Category Archives: Budgeting

Money Lessons from a 7-Year Old: In App Purchases

Yes, this digital creation cost my son $23

Yes, this digital creation cost my son $23

“I really want a Legendary for Monster Legends Daddy.”

“Yeh? How do you get one of those?”

“With crystals. I want to buy crystals to get one”

“How much does that cost?”

“Twenty-three dollars. I have enough in my wallet”

“That’s your money, you can do it if you want to”

Translation: My seven year old son, Fionn (pronounced “Fin”, the silent “0” is just there to cause problems) wanted to buy a virtual monster for an iPad game with real money to the amount of $23, every single penny he had in his wallet. After school, I offered my son fifty cents to write a report on his In App Purchase experience and here is the result:

Whay not to do in app percheses

Fionn's original copy

Fionn’s original copy

  1. Thar a wayst of mony
  2. Inles you relly whant it.
  3. Think if you whant it or get something els
  4. Save up

I got a Lengendary pack for $23. I got the Lengendry. But you need a Legendary habitat. I didn’t have one. But after scoohl I forgot it came with one.
Why it was worth it

It was worth it. I anialated the fight I was in.

Next time I whoud save my money. Because one is anof.


I think Fionn’s reflections show some important budgeting and money saving lessons:

  1. It is important to have “fun money” that you can spend on things you want, that don’t necessarily make sense. When Fionn gets his allowance he has to put some into savings, some into his investments, and he gets to keep some to do whatever he wants with. This makes it easier for him to save money because he knows he always gets some to make his own choices with.

    Having choices with (at least some) of your money is important to sticking to a budget.

  2. Pause and think about what you want to do with your money. Fionn’s third point shows that he took time (not a lot, but some) to think about his in app purchase versus other things he would like to buy. After pausing, he decided he still wanted the virtual monster.
    Pausing, and taking time to think about your purchases allows you to make better decisions with your money.
  3. Be clear on your “enough”. In the end Fionn is enjoying his purchase, but he also realizes that it cost him a lot of money to buy a digital monster, and he feels that one is enough. He decided not to spend more money on this game (at least for now)
    Knowing your level of “enough” is important to limit overspending while still spending your money on the things that will bring you enjoyment.

These three learnings from a 7-year old can help you make better decisions with your money, while avoiding a budget that is so strict you feel like you can’t breath (and end up breaking the budget constantly).

Spend money to make money

burdenI received a marketing email last week that told an interesting story. It went something like this:

“I was talking with a friend about signing up for a $5000 marketing program that is easy to implement and will quickly make you back your money and then start turning a profit. I was shocked when my friend told me that he wanted to save a bit more money before purchasing the marketing program. This is a concept that so many business owners don’t understand: you have to SPEND money to MAKE money” – Internet Marketer

The phrase “you need to spend money to make money” frustrates me, not because it is not true, but because so many people end up spending money they don’t have to try and make money they really (or desperately) need.

This results in an endless spiral of debt, as people buy programs with credit, struggle to implement those programs, then jump into the next program in the hopes of making money to pay off the debt from the last program AND the new program. Then, they end up buying the next…well you get the idea.

I would love to create a new phrase and mindset for building your business:

You need to SAVE money to SPEND money to MAKE money.

BAM! The spiral of debt comes to a hault. You pause, take some time to save up for the program you want to buy, the ad you want to run, the team member you want to add; whatever the expense. You save first, then spend the money, and then you immediately begin to make money.

No interest payments on credit cards while you struggle to break even on your purchase, because you break even on your purchase the moment you make it, everything else is upside.

This is going to feel like you are slowing down the progress of your business, but there are always other strategies and tactics you can be putting into action while you are saving for the purchase you want to make. And, the reality is debt (especially large amounts of debt) also slows down your business, you are just deferring the slow down in exchange for the “quick fix” of buying stuff now instead of later.

Example – Publishing an ebook

At the moment I am working on writing an ebook for the Secure Entrepreneur, and part of my plan is to have this ebook properly edited and designed, which is going to cost money. I could have used my business credit card, or business line of credit to buy the editing and design services now, but I have no desire to go into debt to create this ebook.

Instead, every time one of my current clients pays me, I take 5% of that invoice and put it into a separate column on my money tracking spreadsheet as “Book Savings”. While I have been saving money I have been writing the ebook and doing my own editing. I have also been increasing the posts I make on this blog. This work has kept me busy, and my business continues to move forward, while I save for the editing and design of the ebook.

This month (May) I have accumulated enough money in my “Book Savings” account to pay for the editing and design work up front. The ebook will hopefully be ready to share at the start of June, and any business that this ebook brings in will immediately be adding money to the business, NOT paying off the debt I incurred to create the ebook.

Is the No Debt Plan for you?

moneygraphIf owing money to others:
– stresses you out and keeps you up at night
– drains your energy and focus
– blocks your creativity
– makes you alter your strategies
– changes how you speak with prospects and clients

Then try making the shift from the original phrase: “you have to spend money to make money” to the new phrase:

You have to save money to spend money to make money

And let me know how it works.

Resisting the spending urge – use the Four Purchasing R’s

nobl wheelsI was sitting on a stool in my local bike shop, waiting for a work order for tune ups to my wife’s and son’s bikes, when the conversation started:

“What would you recommend for a new wheelset for mountain bike?”

The mechanic’s eyes lit up as he started to talk about the latest carbon wheel rim from Nobl, and the dependability and “bling” factor of Chris King hubs. Soon a second mechanic had joined the conversation and I had one of the carbon rims in my hands, and we were discussing only using top end spokes for a wheel build like this.

In moments, my innocent question had resulted in a super cool new wheelset worth $2500 Canadian.

Understand, I WANT these wheels. I love my bike. I love new gear for my bike. I especially love new carbon gear for my bike. This hand-built carbon wheelset would be perfect.

But I didn’t do it. I didn’t order the wheels. I walked away (for now, I have some money building up in my Choice Account).

Walking away

Walking away from purchases, both big and small, can be a difficult task, especially in today’s world of credit cards and making payments. Just five or six years ago I probably would have just made that purchase and worried about the consequences later because, well, because I really want to own those wheels.

I am guessing you probably have been in similar situations, both in Life and in your business, and sometimes you have made that purchase and then regretted it afterwards, promising yourself that you wouldn’t make the same mistake again (and then, later, made a similar purchase).

How can you (and me, and my wife, and my son) stop making purchases on the spot? Purchases that lead to guilt, stress, and panic?

Use the “Four Purchasing R’s”

This is how I avoid making these types of purchases now:

1. Refuse to buy something in the moment: Always go into a store, or on a shopping trip, or read a sales page with a clear decision of whether or not you plan to purchase. If you end up in a situation where an opportunity to buy something pops up, stick to window shopping, walk away, and take some time to make a proper decision on whether or not you need the item.

2. Remember, and use, your core value statement: When buying something, it should be supporting either your Life or Business Core Value Statement (depending on the situation). If it does not support your Core Value Statement then be honest with yourself: why do you feel you need it? Is this purchase going to resonate with you and your values in a few hours or days?

3. Review your current money goals: Sit down and review what your current money plan is. What do you need your money to be doing for you right now? Does this purchase support your current money goals? If not, why are you making the purchase?

4. Repeat the process at least once: After following the first three Purchasing R’s, if you feel like the purchase makes sense, and you can afford it, then…

Wait a few more days and start at the first “R” one more time.

What I have found is, when I use the “Four Purchasing R’s” one of three things will happen:

1. I will realize I don’t need whatever it is I am desiring to buy, and I forget about it.
2. I decide to delay my decision over and over again before finally deciding one way or the other (usually I decide not to buy)
3. I make the purchase and feel good about it because I have made an informed choice about spending the money.

The “Four Purchasing R’s” versus the Carbon Wheelset

If I run the opportunity to buy expensive wheels for my bike through these filters it looks like this:

1. Refuse: The wheels sounded cool, and I desired them, so I got up off the stool and left the store, wallet intact.

2. Remember: My Core Value Statement is “Provide the Security my Family needs to have amazing Adventures together”. Carbon wheels would assist with having amazing biking adventures with my family, but they are not necessary. In this case my Core Value Statement didn’t give me a clear “yes” or “no” answer.

3. Review: My family and business are currently both debt free except for our mortgage. However, we are within five years of paying off our mortgage, 3 years if we start putting extra money on it, which is one of our current money goals. $2500 would take a nice chunk out of that mortgage and towards our money goal.

4. Repeat: I haven’t ended at a solid “no” about the wheels yet, there may be ways, using my Choice Account, to accomplish getting the wheels and paying off our mortgage. For now I am in a cycle of repeating this process every time I walk by the bike store, or consider buying the wheels. Until I get a strong “yes” with all four R’s (and discuss with my wife and son) I won’t be buying the wheels.

If you decide to give the Four Purchasing R’s a try, I would love to hear how it works for you in the comments below.

Beware the automatic payment

bank machineScanning my email account I spotted it “Your Statement has been created”. I popped open the email and scanned, my eyes stopping at “Your credit card will be automatically charged”.

The automatic, recurring payment. One of the big challenges to successfully tracking your money and staying on budget (whether in your life or business).


Because the automatic, recurring payment prevents you from being in control of the flow of money through your life or business. By setting the payment on autopilot money comes in, and money goes out, without it ever passing through your hands (even digitally) and your decision making process. You no longer get “a feel” for how your business is functioning. You are no longer clear on where money is going, where it is being wasted, and where it can be saved.

Even worse, you will eventually forget (or ignore) that the automatic payment is even happening. It is as if that payment no longer even exists, and you can end up paying for it, even if you no longer need the service or product you are paying for.

I know because I have done it

Almost two years. That is how long, at one point in my business, I paid, every month, for a webinar account that I wasn’t using. The payment came out of my account every month. I would make note of it. Tell myself that I “might” need it next month, and let the account continue.

Over that two years, I used the account, maybe two or three times. But it was just easier to keep the account open, with the automatic payment, than take the time to close it, and reopen it if I needed it later. (And yes, I know how ridiculous that sounds, but it is true, and you may be doing it too)

Making an automatic payment for that software had disconnected the money from my brain and from the money flow in my business, and I had stopped paying attention and making intelligent choices with that money.

What can you do?

There is one quick solution to prevent yourself from falling into the automatic, recurring payment trap:

Disable the auto-payment function on all recurring payments, and make those payments manually

Recurring payments are a fact of life and business, but in many cases making the payment automatic isn’t required. So turn off auto-payments.

This will bring the money back under your control, and you can start making intelligent choices with that money again. Now, you get to make a choice about spending that money when:

  • you open and read the statement
  • you login to the payment site
  • you enter your credit card information
  • you submit the payment

The automatic payment leaves you zero chances to make a decision about where your money is going. By turning automatic payments off, you now have (at least) four spots in the process where you will need to review your decision on how to use your money.

More control leads to more and better choices, and a better understanding of how money moves through your business and life.

Give it a try. Turn off all of your automatic payments, directly interact with that money, and see the difference it makes in the choices you make in your business.

How can I create a realistic budget? Part One – Unrealistic Budgets

Resistance to creating a budget and then following that budget is one of the biggest money blocks people experience, bringing up comments like:

  • If I follow a budget there is no way I can have any fun
  • Life changes too much, there is no point in creating a budget, it will just change
  • Budgets never work, I always end up going over
  • Budgets do nothing but cause my family to fight over money
  • Following a budget makes me feel like I can’t live the life I want
  • Making a budget brings up all of the money issues I have in my life and makes me panic

These sorts of comments usually mean that budgeting is not the problem, creating an unrealistic budget is the problem.

Watch the video below and see if the budget blocks mentioned have been holding you back from creating and successfully following a budget:

Want some help creating a realistic budget that you can successfully follow? Then you can do one of THREE things:

1. Check out the next video in this series, all about creating a Core Value Budget (coming soon)

2. Sign up for the Secure Entrepreneur Ezine to get more tips, tricks, and strategies for budgeting:

3. Sign up for the Secure Entrepreneur Money Management Beta Class (just $97) starting February 16th:

My video support network for working on my money

gailshowWorking on your money situation can be challenging, especially when just starting to organize your money and accounts, build your budget, and get your money management system in place.

One of the biggest tools I used when getting my money organized (and still use today) is watching and listening to some of the money TV shows and podcasts to “get me in the mood”. Here is my list of (free) money helping programs I use:

Suze Orman Show: Every Monday morning, while making a morning smoothie, feeding my son breakfast, and getting lunches ready I listen to the Suze Orman Show podcast on Stitcher (it is on iTunes too).

Dave Ramsey Show: Each morning, for the rest of the week, during my morning routine I listen to Dave Ramsey on Stitcher (also on iTunes)

Till Debt do us part, Princess, Money Moron: All three of these shows follow a similar format and feature host Gail Vaz-Oxlade helping people get out of debt. Gail’s shows were one of my biggest supports six years ago when I started figuring all of this out. (Note: These links are for the Canadian sites and may or may not work if you are outside Canada. If they don’t work just search the names and you should find links that will work in your area)

If you need support in working on your money I would suggest checking out some of these resources. They are great to listen to while walking the dog, cleaning the house, driving, or filling any other “down time” you might have.

You can also get support with working on your money by joining the Secure Entrepreneur Ezine list right here:

Sign me up for the Secure Entrepreneur Ezine

Pay Cash For Christmas 2015 – How to Start Saving Now

santaloan(You can read part one of this series here)

With Christmas 2014 behind us, it is time for me and my family (and hopefully you too if you decide to commit!) to start saving for Christmas 2015.

Are you ready to make a “Pay Cash for Christmas 2015” commitment?

How to make your Pay Cash For Christmas 2015 Commitment

Please, don’t panic, but this is going to require a bit of math, so if numbers are not your favourite, take a deep breath, stick with me, and follow these steps:

  1. Gather together your credit card and bank statements starting with the month where you made your first Christmas purchase (I made mine in October so I gathered my statements for October, November, and December)

  2. Get a piece of paper and pen, or open a spreadsheet or word document on your computer (I used an excel spreadsheet)

  3. Go through each bank and credit card statement and record all the money you spent related directly to the holidays (food, gas, coffees, presents, etc.)

  4. Add up all of those numbers, take a deep breath, and write down your total. This is how much you spent on Christmas in 2014 (my total was $3376.49)

  5. Divide this total by 12 (for me: $3376.49/12 = $282)

  6. This is the amount of money you need to save, every month starting in January, so you can pay cash for Christmas 2015 (my first $282 transfer has already been made!)

  7. Go to the comments below and make your commitment to save every month so that you can pay cash for Christmas 2015. I would love it if you included your monthly number, but if you are not comfortable sharing that information, just let everyone know that you are making this commitment.

I am ready to make my Pay Cash for Christmas 2015 Commitment, are you ready to make yours?

Pay Cash For Christmas 2015 – Looking Back at 2014

santaloan This picture really upsets me.

It upset me before Christmas when I first saw it, and it has continued to haunt me through the holidays and into the new year.

Apparently, Santa (thats definitely his coat and glove) thinks its a good idea to give out loans so people can overspend themselves into disaster, and enter the new year further in debt than they already are.


Perhaps not the most elegant word, but one that perfectly explains how I feel looking at this picture and thinking about what it means for so many people.

Do you know how much YOU spent on the holidays this year?

I am not talking about a gut feeling, or ballpark figure, are you clear on what the holidays cost this year, and how much debt you will be repaying as 2015 begins?

My family’s Christmas 2014

I got clear on my Christmas 2014 number: $4276.49

My family has a $450 weekly budget, so even if I subtract $900 (for the two weeks of holidays) from this number, we still spent $3376.49 beyond our regular budget on Christmas this year .

That is a lot of money. But, you know what, I don’t regret a cent of it (OK, maybe I regret the $59.90 I spent on the two Laser Tag guns that didn’t work, and some of the less healthy food we ate) and when I reviewed what we spent the money on, every penny helped us enjoy our holiday in a uniquely Miller fashion.

So, if we don’t want to cut back on our holiday expenses, we need to SAVE for our holiday expenses, starting right now.

The Miller Family will be paying for Christmas 2015 with cash.

What if, at the end of 2015, you paid for your holiday season entirely with cash? Are you ready to make a “Pay Cash for Christmas 2015” commitment?

But first, a look at Christmas 2014 numbers

Perhaps you are wondering: “How does a 3-person/1 dog family have a $4,000+ Christmas?

Love it! Looking at the numbers is always important, and here is my families spending breakdown for Christmas 2014 with some short explanations:

Ski Equipment – $1538.88: My family lives on the side of a ski hill and it is our main winter activity. My wife’s skis were 8 years old so I bought her a new pair for Christmas. Almost three years ago I fully ruptured my Achilles, and my old boots don’t fit my “surgery foot” very well, so my wife bought me new ski boots.

Gifts – $912.75: Four parents, two siblings, three cousins, and Fionn, my son. Surprising how quickly gift buying adds up.

Food – $634.96: This is food eaten while shopping for gifts, road trip food while driving to see family, and food for Christmas dinner and other dinners over two weeks.

Gas – $307.18: This is gas used to go shopping for gifts, driving to see family, and general driving over the two week holiday.

New Years – $649.23: This was hotel, tickets to a family festival, gas, food, and some other miscellaneous purchases.

Miscellaneous – $233.49: This covers medications, toiletries, etc. that we would normally purchase as part of life, but we happened to purchase during the two week holiday season.

Total $4276.49

You might be surprised at how quickly your own Christmas expenses add up once you take everything into account. If you are ready to find out, and want to start saving for Christmas 2015, click here and read Part Two!