Archives For budget

Wins and losses

July 21, 2017 — 43 Comments

What wins and losses have you experienced in the last year? Wins are the goals, big and small, that you have accomplished like the anniversary vacation, or being able to ease back on working hours, or a topped off savings account. Losses are what we want to avoid, but expect life to dish up like home repairs, or car expenses, or other money decisions you just did not see coming. In the year to come, you can expect to experience both wins and losses.

Have you aimed at what you want?

Have you scanned the horizon for “threats” to getting what you want?

Do you have a plan for how to accomplish what you need?

Are you clear about what you NEED and how that may be different from what you need?

Recently, I found water getting into the wall of a bathroom. This is one of those surprises that can upset our money goals. The win is having savings that can go immediately to repairing this problem. The win is being comfortable with budgeting so when the repair number is agreed on, we are both clear on the expectations. The win is knowing that most projects overrun the initial budget and the savings can cover an additional 10% – 20% before more drastic steps need to be taken.

Because I spend a little time each month and each week looking at my income and comparing that to my expenses, I will be able to cover these repairs and still have some money left for my adventure fund for this coming October.

I want my home to stay in good repair. I want to spend time with my friends in October. I know that threats to being able to win in this situation include losing my focus, not using cash to stay connected with how much I am spending, communicating in a way that is unclear to my contractor.

I have a plan. I will be updating you on this journey as it unfolds. This will be another part of my story as it relates to personal finance. What twists are happening in YOUR story of finding peace in your personal finances?

MBA Journey

November 23, 2015 — 1,140 Comments

It’s been a while since I updated this blog as I complete my MBA. I would love to hear from you this Thanksgiving week about how YOU celebrate big goals (see below).

FinishLinesTo my frequent readers, my apologies that I prioritized client meetings and graduate school work (the whole MBA journey) ahead of updating this blog.

To my financial coaching and career coaching clients in this past 18 months, WOW! You are amazing and willing to do what it takes to put your households ahead of “average” here in the States. It has been my honor and privilege to walk alongside you as you hone and launch your income and outgo progress.

I absolutely adored getting my Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) from Tarleton State University. There were so many fine people who contributed to the richness of my MBA experience. You will hear more about that in the days to come here on this blog. Today’s post is about crossing a finish line. Accomplishing a milestone.

How am I celebrating this MBA milestone you ask?

I am celebrating in a variety of ways, all paid for in cash of course. One of the more frivolous ways I am celebrating is by watching the James Bond movies from 1962 forward to the latest, Spectre, in order to make my own decision about who played the best Bond. I have used WorldCat (an MBA treasure) to find most all of the DVDs at one or more local DFW library. The remaining two movies that exceed a “regular” commute, I will rent thru an online video streaming service.

Celebration Budget for this MBA Completion will be as follows:

Fuel for the vehicle to go pick up reserved movies*                $5.00
Rental fees with applicable taxes for online video streaming   $6.50
Use of already paid for home internet                                    Free
Cleaning out graduate school files as I watch the movies        Free
Gourmet popcorn for the home Bond Marathon                     $5.00

Being able to debate “Who plays the best Bond? Connery vs. Lazenby vs. Moore vs. Dalton vs. Brosnan vs. Craig” with my friends who love movies even more than I? Priceless

Grand total: Less than a $20 bill. The remaining money will be spent watching Spectre at a local bargain movie theater during a matinee showing.

So, lots of fun and interaction with friends planned for a minimum of cash outlay (spending). How are YOU celebrating the milestones in your life?

I know you have great ideas. Email your best ideas to or give a shout out on our Facebook page or Twitter feed and I will send you my 10 favorite “Milestone Celebration” ideas in a free report as we set of for financial success in the 2016 calendar year.


*The library lending limits will allow me to do one “pick up” round and one “drop off” round as I loop DFW and other North Texas counties between appointments.

Lunch Money

April 7, 2014 — 4,598 Comments



We have talked about helping little ones learn about money (links below). What about helping your upper elementary and junior high age child think about his/her lunch money habits? Whether the money is pre-loaded to your child’s account, or your child packs a lunch every day, or your child takes cash every day, his/her lunch money habits are a great learning opportunity and practice lab for future money management habits. Considering that groceries for your family and fuel for your vehicle are the two largest variable amounts in your household’s budget, helping your child see the cost and value of lunch money has the potential to be extremely
helpful to your child’s success with money as an adult. Continue Reading…

Take a look at what a few dollars now does to your retirement projections



So the morning headline was “FREE CELL PHONE FOR STUDENTS” – sounds like a good deal, right? I thought so too until I started reading the fine print:

1 – You have to purchase a cell phone from this electronics store at full price. This isn’t a deal breaker for me, but it requires some up front cash.
2 – There is a small monthly charge to administer the account, and there is a dangerous overage charge for the data plan (unless you are a very light data user).
3 – You may want to consider before upgrading your student to a smartphone that requires a data package. Simplicity, like a cell phone that only talks and texts, can be a fine gift.

Consider carefully what kind of cell phone is truly a “gift” and what kinds might set a young person up to overspend.

Are you considering getting that special someone a cell phone or smart phone for Christmas? Refuse to pay retail. Consider this:

Typically, in your household budget, fuel costs are your biggest fluctuating expenses. You use your car to get to work and meet family obligations. You use your mind and body to serve well at work and at home, so let’s fuel your physical as well as we fuel your vehicle.

This is part 3 of a 4 part series on using a slow cooker to create meals at very low cost and small time investment. Whether you are a family of 6 or a family of 1, the principles stay the same: cooking at home saves you money. Read on if you have a chicken (or turkey) carcass that holds lots of flavor and meat just waiting to be used in a hearty soup to keep you warm as the temperatures drop.


Chicken-Tortilla Soup Continue Reading…

Typically, in your household budget, fuel costs are your biggest fluctuating expenses. You use your car to get to work and meet family obligations. You use your mind and body to serve well at work and at home, let’s be sure to fuel our physical as well as we fuel our vehicle.

This is part 1 of a 4 part series on using a slow cooker to create quality meals at low cost, and minimal time investment. Whether you are a family of 6 or a family of 1, the principles stay the same: cooking at home saves you money.

Sausage and Lentil Soup Continue Reading…

Below is an English Transcript of the Google+ Hangout between Taras Collum, Real Estate Agent and Financial Coach in Phoenix, AZ, and Julia Gray-Lion, Personal Finance Coach and Career Coach in south Dallas-Fort Worth, TX. Enjoy the video conversation or click the button to read through quickly. Continue Reading…

Below is an English Transcript of our conversation of getting pre-qualified for a home purchase. Contact us or leave a comment below regarding how we may best serve you.

Julia: Good Evening it’s Julia and Taras back for another round of first time home buying and being wise about the whole process. I am Julia at Promises Financial Coaching in Mansfield, Texas and this is my friend Taras who is a real estate agent licensed in the state of Arizona as well as a fellow financial coach. So, we get jammin about all the details and stuff – how are you doin tonight?


Taras: Hey Julia. I’m doin’ good out here in Phoenix, Arizona. How about yourself?
Julia: I’m doing well! It’s been a long day, but you know, it’s good! We were talking about how much fun it is to think about getting into the home buying process. It’s the American Dream. It’s so exciting to be nested into your own place. But it’s a big financial decision. We want people to be wise about how they approach this.  Continue Reading…