Ok... we did the money management seminar today. It was long. There was awesome food. Michael couldn't eat the lunch that was served so had to run to McDonald's for his lunch. (The lunch was catered by a local Italian restaurant and Mike's allergic to garlic and onion).
But we did pick up some interesting and helpful information. They have a website: www.crown.org and the program we saw today is called Money Map Live.
One thing that we thought would be very useful for us is a thing they call "snowballing". You gather your bills, organize them from lowest to highest and actually write it down on paper. If you have credit cards, loans, etc you put what the interest rate is too. (I think there is one you can print out on the site). Then you pay the minimum on all but one of the debts. On that one debt, you either pay it off (they used a credit card with a $200 balance on it). So you pay off that $200 card, and then the next month you roll that $200 into paying the next debt --so if that next minimum payment is $50, you pay them $250 every month until THAT one is paid off. Then, you roll that $250 into the next... etc. You pay the minimum payments on everything except the one you are working on. And, you may have a smaller balance on one debt, but lower interest on another with a larger balance... so when you get to that point you pay on the one with the higher interest.
Then... once you have all of the debts paid off, you have all that extra $$ to put towards your mortgage. If you don't have a mortgage it goes into savings or investing. They suggest an IRA.
They also said it is MOST important to track your spending. I have heard this a lot, but haven't been able to actually DO it. But they gave an excellent and EASY way to do this. You get one of those little notebooks with the spiral at the top. You label various pages with categories of spending and then carry it with you and as you spend, you write it on that page. It is important to have categories, not itemized stuff. So you could have housing -- which would be rent/ mortgage, utilities, cable tv, insurance, taxes etc.; auto -- which is car payment, insurance, gas, maintenance, etc. and such (they have suggested categories on the website).
I thought that would be such an easy way to track spending ... since you carry the notebook right with you, you just whip it out and write it in right then.
So... our goal for the next month is to track our spending. The program is set up into "Destinations" and destination 1 is to have $1000 in savings and to log on to the website. So... here we go.... on our way to Destination 1 :)
I'll keep ya posted on our progress. Our first long term goals are: pay off the car in less than 12 months, pay off medical bills, have 3 months of expenses in savings.