Personal finance is just that – personal.

What worked for me might not work for you, and that’s okay! ​Money Made Easy offers you a variety of solutions to help you write a budget that works, pay off debt, and have a better relationship with your money.

My book, Money Made Easy, is officially available for pre-order! This book is about how to make your financial life EASY from this point forward.

Money Made Easy Book

Plus, when you pre-order your copy before April 4, 2023 you’ll get immediate access to a free bonus: My Budget Review Vault.

The Budget Review Vault contains 21 in-depth budget review videos. They are similar to my incredibly popular Real People Budgets on social media, but 1,000 times better! This bonus gives you access to EVERY kind of budget you can imagine PLUS I share exactly how I would tackle each person’s finances.

This book & bonus combo is exactly what you have been needing.

With the book, you’ll have a plan for how to make managing your money easy. And with the budget review vault, you’ll see examples of how to approach a budget from beginning to end.

Here’s how to claim your free bonus:

  1. Buy Money Made Easy here, or wherever you buy books.
  2. Go here and fill out the form with your name and order number.
  3. Get instant access to the Budget Review Vault!

I have a feeling you’re going to love this extra bonus!

Money made easy pre order bonus

To celebrate my book hitting shelves in less than one month, I’m dedicating this episode to chapter 1 of my book: Finding Your Catalyst.

Here’s where I get real with you. My husband and I didn’t start managing our money better because we wanted to. We didn’t have our sights set on million dollar investment accounts. We didn’t have a goal to budget so that we could take European vacations. 

Nope – our money story began from desperation. We were newly married, pregnant, and barely making ends meet. We had hit rock bottom with nowhere to go but up.

Matt and I decided that budgeting would be THE THING we did to help us pay off debt and keep more of our money. We did it for our baby to be. We did it, not for either of us, but for someone else.

Yet as time went on, it turned into a journey that would create a generational shift for our family. We went from being two broke teachers struggling to get by to a family that prioritizes investing, experiences, and living on less than we make.

Believe me when I say that if we can do it, so can you.

Managing your money better, paying off debt, and saying no to impulse purchases takes an enormous amount of discipline. It likely takes more discipline than you’re used to. We live in a world that tells us to spend more, put purchases on a credit card, and find happiness from stuff. Society tells us that we shouldn’t have to wait for anything. Do you want new furniture? Finance it! Want to trade in your current car? Just roll it into your next car payment! Can’t afford that beach vacation? That’s what credit cards are for!

Many people lack the patience to save up for large purchases and eventually find themselves buried in debt. It’s easy to get caught up in the exhilaration of buying something new just for the thrill of it. This temporary happiness is present for a moment, but when the excitement of a new item wears off, we are left with the same feelings as before.

I say all this from experience. The first time I bought an “adult” car, it was partly out of necessity. I had a baby on the way, and my car at the time was a two-door Chevy Cavalier with a junk title. I didn’t feel comfortable driving around with my newborn son in a car that had been totaled before.

I’ll never forget taking my new car out for a test drive. It had a sunroof, leather interior, and automatic windows (I had never had a car with automatic windows before! Oh, the luxury!). It even had the number one item on my wish list: a CD player. When I test-drove that pre-owned Toyota Camry, I felt on top of the world.

Side note: I realize how lame this sounds as I type it out. However, this was the nicest car I had ever driven, had features my previous car never had, and is my truth—so I’m going to own it!

I remember driving away from the dealership, breathing in the smell of the leather seats, and thinking, “This car has made me so happy. I’ll never get over this feeling.” What I didn’t know then that I know now: feelings from material possessions fade. My car brought me temporary joy and happiness. To think I would never get over the happiness of a car, just an item in my life, was short-sighted, to say the least. I know that now.

Yet, the world tries to tell us that spending money is the key to happiness. So many people fall for it, myself included. We spend money emotionally to run away from our feelings or provide the thrill we’ve been missing. It’s a constant battle, and one that most people don’t even realize they are facing.

Breaking free from what the world tells us we “should do” isn’t easy. It takes a great motivator, or as I like to call it, a catalyst for change. A catalyst is your reason for changing the way you spend and manage your money. It’s the reason you will sacrifice for a period of time so you can live in abundance the rest of your life.

A women hiking

Your catalyst will keep you moving forward when others tell you to give up. It will help you stay motivated when you question why you are working to become debt free or live on less than you make. It will be your strength when the world tells you that spending money is the key to happiness. It is your north star, guiding light, and ultimate motivator.

When my husband and I started our money journey in 2012, our catalyst was our first son, Evan. His presence was unexpected and turned our world upside down. We had plans for our marriage, but having a child in the first year of marriage wasn’t in our plans.

Evan led us to look at our lives, money, and future through an entirely different lens than we had before. We knew that if we wanted to pay off debt, build wealth, and offer our children a certain life, we would have to make sacrifices in the present moment.

How do you determine your own catalyst for change? How do you find a catalyst that will be strong enough to stand up against society and years of money habits that leave you wanting to spend money? How do you find the thing that will be stronger than your emotional desire to go into deep debt for the car you’ve always wanted? How do you find a motivator that will last the length of your journey—especially if you’ll be working on changing your finances for years on end like we were?

You might have no idea what your catalyst for changing your financial situation should be. It might take you time to determine your own catalyst. You might have to think through your future, goals, and dreams. Journaling and asking yourself hard questions can sometimes help you uncover the catalyst that will carry you through your financial journey. On the other hand, your catalyst might already be staring you in the face and be clear as day.

Sometimes your catalyst is found when you’ve hit your rock-bottom moments. It reveals itself when you’re at the end of your rope, stressed, overwhelmed, and aware that something has to change. It’s sitting there next to you when you have your head in your hands, tears streaming down your face, and there’s a deep knowing that you want something different for yourself and your family.

It’s in these rock-bottom moments that our catalyst appears and becomes the driving force for a different life. It becomes our reason for picking ourselves back up, dusting ourselves off, and committing to doing something different with our money. My family’s catalyst revealed itself in our own rock-bottom moment. While this was difficult to realize, it was enough of a driving force to stay committed to our financial journey for years on end. It was strong enough for us to change our money habits, face our financial truth, and prioritize our needs over our wants.

Your catalyst for change might lie in the seemingly small, annoying, and frustrating moments that add up over time. Moments such as having your debit card declined at the grocery store or realizing you’ve been hit with yet another overdraft fee. Your catalyst might reveal itself to you in the arguments you have with your spouse about money or the feeling of dread as you open the mailbox and see yet another bill you have to pay. Your catalyst could stem from the sleepless nights where you worry about your finances. Or maybe it’s the desire to simply take a vacation every year without going into debt. These small moments add up over time to create a catalyst for you: the desire for control and confidence with money.

Your catalyst for change could also be a person. Maybe that person is you (you are a worthy reason to change your finances and manage your money better!). Maybe that person is your child or even a niece or nephew. Your catalyst could even be your parents. I’ve known people who witnessed their parents stress about money and saw firsthand what happens when you hit retirement with little money saved. The burden fell on the children. While this person loved their parents with all their heart, they wanted a different life than what was modeled for them. Their catalyst was generational change.

a family walking beside a creek

Whatever it is, your catalyst must be strong enough to carry you through this journey to managing your money better, living on a budget, and paying off debt even when it becomes an inconvenience. It must be bigger than the desire to succumb to what the world tells you about money. Your catalyst needs to be in the forefront of your mind and be greater than the frustrations you might face along the way. 
So here’s a little homework assignment (I am a teacher after all): take 10 minutes to yourself. Turn off all your distractions and get a journal. Then, start listing what your catalyst for financial change could be. What hopes do you have for your future? What could managing your money better do for your life? What is worth the temporary sacrifice and changing your relationship with money? I bet you’ll be surprised to learn that when you take time to truly dig deep, you’ll find a catalyst for change that is stronger than you ever imagined.