payments and the resulting harassing phone calls from creditors. 7 years ago we finally did a debt consolidation, and as part of that we went through a Dave Ramsey program. While we still didn’t develop a rigid budget, we got a much better handle on what was coming in and going out, and now all our massive consumer debt is GONE. We’ve developed good spending habits and our only debt is our mortgage, which is low and will be paid off in 5 years. We pay cash for all our cars too – we only buy dependable used cars. Now we’re looking to the future and my husband’s hope for retirement from his “day” job in 14 years or so. This is a really timely podcast, because budgeting is something we’re talking about – especially since we have some home improvement projects that need funding… WITHOUT plastic!

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  3. Claire on November 4, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    Hi! Thanks for this podcast; my husband and I are generally pretty thrifty, but we’ve been thinking about beginning a budget in earnest, and the tools you’ve provided look like they’ll help us on our way. I was wondering how you guys handle saving for retirement. Do you have some kind of retirement fund set aside, or will you start that after your mortgage is completely paid off? High school economic classes always urged us to take advantage of “the magic of compound interest,” but we are unsure where to find such “magical” places to invest in the real world. We’re also looking for some way to invest in our local community instead of supporting the corporate stock market. Any thoughts you have on this topic would be greatly appreciated.

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  4. Norts on November 4, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Great post guys!

    Are you guys familiar with the Mr. Money Mustache blog? He’s a former engineer that retired at the ripe old age of 30 by utilizing some of the practices you talk about. Namely, buying less stuff.


    Interview in Forbes:

    Reply to Norts's comment

  5. Marcia on November 4, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    In learning to budget, Gail Vaz Oxlade and her books are a God send. I was always living from paycheque to paycheque, no emergency fund, no long term savings. Then back to back dental and car problems caused me to nearly max out my credit card, I then spent 3 years carrying that principal over from month to month , paying hundreds in interest. I learned how to budget, create an emergency fund and a long term savings. Now I never have to worry if I have enough to cover basic expenses as they are budgeted in. I can also save for trips and fun purchases with short term savings accounts. Yeah for budgets!

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  6. Kendra on November 5, 2013 at 7:43 am

    One book that really changed my way of thinking about money when I was in my twenties was Your Money or Your Life. It has much of the same principles that you talk about and was just a great book at a great time in my life. There are several versions now as well to keep up a little bit more with the economic climate. I highly recommend it!

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  7. Kendra on November 5, 2013 at 7:46 am

    Oh and I would love to hear your perfect pizza crust recipe! I’ve gone mostly gluten free, but my son loves pizza (he even bought me a pizza paddle when he was about 10) and we used to make homemade every Friday night. He misses it, but I would love to start making it for him again with a nice recipe.

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  8. Becky on November 5, 2013 at 10:37 am

    Thanks for a great podcast! I’ve worked hard to stay of a budget for a few years now. Before that, I had a few hard years that left my with a lump of credit card debt that I’m just now in a place where I can work hard to pay off. I must have listed to your Debt episode 3 times or more already, just for added motivation. One thing I wonder if you might have some advice on: What do you do if you partner (who is mostly debt free) isn’t buying the whole budget thing? We’re looking to get married in the next year or so; he only has a mortgage, I have a lot. I want to get it paid off before we merge finances, but it’s hard when you are trying to fairly split bills/groceries and the other person doesn’t have the same spending habits you do! Any talking points would be appreciated.

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  9. Mich on November 5, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    Eek. I need to do some serious catching up… weeks & weeks of podcasts to listen too!

    Reply to Mich's comment

  10. Wendy on November 6, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    You mentioned wanting topic ideas . . . I’ve missed a few back episodes, so hopefully I’m not repeating things you’ve already done: feeding animals raw (seems like you might have covered this), treating seasonal allergies naturally and/or homeopathic medicine in general. You’ve talked quite a bit about herbs/spices you use in cooking–do you grow any medicinal herbs, and, if so, how do you use them? Also I’d like to hear more about the basic recipes you could use that are adaptable to seasonal produce (you mentioned doing this as an ebook). I love hearing about the books you both read–maybe an episode on your favorite books of all time or an episode on your winter to-read list.

    Just a few ideas … I always learn something from whatever you share!

    Reply to Wendy's comment

    • Wendy on November 6, 2013 at 1:26 pm

      Also remembered one more–you mentioned you might do a podcast with the lady and her husband who spoke at the library on fermentation–I would love to hear an interview with them, as well as other people from the “older generation”–their life history, the “old ways” of doing things, etc. (you mentioned an elderly neighbor who is an author, and I also bet Brian’s grandpa would be a kick to listen to).

      Reply to Wendy's comment

  11. Krista on November 10, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    What a brilliant idea of heating up the leftover pizza on the cast iron! I know you keep saying that you heat up everything on the cast iron, but it really visualise it see the benefits when you go in to specifics. Now I just need to get a bigger cast iron pan, I only have an 8inch one which can fit one slice if it’s small enough.

    I do my pizza with sourdough, I think the flavour is far better. I do wonder what adding a bit of fat would do to the texture of the base, I should try it out the next time.

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  12. Amy P on November 14, 2013 at 11:06 am

    In your Reading podcast you talk about investing. I figured this is a better spot for my comment. Have you ever looked at the website It’s a great way to invest small amounts of money and keep control over who gets it. Take a look. I used it for a debt consolidation loan, when it is paid off I plan to start investing money with them.

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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